Reform Plan Ludlam Hirschoff Part I Plan to Strengthen and Expand the Peace Corps

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Reform Plan Ludlam Hirschoff Part I Plan to Strengthen and Expand the Peace Corps
Link to PDF Report

Intro: Table of Contents and Executive Summary
Part I: Plan to Strengthen and Expand the Peace Corps
Part II: Twenty Point Plan
Part III: Conclusion and Appendixes
Assessments & Reform Plans

Contents

[edit] Introduction

Founded by Executive Order of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy on March 1, 1961, the Peace Corps has sent nearly 200,000 Americans to serve abroad as America's ambassadors of good will to assist the developing world to achieve its development objectives. Many believe that dollar-for-dollar, no U.S. government international program is more effective. The impact of the returned Volunteers on America has been substantial, giving millions of Americans a better sense of the strengths and needs of the majority of the world's peoples. To strengthen and expand this program is in the humanitarian and strategic interests of the United States.


The Peace Corps will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2011 with events on March 1 (the anniversary of the Executive Order) and September 22 (anniversary of the enactment of the Peace Corps Act and scheduled date for an anniversary celebration on the National Mall). President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama may well play a central role in celebrating this milestone. The Peace Corps and National Peace Corps Association, including the country-of-service Friends groups and regional RPCV groups, should closely cooperate with the Obama Administration in planning and managing these events. Celebrations and programs should be held in every country where Volunteers are serving, and every region of the U.S. Successful implementation of plans to strengthen and expand the Peace Corps should be touted as a major accomplishment during the celebration. Congress has already enacted the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which seeks to enlist 1 million Americans annually in community and international service in addition to authorizing the Volunteers for Prosperity program. So community, national, and international service—including Peace Corps service—should be the theme for the entire year.


[edit] Rationale and Overview of Twenty Point Plan

The Peace Corps mission is cross-cultural, so it is appropriate to begin this plan to strengthen and expand the Peace Corps with a reaffirmation of the Peace Corps’ central cultural values—listening to and respecting the individual Volunteers who carry forth its core mission and empowering them to inspire and, in critical respects, to lead from the grassroots. Only by supporting and empowering Volunteers can the Peace Corps achieve its goal to serve as an effective agent of grassroots development and cross-cultural exchange. Volunteers should succeed in partnership with the Peace Corps, not in spite of the Peace Corps.


At a time of uncertainty and hardship in the world and challenges to peace and tolerance, the Peace Corps entrusts Volunteers with responsibility for bringing the best of American values and traditions—respect for the individual generosity and entrepreneurship—to the high calling of economic development and cross cultural exchange. Nearly five decades ago the Peace Corps was founded as an organization ruled by egalitarianism in which command and control mechanisms did not stifle the power and initiative of the individual Volunteer.


The corollary of these values is that headquarters staff in Washington, D.C. need to listen to the staff in each country. Every focus of the headquarters’ operation should be to support and empower the country staff, allocate to them every available resource, and not impose burdens that distract them from supporting and empowering the Volunteers.


The Peace Corps is justifiably proud of its tradition of taking risks, defying conventional wisdom, and combining the best of American idealism and resourcefulness. In reaffirming these core cultural values, the future of the Peace Corps and its Volunteers is bright. The Peace Corps can demonstrate to other government agencies that it’s possible to structure a government agency as an inverted pyramid where the inspiration, and, in crucial respects, the leadership, come from those who carry forth its mission at the grassroots: the country staff and the Volunteers.


The premise of this plan is that Volunteers and country staff understand, better than anyone else and better than Headquarters staff, the Peace Corps strengths and weaknesses and what the agency must do to achieve the greatness that it promised nearly half a century ago. To quote Colin Powell, "The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proven otherwise."


In terms of the twin goals—to strengthen and to expand—Senator Dodd has said,


[A]s we grow the Peace Corps—as we get it the volunteers it needs and the increased funding it deserves—we must respect its roots. We must work to make it more decentralized, because service at its best is personal and spontaneous, and because volunteers know far more about conditions on the ground than we in Washington ever will." [W]e ought to work to make the Peace Corps bigger, and more decentralized, at the same time. I believe we can, at the same time, [emphasis added] extend its worldwide reach and honor its grassroots past. Doing both is the best way to be true to the spirit that created it: the spirit that turned student activism into government action, that combined Cold War diplomacy with the spontaneous need to serve. (Speech to the National Peace Corps Association's Director's Circle, March 7, 2008)


The Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA from the last Congress includes 16 provisions that mandate reforms at the Peace Corps. These included empowering Volunteers to review personnel and programs, providing reimbursement to Volunteers for their work-related expenses, reforming the agency’s arcane fundraising rules, recruiting more experienced Volunteers, launching the Peace Corps into the digital age, reforming the medical screening process, and protecting Volunteer rights. These are mandates, not requests for reports or plans. The mere fact that Senators Dodd and Kennedy introduced the PCVEA has been extremely useful in spawning a much-needed and long overdue debate about reforming the Peace Corps.


The mandates in the Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA had strong support in the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) community. Early in 2007 the PCV and RPCV members of the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) overwhelmingly endorsed, in an online poll, these mandates. Here are the key findings from the RPCVs:

Seed funding: 84% in favor

Fundraising: 82% in favor

Third Goal: 84% in favor

Recruiting experienced Volunteers: 79% in favor

Removing disincentives for service by experienced Volunteers: 93% in favor

Digital Peace Corps: 89% in favor

Volunteers review of Senior Staff and Programs: 94% and 95% in favor

Volunteer Advisory Committees: 85% in favor

Reform of the medical screening process: 96% in favor

Health care benefits of retirees: 91% in favor

Equal tax benefits for Volunteers who own homes: 90% in favor

Protecting rights of Volunteers: 96% in favor<ref name="ftn2">NPCA did not including "doubling" among the poll questions.</ref>


So by margins of from 79% to 96%, the NPCA members supported enactment of the Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA vision to strengthen and expand the Peace Corps.<ref name="ftn3">Accordingly, in his testimony at the July 25, 2007 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA, Kevin Quigley, NPCA President stated that the legislation was "important and timely." He referred to the NPCA membership survey and said, "Although th[e survey] is by no means a rigorously scientific survey, we are confident that it is generally representative of the interested and engaged Peace Corps community. Overall, the respondents were extremely supportive of the provisions in the legislation…" He concluded by stating to Chairman Dodd and Ranking Member Corker, "the Peace Corps community thanks you for addressing the issue of expanding Peace Corps and providing funding for Third Goal Activities—which have been long-held aspirations for our community. We are also grateful for the many other creative provisions you are proposing for empowering Volunteers and lowering the barriers to service so that many more Americans can serve in a Peace Corps. With these changes, Peace Corps can have an even greater impact in addressing the problems of poverty and under development. As Chairman Dodd said in his statement introducing this legislation, this will 'make the Peace Corps even more relevant to the dynamic world of the 21st Century.' And for that reason, we strongly support it."</ref>

On June 25, 2009, Senator Dodd Introduced the Peace Corps Improvement and Empowerment Act (S. 1382). The PCIEA calls on the Peace Corps Director to prepare a “new forward-looking strategy” that “analyzes and accounts for the strengths and weaknesses” of the agency. It would require the Director within 180 days to prepare an “assessment and strategic plan for improving and expanding the Peace Corps” that would address many of the substantive policy issues included in the Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA. 


The authors infer that since the Obama election, there has been substantial debate within Senator Dodd’s office about how to spur Peace Corps reform. On February 26 his staff had transmitted to us a “discussion draft of the latest version of the Peace Corps Modernization and Empowerment Act” noting, “We are planning to introduce [it] next week.” The February draft included all the mandates of the Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA plus a call for development of a strategic plan and imposition of a limit on the number of political appointees. The authors applauded the new draft and suggested including a requirement that the Peace Corps report accurate and meaningful ET rates, avoid switching Volunteers to different programs or countries without their consent, and publish all information that it has supplied to the public in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.


Then on April 24, 2009, the same staffer emailed us, stating, “After much thought, discussion and debate, we have finalized our Peace Corps legislation.” And adding,


As you know, this bill represents a serious undertaking to build on the Peace Corps strengths, while at the same time, hone in on and address some key issues facing the Peace Corps in a positive way. These issues are critical for our boss, and he strongly believes they need to be faced head-on and addressed as quickly as possible. Unlike previous versions, this bill does not stick the Peace Corps with any specific mandates, instead, it asks for an assessment and plan, and requires the Peace Corps to really think about and analyze its key strengths and weaknesses and develop a robust plan going forward so it can both reform and grow.


