Detailed Information on the
Peace Corps: International Volunteerism Assessment

Program Code 10004615
Program Title Peace Corps: International Volunteerism
Department Name Peace Corps
Agency/Bureau Name Peace Corps
Program Type(s) Direct Federal Program
Assessment Year 2005
Assessment Rating Effective
Assessment Section Scores
Section Score
Program Purpose & Design 100%
Strategic Planning 90%
Program Management 100%
Program Results/Accountability 84%
Program Funding Level
(in millions)
FY2007 $333
FY2008 $356
FY2009 $367

Ongoing Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

The Peace Corps has developed alternate appropriate measures to inform the goal of promoting a better understanding of Americans on the part of peoples served. These measures will be reflected in the submittal of the agency's 2009-2014 Strategic Plan. Agency performance relative to these new measures will be reported on an annual basis. Peace Corps will also reflect the results of planned field evaluations during this period to quantify the agency's impact for this Goal

Action taken, but not completed Peace Corps has developed evaluation plans for implementation in FY 2008 to measure this agency impact based on feedback from host country national individuals and communities. Initial implementation will be carried out at 3 Peace Corps pilot posts to test the methodologies and identify refinements to be incorporated into the plans for additional post deployments in FY 2009-2011 and inform the agency's new performance goals and indicators included in the 2009-2014 Strategic Plan.

Completed Program Improvement Plans

Year Began Improvement Plan Status Comments

The Peace Corps continues, with OMB approval, to fine-tune the performance plan that established performance indicators for fiscal years 2004-2006. These indicators helped ensure achievement of the agency's strategic goals and were based on past experience with the previous strategic plan. The Peace Corps is now reviewing its strategic goals to ensure that they match the outcome-based evaluations of the updated strategic plan. The agency's FY 2005 performance plan results are based on reliable, actual data and/or a combination of actual data through most of the year with an estimate of results for the last quarter of the fiscal year.

Completed The Peace Corps completed, and OMB approved, the revised version of the agency??s strategic plan which reflects an interim adjustment for fiscal years 2006 to 2008. Improvements were made to better align the plan to the Peace Corps?? mission and internal processes, including new and modified strategic objectives with outcome-oriented targets and indicators. Peace Corps will further improve its outcome oriented targets and indicators as part of the 2009-2014 Strategic Plan submittal.

Program Performance Measures

Term Type  
Long-term Output

Measure: Percentage of underrepresented ethnic and age groups applying to the PC.

Explanation:Increase the combined number of applications to the Peace Corps from under-represented ethnic and age groups from 19% to 25% by FY 2008 in order to provide Volunteers to interested countries that better reflect American diversity.

Year Target Actual
2004 20% 19.6%
2005 21% 24.5%
2006 26% 24%
2007 27% 24%
2008 28%
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Percentage of biennial Peace Corps Volunteer survey responses indicating that Volunteers feel safe most of the time where they live.

Explanation:Improve the safety of Volunteers by increasing their perceptions of their personal safety where they live from 86 percent in FY 2002 to 88 percent in FY 2008.

Year Target Actual
2002 86% 86%
2004 87% 87%
2006 87% 88%
2008 88%
Long-term Output

Measure: Number of Volunteers in the field.

Explanation:Maintain the approximate number of Volunteers in the field from the FY 2003 level of 7,533 to 8,000 (6.2 percent) by FY 2008, assuming full funding for FY 2006 and future requests, and incrementally expand Volunteer programming.

Year Target Actual
2004 7840 7733
2005 7803 7810
2006 7850 7749
2007 7920 8079
2008 8000
Long-term Efficiency

Measure: Percentage of Volunteers who resign from the Peace Corps.

Explanation:Maintain the overall Volunteer 12-month resignation rate at less than 10 percent through adequete training, site preparation, and satisfaction with health and safety.

Year Target Actual
2004 NA 9.0%
2005 NA 8.6%
2006 <10% 8.8%
2007 <10% 8.8%
2008 <10%
Long-term Outcome

Measure: Percentage of respondents to the biennial Peace Corps Volunteer survey indicating feeling "adequately" to "exceptionally" satisfied with their in-country health care.

Explanation:Improve the health of Volunteers by improving the Volunteer health care satisfaction rate from 75 percent in FY 2002 to 82 percent in FY 2008.

