In 1995 I was head hunted from Zambia by Chemonics, a USAID contractor to join, as program manager what sounded like a very interesting project back in Indonesia – the Civil Society Support Program (CSSP). i was warned that this was not a Cooperative Agreement which is USAID speak for a project conducted at arms length by a US NGO which has persuaded USAID to accept its design for how to implement a project – this was a contract, in which the US NGO was working directly to do what USAID wanted it to do.
As usual, the complexities of the USAID way of working with local CSOs, its procurement regulations, its financial reporting requirements were a stumbling block for the work that CSSP wanted to do. My most useful work was therefore to set up systems to inform Indonesian CSOs about CSSP and what it could do for them, to train CSSP staff about how to use the convoluted USAID systems so that they encouraged and an enhanced CSO efforts, rather than controlled and constrained them, and train CSSP staff to recognize good and committed CSOs, and avoid opportunistic and corrupt CSOs.
After a relatively short time I could not see any useful strategy for the CSSP – it seemed to me to be about USAID unloading money on CSOs so that it could say that it had supported the CS sector, and I resigend the job after one year.
- Designed ways for USAID to identify and encourage good proposals from good CSOs
- Designed ways that USAID rules and regulatons could be understood and humanized for Indonesian CSO
From a Good idea to a Successful Project
by Richard Holloway