The text of the PCIEA was attached and, as stated above, it was introduced on June 25.


The authors are optimistic that enactment of the PCIEA will be the beginning and not the end of the reform process. Larry Leamer, an RPCV and champion of the Peace Corps,<ref name="ftn4">Laurence Leamer, a best-selling author and journalist, was a Ford Fellow in International Development at the University of Oregon and a International Fellow at Columbia University. Regarded as an expert on the Kennedy family, he has appeared in numerous media outlets discussing American politics. Leamer has also written best-selling biographies of other American icons, including Johnny Carson, the Reagan family, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. He served as a Volunteer in Nepal in the 60s. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurence_Leamer</ref> has stated,


[In his statement upon introduction of the PCIEA] Dodd…suggested that many Peace Corps supporters were uncomfortable with the idea [of reform] but said that it must be faced straight on. Dodd is the only politician in America with the power and knowledge to say that and write this bill. It is the work of a man who loves the Peace Corps but understands its flaws and knows that you cannot mindlessly grow the agency but must reform it from the bottom up. There could have been dozens of specific reforms in this bill but it fundamentally puts the agency on notice. It orders the new director to do a serious study of the agency and how it should be reformed and then carry the mandate out. Dodd ran through a litany of questions that must be answered and then acted upon. It is clear that if this is not done quickly and well, the wrath of Dodd will be visited upon the agency. In the past few years, Dodd has not given the agency the oversight that he should have given it. But Dodd is not going to strut boastfully about because of the mere passage of [the PCIEA]. He promises to be there overseeing the agency and its new director helping to ensure that volunteers head out into the rich variety of the world, well prepared to help and to learn. (June 25 Huffington Post)


In an interview with NewsMax on June 16, Larry said,


The Peace Corps has to be held to the highest standards. Rajeev [Goyal] [, another RPCV and champion of the Peace Corps,<ref name="ftn5">Rajeev Goyal has been the principal field organizer for the More Peace Corps campaign. In 2005 he received the prestigious Franklin H. Williams award for his continuing volunteerism and work in the U.S. to support projects in Nepal, where he had served as a Volunteer. The award is in memory of Franklin H. Williams, a foreign and domestic public servant until his death in 1990, who was a Peace Corps regional director for Africa and the U.S. ambassador to Ghana. Each year the Peace Corps recognizes 12 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Color who have carried on Williams’ spirit of volunteerism and commitment to the Peace Corps' third goal—“To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans."</ref>] and I are not in this for the short term. I’ve told Chairwoman Lowey and I’ve told Senator Leahy that we’re going to be just as relentless and tough on the Peace Corps once they get the funding, making sure that they are true to the vision of what the Peace Corps can be. And if they squander it, we’ll be back on the Hill next year blowing the whistle. This approach should apply to the Volunteers in the field, the Peace Corps staff, the appropriations and authorizing committees, OMB, NPCA, the Friends groups, and individual RPCVs.

See http://www.newsmax.com/headlines/peace_corps_party_divide/2009/06/16/225743.html

The authors trust that this is the “tough love” approach that Senator Dodd will take if fundamental reform is not forthcoming in response to the PCIEA and that the mandates of the PCVEA are waiting in the wings to be enacted. We believe Senator Dodd understands the depth of the malaise at the agency and continues to support these specific reforms. We believe that his change in tactics arises from a sincere hope that the new Peace Corps management will address these reforms, obviating the need to enact them into law. The authors trust Senator Dodd as the longtime champion of the Peace Corps, give him the benefit of the doubt on his choice of tactics to achieve reform, and take him at his word that his highest priority is to defend the Volunteers. We will always remember the warm welcome he gave to us when we flew to Washington from Senegal to testify at the July 2007 hearing in support of the PCVEA.  


Despite our support for and confidence in Aaron Williams, the authors are less hopeful than Senator Dodd that the needed fundamental reforms will be implemented—and become permanent features of the Peace Corps culture—without being mandating. The reforms should not be dependent on the commitment of the Director. Regarding the PCVEA provisions that establish mechanisms for listening to and respecting Volunteers, a more prudent approach—to ensure that these reforms become embedded in the Peace Corps culture—is to enact them into law. We are concerned that decades of complacency and inadequate oversight on the Hill and in the RPCV community have contributed to and enabled the deeply embedded dysfunctions in the Peace Corps documented in this report. All of us who love the Peace Corps must watch closely, keep up the pressure, and hold the agency to account. Ultimately, the Peace Corps legislative and oversight process has no time limit.


The new PCIEA would call on the Peace Corps to assess seventeen issues, including the “adequacy of the current program model of the Peace Corps,” “the medical care received by volunteers while serving,” “the causes of the early termination of service…using the cohort and other statistically appropriate methods,” “the prospects for partnerships with international and host country nongovernmental organizations,” “how the Peace Corps could utilize information technology to improve…communication among Volunteers,” and “mechanisms for soliciting the views of volunteers serving in the Peace Corps, on a confidential basis, regarding (i) the support provided to such volunteers by senior staff of the Peace Corps and (ii) the operations of the Peace Corps, including (I) staffing decisions; (II) site selection, (III) language training, and (IV) country programs…” In preparing the assessment and plan, the legislation calls on the Peace Corps to “draw on the knowledge” of “current Peace Corps volunteers,” RPCVs and “host country nationals.” Based on this assessment, the Director would be required to prepare—within the same 180 days—a strategic plan and report it to the House and Senate foreign relations committees. The plan would include one-year and five-year goals and benchmarks. It calls for the development of strategies for “distributing volunteers to countries in which they have maximum value-added for the host-country,” “reducing or closing” programs with “less strategic relevance to Peace Corps goals,” and “ensuring that Peace Corps operations and goals are not adversely affected in situations where the bi-lateral relationship between the host country and the United States is problematic.” The bill also contains two substantive provisions: one limits the number of political appointees to 15 and the other raises the authorization for the Peace Corps to $450 million in FY 2010, $575 million in FY 2011, and $700 million in FY 2012.


The authors believe that the PCIEA could be strengthened, and so by email of June 30, 2009, we transmitted amendments to Senator Dodd that we hope will be adopted. See Appendix E below. References to the PCIEA provisions and to our amendments are inserted at appropriate places below.


In addition to strengthening the list of subjects to be assessed by the Peace Corps, we have raised two major procedural points about the PCIEA process. First, the PCIEA requires that the assessments “be built on a review of past experiences and studies;” “draw on the knowledge of—(i) current Peace Corps volunteers and staff, at all levels of seniority; (ii) returned Peace Corps volunteers and staff; and (iii) host country nationals and officials who have worked closely with Peace Corps volunteers.” In an amendment, we have proposed that this outreach go also to “officials of government and non-government entities with expertise in managing volunteers and programs for sustainable development and cross-culture exchange.” We have also proposed that the Peace Corps be required to “offer these parties the option to submit their views on a confidential or non-confidential basis.”


Second, the PCIEA requires that the Peace Corps assessment and strategic plan be submitted to “the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate” and “the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives.” In an amendment, we have proposed that the Peace Corps “publish the draft strategic plan for a period of public comment and comments by volunteers and Peace Corps staff of not less than 90 days and shall report to the appropriate Congressional Committees its response to these comments.” We believe both amendments would lead to a more complete and penetrating assessment and plan by the Peace Corps.


Because the authors believe that Senator Dodd is reserving the right and option to return to mandating the substantive reforms proposed in the PCVEA, we reference and explain its mandates throughout this plan.


[edit] Calls for Reform From the Volunteers

In email affidavits sent to the authors of this plan, current and recent Volunteers have called for implementation of fundamental reforms at the Peace Corps. The authors invite other Volunteers and recent RPCVs to send additional affidavits.<ref name="ftn6">The authors will be publishing additional affidavits as part of this reform movement. We will keep confidential the names of the Volunteers and the countries in which they are serving or have served. We ask that Volunteers not include information in their affidavits that enable others to identify the country or reveal their identity. We encourage Volunteers to focus on system-wide issues that reflect on the experiences of many Volunteers.</ref> These email affidavits were sent in response to the authors’ testimony in support of Peace Corps reform before the Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Peace Corps, and Narcotics Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 25, 2007<ref name="ftn7">A video of the July Senate hearing is available at http://dodd.senate.gov/index.php?q=node/3990/print and copies of the testimony are available at

http://www.senate.gov/~foreign/hearings/2007/hrg070725a.html. </ref>, and their call for Peace Corps reform in the November 2008 issue of WorldView, the NPCA quarterly magazine.