Year Target Actual
2002 75% 75%
2004 78% 85%
2006 80% 92%
2008 82%
Long-term Efficiency

Measure: Returned Peace Corps Volunteer interactions with the American public in communities and on campuses nationwide during Peace Corps Week and throughout the year through activities supported by the Peace Corps. (New Measure, February 2007)

Explanation:Improve the exposure of Americans to other cultures by utilizing RPCVs to share Volunteer experiences and stories in numerous venues.

Year Target Actual
2006 24,382 23,377
2007 25,844 21,748
2008 22,606
Long-term Efficiency

Measure: Decrease the Peace Corps' response time to applicants. (New measure, February 2007)

Explanation:Reduce the agency's response time to applicants

Year Target Actual
2006 <154 days 138 days
2007 <150 days 130 days
2008 <146 days

Questions/Answers (Detailed Assessment)

Section 1 - Program Purpose & Design
Number Question Answer Score

Is the program purpose clear?

Explanation: Peace Corps' mission statement has not changed in over 40 years: Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; and helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. The Peace Corps fulfills its purpose by sending volunteers to serve overseas for 27 months of volunteer service, sponsoring a Crisis Corps program, and supporting a variety of programs where existing and returning volunteers share their experiences with other Americans.

Evidence: The Peace Corps Act of 1961 states that Congress's intent in creating the Peace Corps is to promote world peace and friendship through Peace Corps volunteers serving overseas and achieving the items identified in Peace Corps' mission statement. Peace Corps' legislative mandate has never changed. Hence, Peace Corps CBJs and PARs have always used the same mission statement as Congress mandated in 1961.

YES 20%

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

Explanation: With regard to addressing a problem, there are many countries in need of assistance to help train local men and women; there is also much evidence that there is a gap in understanding between Americans and other people overseas. With regard to interest or need, Peace Corps volunteers are only sent to countries that request Peace Corps services, Peace Corps receives requests for new country entries regularly, and applications to become a Peace Corps volunteer are usually greater than available positions.

Evidence: With regard to assessing a problem, Peace Corps' internally developed Assessment reports, Project Framework, and Integrated Planning and Budget System (IPBS) ensures that Peace Corps' non-paid volunteers are supporting the needs of other people. With regard to interest or need, other governments have submitted 94 formal "Country Request Letters," asking for a Peace Corps presence, but Peace Corps can only serve 72. Peace Corps volunteer applications are 3.5 times higher than available positions.

YES 20%

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

Explanation: The Peace Corps provides volunteers for 27 months to requesting countries, and is the only agency of its kind in the U.S. Government. No other private or public organization in the world has a similar program.

Evidence: No federally funded organizations nor any state or locally funded organizations, fulfill the Peace Corps mandate. In 2004, Peace Corps placed 7,733 volunteers in 72 countries.

YES 20%

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

Explanation: There are no known major flaws in the current system. The Peace Corps has honored its 44-year commitment to place volunteers overseas. The Peace Corps undergoes a thorough internal review, and is updated at least annually through the IPBS process. It also undergoes retooling as needed, such as the creation of the Crisis Corps, selection of additional countries, and improved security procedures.

Evidence: Project Status Reports and Training Status Reports (PSR/TSR), PAR, and Inspector General reports.

YES 20%

Is the program design effectively targeted so that resources will address the program's purpose directly and will reach intended beneficiaries?

Explanation: Peace Corps has many programs in place to measure if resources are focused on ensuring that Peace Corps volunteers help train men and women in other countries, though the results of such measures are mixed. Peace Corps has excellent measures to ensure that it helps support Americans' understanding of people in other countries. It is unclear if Peace Corps has measures to ensure that resources are properly allocated to maximize how well other countries understand Americans. Peace Corps does target resources to support, as best possible, all facets of volunteer services, such as health care and safety.

Evidence: Peace Corps has many programs in place to measure if resources are focused on ensuring that Peace Corps volunteers help train men and women in other countries, though the results of such measures are mixed. Peace Corps has excellent measures to ensure that it helps support Americans' understanding of people in other countries. It is unclear if Peace Corps has measures to ensure that resources are properly allocated to maximize how well other countries understand Americans. Peace Corps does target resources to support, as best possible, all facets of volunteer services, such as health care and safety.

