The United States and other major donors should initiate a governance capacity partnership, or GCP, to provide direct bureaucratic support to essential Haitian government ministries. The GCP would consist of teams of technical experts from donor countries—perhaps 20 to 50 in number—skilled in essential bureaucratic functions such as budgetary planning, personnel management, and project design. The GCP would also assign specialized experts to appropriate ministries; it would send public health experts to the Ministry of Health, attach civil engineers to the Ministry of Public Works, etc.
The purposes of the GCP would be two-fold. First, it would provide the Haitian government with the absorptive capacity and accountability it needs to receive donor funding in the degree required to address urgent public issues. Second, it would train a cadre of Haitian civil servants over time to staff government ministries effectively without external support.
At least four major actions would have to happen to institute the GCP. First, the international donor community and the government of Haiti would have to agree to the concept. And the GCP would have to take steps to ensure that Haitian sovereignty is respected even as foreign nationals play key roles in developing essential governmental processes.
Second, the international community and the Haitian government would have to conduct a rapid needs assessment to determine which vital ministries may require assistance, the most vital tasks, and the minimum number of external consultants required to fulfill those functions in the near term. The GCP may request additional consultants later as the program is validated and as additional requirements emerge.
Third, individual donors will have to decide jointly with the government of Haiti which ministries they can support. This might be done based on the comparative advantage of a given donor and the requests of the Haitian government. For example, the United States might support the Ministry of Planning and Foreign Aid as well as the Ministry of Finance and Economy, since the United States is the largest bilateral donor and both of these ministries are critical to the functioning of the others. Canada might support the Ministry of Education, given the importance of education in its aid portfolio to Haiti, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development, since it has particular expertise in and commitment to environmental issues. France might be well placed to support the Ministry of Justice, given that Haitian law is based on civil law and the Napoleonic code.
Finally, donors will have to commit the staff and resources to fund the GCP in the near term. This engagement will vary by donor, but the funds committed for the GCP should be in addition to those pledged at the 2009 donors conference. This should be a relatively modest cost given the relatively small numbers of personnel involved in most cases. CAP’s preliminary estimates are that a GCP team of 20 experts could cost approximately $3 million per year. The most rapid mechanism for meeting these staffing needs in the United States would be for USAID to contract with for-profit development agencies that can provide consultants with the specific skill sets dictated by the joint rapid-needs assessment. Donors and the Haitian government should complete the first stage of the GCP—conducting a needs assessment—in short order so that consultants can begin work not later than February 2010.
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