These email affidavits highlight deficiencies in the Peace Corps capacity to listen to, respect and empower the Volunteers. They reveal that Volunteers in 28 countries believe that they succeed despite the Peace Corps bureaucracy, not because of the support that it provides. They say that they succeed by ignoring or resisting the management. They say that the Peace Corps bureaucratic command and control approach stifles creativity and collaboration. This approach works poorly with younger Volunteers and is anathema to older, more experienced Volunteers.


Printed here are excerpts from affidavits from every country from which the authors have received affidavits. Where multiple affidavits have been received from one country, the affidavit printed here represents the point of view of the others. Affidavits printed here have not been selected because they represent our point of view on the need for reform.


=== Brief excerpts from affidavits from these 28 countries follow: ===



Extended excerpts from these email affidavits are presented in Appendix A of this plan.


The authors continue to receive emails documenting mismanagement of the Volunteers. These email reports are confirmed in similar stories the authors have heard in many dozens of conversations with PCVs and RPCVs.<ref name="ftn11">The authors of this plan have not commented in public on their experiences as Volunteers in Senegal (2005-07), avoiding mention of the Senegal program in their testimony or their WorldView article calling for Peace Corps reform. They do not believe it is appropriate for Volunteers to make statements in public that could harm the program in which they serve or have served. This is why the email excerpts made public here identify the region but not the country of service. The Peace Corps publishes a Handbook for Trainees and Volunteers that states, “Trainees/Volunteers are free to discuss their role in the Peace Corps with media representatives. However, they should notify their Country Director before such contacts. Trainees/Volunteers must be aware of, and remain sensitive to, the impact their personal comments may have on themselves, their co-workers, Peace Corps and the United States…Volunteers may write articles for publication; however, these must be reviewed in advance with the Country Director to ascertain whether they may cause problems that the Volunteer may not have anticipated. Publication of material, contrary to the advice of the Country Director, that subsequently results in adverse consequences for the Volunteer or the Peace Corps [name of country] program, may be grounds for administrative separation.”</ref> The strikingly similar tone and content of these reports indicates that the agency’s management problems are widespread and deeply embedded in Peace Corps culture.


To be sure, many outstanding staff, both Americans and host country nationals, provide professional, respectful and loyal service to the Peace Corps. It is apparent, however, that far too many others resemble those described above, certainly enough to justify implementation of the reforms in this report. We will not know the full extent of these problems until we adopt the proposals that solicit Volunteer feedback about managers and programs on a confidential basis (360 degree reviews)—an issue addressed in detail below under Point Two.<ref name="ftn12">As explained in Point Two of this plan, the provisions of the Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA empowering Volunteers to participate in assessing the performance of Peace Corps managers and the effectiveness of Peace Corps programs will do much to give Volunteers a constructive outlet to express their views.</ref>


Some may wonder why these views of the Volunteers have not been widely heard before. A key reason is that the overwhelming majority of Volunteers are young and straight out of college. They often fear that if they speak out, the Peace Corps will “fire them from their first job.” For fear of retaliation, Volunteers do not dare criticize their managers in their blogs.<ref name="ftn13">Protecting Volunteer rights and giving them Whistleblower status is discussed below under Point Eight.</ref> Also, young Volunteers have little experience being managed and do not always know what constitutes unsupportive management. The most discontented Volunteers terminate their service early and then often blame themselves for "failing." Their family and friends want to see them as heroes and they don't want to undermine this storyline with disparaging reports about the Peace Corps. A 50+ couple currently serving in Central America explains these points as follows:


One might wonder why these dissenting versions of the Peace Corps are rarely presented to staff and to the public. In the course of listening to other PCVs on the topic, we have learned that many have a vested interest in milking the myth for their own personal or career gain. These motivations may include fear of repercussions, the need for future recommendations, a desire to obtain Peace Corps Fellowships, or even a justification of their time spent abroad. Still others may believe the problem is within them, or may not look at the bigger picture, so really have no critique of the organization. In addition, we have found that there is little attention for anything but praise for the organization because of the pervasive myth surrounding it.


Finally, Volunteers have essentially no experience expressing themselves to the Congress or the media, so they do not have outlets for their views, and for decades the Congress has not engaged in serious oversight of the agency or attempted to listen to the Volunteers.


While the malaise and discontent expressed in these Volunteer emails is no longer news to the authors, it may come as a surprise to others. The authors have encountered RPCVs who resist the news that there are problems at the Peace Corps. Having served as Volunteers 40 years ago, the authors can understand this resistance. It’s common for RPCVs to be sentimental about their experience as Volunteers. Many RPCVs were profoundly affected by their service and many are still engaged with the communities in which they served. Proud of their service, they are fiercely loyal alumni, just as college graduates tend to be fiercely loyal to alma maters. What grad wants to hear that their university or college is not thriving, declining, and has many dissatisfied students and a low graduation rate? Some RPCVs have misinterpreted drafts of this plan as criticizing the idea of the Peace Corps, rather than its practice, or criticizing the Volunteers rather than the managers, neither of which is true. Denial comes in many guises.


Predictably, the Peace Corps staff in Washington deny that there is any problem in need of fixing. When a Senator asked at the July 25, 2007 hearing on the Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA if "there [is any] rub" between Volunteers and management within the Peace Corps organization, Director Tschetter responded, "[C]ertainly not that I'm aware of…[T]here are really no major rubs that I know of at all." He said the Peace Corps was "ship shape." Commenting on the legislation, he said, "[I]t's evident to me that those consulted on the bill believe that there are parts of the Peace Corps that need fixing. I'm here to tell you that the agency is thriving."


Consistent with its denials, Director Tschetter generally opposed enactment of any legislation focused on Volunteer-manager relations and expressed concern about 5 of the 16 provisions of the Dodd/Kennedy PCVEA. Suffice it to say, given that the PCVEA would press the managers to better listen to, respect and empower the Volunteers, the management’s concerns about the bill highlight the depth and range of the problem and the need to implement this plan and enact elements of it into law. In addition, the agency’s response to its PCV, RPCV and Peace Corps staff critics is to castigate and/or ignore them. This is not the sign of a healthy agency committed to listening to the Volunteers and committed to reform.


Despite the denials of the Peace Corps management, the tensions documented in the emails have the appearance of a classic labor-management divide. In addition, these dysfunctional relationships appear to arise in part due to political considerations in the selection of Country Directors. The Peace Corps has the highest percentage of political appointees at headquarters of any agency of the government; virtually none of those who served in the Bush Administration had ever served as a Volunteer.


These email affidavits indicate that the Peace Corps has lost track of a simple fact—that only through its Volunteers acting at the grassroots does the agency accomplish its overseas missions to serve as an effective agent of development and cross-cultural exchange. It has not established a culture that encourages listening to, respecting, and empowering the Volunteers. It remains a top down, command and control, risk-averse government hierarchy. Simply put, it has lost its way.


[edit] Biennial Survey of Volunteers Echoes Calls for Reform

The Peace Corps 2008 Biennial Survey of Volunteers confirms the gist of the viewpoints expressed above in the affidavits of Volunteers.<ref name="ftn14">The survey—including the worldwide average results and country-by-country responses—is posted at http://peacecorpswiki.org/2008_Biennial_Volunteer_Survey. The default setting is alphabetical by country, but it is easy to sort the responses in any way by clicking the tab at the top. This yields rankings, top to bottom or bottom to top, positive to negative or negative to positive, for the responses and ranks the countries. This website is maintained by Mike Sheppard and Will Dickinson, RPCVs whose love of the Peace has inspired their support for Peace Corps reform. Mike Sheppard served as an education Volunteer in The Gambia (2003-05) and then received a masters degree in accounting from Michigan State University. See his Close of Service statement at http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/Mike_Sheppard. Will Dickinson served as a Volunteer in Armenia (2004-06). Since December 2007, he has worked with Mike to manage Peacecorpswiki. See http://www.peacecorpswiki.org/User:Willd</ref> The survey provides evidence of pervasive mediocrity, low standards in training and Volunteer support (except for safety/security and medical), and a failure to give Volunteers reasonable opportunities to achieve sustainable First Goal (development) results.


