Memorandum

These results are stunning.

* In 34 countries more than half of the Volunteers give their CD a mediocre to poor rating (including 90% in Guyana; 89% in El Salvador; 88% in Jordan and Mozambique; 85% in Uganda; 81% in Ecuador; 78% in Cameroon; 77% in Ethiopia and Morocco; 76% in Mongolia; 73% in Macedonia; 72% in Azerbaijan and Surinam; 71% in Benin; 70% in Niger; 69% in Bolivia; 63% in Tanzania and Ukraine; 62% in Bulgaria; 61% in Costa Rica; and 60% in the Philippines).

* We have countries where many Volunteers find their CD “minimally” or “not at all” engaged (77% in Jordan and Ethiopia; 55% in El Salvador; 51% in Uganda; 50% in Surinam; 48% in Guyana; and 46% in Mongolia, Mozambique and Ecuador).

* Only 12 of the 67 CDs received the equivalent of rave reviews (scores averaging more than 4).

These survey results combined with the Volunteer affidavits presented above—many of which focus on problems with Country Directors (CDs)—give us disturbing but useful information. The experience of the authors is that the most important predictor of the health of a country program—and the morale and effectiveness of the Volunteers—is the CD’s values and attitudes. If the CD focuses primarily on regulating the Volunteers’ behavior and treating them like children, the morale and effectiveness of the Volunteers suffers. If the CD listens to, respects and empowers the Volunteers, morale and effectiveness spiral upward.

The reason why the quality of the CDs varies so much is that, according to credible reports, the selection process for CDs has become politicized, with political appointees of the Bush Administration approving unqualified and/or unsuitable candidates over the objections of career staff and RPCVs. RPCVs have reported that the selection process has proceeded as follows: the selection panels have included at least one RPCV and two agency political appointees; the RPCVs have routinely found the candidates “woefully unfit” to manage Volunteers; the political appointees have outvoted the RPCVs 2-to-1; and the RPCVs have eventually refused to sit on reviews they consider to be a sham.

As one former Country Director observed,

CDs are often political friends, or in some hard-to-staff countries, anyone they can get. The selection process often looked haphazard, and based on a buddy system more than a careful review of qualifications...For example, [name withheld] and…his sidekick…[name withheld] were religious, so they appointed a CD to [name of country withheld] who was born again, or touched by an angel, so some such thing, and the man was trying to convert his Muslim staff, always referring to Jesus when he was talking to the Volunteers! The Volunteers complained; no changes were made, the man did not stop his proselytizing.

As one headquarters staff has said, “You hit the nail right on the head with how many PC Directorships were handed out as a result of cronyism and political patronage rather than for excellence, management, leadership and innovation....something the Peace Corps has traditionally sought  to transcend.” This staffer reported that a proposed CD for [an East African country] was found to have run his local [U.S.] school district into bankruptcy and a newly appointed Director for a region had a criminal record and lasted but a week or so.

It is clear from the 2008 Biennial Survey and Volunteer affidavits that the stories about unqualified CDs are well founded. Until the Peace Corps begins to utilize the survey results to weed out ineffective CDs and sets up 360 degree confidential reviews of CDs by Volunteers, as proposed below, survey results will be poor and Volunteer termination rates high. Going forward, it is essential to remove all political consideration from the process of CD selection. The only political appointee who should play a role in the CD selection process should be the Peace Corps Director, who should personally interview the candidates focusing on whether they will listen to, respect, and empower the Volunteers.

In addition to the key question about the values of and support from the CD, Question E 7 asks whether the Volunteers are satisfied by the support provided by in-country Peace Corps staff on 11 different subjects: Administrative support; Cross-cultural; Emotional; Feedback on work reports; Job assignment; Language learning; Management; Medical; Safety and security; Site selection; and Technical skills. When the answers are presented in an Excel spread sheet, it’s easy for the Peace Corps management, PCVs, RPCVs and Congress to analyze the responses country-by-country, program-by-program and staff-by-staff.

Take the survey results regarding “job assignment” support. (To conserve space, we will only print here the top 10 and bottom 10 rankings among the 67 countries covered in the survey.)

Not at all

2

3

4

Completely

Total

Score

Rank

China

2%

3%

25%

36%

34%

59

3.97

1

Guinea

5%

5%

23%

41%

27%

22

3.79

2

Kazakhstan

4%

8%

27%

31%

31%

114

3.76

3

Azerbaijan

3%

10%

22%

41%

24%

59

3.73

4

Nicaragua

3%

8%

26%

41%

21%

87

3.70

5

Tanzania

2%

14%

22%

41%

22%

51

3.66

6

Lesotho

2%

12%

25%

40%

20%

40

3.65

7

Guatemala

7%

11%

19%

39%

25%

85

3.63

8

Micronesia

4%

8%

31%

35%

22%

51

3.63

9

Bulgaria

7%

7%

25%

37%

23%

81

3.63

10

South Africa

19%

17%

31%

22%

11%

54

2.89

58

Jamaica

15%

25%

30%

18%

12%

60

2.87

59

Belize

5%

32%

41%

18%

5%

44

2.86

60

Togo

5%

29%

49%

15%

2%

41

2.80

61

Guyana

14%

33%

29%

19%

5%

21

2.68

62

Uganda

18%

29%

32%

16%

5%

79

2.61

63

Ethiopia

19%

33%

29%

10%

10%

21

2.59

64

Jordan

9%

49%

24%

11%

7%

45

2.58

65

Samoa

13%

40%

30%

10%

7%

30

2.58

66

Suriname

34%

37%

14%

11%

3%

35

2.11

67

This chart shows a vast discrepancy between the highest ranked country (China) where 34% of the Volunteers report that they are “completely” satisfied with the job assignment support they receive and the lowest ranked country (Surinam) where 34% say that they are “not at all” satisfied with their job assignment support.

When these results were published last November, did the Peace Corps investigate the countries with the lowest rankings? Did it seek to determine what practices were being followed with regard to “job assignment” support in the top ranked countries? Did it respect the views of the Volunteers or ignore them?

Take “management” support as an issue. Here are the top 10 and bottom 10 rankings worldwide:

Not at all

2

3

4

Completely

Total

Score

Rank

Georgia

2%

6%

22%

38%

32%

50

3.92

1

Macedonia

2%

5%

30%

32%

32%

57

3.86

2

China

7%

26%

43%

24%

58

3.84

3

Dominican Republic

1%

5%

29%

44%

22%

105

3.80

4

Bulgaria

10%

5%

15%

35%

35%

80

3.80

5

Malawi

4%

33%

45%

18%

51

3.77

6

Kyrg Republic

7%

35%

41%

17%

46

3.68

7

Nicaragua

5%

36%

45%

14%

83

3.68

8

Romania

3%

9%

32%

30%

26%

88

3.67

9

Mauritania

3%

6%

34%

34%

22%

32

3.67

10

Cameroon

8%

27%

47%

15%

3%

73

2.78

58

Togo

10%

20%

56%

15%

41

2.75

59

Guyana

45%

40%

10%

5%

20

2.75

60

Fiji

17%

21%

33%

29%

24

2.74

61

Jordan

12%

33%

31%

21%

2%

42

2.68

62

Niger

19%

22%

44%

11%

4%

27

2.59

63

Uganda

12%

36%

40%

10%

3%

78

2.56

64

Samoa

20%

27%

40%

13%

30

2.46

65

Ethiopia

27%

27%

41%

5%

22

2.29

66

Suriname

51%

14%

29%

6%

35

1.90

67

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