Global Fund KPIs: Accountability and the hall of mirrors

img_0591About two weeks ago, the Global Fund Observer, a newsletter that reports on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, published an article about the Fund’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The article raised concerns about the process of developing the KPIs, citing a letter written by the 10 country and NGO constituencies on the Global Fund Board that implement grants (the “Implementers Group”) to the chairs of the committee that are developing KPI targets.

As a consultant for the Implementers Group, I drafted the letter for the Board. It was an internal document, but since GFO got permission from the Implementers Group chair to publish it online, here it is.

Asleep yet? The letter is really sexy only to people who geek out about aid agency accountability frameworks, SDGs and the like. But there’s a kernel of what may be a hot idea inside: The Implementers Group letter calls for a kind of global governance revolution. Instead of having donors and UN agencies set global governance indicators at the global level, often based on mathematical models and benchmarks, the letter proposes those targets be aggregated from the ground up.

That ground-up process would draw on the rich data that often exists in community-based organizations, and build up from there to develop national and global targets that are truly owned by countries. That would mean more investment in, and attention to, ethical, community-based data gathering. It’s an idea I’m excited about and would love to see go further, which is why I thought it worthwhile to re-share the letter.

Though I helped to write the letter and suggested the ground-up process for developing Global Fund targets, just to be clear, I didn’t agree with the other concerns cited in the GFO article. I was puzzled that the GFO granted anonymity to the critics it quotes, some of whom seemed to have an axe to grind; and that the article didn’t include a response from the Secretariat to the criticisms. Geneva is a political town, and monitoring and accountability of all types (journalism included) can risk becoming a hall of mirrors.

The Global Fund KPI process isn’t perfect, but it is unique in its ambition, rigor and inclusivity. I don’t believe any aid agency has a system as elaborate, as specific or as transparent. It would only get better if global targets were more deeply rooted in local contexts.

This entry was posted in Aid accountability, Data, Health finance, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Global Fund KPIs: Accountability and the hall of mirrors

  1. David Garmaise says:

    Hi, Meg. I am a little puzzled by some of what you say in your blog. The article we published in GFO cites concerns about the KPI process from three sources. The first source was the Implementers Group, which we clearly named. I also provided a link to the full statement made by the Group and sent to the leadership of the Board’s Strategy Committee and Audit and Finance Committee. (In your blog, you refer to this as a letter and you say that it was sent to the Board. But we are both talking about the same document. You also provide a link to the document.) The second source was a representative of a Board constituency, which we named. The third source was a representative of another Board constituency, which we did not name because they asked us not to. GFO would not publish something that was sent to us completely anonymously (meaning that we did not know who it was coming from). But if it adds to the discussion, we are prepared to publish comments from someone who is known to us but who requests anonymity. As for a response from the Secretariat, I plead guilty. We do include feedback from the Secretariat frequently in GFO articles, but in this instance I did not invite their input. Chalk it up to the pressures of deadline if you will. We certainly would welcome comments from the Secretariat. There is a comment feature available for each GFO article. Also, anyone can send GFO a letter to the editor which we would consider publishing. By the way, I love the ground up idea. Thanks. David Garmaise, Editor, Global Fund Observer.

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