Every two years the Peace Corps surveys the current Volunteers. The results of the most recent survey—reported on November 24, 2008—confirm a substantial difference between the Volunteers’ views regarding their service, which are enthusiastic, and those regarding the management of the Peace Corps, which are equivocal. The Peace Corps often quotes the former survey results and fails to mention the latter.<ref name="ftn15">See, for example, the testimony of Director Ron Tschetter at the July 25, 2007 Senate hearing on the Dodd/Kennedy Peace Corps reform legislation that selectively quotes from the 2006 survey. </ref> Presented here is a summary of all of the survey results, positive and not so positive. Also presented are country-to-country comparisons.<ref name="ftn16">The process by which the authors obtained the 2008 survey results can only be described as Kafkaesque. In March of this year, at our request, Peace Corps staff gave us a hard copy of the worldwide responses to the survey. On April 13 we filed a FOIA request for the country-by-country breakout of the results. In our request we noted that the hard copy in our possession invited Country Directors to view the country-by-country results on the Peace Corps intranet—confirming that the country-by-country results exist there in electronic form. On May 11 the Peace Corps FOIA officer notified us that, “It is estimated that the total number of pages responsive to your request is 6,068 pages. The file containing these documents is too large to send electronically or scan to a CD-Rom. Therefore, your request will be subject to a reproduction charge of $895.20 for all pages over the 100 page limit.” In short, she was insisting that we pay for a hard copy of the breakouts for each country. About this time she produced for us a sample table for Question E 11 (regarding Country Directors) that provided answers for all of the countries to this question, a question-by-question format. We inquired whether the answers were available in this question-by-question format as well as in the country-by-country format. We were told that it’d cost the Peace Corps $2,242 to produce the responses in a question-by-question format, again apparently only in a hard copy. We asked repeatedly if the documents already existed in electronic format on the intranet site—she never confirmed that they did—and we offered to supply her with a mini-external hard drive to which to download the electronic files. Out of exasperation at her evasions and unresponsiveness, we filed a FOIA appeal on May 27 asking again for electronic copies of the files—country-by-country and question-by-question. On June 23 the Peace Corps formally denied our appeal saying that the processing of our request, including the refusal to produce the documents in electronic form and the outlandish cost estimates, was “proper.” Anticipating that our appeal would be denied, in early we approached Peace Corps headquarters staff who went to the Peace Corps intranet—just where we’d said the documents were posted—and downloaded for us copies of all of the country-by-country survey results—77 files. They fit easily on a flash drive. It took less than 5 minutes to download the documents. It was then easy to load the responses into an Excel spread sheets so we could rank the countries question-by-question. We forwarded the files to PeaceCorpsWiki and the documents soon were posted on line for the public to review. The lack of transparency of the Peace Corps is discussed at length in Point Sixteen of this below.</ref> The results are given in considerable detail because no one knows better than the Volunteers how the Peace Corps is being managed and what it is accomplishing.


The most recent survey was completed by about half the Volunteers serving between May and August 2008. Some 87% of respondents did it on line.<ref name="ftn17">68% of the Volunteers who completed the survey “never” have Internet access at their residence and 54% never have it at their work site.</ref> We have strong evidence that the Volunteers who did not complete the survey have a more negative view of their Peace Corps service than those who did.<ref name="ftn18">We know that the worldwide Early Termination rate is roughly 35% (discussed in depth below). Yet in response to question H 4, only 2% of the Volunteers worldwide indicate that they do not intend to complete their service and only 4% state that they are “not sure.” This clearly indicates that the responses as a whole are considerably more positive than they would have been had all of the Volunteers who end up ETing been included—that the most dissatisfied Volunteers were among the 50% of the Volunteers who chose not to complete the survey. For a variety of reasons, the Volunteers who were inclined to ET did not complete the survey. 1) Those not enjoying their service had already left and were not sampled. 2) Those who were thinking about ETing chose not to fill out the survey thinking "I'm leaving anyway." 3) Those who were inclined to ET were dissatisfied with management and not responsive to its appeal for the Volunteers to complete the survey. And 4) those who are dissatisfied with management might believe that it won’t listen to the survey results and take action in defense of the Volunteers. At any rate, the survey is clearly biased in favor of the Volunteers who are more satisfied with their Peace Corps experience, so it yields responses that are disproportionately positive. </ref> Given the pervasively mediocre and negative responses we have from those who did complete the survey, this is a distressing inference.


The survey results are tabulated worldwide and country-by-country; the authors have access to both tabulations and reported both here. The country-by-country results are especially valuable for identifying the opportunities for reform. For example, the survey includes questions about the support provided by Country Directors and other Peace Corps managers to the Volunteers, as well as the adequacy of training, site preparation, medical and security support. Also included are questions about which program in which the respondent serves, so it’s easy to focus on the design and impact of programs country-by-country. This data can be compared to that about the ET rates of Volunteers country-by-country and program-by-program. It can be compared to the reviews of Volunteers in 360 degree reviews—a survey methodology described below. In short, if the Peace Corps is committed to listening to, respecting and empowering Volunteers and to instituting a continuous process of reform, it has ample data about where to focus its efforts and how to evaluate the performance of its personnel.


In reporting the survey results on a country-by-country basis, the authors are well aware of the admonition in the Peace Corps Handbook that Volunteers be "aware of, and remain sensitive to, the impact personal comments may have on themselves, their co-workers, Peace Corps and the United States." Though we are no longer Volunteers, we will honor this admonition to the extent that it is consistent with holding Peace Corps officials accountable for their management of the Volunteers. In the end, the cause of Peace Corps reform trumps the personal interests of government employees to shield themselves from public scrutiny. In our point of view, we emphatically side with the Volunteer. We have no sympathy for Peace Corps managers who fail to listen to, respect, and empower Volunteers; who fail to design programs and training that give Volunteers a reasonable opportunity to achieve sustainable results; who fail to effectively prepare sites and recruit counterparts; who fail to provide effective technical and financial support; and who violate Volunteer rights. So, we publish here the Volunteer responses to this question on a country-by-country basis, including the question that focuses on the performance of individual Country Directors.


On the positive side, the worldwide results have the Volunteers reporting the following:

* They find their overall Peace Corps service “personally satisfying”<ref name="ftn19">Question H 1.</ref>: 25% say it is “exceptionally” personally rewarding; 45%, “considerably;” 24%, “moderately;” 5%, “minimally;” and 1%, “not at all”;

* “Today” they would make the “same decision” to join the Peace Corps<ref name="ftn20">Question H 2.</ref>: 58% say “definitely,” 25%, “probably,” 11%, “possibly,” 4%, “not likely,” and 2%, “no”;

* They would “recommend Peace Corps service to others [they] think are qualified”<ref name="ftn21">Question H 3.</ref>: 58% say “definitely,” 25%, “probably,” 14%, “possibly,” 2%, “not likely,” and 1%, “no”.

* They say that the Peace Corps experience “matches their expectations<ref name="ftn22">Question H 5.</ref>: 9% say “exceptionally”; 27%, “considerably”; 38%, “moderately”; 19%, “minimally;” and 7%, “not at all.”

* They are well integrated into their community<ref name="ftn23">Question C 3.</ref> (27% say “very well” and 38%, “well”) and communicate effectively in the “language used by most people” in their community<ref name="ftn24">Question C 4.</ref> (18% say “very well” and 30%, “well”).

These positive responses are the only survey results that the Peace Corps tends to publish.


Analyzing the “personally satisfying” question country by country, we find that the top ranked programs are 1. Cambodia; 2. Kiribati; 3. Cape Verde; 4. Lesotho; 5. Kenya; 6. Peru; 7. Tanzania; 8. Belize and China (tied); and 10. Vanuatu. The bottom ranked programs are 58. Jamaica; 59. Romania; 61. Bulgaria; 62. Thailand; 63. Samoa; 64. Jordan; 65. Swaziland; 66. Ethiopia; and 67. Surinam. See http://peacecorpswiki.org/H1


Analyzing the “make same decision” question country-by-country, we find that the top ranked countries are 1. Cambodia; 2. Lesotho; 3. Cape Verde and Kenya; 5. Costa Rica; 6. Peru; 7. Mongolia; 8. Zambia; and 9. Belize. The lowest rankings are for 57. Philippines; 58. Samoa; 59. Mauritania; 60. Caribbean, Eastern; 61. Kyrgyz Republic; 62. Jamaica; 63. Thailand; 64. Swaziland; 65. Jordan; 66. Ethiopia; and 67. Surinam. http://peacecorpswiki.org/H2


Analyzing the “recommend to others” question country-by-country, we find that the top ranked countries are 1. Cambodia; 2. Cape Verde; 3. Kenya; 4. Belize; 5. China and Lesotho; 7. Guatemala and Macedonia; 9. Mozambique; and 10. Malawi and Panama. The bottom rankings go to 58. Togo; 59. Guyana; 60. Fiji; 61. Thailand; 62. Samoa; 63. Jamaica; 64. Swaziland; 65. Ethiopia; 66. Jordan; and 67. Surinam. http://peacecorpswiki.org/H3


The tone and substance of the Volunteers’ responses shift dramatically when they are asked if their Peace Corps experiences “match the expectations [they] had before [they] became a Volunteer.”<ref name="ftn25">Question H 5.</ref> Here, only 9% say “exceptionally”; 27%, “considerably”; 38%, “moderately”; 19%, “minimally”; and 7%, “not at all.”


