Learning by Doing: Adaptive Management in Kosovo
In 2017, USAID/Kosovo piloted the use of the Cost-Plus Award Fee (CPAF) contracting mechanism with its Transparent, Effective, and Accountable Municipalities (TEAM) activity - an activity that focused on countering corruption by strengthening Kosovo’s municipal procurement systems. During design, USAID/Kosovo and Washington staff made the deliberate decision to include an adaptive management requirement within the TEAM contract. In making this decision, USAID/Kosovo was faced with the organizational challenge of finding a way to incentivize and incorporate adaptation into its activities and streamline award fee evaluation processes to contribute to better development outcomes. After a series of collaborative discussions, USAID and its prime partner decided to host quarterly focus groups to regularly collect information on the changing public procurement environment. The team posited that this data would enable the activity to react and adapt to new information in a timely manner. The sessions resulted in a series of recommendations, and activity staff made the deliberate decision to shift resources to meet some of the newly identified needs. For example, based on participant feedback, USAID funded the development of the NGO-led Open Procurement Transparency Portal, which more easily allows citizens to hold public procurement officials accountable. After implementing this initial set of adaptive management approaches, mindsets began to shift; TEAM staff started buying into the concept of adaptive management and the importance of including it within the contract structure. Following this evolution, USAID staff reported seeing the contractor proactively use information to adapt activity interventions and improve development outcomes. The introduction of adaptive management into USAID/Kosovo's contract was nothing short of transformative: at the development level, opportunities for corruption were losing ground with increased citizen engagement in procurement processes, and civil society had the agency and information to step into their role as the voice of the community.
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