Detailed Information on the
Economic Support Fund - Human Rights and Democracy Fund Assessment

Program Code 10002298
Program Title Economic Support Fund - Human Rights and Democracy Fund
Department Name Department of State
Agency/Bureau Name Department of State
Program Type(s) Competitive Grant Program
Assessment Year 2004
Assessment Rating Adequate
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 100%
Strategic Planning 62%
Program Management 80%
Program Results/Accountability 47%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $63
FY2008 $258
FY2009 $35

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Continue to refine HRDF??s performance goals and measures, set specific targets for HRDF??s annual performance goals, and improve the reporting of HRDF??s results and performance to the public.

Action taken, but not completed

Analyze the findings of independent evaluations, and annual and long-term program performance data, and incorporate this analysis into annual budget processes.

Action taken, but not completed The program has taken actions to remedy the lack of independent evaluations of its activities. The Department of State/DRL has hired an outside evaluator, Intermedia, to assess the effectiveness of democracy and rule of law programs in China. The database to help track and assess grantee performance and internal grants management became operational as of FY08. Greater percentage of responses to recent HRDF solicitations include an independent evaluation component.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Annual Efficiency

Measure: Percentage of appropriated funds competed, notified, and obligated within one calendar year of bureau receipt and approval of funds/spending plans.


Year Target Actual
2005 50% 61.40%
2006 50% 31%
2007 50% 34%
2008 35%
2009 40%
2010 45%
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Percentage of HRDF-funded countries which show improvement or no negative change on their Freedom House Freedom in the World (FITHW) score


Year Target Actual
2006 65% 89%
2007 65% 89%
2008 65% 93%
2009 82%
2010 85%
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Percentage of countries with HRDF press freedom projects which show improvement or no negative change in the Freedom House Freedom of the Press scores.


Year Target Actual
2006 65% 67%
2007 65% 38%
2008 60%
2009 62%
2010 65%
Annual Outcome

Measure: Percentage of HRDF projects which show a positive impact on press freedom at the local, regional, or national level


Year Target Actual
2006 25% 23%
2007 25% 29%
2008 25% 20%
2009 20%
2010 23%
Annual Outcome

Measure: Percentage of HRDF projects which show a positive impact on democracy and/or democratic institutions at the local, regional or national level

Explanation:The first set of results for this measure will be in 2004.

Year Target Actual
2002 -- --
2003 -- --
2004 -- --
2005 70% 60%
2006 60% 88%
2007 65% 74%
2008 70% 77%
2009 72%
2010 75%
Annual Outcome

Measure: Percentage of independently evaluated HRDF programs which demonstrate that they are at least on target to achieve their goals


Year Target Actual
2002 -- --
2003 -- --
2004 70% 60%
2005 60% 60%
2006 65% 100%
2007 65% 81%
2008 70% 77%
2009 72%
2010 75%
Annual Outcome

Measure: Percentage of HRDF projects which demonstrate a positive impact on respect for human rights at the local, regional or national level

Explanation:The first set of results for this measure will be in 2004.

Year Target Actual
2005 60% 60%
2006 60% 53%
2007 65% 60%
2008 70% 77%
2009 72%
2010 75%

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: The purpose of HRDF is to help fulfill the State Department's mandate to monitor and promote human rights and democracy worldwide. HRDF's purpose is to be a flexible, responsive mechanism that supports innovative programs to improve democracy, human rights and civil society in countries/regions of strategic significance to the U.S., consistent with the priorities of the Economic Support Fund account which funds HRDF. HRDF supports innovative, cutting-edge projects that promote democracy and human rights in countries of strategic significance to the United States.

Evidence: a. CBJ; b. Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2004 P.L. 109-199; c. DRL website

YES 20%

Does the program address a specific and existing problem, interest or need?

Explanation: A 2003 annual assessment of political freedom and civil liberties in 192 countries found that there were 55 "partly free" countries and 48 "not free" countries. Another annual assessment reported that in 2003 extrajudicial killings occurred in 42 countries and disappearances occurred in 33 countries. The U.S. National Security Strategy identifies the problem of human rights abuses and democratic freedom as an important challenge for U.S. foreign policy worldwide.

