Peace Corps Survey Rankings Country-by-Country
One excellent indication of the health of a Peace Corps country program is the survey responses of the Volunteers. It is easy to rank the countries using these responses. With the rankings from these surveys, applicants are empowered to request postings to higher ranked countries.
The Peace Corps now invites applicants to choose the countries in which they prefer to serve. PC Wiki presents the rankings from the survey data on a country by country basis to enable applicants to make an informed choice.
PC Wiki recommends that applicants request to be sent to a country with high ranked survey responses. In addition, PC Wiki recommends that applicants avoid countries that rank in the bottom third of the surveys. They should be cautious about countries in the middle third. They should request countries in the top third.
Understanding the Survey Rankings
Why would an applicant want to serve in a country with poor survey responses from the best source available, the Volunteers? Would they apply to colleges with poor rankings and poor graduation rates? Would they eat at restaurants with poor rankings and problematic health department inspections?
If the Peace Corps does not agree to send an applicant to a country with the best survey responses, applicants should put their application on hold until the Peace Corps agrees to do so.
Applicants can easily correlate the survey rankings with the ET rate rankings – also posted on Wiki. When the two sets of rankings correlate, the data speaks powerfully as to which countries to request and which to avoid.
Background into the Country-by-Country Survey Results
The Peace Corps has taken drastic action to deprive applicants of the survey rankings from the public.
In 2008 it released the rankings to PC Wiki and they were posted on line. (See below for the Wiki post regarding these rankings.) When PC Wiki requested the 2010-2011 rankings, the Peace Corps refused to release them.
Apparently it was appalled at PC Wiki posting the 2008 survey rankings and the use of these rankings by applicants. So it reversed its ruling and found the recent surveys not to qualify under FOIA for release. Clearly, the Peace Corps did not want applicants to have access to data that enabled them to be selective.
Lawsuit to Obtain the Survey Results
PC Wiki – with the support of one of the top law firms in the United States (Sidley Austin) – filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court to secure access to the country-by-country breakouts of the Volunteer survey responses. The Peace Corps fought this lawsuit with arguments about the need for secrecy.
The Court dismissed the Peace Corps arguments and the Peace Corps had to release to Wiki these surveys on a country-by-country basis. The back-and-forth pleadings in the lawsuit are attached. Applicants should ask whether an agency that goes to such lengths to hide information crucial to applicants is one with whom they wish to serve.
After PC Wiki won the lawsuit in Federal District Court, and before the Peace Corps began to produce the survey breakouts, PC Wiki offered to settle the suit, and not force the Peace Corps to release the documents.
The condition was that the Peace Corps would agree to take the initiative to transmit the survey results to the applicants in rank order. The offer also required the Peace Corps to transmit the cohort ET rates to the applicants – also in rank order. Under this scenario, PC Wiki would not have posted the surveys or ET rates or advised applicants to avoid the poorly ranked countries with the high ET rates. The Peace Corps would have gained credibility with the applicants for treating them fairly.
The Peace Corps ignored the offer, which led to the Wiki's publishing the documents with admonitions to applicants to be selective. The Wiki will continue to publish this information for the benefit of applicants until the Peace Corps commits to doing so.
Implications of the Peace Corps' Actions
This difficult process of securing the survey rankings raises a major question: Why would the Peace Corps give applicants a choice of where to serve and then deprive them of information that enables them to make informed choices?
In the lawsuit, the Peace Corps was successful in one area: Withholding from the Wiki the survey rankings for work assignments within countries. PC Wiki has seen that there can be substantial discrepancies in the job satisfaction of Volunteers in the different programs within a country.
Why would the Peace Corps deprive applicants of the data that permits them to compare the survey responses from applicants in different job assignments? (The Wiki has pending with the Peace Corps a request for the early quit rates according to the job assignments.)
PC Wiki believes that the survey responses and rankings mostly reflect the degree of professionalism of the Peace Cops management. In a country with inherent challenges, the enthusiasm and durability of the Volunteers is often high because they know that they have a tough assignment. They really do have the “toughest job you’ll ever love,” nothing less. Wiki finds that the key variable in the rankings is the leadership of the Country Director, whose values and management style dominate the Volunteer experience in each country.
Why This Data is Critical for Applicants
With these rankings – ET rates and survey responses – applicants can see which countries are well managed and which are not, which corps of Volunteers has high morale and which does not. It can see this in the actions and viewpoints of those with the most information, the current Volunteers.
The interest of applicants in the rankings is consistent with what they expect as consumers in other contexts. They expect rankings of colleges, professors, restaurants, books, movies, and everything else.
The internet demands transparency. The consumer is king. The internet enables consumers to share information with one another – in this case the early quit decisions and survey responses of Volunteers. Purveyors of everything – including Peace Corps service – are being held accountable for the quality and price of what they are selling. No one and no agency is immune from these market expectations and pressures.
That the Peace Corps is not being transparent with applicants indicates that it has not adjusted to the 21st Century and is out of touch with the largest cohort of applicants to the Peace Corps – young persons who are social media savvy. The Peace Corps has forced those with legitimate FOIA requests to sue it in Federal District Court to obtain information crucial to applicants, refused to transmit this crucial data to applicants, provided misleading early quit statistics, hidden the shortfall in applications, and refused to divulge the survey breakouts according to job assignment.
The lawsuit required the Peace Corps to give Wiki the breakouts for the 2010 and 2011 surveys, but Wiki recognizes these are out of date. Wiki has requested the 2012-14 breakouts and will post them here – in rank order – when they are available. Given the result of the lawsuit, it would be unconscionable and illegal for the Peace Corps to refuse to divulge the breakouts for these recent surveys.
When we post these breakouts and the rankings, the Peace Corps may complain that these are not the most current survey rankings. However, it could take the initiative to publish the rankings.
PC Wiki has found securing data from the Peace Corps under the Freedom of Information Act so difficult that it will not be filing additional FOIA requests to secure updates of the survey breakouts. The Wiki urges applicants to request the most current data from their recruitment officer. (They should ask for the responses in rank order.) If the placement officer won’t provide the data, applicants should put their applications on hold until the Peace Corps becomes transparent with applicants and enables them to make an informed choice.
To be clear, the reason why the Wiki is publishing this survey data is to encourage the Peace Corps to intervene to reform the poorly managed programs. If applicants use the data PC Wiki is providing, to become selective, the Peace Corps may reform the poorly managed programs.
PC Wiki is attempting to use market forces – consumer demand – to drive reform. As is explained elsewhere on this page, the Peace Corps has no surplus of applicants among those who survive the medical screening process. This means that the Peace Corps cannot turn to other applicants to fill their quotas for the poorly ranked country programs with the highest early quit rates.
Applicants have power, both to secure an invitation to serve in a well managed country and to encourage the Peace Corps to overhaul the poorly managed countries.
For those interested in more information on the lawsuit we filed in order to obtain the country-by-country breakouts of the Volunteer Survey Results, we have posted the following documents on the wiki:
- Read more about Chuck Ludlam and Paula Hirschoff's ongoing campaign for Peace Corps reform.
- The original FOIA complaint
- The Peace Corps' motion to dismiss the case
- Our response to the motion to dismiss
- The judge's final ruling
- Chuck Ludlam's memo to the PC director regarding reform and the 2008 survey results