Analyzing the “match expectations question” country-by-country, we find that the top ranked countries are 1. Kiribati; 2. Guinea; 3. Cambodia; 4. Kenya; 5. Panama; 6. Mali, Mauritania and Senegal; 9. Burkina Faso; and 10. Peru. The bottom rankings go to 58. Bulgaria; 59. Turkmenistan; 60. Fiji; 61. Swaziland; 62. Moldova; 63. Albania; 64. Ethiopia; 65. Jordan; 66. Jamaica; and 67. Surinam. http://peacecorpswiki.org/H5


Of greatest interest to the pending debate in the Congress over reforming and expanding the Peace Corps, when Volunteers are asked how “your host country [would] benefit the most”<ref name="ftn26">Question H 6.</ref> 46% reply if the Peace Corps program was “refocused/redesigned.” Another 25% state that the host country would benefit most if the program were “maintained as is.” Only 20% say that program would benefit most if it were “expanded.” 6% say the best approach is to “reduce” the program and 4% say the best approach is to “discontinue” the program.


Some of the Volunteers who support expanding the Peace Corps program may also support a “refocused/redesigned” Peace Corps, so the consensus about the need for reform rather than expansion is clear and unambiguous. This means that the views of the Volunteers are fundamentally inconsistent with the campaign to rapidly expand the Peace Corps.


Analyzing this question on a country-by-country basis, the Volunteers in some countries enthusiastically support expansion. The greatest support for expansion comes in Guinea (59%), Mexico and Peru (55%), Mozambique (51%), Kiribati (50%), Armenia (48%), Tanzania (47%), Madagascar (45%), China and Zambia (44%), and Azerbaijan (40%). In other countries there is very little support for expansion: only 3% support expansion in Surinam, The Gambia, and Macedonia; 4% in Benin and Samoa; 5% in Jamaica and Romania; 6% in the Eastern Caribbean; 7% in Bulgaria; Cape Verde and Togo; 8% in Ghana and Ukraine; and 9% in Botswana, Fiji, Moldova and Morocco. If the Peace Corps is listening to and respecting Volunteers, it will expand its program only in the countries where the Volunteers support expansion.


In terms of discontinuing programs, the Volunteers are equally decisive. Some 45% of the Volunteers in Togo support reducing or terminating the program; 40% in Jamaica; 38% in The Gambia; 35% in Samoa; 24% in Macedonia; 25% in Surinam (all for termination); and 21% in Ukraine. If the Peace Corps is listening to and respecting Volunteers, it will consider reducing or terminating these programs.


In many countries the overwhelming majority of the Volunteers support refocusing and redesigning the programs: 74% in Jordan; 73% in Ethiopia; 72% in Benin; 71% in Romania; 69% in Surinam; 68% in Botswana; 67% in Niger; 64% in Fiji, Guyana, and Cape Verde; 63% in Bulgaria and Moldova; 62% in Cambodia; 61% in Samoa and Tonga; 60% in Eastern Caribbean; 57% in Senegal and Turkmenistan; 56% in Cameroon, Ghana and Thailand; 55% in Morocco and South Africa; and 47% in China. Clearly, an investigation is needed in these countries to determine why so many Volunteers recommend that the program be refocused and redesigned.


In only a few countries do Volunteers support maintaining a program “as is.” These include 49% in Micronesia; 47% in Zambia; 43% in Panama; 41% in Paraguay; 40% in Vanuatu; 34% in Guatemala; 34% in Mali and Malawi; 33% in Ecuador, Dominican Republican, and Belize; 33% in Armenia and Bolivia; 32% in Costa Rica; 31% in Ghana, El Salvador and Albania; and 30% in Nicaragua.


Unfortunately, it appears that the Peace Corps has not followed up or asked open-ended questions to determine why so many Volunteers support a “refocused/redesigned” Peace Corps and so few support an expanded one. The Volunteer responses to this question are the most tantalizing in the survey and the most significant, given the current political agenda of some Members of Congress and RPCVs to rapidly expand the number of Volunteers. The priority of the authors is the same as that of the Volunteers—making reform the top priority.


In this survey the Peace Corps asks whether Volunteers “intend to complete” their service as Volunteers (or early terminate—ET). As mentioned above, the responses to this question raise fundamental questions about which Volunteers completed the survey. The survey finds that 2% of the Volunteers say that will not complete their service; 4% are not sure; 75% will complete their service; and 19% “might extend.” Given that the Peace Corps suffers from a 35% ET rate, six times the ET rate implied by these responses, it appears clear that the respondents to this survey do not include a representative sampling of the most dissatisfied Volunteers. If it had, the survey results would have been decidedly more negative.


Analyzing the responses on a country-by-country basis, the highest ratings for “might extend” are found for Volunteers in Cambodia, 46%; Dominican Republic 41%; Paraguay 38%; Madagascar 37%; Cape Verde 34%; Malawi 33%; Panama 31%; Tonga 28%; Philippines 28%; Mexico 27%; Ghana and El Salvador, 26%; Macedonia, Namibia, and Senegal, 25%; Ecuador and Zambia, 24%; Kenya, Cameroon, Vanuatu, The Gambia, and Guinea, 23%; Lesotho, Niger, and Micronesia, 22%; Mali and Honduras, 21%; and Belize, Ukraine, and Burkina Faso, 20%.

The highest overall ratings to this question (weighting the four possible answers) are from Paraguay, Madagascar, Cape Verde, Dominican Republic, Malawi, Cambodia, Tonga, Philippines, Mexico, Namibia, Kenya, Ecuador, Lesotho, and Panama. The lowest overall ratings are in Ethiopia, Surinam, Jordan, Guyana, Samoa, Jamaica, Togo, Kyrgyz Republic, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Albania.


The remainder of the survey provides evocative information about why Volunteers are so positive about their service and so equivocal about the agency.


One especially illuminating question focuses on the extent to which Country Directors “interact with Volunteers to be aware of Volunteer issues and concerns” through training events, in-service conferences, site visits, Volunteer Advisory Committee meetings, and other informal interactions.<ref name="ftn27">Question E 11.</ref> Worldwide, the responses of the Volunteers to this question are evenly split between those who find this interaction positive (31% of the Volunteers say the Country Director interacts with the Volunteers in order to be aware and 20% say he/she does so “completely”) and those who don’t (30% say the interaction of the Country Director is “adequate,” 17% say it he or she does so “minimally,” and “2% say he or she does so “not at all”).


The country-by-country results regarding the Country Director question give us vital information about precisely where the successes and the problems lie. The survey was conducted in the summer of 2008, so they do not apply to any Country Director installed since then, and the survey question could have been better crafted.<ref name="ftn28">The wording of this question is rather strange. It focuses on whether the Country Director “interacts with Volunteers to be aware of Volunteer issues and concerns.” Whether a Country Director “interacts to be aware” is much less important than whether he or she takes effective action to address the issues. A better question is whether the Country Director listens to, respects and empowers the Volunteers. Another focus could be on whether the Country Director works effectively to give the Volunteers a reasonable opportunity to achieve sustainable results. Another would be whether he or she respects Volunteer rights.</ref> The results reveal a chasm between countries where the Country Directors are well regarded by the Volunteers and those where they are not. Presented below are the results (ranging from interacting “not at all,” “minimally,” “adequately,” “considerably,” and “completely), the average rating for each country<ref name="ftn29">The average is computed as follows: (a) “not at all” = 1, “minimally” = 2, “adequately” = 3, “substantially” = 4, and “completely” = 5. (b) Multiple values by number of Volunteers. (c) Divide by number of Volunteers to yield average rating.</ref>, and the ranking of that rating compared to the rating for Country Director in all other Peace Corps countries.<ref name="ftn30">The ranking worldwide ranks the average ratings from the highest (1st) to lowest.</ref>


One preliminary question relates to the use of the word “adequate” in the survey. The dictionary definitions of the word “adequate” include “sufficient,” “barely sufficient,” “fair to middling,” and “passable.” The meaning of the term in the biennial survey can be sensed when it’s compared to more positive terms used in the same survey questions: “effective” and “very effective,” and more negative ones: “poor” or “not effective.” It’s clear that when the Volunteers report that something is “adequate,” they lack enthusiasm for it. The authors believe that it’s fair to infer that they mean “mediocre.”<ref name="ftn31">The number “3”—often used in the survey questions—apparently carries the same meaning as “adequate.” Similarly, the number “4” apparently corresponds to “substantially” or “considerably.”</ref>

