Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Haiti ... Accountability and Management Sciences for Health (MSH)

Dear Colleagues

The situation with accountability in the post earthquake emergency is very poor. Neither the good organizations ... which might include Management Sciences for Health (MSH) ... nor the bad organizations are interested. Because of this, it is difficult to separate the good from the bad, and to put it quite simply, the bad get a free pass! This is nothing but "stupid" ... but it is the norm today, just as it has been for all the time I have been associated with the international relief and development assistance (ORDA) community.
Message to Management Sciences for Health from Peter Burgess
[afro-nets] MSH's Recommendations for Haiti International Donors' Conference
Peter Burgess Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 12:01 PM
To: communications@msh.org

Dear Colleagues

The situation in Haiti is very sad ... but it is to be hoped that the outpouring of support for Haiti in the last two and a half months will eventually turn into something of value. The fact of a positive outcome to the pledging conference in New York last week is encouraging.

But all is not rosy ... and the accountability issue that we have been addressing for a long time in the international official relief and development assistance (ORDA) sector is as bad as ever. It is apparent that there are several factors in play as usual in emergency situations (1) the good organizations have a focus on doing emergency work and do not pay any attention to the accounting and accountability even at the most rudimentary level to show what they have accomplished relative to the resources that they have used, (2) all sorts of questionable organizations have been raising money very effectively using the Haiti emergency as an excuse. and (3) the sector silos are in play both at the operational level and in the planning.

What this means is that it is difficult to differentiate between those organizations that are doing good work, and those that are merely scams. It is impossible to differentiate between good hearted organizations that are inefficient and ineffective and those that might be less attractive but way better at getting the job done.

More than 100 messages to NGOs a month after the earthquake made it very clear that all the NGOs were ignoring the accountability question and had a simple focus on raising money. It was impossible to differentiate between those with good intentions and those that were scamming.

How good is MSH? I can read what you say on your website, but I am not at all sure that what you say reflects efficiency in operations or merely efficiency in PR, fund raising and project proposal writing. As a major organization in global health ... I think ... then there should be great results in global health to show for it ... but the general impression is that global health is a money consuming disaster with health improvement not very good. Lots of words and stories … but not much accounting and performance metrics that include costs and value ... and therefore nothing that really qualifies as accountability.

The outcomes from health initiatives need to be clear ... the cost of getting the outcomes should be clear ... key cost profiles should be clear, especially the remuneration profiles of the staff involved in the health sector and the projects.

It is good to see health recommendations ... but where do this recommendations fit into a comprehensive socio-economic development process that is not pure subsidy and welfare.
These are big questions that I would like to help to answer. I would like to be collaborating with MSH to help get 21st century performance metrics and accountability in play. Feel free to contact me on 212 744 6469

Thanking you in anticipation

Peter Burgess
Management Sciences for Health
784 Memorial Drive Cambridge MA 02139
I plan to keep messaging the organizations that are involved in any way with Haiti, and see what we might eventually find out.

Peter Burgess

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