Evidence: a. Sept 2002 National Security Strategy; b. Freedom House Freedom in the World 2003 Index; c. Country ratings in the Dept. Human Rights Reports; d. Amnesty International 2003 report

YES 20%

Is the program designed so that it is not redundant or duplicative of any other Federal, state, local or private effort?

Explanation: HRDF is designed to fill a unique niche by supporting cutting-edge, innovative and timely democracy and human rights projects through a State Dept./DRL-managed grant program. HRDF projects are often pilot or "seed" projects which strive for immediate impact but have the potential for continued funding by other donors once the project has taken root. HRDF seeks to fund higher risk projects which other USG agencies cannot or will not fund. DRL's proposal submission criteria and thorough proposal review process ensure that HRDF projects do not duplicate other efforts.

Evidence: a. Cleared FY 2004 Muslim World RFP and China Call for Statements of Interest; b. SOP Tab 3 - Proposal Review Process; c. E-mail invitations and guidance to proposal review panelists

YES 20%

Is the program design free of major flaws that would limit the program's effectiveness or efficiency?

Explanation: HRDF is free of major design flaws. HRDF is designed for use in priority countries. Individual HRDF projects that affect change at local and regional levels are designed to serve as catalysts for improved human rights and democracy conditions at a national level; a cornerstone of US foreign policy. Congressional earmarks, the USG strategy for the global war on terror and a Bureau committment to support innovative "seed" projects also influence HRDF's design. DRL coordinates closely with AID and regional bureaus to ensure a harmonized approach to USG human rights and democracy programming.

Evidence: a. DRL cleared Regional Strategies; b. A/S Craner speech; c. Ex. of State Dept. annual Human Rights Report; c. Quarterly project reviews (GOR); d. Ex. of grantee quarterly progress report; e. OIG report BPP Evidence: Goal Papers: DE .01 Democratic Systems and Practices

YES 20%

Is the program effectively targeted, so that resources will reach intended beneficiaries and/or otherwise address the program's purpose directly?

Explanation: DRL targets HRDF for use on projects that support DRL's regional and country strategies and help DRL to achieve its annual and long-term performance goals. To maximize resources and prevent programming duplication, DRL coordinates closely with relevant regional bureaus and USAID during the vetting of project proposals. DRL also asks grant applicants to research existing activities before submitting project proposals as additional preventative measure to avoid duplication.

Evidence: a. CBJ; b. Country and Regional Strategies; c. Ex. of successful HRDF projects; d. Ex. of Meeting Minutes and e-mails showing DRL coordination with regional bureaus and USAID on programming; e. Ex. of HRDF RFP BPP Evidence: Goal Papers: DE .01 Democratic Systems and Practices

YES 20%
Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design Score 100%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning
Number Question Answer Score

Does the program have a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that focus on outcomes and meaningfully reflect the purpose of the program?

Explanation: HRDF is one of several important tools employed by DRL to achieve the Bureau's overall strategic goals of advancing democracy and respect for human rights in countries/regions of strategic significance to the U.S. DRL measures long-term program performance by examining the percentage of countries with past or present HRDF projects that have made gains at the national level in strengthening democracy and democratic institutions, increasing repect for human rights and improving freedom of the press. DRL anticipates that individual HRDF projects targeted at the local or regional level will achieve results that will be visible on a national scale within 5 years. DRL measures these results and shifts in democracy, democratic instutions, respect for human rights and freedom of the press at the national level using a number of aggregate indicators listed in Evidence 2.1.

Evidence: a. Freedom House "Freedom in the World" Survey; b. Freedom House Countries at the Crossroads Survey; c. Freedom House Freedom in the Press Survey; d. HRDF grantee project evaluations and quarterly progress reports; e. HRDF semi-annual evaluations; f.World Bank Institute Good Governance Indicators; g. Department annual Human Rights Reports; h.Department/DRL "Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The U.S. Record 2003-2004; i. Reporters without Borders annual report; j. Amnesty International annual country reports; k. Human Rights Watch annual country reports. g. Polling data BPP Evidence: Goal Papers: DE .01 Democratic Systems and Practices

YES 12%

Does the program have ambitious targets and timeframes for its long-term measures?

