Saturday, July 14, 2007

NGO's and charitable institutions

To facilitate discussion about this proposal, it is necessary to provide definitions of key terms used.
Our definitions are drawn from the International Standards Organisation (ISO), and are specifically
related to the ISO 9000 series of “quality management” standards. As the ISO website explains, ‘In
the everyday context, like "beauty", everyone may have his or her idea of what "quality" is. But, in
the ISO 9000 context, the standardized definition of quality refers to all those features of a product
(or service) that are required by the customer. "Quality management" means what the organization
does to ensure that its products or services satisfy the customer's quality requirements and comply
with any regulations applicable to those products or services’

. While it may be argued that
humanitarian action is not simply a “product” or “service”, and that the intended beneficiaries are
not just “customers”, the core ISO objective of promoting quality management is exactly analogous
with HAP’s transformative agenda for the humanitarian system, and in this respect the ISO 9000
quality assurance process is of direct relevance and has much accumulated experience and
wisdom to offer us.

Accreditation ‘refers to the formal recognition by a specialized body - an accreditation
body - that a certification body is competent to carry out… certification in specified business
sectors. Accreditation is like certification of the certification body. An Accrediting Body,
Agency, or Association is a non-governmental entity that sets standards for accreditation,
administers the process of accreditation, and provides assistance, as it is able to
institutions, programs, and the general public. Accreditation is a process by which an
institution periodically evaluates its work and seeks an independent judgment by peers that
it achieves substantially its own objectives and meets the established standards of the body
from which it seeks accreditation.’

Certification ‘refers to the issuing of written assurance (the certificate) by an independent,
external body that has audited an organization's management system and verified that it
conforms to the requirements specified in the standard. Certificates issued by accredited
certification bodies - and known as "accredited certificates" - may be perceived on the
market as having increased credibility.
Registration ‘means that the auditing body has recorded the certification in its client
register’. The organization's management system has therefore been both certified and
Typically, the accreditation and certification processes both include a self-evaluative description of
the candidate institution, examining goals, activities, problems and achievements. The resulting
report is the basis for an on-site review by a team of professional peers. Finally the accrediting or
certification body reviews the self-study and the peer reports as the basis for decisions and follow-
up action on granting accredited or certificated status.

4) Why accredit and certify?
Although HAP’s Statutes place an obligation upon the Secretariat to develop a system of
accreditation, it is worth reminding ourselves why this process is attractive, and why it has been
given a central role in HAP’s organisational design. A reliable, robust and accessible accreditation
system will:
Create incentives for improving the quality, effectiveness and accountability to beneficiaries
of the humanitarian work of certified agencies
Confirm that a reasonable level of compliance with the HAP Accountability Principles is
being achieved by certified agencies
Provide a framework for recognising and rewarding agency staff that implement the HAP
Accountability Principles
Ensure learning and continuous improvement within certified agencies
Enhance the credibility of certified agencies
Protect certified members against harmful internal and external pressures
Enable donors to make more informed choices

If HAP is to become more than a small mutual admiration club, it must develop and promote
incentives that encourage greater accountability to beneficiaries. An accessible and robust
accreditation system is probably the most powerful tool that could be deployed for this purpose.

5) The HAP Accreditation Strategy
Given our particular need to build a decentralised and accreditation system with an “outsourced”
certification function, the strategy for creating a HAP accreditation system will have to accomplish
three crucial development tasks:
a) Define indicators and benchmarks of “quality management” for the Accountability Principles
b) Adopt standards for the process of accreditation
c) Grant “accredited status” to suitable certification/registration bodies
Each of these stages in developing a system of accreditation will have important implications for
HAP, specifically with regard to its constitution, its membership and the functions of the Secretariat.
a) Define indicators and benchmarks of “quality management”. The 2003 General
Assembly and Board meetings tasked the Secretariat to develop a process to identify
appropriate indicators and benchmarks for the application of the HAP Accountability
Principles. The Secretariat has integrated this and several other General Assembly and
Board mandated activities into a process for the production of the HAP “Manual for
Accountability to Humanitarian Beneficiaries” (see Appendix 1). The detailed planning of
this project, approved in principle by the Board in June 2004, should have been completed
by September 2004, but unfortunately the consultant was unable to complete the
. However, initial feedback indicates widespread support within the HAP
membership for the production of the Manual, as well as amongst potential new members.
The Secretariat now intends to appoint a temporary member of staff to manage the project,
with guidance provided by an Editorial Steering Committee, and in consultation with a wider
reference group of humanitarian practitioners and accountability experts. Given the
problems with this consultancy, it is now more realistic to anticipate that the first meeting of
the Editorial Steering Committee will take place in March 2005. The Secretariat still expects
to present a draft Manual, including indicators and benchmarks for the application of the
HAP Accountability Principles, to the December 2005 General Assembly and Board

b) Adopt standards for the accreditation process. In order to protect the “brand” integrity of
a HAP system of accreditation and certification, it is necessary to adopt robust standards
and benchmarks for the processes of accreditation and certification. A sound accreditation
process usually involves a collegial exercise of self-review and peer review that provides a
reliable guide to the quality and accountability of institutions and programs. As the exercise
involved in developing accreditation and certification process standards and benchmarks
needs to be closely linked to the process of seeking consensus on appropriate actionable
and verifiable indicators for HAP’s Accountability Principles, the Secretariat proposes to .. more

1 comment:

anojros said...

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