Monday, February 22, 2010

Haiti emergency ... and accountability

The signs are not good ... the amount of fund raising and the flow of funds to benefit Haitians are not going to reconcile. The accounting and accountability have a very low priority, and soon the public will have forgotten and moved on.

This is a fairly standard experience. Some of the major organizations like the UN has introduced some improved practices relative to past emergencies, but the overall accountability leaves a lot to be desired. The UN has compiled data that show how much various organizations have requested and how much has been received ... so there is some information about how much has been mobilized for these appeals. But there is little or no data that show how these resources have been used.

As far as one can see as an outsider, there is no accounting associated in any way with what has been done on the ground. This reflects a management attitude about cost efficiency in performance that is surprising ... but almost universal in the relief and development sector where accounting and financial analysis has virtually no standing.

This is not new ... the lack of cost controls in government, the public sector and the relief and development sector is a long standing problem. It allows poor performance to be tolerated because none of the critical performance metrics are in place.

Where the organizations will not do the accountability, it falls to society to take on the challenge. This is what Community Analytics (CA) can do. At some point CA metrics will show how little benefit is derived from official relief and development assistance compared to its cost ... and someone is going to need to find some answers!

Peter Burgess

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