Explanation: DRL has developed solid baseline measures and ambitious targets and timeframes by examining historical data (1998-2003) for several of the indices listed in Evidence 2.1, including the Freedom House Freedom in the World Survey. DRL's ambitious targets and timeframes also take into account DRL's overall regional and country strategies and the level of HRDF funding in a particular country or region.

Evidence: a. Indices listed as evidence in 2.1; b. Measures section of PART; c. Regional breakdown of HRDF funding; d. DRL country and regional strategies.

YES 12%

Does the program have a limited number of specific annual performance measures that can demonstrate progress toward achieving the program's long-term goals?

Explanation: HRDF has developed four annual performance measures (see Measures tab). DRL's annual measures assess outcomes of grant programs (grants focus is on local/regional issues), while DRL's long-term measures assess outcomes based on improvement in human rights and democracy at the national level. Before signing a grant, DRL and the grantee draft project objectives to guide the grant and measure progress. DRL Grants Officer Representatives (GORs) report quarterly on a project's progress towards achieving the grant objectives and assign a progress rating (significantly above target, slightly above target, on target, slightly below target, significantly below target). Additionally, GORs track if the projects receive alternative donor support. DRL assumes that HRDF projects that achieve their grant objectives at a local/regional level and receive alternative donor support will influence democracy and human rights at the national level in the future.

Evidence: a. HRDF semi-annual monitoring and evaluation report; b. HRDF grantee progress reports and program evaluations; c.statement of work and short-term and long-term objectives included in each grant; e. Independent evaluations of individual HRDF projects and regional HRDF programs; f. GOR review mtgs and ratings.

YES 12%

Does the program have baselines and ambitious targets for its annual measures?

Explanation: Baselines and targets for HRDF's annual performance measures - with the exception of their annual efficiency measure - are currently under development, and are expected to be completed by the end of 2004.

Evidence: a. HRDF grantee progress reports and program evaluations; b. GOR reviews; c. List of HRDF projects that have received alternative donor support; d. Measures section of the PART c. Planned independent evaluations BPP Evidence: Goal Papers: DE .01 Democratic Systems and Practices

NO 0%

Do all partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) commit to and work toward the annual and/or long-term goals of the program?

Explanation: DRL solicitations for HRDF projects include specfic language stating that grant proposals must include detailed information on project goals and objectives and monitoring and evaluation plans. Grantees implementing HRDF projects are asked to identify and agree to short-term and long-term project goals and objectives that are included in the final grant agreement. Grantees are asked to monitor, report on and evaluate their projects using the agreed upon objectives. DRL provides a template in each grant agreement which instructs grantees on how to monitor, report on and evaluate their projects to assess progress towards the agreed upon goals and objectives. In 2004, DRL held a roundtable for all grantees working on HRDF China projects in order to better coordinate program objectives and share lessons learned. DRL plans to conduct a similar roundtable in 2004 for all HRDF grantees.

Evidence: a. Example of HRDF grant; b. Example of HRDF grants memo; c. Example of HRDF RFP; d.Grantee progress and evaluation reports; e. HRDF project proposals; f. DRL China roundtable in January 2004.

YES 12%

Are independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality conducted on a regular basis or as needed to support program improvements and evaluate effectiveness and relevance to the problem, interest, or need?

Explanation: One independent evaluation has been conducted on HRDF to date, a Department of State OIG inspection in June, 2003. DRL is scheduled to begin regular independent evaluations of its regional programs, beginning with its HRDF-funded Central Asia and China projects in 2004.

