The Project Review Process
All new AID chapters are supposed to perform a mock review of a project that has been or is being sponsored by another AID chapter. This is intended to familiarize the new chapter with the review process. The steps that take place in a mock review, as well as a regular review, are:
Identify the project to review
There are various sources for projects, with the AID projects database being the most accessible. When a new project is propoded to AID, the proposal is put in the database and one or more chapters choose to review it. A report is submitted after the review and the status of the project contiuously updated in the database. Other sources of projects may be through Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) known to AID volunteers or if an organization directly contacts the chapter with a proposal.
For the mock project review, we have choosen a project being funded by our "Buddy Chapter" at Cincinnati - Koraga Tribal Education and Development project. It was started in 1998 and located at the Dakshin Kannada District of Karnataka State in India.
Preliminary fesibility study
At the outset, certain factors are used to decide if the project is even feasible enough to warrant a review. Some of these are:
- Does the organization proposing the project have a good track record. Has it been black listed or have other chapters had problems with them.
- Is the funding requested within the chapter's budget. Would it require a joint review and execution with another chapter. Is there a subset of the project which can be considered.
- What is the duration of the project and how long is the funding expected for. Is the project self-sustaining.
In the case of the Koraga project, the organization executing the project was Jana Shikshana Trust, a registered organization in India with 6 years of field experience. The budget that had been requested was $4000 spread over 3 years. So it was decided that the project was viable enough to review.
Review of Project Proposal
The project proposal that is submitted to AID has to follow a specific template which requsts information such as the name of the organization and project, person coordinating the project, summary of the organization goals and project objectives, summary of the project including budgeting. The chapter goes through the proposal and critiques it. Some of the things that we check are:
- Is there a better solution and has the organization considered them?
- Is the problem being solved or are its symptoms being addressed?
- Is the project self-sustaining or do they require continuous funding?
- Are the budgeted needs valid or are the figures inconsistent?
- Is the organization being funded by other charitable organizations too?
- Are the local resources and man-power in the community being used to the full extent?
- How much experience does the organization have in those type projects?
The chapter prepares a set of questions for the organization and dispatches it to the organization. Based on the answers, further questions might arise and these are again cleared up. These questions and answers are updated in the projects database. Finally, the project committee of the chapters decides if the project is fit to be funded. The committee then puts the project before the volunteers of the chapter. The volunteers get to voice their opinion and the projects is put to vote.
For the Koraga project, the project committee discussed the project proposal and came up with a set of questions. Aome of the questions which had already been asked by the Cincinnati chapters and answered. Some of the questions that were not answered were forwarded to the project coordinator at the Cincinnati chapter. The replies from Cincinnati will be considered when the committee reconvenes at the start of the spring semester.
Approval by AID
If the project is approved by the chapter, a peer review is performed by another AID chapter. If it is appoved, it is submitted to AID headquarters and all AID chapters informed. The other chapters get a week's time to go over the project and may make suggestions about it. After this stage, the project is formally approved for funding.
The organization that is to receive funds from AID has to have FCRA (Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act) Clearance before being eligible to receive funds from AID capters in the United States. The funds allocated for a project are usually spread over a few instalments and not given all at once. This is to ensure that the organization is implementing the project as expected. The transfer of funds is managed by the AID headquartes who hold the funds for all AID chapters.
Site visits of the project
AID volunteers who visit India regularly visit the site of projects being sponsored or reviewed by AID. This gives them a first hand knowledge about the functioning of the project and makes sure that the organization is using the funds appropriately and making progress towards the completion of the project. AID volunteers present in India also visit the project site close to them. All projects have to have a site visit during its lifetime.