The ACFID Code Of Conduct “Revisiting CSO Governance and Accountability in South East Asia post Busan” Cambodia December 13th/14th 2011
Overview • What is the Code? • Why is it important? • How does it work? • Why was it developed? • What have we learned? • What are the challenges? • How might others learn from us?
What is ACFID? • Australian Council for International Development • Australian peak body for overseas aid and development organisation • Lobbying and advocacy • Promoting ethical conduct and good practice • Peer support, learning and networking
What is the Code? • We are a ‘certification’ Code of Conduct • 123 signatories • Have compliance mechanisms • Code of ‘good’ practice – not ‘best’ • Has Principles and Obligations in every area of organisational activity • Linked to one government funding program
Why is the Code important? • Provides a good practice standard for the sector • Acts to manage reputational risk for sector • Increases stakeholder confidence and trust • Keeps external regulatory mechanisms at bay • Set by the sector for the sector • Contributes to development effectiveness • Addresses some of the critique facing aid organisations • Assists to position the sector for greater government funding
Why was it developed? • Developed in 1997 due to scandal in the sector • Originally emphasised only donor accountability • Completely revised in 2009/10 • All areas updated • Included development effectiveness • Emphasised broader stakeholder accountability – partners and local people
Who runs it? • ACFID • Administers via Code Management Team • Education, promotion, development of Code • Code Committee (4 independent, 6 elected members) • Membership • Monitors adherence to Code • Complaints • Assists development of Code
What does it cover? • Preamble - Values • B. Program Principles (Effective aid and development, Partners, Human rights, Advocacy, Emergency management) • C. Public Engagement (Marketing and reporting, Annual report, Fundraising) • D. Organisation (Structure, Integrity and ethics, Governance, Finances, Staff and volunteers, Complaints handling) • E. Compliance with this Code (Compliance, Assessment, Code complaints handling process)
How do we assist members to implement? • Implementation Guidance – explanatory text, examples, resources, website links • Training – webinar, face to fact • Staff available to assist – especially new signatories
What are the compliance mechanisms? • application (sight documents) • annual self assessment(feedback provided on selected areas) • annual and financial reporting (accountant reviews) • promotional material check during appeals • Independent complaints handling process • Research shows the effectiveness of self - regulation is dependent on the existence and nature of the compliance system (OWT, 2010)
What happens if organisations breach the Code? • CSA – remedial actions on high risk areas, detail. • Independent complaints handling process • Remedies negotiated • Appeals process • Signatory status can be cancelled
What are the challenges? • Small staff of 3 FTE – ACFID staff 15 • Desk based assessment only – are they really doing it? • Development effectiveness – applys to partners • 53% of our signatories distribute less than $1million – compliance burden • Review of the Code – when? • Research – is it making a difference?
What have we learned? • Code valued and “owned” by agencies • Code highly valued by government • Code is promoted by all of ACFID staff • Compliance mechanisms work • Agencies need support – policy templates etc • Base our training around Code requirements • ACFID is making Code the “flagship benefit” of membership
What learning might be useful for others? • Have good governance for your Code – independence is vital! • If developing a code, involve your members to the max! • Have some sort of compliance – otherwise value minimised. • Try to link to government funding programs • Charge appropriately