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Leveraging the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially known as “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” including Goal 16, the “justice, peace, and inclusive institutions” goal, were hailed by former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as nothing less than “a defining moment in human history.” Critics called the SDGs “a mess.”There’s much agreement on both accounts. The SDGs are lofty, ambitious, and inspirational. And they are vague and ill-defined. This provides an opening for justice systems and their stakeholders across the globe to leverage the SDGs to serve their national priorities and goals and perhaps even shape international goals.
In Uzbekistan
This essentially was my message to an international conference, “Modern Judicial Mechanisms for Reliable Protection of the Rights and Legitimate Interests of Entrepreneurs: Experience of Uzbekistan and International Practices,” in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The conference was organized by the Supreme Economic Co…

Without Replication, Should Program Evaluation Findings Be Suspect as Research Findings Currently Are?

Replication of research -- the reproducibility of findings -- is a methodological safeguard and hallmark of research universally lauded by scientists to justify their craft. As we are continuing to learn with more certainty, it is theory not much put into practice. Claims about research finding may be more likely to be false than true. Scientific studies are tainted by poor study design, sloppy and often self-serving data analysis, and miscalculation – problems that replication of the studies and duplication of the results would largely correct. Again, the problem is that it’s not done.
The continuing work of John Ioannidis at Stanford University, Brian Nosek at the University of Virginia, and others shows that much research is not and cannot be replicated. Almost a decade ago in these pages (Courts Have No Business Doing Research Studies, Made2Measure, October 15, 2007), I highlighted a 2005 paper by Ioannidis titled “Why Most Published Research Findings Are False” that caused a stir …

How To Be Heard by Policymakers

The design of international development is ill-suited for our fast-paced world. It is not unusual for aid programs to take five or more years from blueprint to start-up and another five years for results to be reported, and even more time for the results to be “translated” into policy.
How Scientists Should Act
Writing in the February 10, 2017 issue of Science, Erik Stockstad summarizes the message of Paul Cairney, a political scientist at the University of Stirling in the UK, author of the book, The Politics of Evidence-Based Policy Making. Cairney’s message is for those scientists who want their findings to find their way into policy:
Data does not speak for itself.Scientists should be “sifters, synthesizers, and analyzers” to make the evidence “speak.” Cairney repeats the common refrain of policy-makers: “I don’t have the time to consider all the information. How do I decide?”
Policymaking is disorderly.Scientists need to dispense with the notion that policymaking is an orderly process…

Politicians in Greece Make Data the Enemy

In a January 23, 2017 post (Right Use and Politics in Performance Measurement and Management), I argued that practitioners of performance measurement and management (PMM) must not ignore the reality of politics if they want to ensure the “right use” of PMM. They do so at peril of coming into the cross-hairs of foes who would “shoot the messenger” rather than consider data that they don’t like.
The lesson that performance measurement data is not above politics came into full international view today on the front page of the Wall Street Journal article today written by Marcus Walker under the title Greeks Make Data The Enemy: Facing resurgent debt crisis, politicians indulge in conspiracy theories involving formerstatistics chief.
Andreas Georgiou, an American-trained economist and Greek citizen who moved from the U.S. and became Greece’s first independent head of statistics in 2010, stands accused by his foes of manipulating the country’s deficit figures in a plot to force austerity mea…

“As Is” Adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Without Correction Is a Mistake

On September 25, 2015, the United Nation’s General Assembly adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially known as “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” The 2030 Agenda was hailed by then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as nothing less than “a defining moment in human history.”Many critics, on the other hand, argued that the details of the SDGs – not necessarily their grand ambitions - do not bear close scrutiny.
Leading up to the adoption of the SDGs, the prolonged debate about the goals the world set for 2030 had been heated, fraught with seemingly endless consultations. Nonetheless, in a surprise to many if not most informed observers, the sprawling package of SDGs, including 17 overarching goals and a mind-boggling 169 associated targets, was adopted virtually unchanged from that proposed on August 12, 2014, by the Open Working Group of the UN General Assembly on SDGs.
The SDGs Are Not SMART
In an article in the current issue of the W…

Right Use and Politics in Performance Measurement and Management

In previous posts here (see Ensuring the Right Use of Performance Data: A Cautionary Tale from Health Care, June 26, 2012) and other writings, I have urged the broadening of the scope of inquiry about performance measurement and management (PMM) beyond the “right measures” and the “right delivery” of the information provided by the measures (for example, by such mechanisms as real-time performance dashboards) to the politics of the “right use” of that information. Trained in the social sciences, scholars and practitioners of PMM may think they can exclude politics from their models, thinking that it sullies the discipline of PMM or that politics is the business of other fields. This is a mistake, especially for international development. The necessity of consideration of politics is argued, among many international scholars, by Francis Fukuyama in the first chapter of his 2011 book, The Origins of Political Order.
The requirements of the “right use” recognizes that PMM – and other tech…
Incentive: The Missing Ingredient in Performance Measurement and Management (PMM) in Courts
Woody Allen is said to have once quipped: “I was in a warm bed and, all of a sudden, I found myself in the middle of your strategic plan.” What will it take for courts and other justice institutions to get out of their warm beds and embrace performance measurement and management (PMM)? What are the incentives?
Business Incentives Do Not (Yet) Exist for Courts
For private sector organizations, PMM is an imperative, an essential business evaluation tool that is a matter of survival. In the long-term, if profits are insufficient to cover expenses they surely soon will be out of business. In the short-term, if cash-flow does not cover employee salaries, they will close their doors sooner. Other than net profit and cash-flow, critical measures for businesses include return on investment, market share, customer satisfaction and loyalty, and employee engagement. For businesses moving the needle on these …