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: The Peace Corps has a limited number of performance measures for its mission goals. Specifically, The Peace Corps measures how many men and women it recruits, screens and matches, and sends to requesting countries; how many individuals it trains in each of these countries, and how many service providers, organizations and communities it assists using the capacity building framework; it also measures how many Americans--particularly students--use formal The Peace Corps programs to help them better understand people in other countries. The Peace Corps does not have outcome measures that focus on whether other countries better understand Americans. The Peace Corps also uses "proxy" measures for this second goal, such as the increase in number of volunteers requested, volunteer surveys, host country counterpart surveys, and Country Request Letters. The Peace Corps' PAR also includes many output-based performance measures, such as number of volunteers, diversity of volunteers, and time it takes to complete an application.

Evidence: The Peace Corps received 13,249 applications for service in FY '04, for which it screened, as well as medically qualified, 4,790 applicants. This year, the Peace Corps has implemented performance measures in survey questionnaires to participating countries that is anticipated to help gauge how well other countries understand Americans because of the Peace Corps. Though some questions may need to be modified, Peace Corps should be able to establish baseline data within a year. The Peace Corps has also implemented numerous methods of engaging its returned volunteers, in programs such as Coverdell World Wise Schools, Peace Match, Peace Corps Week, number of "cyber volunteer" downloads into U.S. classrooms, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers survey of participation in promotion and recruitment activities. The Peace Corps data indicates that it meets or exceeds many of the output-based benchmarks for performance measures in its PAR.

YES 10%

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

Explanation: The Peace Corps has specific and ambitious performance measures and strategic long-term goals as defined in its strategic plan, but does not have targets and timeframes for its long term mission goals as defined in the Peace Corps Act. With respect to output measures, the Peace Corps has established ambitious goals as measured, in part, by the expansion of the core program as well as in additional areas such as Presidential priorities and initiatives.

Evidence: Strategic plan goals, outcome goals, performance indicators, and the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) 5-year strategic plan demonstrate that Peace Corps' output measures are ambitious.

NO 0%

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: The Peace Corps' annual performance goals contribute to its long-term outcomes and purpose, each one feeding into the total performance of the Agency and providing sustainable annual performance measures which, in turn, assist the Agency in achieving its long-term goals, as described in 2.1. The program has seven specific short-term performance goals, supported by 44 measured indicators, some of which are focused on demonstrable progress with respect to output measures, such as the number of outreach efforts by returning Peace Corps volunteers. Such measures assist in supporting long-term outcomes for difficult to measure volunteer work in foreign countries.

Evidence: Performance plan, CBJ, PSR/TST, Volunteer Survey, CWWS programs participation report, Peace Corps Week participation report.

YES 10%

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

Explanation: Although The Peace Corps has been setting baselines and annual measures, it has not been measuring all of it's strategic or performance goals against targets. The Peace Corps has been using annual performance measures, such as described in question 2.3, using 2002 data as the baseline. In those cases, The Peace Corps's annual goals and assigned targeted numerical measures are ambitious. In 2005 and 2006, the Peace Corps has designed numerous measures and targets which will be able to more accurately reflect annual performance against amitious targets for all of it's annual measures, and will reflect so in an updated PAR.

Evidence: PAR, Peace Corps Global Summary Reports, Volunteer Survey Global Reports, and internal tracking within the Paul D. Coverdell World Wise Schools program include multiple years of data that show number of volunteers recruited, screened and matched, and sent overseas; the number of individuals trained and communities assisted in each of the 72 Peace Corps countries, and the results of Peace Corps efforts to educate Americans about people in other countries. Other Peace Corps documents, particularly the PAR, demonstrate ambitious targets and baseline data for the Performance plan's seven goals and 44 measurable indicators.

YES 10%

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: All major contractors and other governmental partners are aware of the programs' mission and goals. Host countries participate in some financial way towards the success of the program. Governmental and non-governmental partners, such as National Geographic, assist in meeting the third goal activities of promoting better understanding of other peoples on part of Americans via such items as the Building Bridges classroom books, official adoption of CWWS materials in the Broward County school district, cyber volunteer program in thousands of schools, culture matters, on-line library teacher tools, etc. Partnerships with USAID, PEPFAR, hundreds of schools and universities, etc. are also focused on achieving our outcomes.

