Skip to content

Postcard from a BPF visit to Australia

2013 August 13

We have been silent for much too long, treatment but it doesn’t mean there is nothing happening! I have spent the British summer shivering and trying to avoid catching colds in Australia.  My (laboured) efforts to write a chapter for the Big Forward Politics of Evidence (POE) book have been enriched by participation in a number of conversations with NGO and AusAID staff. In late July I joined a well-attended and lively Politics of Evidence type workshop in Melbourne supported by ACFID, buy cialis the Australian NGO network, sale the Australian National University and La Trobe. (I am going to leave it to one of the fellow convenors Irene Guijt, Chris Roche, Gillian Fletcher, Patrick Kilby or Megan Cooper to report!)



During my visit, I have also participated in several discussions about what lessons the results and value for money in UK might have for practitioners here. It’s difficult to tell with an imminent election and I don’t want to get bogged down in the details of conversations, but I am struck by how much donor (huge turn out from AusAID staff at one event) and NGO staff seem to appreciate having a more political analysis of the value for money agenda informed by the crowd sourcing study and experiences shared at the UK conference. Several, whom I think must have been expecting a dull methodological discussion have enjoyed honest sharing about how confusing we (official aid agencies, NGOs and consultants) initially found the agenda in the UK and the contingent effects it has had on different actors situated in different parts of the aid organisations and relationships. It’s great to be able to share examples that get away from a simple donor recipient dichotomy and provide a more nuanced view of the efforts people in different locations are making to enhance the positive effects of the results and evidence agenda and mitigate risks. I have certainly learned a great deal and sharpened my thinking about the complementarities and potential tensions between the Big E drivers of VFM measurement (economist policy makers) and the small E results (management accountants) that I hope to be able to unpack in the book chapter (groan).

The Australian community are starting their VfM journey a bit later than we did in the UK and therefore enjoy the benefit of learning from some of our ‘mistakes’. There are lots of innovative approaches being developed to help NGOs enhance and demonstrate value for money in ways that are consistent with BPF values. These include enabling citizens to define what is valued and rate the relative efficiency of different NGOs projects as a means to enhance NGO accountability to the people they work with. I won’t say more as I don’t want to steal the thunder of those involved more directly. Hopefully they will soon be able to share experiences here soon. My reason for posting a very short blog is not only to distract myself from the pain of trying to write something coherent, but to let others know how useful folks here are finding our sharing of UK and European experience. I tend to be a bit sceptical about the value of such exercises, but on this occasion it seems to have been particularly worthwhile. Concrete examples such as Christian Aid’s value based value for money framework seem to have really resonated with people here.

This is going to be short as I am sure many are enjoying well-deserved holidays, but I guess the message is that there is merit in trying to keep the BPF POE conversation going. Only this morning I received an email from Gillian Fletcher asking whether it might be possible to do a POE gig in Burma where practitioners are struggling with results and evidence issues. What a great idea!

Comments are closed.