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The McGovern–Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program helps support education, child development and food security in low-income, food-deficit countries around the globe. The program provides for the donation of U.S. agricultural commodities, as well as financial and technical assistance, to support school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects. (Holzaepfel, 2011).
The key objective of the McGovern-Dole Program is to reduce hunger and improve literacy and primary education, especially for girls. By providing school meals, teacher training and related support, McGovern-Dole projects help boost school enrollment and academic performance. At the same time, the program also focuses on improving children’s health and learning capacity before they enter school by offering nutrition programs for pregnant and nursing women, infants and preschoolers. Sustainability is an important aspect of the McGovern-Dole Program. FAS and its partner organizations work to ensure that the communities served by the program can ultimately continue the sponsored activities on their own or with support from other sources such as the host government or local community.
McGovern-Dole projects are conducted by non-profit charitable organizations, cooperatives, the United Nations World Food Program and other international organizations. The Food Assistance Division (FAD or ‘the Division’) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is charged with a mandate to demonstrate accountability for achieving results and meeting the goals laid out by its Congressionally-supported McGovern-Dole Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program (MGD, ‘the Program’ or ‘McGovern-Dole) and Food for Progress Programs (FFPr). This mandate is grounded in the extensive findings of the lack of effectiveness of development assistance programs around the world. FAD is pursuing a combination of actions to meet these requirements including the establishment of a Results Oriented Management (ROM) system and the institutionalization of a Division-wide Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Policy. The extent to which these initiatives promise to deliver the changes necessary for responding to this mandate appear limited and feeble. Most important, the Division staff lacks the technical capacity to embrace and support these initiatives while at the same time certain aspects of the ROM process have served to undermine essential tenets of FAD programs.
In order to effectively respond to the mandate for greater accountability and demonstration of program results, FAD needs to ensure that the logical frameworks reflect each of the underlying goals and tenets of the programs as well as commit to hiring new staff with competencies in program monitoring and evaluation who can take on the full responsibility of implementing the ROM system and M&E Policy. (Vigoda-Gadot, 2007).
However, since, the Program has operated in the absence of a monitoring and evaluation policy. Several external reviews of USDA food assistance programs have been conducted, out of which FAD has received strong criticism for its failure to effectively manage several aspects of its programs. The lack of a monitoring and evaluation policy, systems, and procedures lies at the base of these criticisms. (Laureate, 2008e)
Seeking to address these criticisms, a process to develop and institute a comprehensive Results Oriented Management (ROM) System to support the achievement of Division and Agency-wide program goals. FAD must take steps to devise an M&E Policy to guide the establishment of the ROM system and institute robust monitoring and evaluation of all programs managed under the Division. The M&E Policy was launched in June 2011 at the International Food Aid and Development Conference (IFAD) in Kansas City, Missouri. It sets forth an extremely ambitious agenda for FAD to institutionalize a ROM system and requires all implementing partners to conduct midterm and final evaluations of programs using the most rigorous evaluation methodology possible, with a focus on impact evaluation.
Holzaepfel, Erica A. Leland Hunger Fellow, U.S. Department of Agriculture – Foreign Agricultural Service June, 2011
Laureate Education (Producer). (2008e). Vital factors in finance and budgeting: Ethics and technology [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Vigoda-Gadot, E. (2007). Citizens’ perceptions of politics and ethics in public administration: A five-year national study of their relationship to satisfaction with services, trust in governance, and voice orientations. Journal of Public Administration Research & Theory, 17(2), 285–305. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.