Evidence: Formal Agreements with all host countries, increase in host country requests and increase in requests from current partners for more volunteers and more material for the classrooms, more speakers, etc. Formal agreements with USAID, Department of State, USDA, CDC, Habitat for Humanity, FAO, National Geographic, numerous schools and universities, Broward County School system, etc.

YES 10%

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: An independent audit of the agency is conducted annually. The program is evaluated regularly by the Inspector General. In addition, Peace Corps regularly interacts with outside groups for independent evaluations of how the Peace Corps is performing, such as the National Peace Corps Association--a non-profit group of returned Peace Corps volunteers, former staff, and friends.

Evidence: Independent external audit, Inspector General Reports (OIG).

YES 15%

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 budget requests are constructed using the IPBS, producing an Operations Plan built around the support and well being of the program and its various components.

Evidence: Peace Corps Budget Request to OMB, CBJ, PSR/TSR, Investment Review Board (IRB), etc.

YES 15%

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

Explanation: The program is reviewed at least annually, the measures of achievement for each strategic goal are assessed, and adjustments are made accordingly.

Evidence: CBJ preparation (including OMB review), IPBS, Senior Staff strategic planning meetings, etc. Two years ago, Peace Corps and OMB worked together on Peace Corps' strategic plan in anticipation of the PART evaluation.

YES 20%
Section 2 - Strategic Planning Score 90%
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: Partners report to the agency results of performance metrics and service level agreements. The volunteer delivery process undergoes quarterly analysis to identify and make corrections in order to meet production goals. Volunteers are surveyed biennially as well as when they close their service to identify performance satisfaction.

Evidence: Service Level agreements and performance evaluations. Stated production goals based on country requests, as outlined in the Strategic Plan, the Performance Plan (GPRA), IPBS. Volunteer Survey. PSR/TSR, WTIR (World Trainee Input Report).

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: Federal managers and partners are held accountable to the Director through the agency's IPBS process, including all areas of the Volunteer Delivery System (VDS), from recruitment, to processing of applications, to in-country delivery and training, and are held accountable to schedules and performance results.

Evidence: IPBS, annual reviews of contracts, performance reviews of personnel, quarterly reviews of recruitment targets. Annual external audit, OIG audits and performance evaluations.

YES 10%

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

Explanation: Funds are obligated throughtout the fiscal year according to the OMB approved quarterly apportionment. Program funds are allocated to major offices according to office strategic plan and approved annual operating budget. Utilization of funds are monitored regularly, and formal program plans and budget reviews are conducted twice each year. The agency's chief acquisition officer annually releases required timelines for obligation of funds. The overseas posts are required to audit annually and to routinely reconcile imprest funds for timely disbursement.

Evidence: Quarterly obligation reports by each major office. Quarterly and year end FACTS II. Office plans and budget submissions. Timelines are upheld through automated finance and contract management systems and are reported in annual acquisitions milestones memo, and OIG audits and evaluations of post performance.

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: The agency reviews efficiencies and effectiveness through the IPBS process. Agency contracting officers and the chief acquisition officer are partners in resource decisions which closely follow competitive sourcing guidelines and the Federal Acquisition Regulations, and focus on bringing outsource supplies and services providing the best value to the agency.

Evidence: IRB requires that business cases are in place and that outcomes are measured to validate the business case. The Enterprise Architecture Advisory Board reviews IRB approved projects to make sure they are designed according to stated business need, and for technical implications and feasibility. The agency annually reviews potential areas for competitive sourcing via the A-76 process, including an annual workforce survey identifying inherently governmental and non-governmental positions with final report submitted to OMB.

YES 25%

Does the program collaborate and coordinate effectively with related programs?

Explanation: Volunteer in-country service is a partnership with host countries/communities. This service also contributes to third-party organizations' work in communities as appropriate. Country Directors participate in Embassy Country Team meetings at overseas posts; formal agreements with USAID, USDA, Dept. of Interior, PEPFAR, CDC, FAO, Habitat for Humanity, etc. to provide services at the community level worldwide.

Evidence: USAID, Department of State ICASS and Overseas Schools, PEPFAR reports and formal agreements, PL480, MOUs with all of the stated agencies.

YES 10%

Does the program use strong financial management practices?