Question E 11: The extent to which Country Directors “interact with Volunteers to be aware of Volunteer issues and concerns” through training events, in-service conferences, site visits, Volunteer Advisory Committee meetings, and other informal interactions (2008 Biennial Survey of Peace Corps Volunteers)


 
 
 
 
 
 
Not At All
Minimally
Adequately
Substantially
Completely
Total
Score
Rank
Romania
2
5
18
68
93
4.32
1
Botswana
1
4
13
26
44
4.23
2
Lesotho
1
5
11
23
40
4.20
3
Guinea
3
7
11
21
4.19
4
Moldova
1
2
11
31
52
97
4.20
5
Vanuatu
1
1
12
12
26
4.17
6
Mauritania
1
1
3
10
18
33
4.22
7
Senegal
1
10
21
30
62
4.15
8
Micronesia
1
1
6
18
26
52
4.18
9
Dominican Republic
2
3
16
48
44
113
4.11
10
Kenya
1
5
10
10
26
4.06
11
Zambia
8
32
56
61
157
4.04
12
Turkmenistan
1
11
29
14
55
4.01
13
Fiji
2
3
11
6
22
3.98
14
The Gambia
2
6
14
42
27
91
4.02
15
Georgia
8
8
16
19
51
3.95
16
Armenia
1
3
10
21
13
48
3.98
17
Malawi
1
12
32
6
51
3.92
18
Kyrg Republic
5
12
16
14
47
3.91
19
Thailand
4
6
22
40
28
100
3.99
20
Nicaragua
10
23
30
23
86
3.88
21
Burkina Faso
2
22
31
9
64
3.87
22
Paraguay
5
23
27
14
69
3.86
23
South Africa
4
20
19
12
55
3.85
24
Mali
1
5
16
23
11
56
3.87
25
Ghana
1
3
11
18
7
40
3.89
26
Eastern Caribbean
1
11
25
29
17
83
3.82
27
Kazakhstan
3
5
43
45
12
108
3.82
28
Tonga
3
5
6
3
17
3.76
29
Cape Verde
3
14
9
5
31
3.76
30
Belize
1
5
13
21
4
44
3.79
31
China
6
27
20
8
61
3.75
32
Guatemala
9
35
32
9
85
3.74
33
Panama
2
14
33
42
12
103
3.77
34
Swaziland
1
5
6
8
5
25
3.80
35
Mexico
1
7
14
16
6
44
3.76
36
Togo
5
18
16
3
42
3.70
37
Costa Rica
7
37
20
8
72
3.70
38
Madagascar
1
9
22
19
6
57
3.71
39
Peru
3
19
27
22
15
86
3.72
40
Honduras
2
14
32
26
9
83
3.70
41
Cambodia
1
1
5
5
1
13
3.80
42
Jamaica
3
12
20
15
10
60
3.74
43
Albania
1
8
10
11
4
34
3.69
44
Kiribati
1
4
3
8
3.63
45
Samoa
1
7
11
9
4
32
3.68
46
Philippines
1
10
21
17
4
53
3.66
47
Namibia
1
16
19
17
6
59
3.62
48
Bulgaria
1
22
28
26
5
82
3.60
49
Ukraine
5
41
61
45
14
166
3.62
50
Niger
8
11
6
2
27
3.54
51
Bolivia
3
28
45
27
7
110
3.58
52
Macedonia
15
28
14
2
59
3.53
53
Azerbaijan
2
15
26
11
5
59
3.58
54
Tanzania
5
11
17
18
1
52
3.67
55
Benin
3
22
26
14
6
71
3.56
56
Cameroon
1
26
35
14
3
79
3.47
57
Morocco
5
45
54
23
8
135
3.51
58
Mongolia
4
19
23
11
3
60
3.53
59
Ethiopia
11
6
3
2
22
3.41
60
Suriname
5
13
8
8
2
36
3.60
61
Ecuador
4
19
17
7
2
49
3.48
62
Uganda
2
39
27
11
1
80
3.35
63
Mozambique
4
19
21
6
50
3.43
64
Guyana
2
8
9
2
21
3.43
65
El Salvador
10
26
22
5
2
65
3.48
66
Jordan
6
28
5
3
2
44
3.35
67

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

Again, we see a vast discrepancy between countries where many Volunteers state that they are “completely” satisfied to countries where they say that they are “not at all” satisfied.


Did the Peace Corps notice that six of the lowest ranking countries for “management” were also among the lowest ranking for “job assignment”? Did this give urgency to the process of overhauling these programs? Or were the views of the Volunteers ignored? We see three countries appearing again in the top ranked list—China, Bulgaria, and Nicaragua. What are they doing that the others are not doing?


Take the question about “feedback on my work reports.” Here are the top 10 and bottom 10 rankings:


Not at all
2
3
4
Completely
Total
Score
Rank
Bulgaria
4%
5%
20%
39%
32%
79
3.90
1
Ecuador
6%
36%
32%
26%
47
3.78
2
Azerbaijan
3%
8%
17%
51%
20%
59
3.78
3
Kazakhstan
2%
11%
31%
28%
29%
112
3.70
4
Georgia
2%
14%
22%
40%
22%
50
3.66
5
Nicaragua
1%
13%
28%
38%
20%
86
3.63
6
Mongolia
2%
12%
32%
33%
21%
57
3.59
7
Macedonia
7%
9%
31%
26%
28%
58
3.58
8
Guinea
14%
32%
36%
18%
22
3.58
9
Lesotho
3%
14%
32%
24%
27%
37
3.58
10
Mali
18%
26%
30%
25%
2%
57
2.67
58
Jordan
9%
44%
27%
11%
9%
45
2.67
59
Tonga
18%
29%
29%
18%
6%
17
2.65
60
Samoa
23%
38%
15%
23%
26
2.38
61
Uganda
25%
38%
18%
15%
5%
61
2.38
62
Togo
20%
40%
28%
12%
40
2.32
63
Belize
19%
45%
26%
10%
42
2.27
64
Ethiopia
20%
40%
35%
5%
20
2.25
65
South Africa
27%
33%
35%
2%
4%
49
2.24
66
Suriname
43%
31%
11%
14%
35
1.96
67

Again, we see vast discrepancies and the patterns become even clearer. Seven of the bottom 10 countries appear in the bottom 10 on the earlier lists, five of them for the third time. Has the Peace Corps intervened to implement a top to bottom overhaul of the poorly ranked programs since the survey results were published? Does the Peace Corps assess the management practices in the best ranked countries—we see Bulgaria, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Nicaragua, Macedonia, and Guinea repeating—to see how to implement them in the worst ranked ones?


Take the question regarding “site selection.” Here are the top 10 and bottom 10 rankings:


Not at all
2
3
4
Completely
Total
Score
Rank
China
2%
15%
25%
58%
59
4.39
1
Nicaragua
2%
5%
17%
29%
47%
87
4.14
2
Georgia
2%
12%
14%
29%
43%
49
3.99
3
Kenya
12%
15%
38%
35%
26
3.96
4
Kyrg Republic
2%
9%
23%
26%
40%
47
3.93
5
Azerbaijan
3%
3%
21%
43%
29%
58
3.93
6
Micronesia
4%
35%
27%
35%
52
3.92
7
Thailand
2%
14%
16%
27%
42%
96
3.92
8
Guinea
9%
14%
45%
32%
22
3.91
9
Mexico
5%
7%
17%
34%
37%
41
3.91
10
Niger
4%
11%
50%
18%
18%
28
3.35
58
Ethiopia
10%
14%
33%
24%
19%
21
3.28
59
Samoa
12%
25%
12%
25%
25%
32
3.26
60
Romania
14%
19%
22%
24%
21%
91
3.19
61
Jamaica
17%
21%
19%
17%
26%
58
3.14
62
South Africa
17%
10%
35%
21%
17%
52
3.11
63
Uganda
21%
15%
26%
21%
18%
82
3.00
64
Fiji
12%
17%
42%
21%
8%
24
2.96
65
Togo
12%
25%
28%
30%
5%
40
2.91
66
Suriname
37%
17%
26%
14%
6%
35
2.35
67

Nine of the bottom 10 countries appear on an earlier bottom 10 list, five of them for the fourth time. Six countries repeat in the top ranked list.


