I do think that the existence of pooled funding of such a magnitude is the very reason for its lack of accountability. What I do not like about pooled funding is that it provides an excuse for bureaucrats not to having to deal with the substance (effectiveness), but rather win 'hearts and minds' of tax payers through efficiency gains. Those awarding grants hardly see it reported on, as people in the foreign service offices change jobs every three to four years. Hence accountability is detached from human relationships and only becomes a bureaucratic exercise to satisfy politicians. And for politicians it may come in handy that results are hard to trace. You can just pick and choose the results that serves your political agenda and leave the rest unnoticed. In the
Netherlands our Ministry has even designed an instrument to avoid 'heavy' (read thorough) evaluations. It is called a 'beleidsdoorlichting'. The word carries also the connotation of transparency. However, as a decisionmaker you just pick and choose what you wish to look at. In this way the two previous ministers have successfully altered their strategies to make them align with their political preferences. Effectiveness of past performance hardly mattered.
I have argued before against IATI at this blog as it carries the image of transparency while actually detaching accountability from the relationship. XML now replaces reports from one person to the other on what has been agreed. We have commonly agreed to commonly formulated objectives. So commonly we decide that we have commonly failed and therefore all of us have learned our lessons and will improve our practice in future. I therefore plea for down-scaling interventions to a level that can be controlled and decentralising decisionmaking on grant awarding. In database terms I am in favor for a many-to-many structure where aid is not collected (tax/crowdsourcing/fundraising) and distributed (aid) but exchanged from many to many. From a governance point of view this may look like a nightmare. However, it may be a better match with todays connected world.
Today I helped one international NGO applying for funding from a fund managed by another international NGO creating an additional accountability relation at the local level in a third country. You wonder how accountability takes shape in such a
context. The world changes