Evidence: a. Allocation memos and CNs for World Bank Institute and Freedom House; b. Countries at the Crossroads publication; c. Ex. of DRL RFP and grant agreement; d. OIG report; e. Spangenberg independent evaluation and DRL guidance; f. Martus Philippines independent evaluation; g. Central Asia independent evaluator terms of reference.

NO 0%

Are Budget requests explicitly tied to accomplishment of the annual and long-term performance goals, and are the resource needs presented in a complete and transparent manner in the program's budget?

Explanation: The use of annual and long-term performance measures is still relatively new, and therefore as of the last budget cycle, FY 2005, the request was not linked to progress towards performance goals. DRL develops its annual HRDF budget request by focusing on human rights and democracy problems, several priority regions including China and countries with significant Muslim populations, anticipated congressional earmarks, and requirements for follow-up funding for specific projects. There is not sufficient evidence that DRL ties the specifics of its HRDF budget requests to analyses of concrete progress towards meeting long-term goals.

Evidence: a. CBJ; b. FY05 Budget calculus; c. Ex. of cleared DRL regional and country strategies from Support Human Rights and Democracy, the U.S. record 2003-2004; d. Matrices of proposals in response to the March 2004 Muslim World RFP and the 2004 China Call for Statements of Interest.

NO 0%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to correct its strategic planning deficiencies?

Explanation: Since 2001, DRL has developed new criteria for a more targeted and strategic approach to using HRDF funds, rather than topping off other USG projects or duplicating the projects of other State Bureaus and federal agencies. In 2003, DRL began to focus greater attention on assessing program impact and evaluating HRDF programs against their stated goals, their contribution to the improvement of human rights and democracy at the local, regional or national level and their potential for sustainability.

Evidence: a. Congressional Budget Justification; b. SOPs and HRDF proposal vetting procedures; c. Example of HRDF RFP; d. Example of HRDF grant and grants memo; e. Grantee progress and evaluation reports

YES 12%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 62%
Section 3 - Program Management
Number Question Answer Score

Does the agency regularly collect timely and credible performance information, including information from key program partners, and use it to manage the program and improve performance?

Explanation: If necessary projects are refocused as per the recommendations of the Grants Officer Representatives to ensure maximum impact and results. For example, DRL refocused one HRDF project in the Middle East and terminated another unsuccessful project in the Middle East based on DRL and other stakeholder input and assessment of each program's progress. Extensive evidence of review of project reporting merits a Yes answer, despite the fact that program-wide performance measures and baselines are still under development.

Evidence: a. HRDF grantee progress reports; b. GOR quarterly meetings; c. Site visit evaluation form; d. Semi-annual evaluations; e. IFES terminated grant.

YES 10%

Are Federal managers and program partners (including grantees, sub-grantees, contractors, cost-sharing partners, and other government partners) held accountable for cost, schedule and performance results?

Explanation: The A/S is accountable to the Senior Department Management and Congress for the success of HRDF. Program partners are required to submit quarterly financial and quarterly, semi-annual or annual progress reports which measure progress against the project short-term and long-term goals and objectives. If a project is found to have minimal impact, it is discontinued. Grantee requests for drawdown of funds are reviewed by the Programming Unit, EX and the GOR before they are approved. DRL will withold funds from grantees who are delinquent on progress and financial reports.

Evidence: a. BPP Senior Review; b. Program and financial progress reports; c. Payment Management System (PMS) approval system in SOPs; d. Site visits by DRL staff to assess performance

YES 10%

Are funds (Federal and partners') obligated in a timely manner and spent for the intended purpose?

Explanation: Since DRL began tracking the amount of time it takes to obligate funds, DRL has reduced its processing and obligating of grants by 50%. 100% of HRDF has been programmed every year since 2001

Evidence: a. HRDF tracking spreadsheet b. Obligations report maintained by OES-DRL/EX

YES 10%

Does the program have procedures (e.g. competitive sourcing/cost comparisons, IT improvements, appropriate incentives) to measure and achieve efficiencies and cost effectiveness in program execution?