While we see generally unimpressive ratings for the support provided to the Volunteers by their Peace Corps project managers and staff, the Volunteers report very positive ratings for the support they receive from the medical and security staff.<ref name="ftn32">Questions E 7.h and E 7.i..</ref> Overall Volunteers report “exceptional” and “considerable” support from their Peace Corps medical staff (39% say “exceptional” and 33% say “considerably”). Only 28% report mediocre or poor medical support.<ref name="ftn33">In four countries the medical support is rated very poorly. In Tonga 11% of the Volunteers say their medical support is “not at all” helpful and another 17% who say it’s “2” (poor). In Zambia 7% say “not at all” and 24% say “2”. In Micronesia, 15% say “not at all” and 23% say “2.” And in Guyana 27% say “not at all” and 27% say “2.” Did the Peace Corps intervene to raise the standard of medical support provided in these countries?</ref> The Volunteer satisfaction with the support for “safety and security” is rated as “completely” supportive by 40% of the Volunteers, with 33% rating it as a “4” (which apparently means “considerably”). Only 27% rate this support as mediocre or poor.<ref name="ftn34">With security support we have disturbingly low ratings in five countries. In Cambodia 14% of the Volunteers report “not at all” support and 7% report “2” (poor). In The Gambia 13% say “not at all” and 21% say “2.” In Samoa, 12% say “not at all” and 22% say “2.” In Cameroon 12% say “not at all” and 25% say “2.” And in Uganda 32% say “not at all” and 32% say “2.” Did the Peace Corps intervene to raise the safety and security support provided in these countries?</ref> The Volunteers also give high rankings for “language learning” support.<ref name="ftn35">Here again we have some countries with poor ratings. “Not at all” or “2” rankings were 25% in Fiji, 34% in Jordan and Belize, 35% in Uganda, 36% in Guyana, 37% in Jamaica, 41% in Eastern Caribbean, 45% in South Africa, 50% in Ethiopia and 73% in Namibia. Again, did the Peace Corps take notice and action?</ref>


So, the Volunteers know how to give high ratings in this survey—when they are warranted.


In printing the top 10 and bottom 10 lists, we may tend to ignore the mediocrity in the middle. Is the Peace Corps satisfied when most of the Volunteers rate the support they received as a “3”—adequate or mediocre? Take four countries in the middle of the overall rankings: Turkmenistan, Ecuador, Micronesia and Tanzania, ranked 37th, 38th, 39th, and 40th. Is the Peace Corps satisfied with their rankings on “job assignment” (36th, 23rd, 9th, and 6th, respectively), “management” (38th, 47th, 24th, and 53rd), “feedback on my projects” (25th, 2nd, 21st, and 39th), and “site selection” (41st, 45th, 7th, and 22nd)? Does the Peace Corps give a priority to reform in these countries?


Taking all of the Volunteer responses to these 11 categories for question E7 and giving appropriate weight to the answers, it’s possible to give an overall ranking of staff support provided to the Volunteers for all of the countries in the survey. This list can be seen as the ultimate overall ranking of the management support given to the Volunteers, country-by-country.


Not at all
2
3
4
Completely
 
Score
Rank
China
1%
7%
21%
33%
38%
3.99
1
Georgia
2%
9%
18%
34%
37%
3.96
2
Macedonia
4%
7%
20%
28%
41%
3.96
3
Kazakhstan
3%
6%
23%
35%
33%
3.89
4
Bulgaria
3%
7%
21%
34%
34%
3.88
5
Dominican Republic
2%
8%
24%
39%
28%
3.84
6
Mongolia
3%
7%
24%
38%
28%
3.82
7
Nicaragua
2%
8%
23%
39%
28%
3.81
8
Vanuatu
2%
9%
26%
33%
29%
3.79
9
Azerbaijan
2%
8%
23%
43%
23%
3.78
10
Malawi
2%
10%
26%
33%
29%
3.78
11
Paraguay
1%
8%
27%
41%
23%
3.77
12
Kyrg Republic
2%
10%
24%
36%
27%
3.76
13
Costa Rica
3%
8%
25%
39%
25%
3.73
14
Ukraine
2%
10%
28%
34%
26%
3.71
15
Honduras
3%
11%
24%
38%
25%
3.71
16
Guinea
3%
9%
26%
41%
22%
3.70
17
Lesotho
2%
10%
28%
36%
24%
3.70
18
Kiribati
0%
13%
18%
53%
15%
3.70
19
Peru
4%
11%
26%
28%
30%
3.69
20
Thailand
4%
11%
25%
30%
29%
3.68
21
Guatemala
4%
9%
26%
34%
26%
3.68
22
Romania
5%
13%
23%
28%
30%
3.66
23
Mozambique
2%
11%
28%
37%
21%
3.65
24
Moldova
6%
10%
22%
35%
27%
3.65
25
Armenia
8%
10%
19%
34%
28%
3.65
26
Bolivia
4%
12%
26%
35%
24%
3.63
27
Philippines
3%
11%
27%
41%
19%
3.62
28
El Salvador
4%
11%
28%
33%
24%
3.62
29
Panama
4%
10%
28%
34%
23%
3.61
30
Mexico
6%
11%
25%
35%
24%
3.60
31
Madagascar
2%
14%
29%
34%
21%
3.59
32
Mali
3%
13%
26%
38%
20%
3.59
33
Botswana
6%
11%
27%
32%
24%
3.58
34
Mauritania
7%
10%
24%
37%
22%
3.58
35
Kenya
1%
12%
32%
38%
18%
3.58
36
Turkmenistan
4%
14%
27%
34%
21%
3.55
37
Ecuador
3%
13%
32%
30%
22%
3.55
38
Micronesia
4%
12%
33%
31%
20%
3.52
39
Tanzania
6%
13%
21%
41%
18%
3.51
40
The Gambia
5%
12%
29%
35%
19%
3.50
41
Senegal
4%
15%
29%
32%
20%
3.48
42
Benin
9%
12%
28%
27%
24%
3.46
43
Albania
8%
12%
28%
29%
22%
3.45
44
Eastern Caribbean
8%
14%
30%
28%
21%
3.40
45
Cape Verde
4%
17%
36%
26%
18%
3.36
46
Burkina Faso
4%
16%
33%
32%
14%
3.35
47
Swaziland
3%
16%
36%
37%
8%
3.33
48
Tonga
6%
14%
36%
31%
13%
3.31
49
Niger
6%
18%
32%
27%
17%
3.30
50
Morocco
7%
16%
33%
29%
15%
3.29
51
Ghana
6%
17%
34%
32%
12%
3.26
52
Cambodia
6%
15%
38%
32%
9%
3.24
53
Jordan
8%
25%
26%
20%
20%
3.20
54
Belize
4%
22%
32%
34%
8%
3.20
55
Cameroon
7%
19%
34%
26%
13%
3.18
56
Jamaica
10%
20%
30%
20%
19%
3.18
57
Namibia
7%
19%
36%
28%
11%
3.17
58
Samoa
10%
22%
25%
27%
15%
3.15
59
Zambia
6%
19%
39%
27%
9%
3.15
60
South Africa
10%
18%
36%
21%
15%
3.13
61
Fiji
7%
20%
36%
29%
8%
3.10
62
Togo
7%
22%
40%
24%
7%
3.02
63
Ethiopia
10%
27%
33%
15%
15%
2.99
64
Guyana
9%
26%
38%
19%
8%
2.92
65
Uganda
15%
26%
32%
16%
12%
2.85
66
Suriname
30%
24%
21%
17%
7%
2.49
67

The issue here is this: Why do we have so few countries with outstanding managers and so many where the majority of the Volunteers give their managers mediocre to poor rankings?


It is interesting to assess whether the composite rankings of staff support correspond to the rankings of the CDs. The following graph shows the degree of correlation between rankings for

CDs and staff.


The convergence of the points in this graph indicates that there is a strong correlation; if the points were randomly spread throughout the graph, they would indicate a lack of correlation. In short, the data show that if a country has a highly ranked CD, it’s more likely to have a highly ranked staff. The authors assume that the causation runs from the CD to the staff and not the reverse. This reflects the view of the authors that it is essential to depoliticize the CD selection process.


We can see that the responses to questions E11 (CD) and E7 (staff) give us a floodlit roadmap of the countries where the management is performing well and underperforming. The key question is whether the Peace Corps uses this survey—and other evidence, such as the ET and extension rates in the country<ref name="ftn36">As will be explained below, the authors believe that surveys should be supplemented with annual 360 degree reviews focused on the design of programs and the effectiveness of the program managers. This would be a listening mechanism even more evocative than this Survey.</ref>—to institutionalize a process for continual renewal and reform. How many staff were reviewed or terminated based on these survey reports? How many staff were notified and given training to provide better support to the Volunteers? How were Volunteers engaged in following up on the survey? How many new best practices—for example, for site selection—were developed and implemented (with the input of the Volunteers)? The bottom-line issue with this survey is simple: To what extent does the Peace Corps listen to, respect, and empower the Volunteers?