Explanation: Every Peace Corps office and overseas post is required to define its goals and objectives and develop a strategic plan and budget that will enable the office to meet them. These plans are based on projected levels of funding and adjusted according to levels realized through actual appropriations. The Office of Planning, Budget and Finance, Regional Directors, and each post's chief administrative officer monitors budget receipts and outlays to detect any discrepancies with approved budgets.

Evidence: Status of Funds reports from the IPBS and independently audited Financial Statements.

YES 15%

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

Explanation: OIG reviewed the VDS in 2002 resulting in Agency response to create Barriers to Service Task Force; and Enterprise Architecture Initiative to make VDS a high priority. Formal IT governance process now in place.

Evidence: OIG reports, Barriers Report, Enterprise Architecture Initiative; Staff performance reviews, international automated financial management system (Odyssey), Human Capital Management System, IRB

YES 20%
Section 3 - Program Management Score 100%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability
Number Question Answer Score

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

Explanation: The Peace Corps is making progress towards its long-term performance goals. The volunteer is its output (applicant/trainee/volunteer/returned volunteer). Its outcomes, based on measurement within the program's field of influence, include volunteer/community satisfaction, volunteer learning (knowledge, satisfaction, and attitudes), volunteer behavior changes based on experience, and community/organization change. These outcomes link to Peace Corps' three mission goals, and the strategic and performance plans which measure both output (volunteer) and outcome (satisfaction, learning, volunteer change, community/organization change).

Evidence: PAR, CBJ, PSR/TSR's, Volunteer Survey, host country counterpart surveys, field based program evaluations including focus groups with host country partners, continued and increased host country requests for volunteers, Peace Corps Week participation reports, CWWS materials in secondary schools throughout the country, "cyber volunteer" downloads into US classrooms, national study-abroad public website based on Peace Corps cross-culture materials, Returned Peace Corps Volunteers activities in recruitment and promotion, story sharing in public announcements, speeches, books and materials, marketing efforts.


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

Explanation: Peace Corps met 36 out of 44 measured indicators in FY 2004, which in turn support the outcome goals. The Agency continues to work on improving its outcome-focused measurement tools.

Evidence: PAR, CBJ, PSR/TSR's, Volunteer Survey, field based program reviews, stakeholder focus groups, RPCV activities, Peace Corps Week participation reports.


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

Explanation: IRB has identified numerous cost saving mechanisms, such as the Enterprise Architecture system and vehicle purchase reviews, amongst others. The Peace Corps also consistently ranks as the lowest per FTE cost federal program with an overseas presence. This indicator of efficiency and cost savings may be the most appropriate tool because the Peace Corps has a "top heavy" overseas permanent staff and is located in many of the same countries as other USG agencies. Moreover, in 2004, the Peace Corps exceeded it's ambitious target of reducing the percentage of volunteers who early terminate. That said, there was in increase in the average number of days it took the agency to process applications from the prospective volunteers, mostly due to the time the applicant takes to submit the required medical/personal information. Although the Peace Corps has no control over the time the applicant takes to submit the information required, it has taken steps to reduce the turn around time from both the applicant and the agency, including processing the majority of applications via the internet and realigning screening duties.

Evidence: IRB, Enterprise Architecture Advisory Board, Vehicle Utilization Survey, Annual Property Survey, contract evaluations, IPBS, Pay for Performance, and an evaluation of the results from the President's overseas rightsizing initiative. The Peace Corps has also implemented tools such as Apply Yourself software to reduce the time it takes an applicant to submit a complete application.

YES 25%

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

Explanation: The Peace Corps volunteer program is the only one of its kind within the U.S. government.


NA 0%

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

Explanation: OIG conducts audits, investigations and program evaluations at overseas posts, as well as Headquarters audits, to ensure effectiveness and focus of program. The Chief Compliance Officer ensures agency compliance. The General Accountability Office (GAO) conducted an evaluation of the Peace Corps in 2002 and a follow-up in 2004; the findings were favorable towards the agency's progress in achieving effectiveness and results in increasing the quality of the volunteer experience and service to host country. The agency went through it's first financial audit in 2004, and is currently undergoing another full financial audit.

Evidence: OIG reports; independent audit, PAR, GAO Reports.

YES 25%
Section 4 - Program Results/Accountability Score 84%

Last updated: 09062008.2005SPR