Explanation: DRL has focused successfully on improving the efficiency of the RFP and grant approval processes in DRL. Although the bureau has already cut the grant processing time in half, they continue to monitor individual projects throughout the programming proccess in order to resolve bottlenecks and develop further improvements. For all new proposals, a vetting process takes place in which budgets and activities are thoroughly reviewed by DRL, the relevant regional bureaus and AID to ensure maxiumum cost-effectiveness.

Evidence: a. Budget review guidelines; b. Proposal review process, specifically HRDF and panel review committee meeting minutes; c. Tracking spreadsheets

YES 10%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: Relevant Bureaus and agencies provide input on project selection during DRL's rigorous vetting process of HRDF grant proposals. Country desk officers and USAID staff attend each panel review for HRDF project proposals. Embassy and USAID Mission comments are often conveyed by the regional bureaus or USAID Washington panel attendees; however, Embassy and USAID Mission staff also provide feedback via phone and e-mail. DRL also holds regular meetings with its regional bureau and USAID counterparts in order to improve general communication and coordination.

Evidence: a. Ex. of Allocation Memos with regional bureau and USAID clearance; b. Ex. of DRL coordination e-mails with USAID for proposal vetting; c. Ex. of HRDF panel review Meeting Minutes; d. Ex. of Embassy, USAID Washington and USAID Mission comments e. Ex. of EUR/ACE coordination meeting minutes

YES 10%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: DRL has standard reviews of proposals and project budgets according to A-122 cost principles. Other standardized procedures include a system of checks and balances in place for processing timely payments to grantees, the PMS approval system; monthly cross-checks with EX financial tracking records and the review of grantee quarterly financial reports. Beginning in October 2002, DRL implemented the electronic Payment Management System (PMS) which is a widely-used grants management/financial management tool in the federal government.

Evidence: a.SOPs; b. 24 hour drawdown policy; c. Tracking spreadsheets; d. DRL and EX monthly spreadsheet reconciliation; e. Meetings between DRL, EX and RM offices f.PMS g. Federal Audit Clearinghouse h. Suspension and Disbarment website

YES 10%

Has the program taken meaningful steps to address its management deficiencies?

Explanation: DRL has revamped the programming process for HRDF funds to formalize the review and approval of projects, the tracking of projects and funds, and the monitoring and reporting on projects. To address workload capacity, a larger number of policy officers are now involved in developing and monitoring projects, a third programming specialist was hired, and a fourth programming specialist is slated to be hired in the summer 2004. The HRDF Programming Unit received specialized grants training in 2002 - 2003. In 2004, the HRDF Programming Unit provided formal training to Grants Officer Representatives on how to monitor grants. DRL staff continually assesses the programming process for deficiencies and implements corrective procedures. In 2004, DRL conducted a China grantee roundtable during which we held a session on grants management. DRL will hold a similar roundtable for Central Asia grantees in 2004.

Evidence: a.SOPs; b. Tracking spreadsheets; c. GOR handbook; d. GOR grants monitoring training; e. GOR quarterly review meetings; f. Certified grants management specialists; g. Announcement for new Programming specialist; h. China and planned Central Asia grantee roundtables

YES 10%

Are grants awarded based on a clear competitive process that includes a qualified assessment of merit?

Explanation: 71 of 79 HRDF non-Congressionally mandated grants in 2003 were awarded through open-source competitions published in the Federal Register and on the fedgrants.gov and DRL websites. Proposals are vetted through a rigorous two-step review process that includes DRL, USAID and the State Department regional bureaus (See evidence). During the review process proposals are rated on five different criteria: 1) quality of the program idea; 2) program planning and ability to achieve objectives; 3) program multiplier effect and potential impact; 4) capacity of NGO; and 5) cost-effectiveness. 8 awards were made in 2003 based on unsolicited proposals, but these proposals were voted on by the same HRDF Committee that reviewed the open-source proposals. 30% of total awards were made to grantees that had never before received HRDF funding.

