This report covers the first phase Mid-term Review of the Ghana Research and Advocacy Programme (G-RAP), which was launched in 2004, and provides an opinion on the prospects of achieving its objectives in the first phase, ending in September 2007.
The overall assessment is positive. Though not without its problems, G-RAP is evolving in progressive directions. The principle of core funding enjoys wide support in Ghana, and is appreciated by the RAO community. The PMT suffered, in the early months, from having to grapple with an ambiguous programme concept, but it has responded to RAO interests and concerns. G-RAP is recognised to address an important constraint on RAO performance and has the potential to make a significant contribution to pro-poor policy development.
That said, G-RAP would benefit from a degree of repositioning. The present report aims to facilitate this. It seeks to focus attention on the central vocation of the G-RAP concept: using core grants to help research and advocacy organisations inform and influence pro-poor policy. A core funding arrangement of this type exists to support and develop policy engagement, not internal organisational development in its narrower sense. It allows recipients considerable freedom and flexibility as to the means by which their policy objectives will be achieved. This implies a move away from the strong organisational development bias in the current approach. Concentrating on the policy engagement aspect of the original mandate should help the programme to address, in a more balanced way, the three levels of relations with its partners: the administrative; the programme and the strategic.
This refocusing would encourage G-RAP to test the core concept more
courageously. In a core funding arrangement, the role of the funding authority is essentially that of ensuring that the grantee conforms to the minimum performance standards, particularly as regards financial controls and output quality, and then delivers on the objectives specified. Once the grantee is ‘certified’ (in the sense of proving its conformity to the standards), the influence of the funding authority is limited. The onus is on the grantee to identify its objectives and the processes by which they will be achieved, and then to monitor
progress towards their achievement. The grantee’s objectives and a small number of key indicators form the basis of the dialogue between it and the funding authority. The processes are largely at the grantee’s discretion.
5. It is recommended that:
a) Efforts of the PMT are more narrowly focused on such core funding
support, avoiding the tendency to use G-RAP for other purposes;
b) Competitive funding is used more rigorously to channel demand and
support the policy priorities;
c) The funding instruments are simplified;
d) The governance structure is streamlined;
6. Funding arrangements and priorities: The focus on core funding as a form of budgetary support implies:
a) Providing funds to organisations on the basis of their positive achievements and capacities, the opportunities which they identify in the applied policy field, and the constraints [mainly external ones] that inhibit the achievements of their goals.
b) Limiting the roles of the PMT to the functions of a Secretariat (this mainly implies, administering grants and allied activities such as assessing fiduciary risk and servicing the governance structure);
c) Implementing more structured core funding arrangements, perhaps applying a limited number of funding bands.
d) Allowing for support of effective but smaller RAOs within the framework of core funding grants, without recourse to technical assistance and institutional/capacity building (ICB).
e) Creation of a new category of ‘Small Projects Facility’ to channel innovation in a strategic fashion; specifically, this would support joint actions by RAOs on a demand-led basis, with a view to enhancing critical mass.
f) Further simplification of the assessment requirements for core funding, allowing partner RAOs greater autonomy, and encouraging them to concentrate on the policy outcomes they have defined for themselves.
Regarding RAO selection, the MTR recommends:
a) Greater clarity in the eligibility requirements.
b) Greater precision in the size of grant awards/less flexibility in funding decisions
c) Greater transparency in the information provided on grant decisions.