Turning to other survey results, the Volunteers reported especially negative views regarding the support they receive from “host country supervisors, sponsors, counterparts”<ref name="ftn37">Question E 8.</ref>—all of whom are recruited by the Peace Corps as part of the site preparation process for the Volunteers.

* “Administrative/logistical” support”: 70% of the Volunteers report mediocre to poor support. 17% report “none” regarding support and only 9% report “exceptional” support.

* “Feedback on my project activities”: 72% of the Volunteers report mediocre to poor support. None is 16% and exceptional is only 7%.

* “Job development” support”: 74% of the Volunteers report mediocre to poor support. None is 19% and exceptional is only 6%.

* “Technical skills” support: 74% of the Volunteers report mediocre to poor support. None is 21% and exceptional is only 7%.

There is substantial variability country-to-country.


In terms of training, 60% to 75% of the Volunteers report mediocre to poor quality Pre-Service Training (PST)<ref name="ftn38">Question B 2. Training for Volunteers is typically divided between Pre-Service Training for two to three months immediately after “trainees” arrive in country and before they officially are sworn in as Volunteers, and In-Service Training, which occurs during the service of the Volunteer.</ref>, as follows:

* Training to “work with counterparts”: 70% of Volunteers report that their training was “adequate” (44%), “poor” (25%) or “not effective” (5%). Only 5% report this training was “very effective.”

* Training to “perform technical aspects of [their] work”: 63% report that their training was adequate (36%), poor (21%) or not effective (6%). Only 11% report this training was very effective.

* Training to “work with project goals and objectives”: 58% report the training to be adequate (41%), poor (14%) or not effective (3%). Only 10% report this training to be very effective.

* Training to use “participatory development assessments”: 63% report the training to be adequate (39%), poor (19%) or not effective (5%). Only 10% report this training to be very effective.

* Training to “monitor project goals and outcomes”: 67% report the training to be adequate (43%), poor (20%) or not effective (4%). Only 6% of the Volunteers report this training to be very effective.

* Most important, 45% of the Volunteers report that they are not adequately trained to “build capacity of local organizations,” which 70% of them reported to be a skill “needed for [their] Peace Corps work.” Building capacity is, in fact, the only way to achieve sustainable development results and it is the essence of the Peace Corps’ First Goal and arguably the single most important objective of the Peace Corps. Again, there is substantial variability country-to-country.


These unimpressive ratings regarding the five types of training contrast sharply with the unequivocally positive views regarding two other aspects of training—training to “maintain [their] personal safety,” where 78% of Volunteers report their training to be “very effective” (40%) and “effective” (38%). The ratings of the Volunteers regarding their training to “maintain [their] physical health” are similarly enthusiastic. This puts the poor rankings for other types of PST into stark relief.


The reports of Volunteers regarding their In-Service Training (IST) are similarly bifurcated, mediocre to poor ratings for most elements of training and enthusiastic and positive ratings for safety and health training.<ref name="ftn39">Question B 4.</ref> Again, countries vary substantially.


The Volunteer ratings of the Peace Corps programs are also mediocre. In terms of “Volunteer assignment goals and impact”<ref name="ftn40">Question D 1.</ref> between 40% and 60% of the Volunteers report mediocre or poor clarity about six key elements of their project assignment: “project plan’s goals and objectives,” “project activities,” “my role and responsibility,” “sponsoring agency’s responsibilities,” “my APCD/Program Manager’s responsibilities,” and “monitoring, reporting, and evaluating tasks.”

* “Project plan’s goals and objectives”: Only 24% of the Volunteers report that they are “exceptionally clear.”

* “Project activities”: Only 20% report that they are exceptionally clear.

* “My role and responsibility”: Only 21% report that they are exceptionally clear.

* “Sponsoring agency’s responsibilities”: Only 11% report they are exceptionally clear.

* “My APCD/Program Manager’s responsibilities”: Only 19% report they are exceptionally clear.

* “Monitoring, reporting, and evaluating tasks”: Only 16% report they are exceptionally clear.

Once again, there is substantial variability country-to-country.


Similarly, between 45% and 60% of the Volunteers report mediocre or poor accomplishments for their primary assignment with regard to “meets the objectives of my project” and “involves local people in planning and implementing activities.”<ref name="ftn41">Question D 2.</ref>

* “Meets the objectives of my project”: Only 16% of the Volunteers report “exceptionally.”

* “Involves local people in planning and implementing activities”: Only 17% report “exceptionally.”

Again, there is substantial variability country to country.


In terms of three critical First Goal measures of their assignments—“builds local capacity for sustainability,” “complements other local development activities,” and “transfers skills to host country individuals and organizations”—the Volunteers report mediocre or poor impacts, as follow<ref name="ftn42">Also Question D 2.</ref>:

* “Builds local capacity for sustainability”: 59% of the Volunteers say that their accomplishments rate a “3” (which appears to translate as “possibly”), “2” (“not likely”) and “not at all.” Only 10% say “exceptionally.”

* “Complements other local development activities”: 57% of the Volunteers say that their accomplishments rate a 3, 2 (not likely) and not at all. Only 10% of the Volunteers say “exceptionally.”

* “Transfers skills to host country individuals and organizations”: 47% of the Volunteers say that their accomplishments rate a 3, 2 (not likely) and not at all. Only 15% of the Volunteers say “exceptionally.”

Overall, these are mediocre results.


On the single most important measure—“building capacity”—results vary considerably from country to country. By this measure, few country programs are performing well. The top scores go to Ecuador where 55% of the Volunteers say that their assignments do well on building capacity. The scores are high for Costa Rica and South Africa (54%), Honduras (52%), Botswana, Peru and Zambia (51%), and Belize, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and Senegal (50%). The scores are poor for Jordan (9%), Swaziland (16%), Namibia (19%), China and Samoa (25%), Benin (26%), Ethiopia and Lesotho (27%), and Cambodia and Fiji (29%). The Peace Corps must examine why some countries are so much more effective in achieving sustainable results and what it can do to raise all of the scores.


Strangely, the survey does not once use the word “sustainable” in assessing the development impact of the Volunteers’ service.<ref name="ftn43">Sustainable development is a pattern of resource use that enables the host country nationals to continue the development projects after the Volunteer has departed, without ongoing dependence on infusions of capital or assistance from outside sources—and to do so while preserving the environment so that these projects continue not only in the present, but in the indefinite future. </ref> The closest it comes is the reference to “build capacity…” There is no challenge more important than that of achieving sustainable development results.


The survey invites the Volunteers to provide narrative recommendations regarding three subjects: 1) How can the Peace Corps better address the needs of your host country? 2) How are the realities of Peace Corps service different from your expectations before you became a Volunteer? And 3) If you have additional comments or concerns you would like to share, please do…below. Volunteers are offered the option for the Peace Corps headquarters not to share these responses with the country post. In response to our FOIA request, the Peace Corps has refused to produce these narrative results.


The survey respondents provide substantial demographic information so it would be possible to assess all of the subjects for different cohorts of Volunteers—program assignment, age, gender, ethnicity/race, marital status, education attainment level, living conditions, etc. This would enable the Peace Corps to assess successes and challenges cohort-by-cohort, including program-by-program, not just country-by-country. This data can be correlated also to the termination rates cohort-by-cohort. Overall, the survey responses provide useful information that confirms the gist of the affidavits printed above. But it does not ask penetrating questions that might yield more useful information.


The Peace Corps should transmit the country-by-country and program-by-program tabulations to the Congress, the media, PCVs, invitees to serve in the Peace Corps, RPCV groups, and on line services. By circulating and publishing them, the Peace Corps can demonstrate that it’s not afraid to acknowledge that the Volunteers believe that the Peace Corps must be “refocused/redesigned.”


The affidavits and survey results point directly to the reform recommendations presented in this report and plan. Reform must start with the Peace Corps, the Congress, and RPCVs acknowledging the pervasive mediocrity in the agency’s performance. This honesty must be matched with a sustained commitment to fundamental reform, to “refocusing” and “redesigning” the Peace Corps from the ground up. The agency must be cautious about expansion, which could well undermine performance and generate a public crisis as the failings of the Peace Corps became widely known. The Peace Corps stands at a turning point where it has an opportunity to match its Camelot reputation with well designed training and programs, respect for the Volunteers, effective staff support, and a process of continuous renewal that strives for excellence. That is precisely what this Twenty Point Plan proposes.

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