Evidence: a. SOP - TAB 3 Proposal Review Process; b. Exs. of guidance to AID and regional bureaus on proposal review process; c Ex. of HRDF RFPs; d. HRDF review panel meeting minutes; e. Ex. of Embassy, AID and regional bureau comments on proposals

YES 10%

Does the program have oversight practices that provide sufficient knowledge of grantee activities?

Explanation: Grantees are required to submit regular financial and project progress reports; verification of actual expenditures through audits is not evidenced, and grant officer monitoring of grantees is limited by their base in Washington.

Evidence: a. Ex. of HRDF quarterly progress reports; b. Ex. of HRDF monitoring trip reports; Ex. of HRDF GOR reviews

NO 0%

Does the program collect grantee performance data on an annual basis and make it available to the public in a transparent and meaningful manner?

Explanation: DRL publishes Supporting Human Rights: The U.S Record annually to provide general information to the public on progress and notable outcomes of USG (including DRL) human rights and democracy programs. Performance data is not made available to the public.

Evidence: a. Supporting Human Rights: The US Record 2003-2004; b. Bureau website; c. OIG inspection; d. GAO inspection of DRL China programs

NO 0%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 80%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

Has the program demonstrated adequate progress in achieving its long-term performance goals?

Explanation: DRL can demonstrate progress to a small extent towards achieving one of its three long-term targets. As reported by Freedom House Freedom in the World scores, 7 of 24 HRDF countries showed some improvement between 2002 and 2003 in civil liberties, and 3 of 24 during that same time frame in political rights.

Evidence: a. Freedom House Freedom in the World statistical analysis; b. List of HRDF projects which have received other donor support or become sustainable; c. Supporting Human Rights and Democracy, the U.S. Record 2003-2004; d. Statement by Turkish Foreign Minister Gul; Kyrgyz Printing press article and other examples


Does the program (including program partners) achieve its annual performance goals?

Explanation: DRL has just begun to implement its annual performance goals, and the targets are still under development. Although the program requires extensive project-specific goals and reporting from its grantees, the managers do not yet aggregate and anaylze this data program or country-wide.

Evidence: a. List of HRDF projects which have received other donor support (includes: Trocaire, ABA/CEELI, NDI Muslim Leader Forum, etc. ) b. Kyrgyz printing press is the only independent printing press in the country and prints 11 independent newspapers; c. ALVA Rwanda elections success, China village elections success.

NO 0%

Does the program demonstrate improved efficiencies or cost effectiveness in achieving program goals each year?

Explanation: HRDF has demonstrated improved efficiencies in achieving program results. DRL has reduced its cost per project managed each year since FY 2002. DRL has reduced its grants processing time by more than 50% since FY2001.

Evidence: a. DRL Efficiency Measure #1 - cost per project managed; b. DRL Efficiency Measure #2 - rate of time to process grants.

YES 20%

Does the performance of this program compare favorably to other programs, including government, private, etc., with similar purpose and goals?

Explanation: USAID's Democracy and Governance programs, USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives programs, NED, the Open Society Institute, the Asia Foundation and other private foundations are all relevant comparisons. The evidence on performance is not extensive for most of these programs, including DRL. However, DRL can demonstrate that other donors, including USAID, have provided additional funding to support successful DRL seed projects, thus demonstrating that other donors view these DRL HRDF projects favorably.

Evidence: a. USAID website printouts which mention DRL programs; b. Supporting Human Rights and Democracy, the U.S. record 2003-2004; c. NED website; d. DRL list of HRDF projects which have received alternative donor support


Do independent evaluations of sufficient scope and quality indicate that the program is effective and achieving results?

Explanation: There has been a single independent evaluation through the State OIG. This report was positive. DRL has taken steps to remedy the lack of independent evaluations, and two specific RFPs have been issued to evaluate HRDF activities in Central Asia and in China.

Evidence: a. Example of DRL Request for Proposals (RFP) with evaluation criteria; b. Freedom House Countries at the Crossroads and the World Bank Institute indicators; c. OIG inspection; d. terms of reference for Central Asia and China independent evaluations.

Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 47%

Last updated: 09062008.2004SPR