Lack of transparency and accountability
(Published in shargh newpaper)
Government has set many procedures in NGOs issues during the last years specially after coming president khatami to the power. They considered many lines in the country budget to support the civil society organizations. About ten governmental departments are responsible to spend these supporting budgets for NGOs. But after four or five years there is no precise information about the quality and circumstance of the spent money and credits. Nobody knows about the stages of decision making for allocation of credits. The governmental organizations never talk about their criteria. They only mention that all these support use for capacity building and empowering for the NGOs in general but never talk about it more.
Many of NGOs who are sensitive in governmental behaviors in NGOs sector believe that they are not transparent and accountable. They have many questions about the methods that are used by governmental organization for supporting the NGOs. But they never find any answer. NGOs expect clear answer. Some of these questions are mentioned below:
1- Government spends millions of dollars for supporting NGOs. But they never let them to participate in the process of decision making as a stakeholder. In fact government never invites the civil society organizations to talk about their supporting programs or action plans. In is not clear that how they spend these money? What are the outlines for this support? What is the action plan of supporting? Beside, that there is not any kind information in this field to distribute.
2- After spending the credits government doesn’t publish its information. They don’t talk about their program at the beginning of the year. For instance if you go to one of these governmental departments and ask about the details they never give you any information or talk about the mechanisms that they spend the money. Of course there are some differences of intensity of this point between them. Beside no one of these departments published list of organizations which use the supports. The name of organizations is not distinct. A cover of uncertainty has involved the supports. The lack of distributing the information has caused clientalistic manner in a part of civil society. This has created some unlawful advantages for some NGOs who are close to governmental organizations. These GONGO (Government Organized NGOs) use a main part of supports. Why they never publish the list of NGOs who have used the credits?
3- In some cases governmental organization support the organization which like them. But not with a precise need assessment of evaluation. They help the NGOs with their own taste. They decide to support by unclear` reasons. For example ministry of interior gave more than 30000 $ to a governmental network which was established by them 2 years ago. They are not representative of civil society and many of social activists believe that they are trying to control civil society by these kinds of networks. They paid them more than 400000 US$ to them because they want to make this network strong. But is it really a civil society organization? Everyone knows that they are not. But government did it last year. They allocate funds in the ways they want, but not in the way that is respectful for real and independent NGOs. Many of social activists believe that government has built a second hand civil society (counterfeit civil society) to use it whenever they want. For example when some NGOs criticize the government these kinds of NGOs come to the playground and decrease the power of associations. Why the government uses the credits to make strong the counterfeit civil society organizations? Why don’t they publish any list of utilized supports? Why do they support NGOs unclearly? Because of these facts, NGOs believe that the credits and money which spend in these fields would not make a powerful civil society. The chosen way by government only waste all money and wont progress the sustainable development. We can see many NGOs who are governmental driven (A kind of donor driven NGOs) which are replacing with real NGOs.
4- Beside there is no evaluation mechanism to show the effect of these supports during the recent years. Nobody knows the effectiveness of these supports in empowering the civil society organizations. In this way the quality, procedures, distribution mechanisms and CSOs satisfaction are not transparent. So we can say which process is successful and which one is not? Cynicism is the first result of this atmosphere. GONGOs act in this way which makes people pessimistic. Because these kind of NGOs can not reproduce transparency but talk instead of people. Counterfeit civil society is another result of continuing these behaviors.
5- NGOs believe that it is better to make transparent this area. In this way government has to clarify the mechanisms, enter NGOs into partnership for distributing and write criteria of supports. To do projects without any need assessment waste the resources. Government must know which king of supports can improve the capacity of NGOs and which kind of support can destroy the independency of associations. They can publish their criteria of supporting NGOs each year. Beside it is better to consider evaluation seriously. Transparency and accountability are to factors which must be considered by governmental departments in their relation with civil society….
6- The relation between government and civil society in Iran at the present time is unclear and it will destroy their opportunities in this area and make strong the counterfeit civil society. They have to think about this relation more and also start a new round of dialogue with CSOs.
(At the end of article there is a list of governmental organizations in a table which shows the entire governmental budget for supporting NGOs. I have gathered all these information from a National organization of programming and management. )