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Steve Hutcheson's Fundraiser:

Changing the way aid is managed

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Steve Hutcheson


International aid programs often deal with large sums of money. Each year the World Bank and government donors pay out more than $150 billion dollars and generous people around the world contribute another $150 billion into charitable organizations or $300 billion all combined. The problem however is that without effective management systems in place a large amount gets stripped off through fraud and misappropriation or simply because the paperwork falls into disarray.
It doesn't matter how big or small the organization is, there are no effective systems other than a collection of spreadsheets that holds this $300 billion together and the agencies and people responsible for it, accountable.
Over the years I have managed major aid programs in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Pakistan with NGO's, UN agencies and private government contractors distributing more than $350 million in aid programs. In all of them, my major task has been to develop management systems that prevent funds going the wrong direction, by having monitoring checks on monitoring checks on top of even more monitoring checks and even then, there are too many occasions when someone sees an opportunity and has taken advantage of weak administrative systems. Overall, it estimated that something like 15% of all aid funds are lost to fraud. 15% of $300 billion is still $45 billion a year and with this project I am asking you to consider how much extra could be done with that money.
The project is to develop a internet based total management system that will automate most steps along the way and prevent people making decisions that are not in accordance with established practice or regulations.
We have the structure designed, now we need to get the final content design finished and coded. We have estimated that to cover every aspect of the program side and the operational side of running an aid program we will need to have around 200 to 300 modules that allow Program Managers to select from a menu to suit their particular program.
The funds raised in this campaign will fund the cost of getting one of these module operational, in this case, the field procurement module.
This module is to manage the purchases field staff do in their daily tasks. It might be purchasing fuel for a car or a motor cycle, it might be supplies for the office. We have an agency who work with wildlife in Indonesia who with some fifty field staff find this to be their biggest problem with fraud costing them tens of thousands of dollars each year. Multiply that by a couple of hundred thousand organizations around the world and you can gauge the size of the global problem.
The overall platform is known as the Aidwork Platform. It will be available for free to all aid agencies around the world to use via the internet. It will eventually cover every aspect of managing how aid is delivered and prevent anyone in the organization misappropriating funds that is given to them.
Our test program is on a project I managed in Pakistan in 2011 where we had 4 major donors, 4 field offices and a head office, 100 program monitoring staff, 50 operational staff, 44 contractors with around 400 staff, some 39,000 sub-projects and around 240,000 people who were able to move into permanent housing at the end of it all. Our management system was a nightmare and cost close to a million dollars to maintain. This system had we had it in place would have avoided much of that.



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