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NGO Quality Assurance Certification Mechanism (QuAM)

NGO Quality Assurance Certification Mechanism (QuAM)

Background

QuAM is Quality Assurance Certification Mechanism, which comes from a code of conduct, like the constitution. It shows how accountable we are, if not, we need to clean our house before demanding from outside. It is set by us and we need to comply it and solve the problems together so that we are credible enough.

What is QuAM

The NGO Quality Assurance Certification Mechanism (QuAM) is a voluntary internal self assessment and regulation mechanism initiated to strengthen the internal governance of NGOs by supporting NGOs to enhance their capacity to uphold accepted standards and ethical conduct.

The QuAM was developed for and by NGOs working in Uganda through a participatory and elaborate process spanning over 2 years and held at national, regional and district level.   The process also entailed public input through the media.

The QuAM development process was done under the auspices of the Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF) and the Development Network of Indigenous Voluntary Associations (DENIVA) and the initial phase was concluded in 2006.

After over 3 formative years of the QuAM as a collective process, important gains have been made, lessons learnt and gaps identified. One of the key gaps is an elaborate strategic document that would link important QuAM Documents and process so far with a more long term agenda for the process.

It is in light of this that the QuAM trainings and pauperization is being conducted to consolidate the gains in the QuAM process, upscale its roll-out and clarify its strategic focus

QuAM Strategic Focus

Outreach and Publicity of QuAM to all NGOs and their constituencies in the country

Certification of NGOs: this involves QuAM sensitization, application  of NGOs, vetting applicants and issuing certificates to compliant NGOs

NGO Capacity Development that evolves as generic QuAM Gaps are identified through the certification process and Monitoring and Evaluation of the entire implementation process. This should be conceptualized as a mentoring process.

Networking, Learning and Synergy Building (national QuAM  platform for learning and experience sharing

Current status and Progress

n  Officially Launch at the 2nd Uganda Social Forum in September 2006

n  QuAM infrastructure in place;

q  A fully established and functioning National Council

q  Fully functioning secretariat; hosted by DENIVA

q  QuAM Committees in 23 districts,

q  QuAM Strategic Plan in place

n  Recognition of the QuAM by NGOs, development partners and government – the QuAM is recognized in the 2010 NGO Policy and Regulations

n  Continuous Sensitizing and marketing of QuAM to NGOs both at National and district levels,

n  Continuous establishment of district QuAM committee based on the available,

n  Intensified mobilization of resources and support from NGO networks,

n  Increased compliance with QuAM principles and standards by NGOs,

n  So far 16 NGOs have already gone through the process and they give testimony on how going through the process has helped streamline their operations

QuAM Governance and Coordination

The QuAM is an internal self organisation instrument and its governance is reminiscent of this important reality as reflected in the diagrammatic institutional set up of the QuAM below. Each of the organs, its composition and key functions are explained chronologically below.

This is the supreme policy organ of the QuAM. It is provided for in the QuAM Guidelines to comprise national thematic NGO networks in Uganda play the following important functions:

l  Formally constitute a Substantive National QuAM Certification Council and oversee its work.

l  Review and provide strategic guidance on programming and any such matters critical for the success of the QuAM.

l  Act as a platform to for sharing, reflection and strengthening the learning agenda in the QuAM process to ensure its regular renewal.

National QuAM Certification Council

l  The National QuAM Council is a body that stands at the apex of the Certification Mechanism.  The council is comprised of 7 voluntary members, of whom at least three are women and these include:

¡  1 representative nominated by the Uganda National NGO Forum

¡  1 representative nominated by DENIVA,

¡  1 representative selected elected by national thematic networks,

¡  2 representatives selected from district networks,

¡  2 respected and independent persons with extensive knowledge / experience of civil society, one of who shall be a council chairperson.

 

Functions of the QuAM Council

l  Acts as a focal point for QuAM at national level,

l  Acts as a protector and keeper of the QuAM in the country,

l  Issues Certificates to eligible NGOs

l  Revoking Certificates. Where an NGO flouts the Quality standards, upon recommendations from the district committee, and upon further investigations if required

l  Monitoring implementation of the QuAM

l  Endorsing the appointment of district committee members

l  Supervision of the QuAM secretariat

District QuAM Committee

l  The district Quality Assurance Certification Committee performs a central function in the implementation of the AuAM.  It is composed of 5 voluntary representatives from civil society, respected figures in the district, of whom two are women. Members of a district QuAM committee are nominated by any NGO representative active in the district and recommended by the NGO district network/forum at a meeting open to all network members.

Main functions of the district QuAM committee

l  Being focal points for the certification mechanism in the district

l  Receiving applications and advising the QuAM process

l  Recommending to the national council that an application for certification be accepted, deferred, or rejected

Main Functions of the QuAM Secretariat

l  Taking lead and management of all aspects of the implementation,

l  Support the National council by providing professional guidance and advise to members to take correct decisions,

l  Follow up complaints, appeals, requests for information and inquiries of stakeholders on the QuAM implementation process.

l  Provide needs based, effective and timely back up support to NGOs and District QuAM Committees during certification.

l  Develop proposals to mobilize additional resources to support QuAM  implementation

l  Monitor and evaluate the progress of QuAM implementation process.

The Host of the National Secretariat and District QuAM Committees

l  The National QuAM secretariat may be hosted by a national NGO network, depending on the recommendation of the National Council, and approved by the assembly.

l  The district QuAM Committee is hosted by the NGO district network/Forum resident in the area.

Financing and Future Sustainability of the QuAM initiative

l  The need to make QuAM a largely self-supporting process where every NGO plays a part in sustaining it through administrative fees and voluntary contributions.

l  Very measured fundraising from donors so that QuAM is not held hostage to complex donor conditions which will make it more of an NGO – maybe the promoters need to do this or at least oversee fundraising by the QuAM Secretariat) fundraising committee possibly

l  It is important also that all the QuAM Assembly members participate in resource mobilization for QuAM Implementation,

l  District hosting networks / Forums also need to participate in resource mobilization to support QuAM implementation in their areas of jurisdiction.

Roles of the National QuAM Council Members

The council acts as a focal point for the QuAM at national level. It is answerable to the special assembly of board members from DENIVA, the NGO forum and Boards of other national NGO networks, for the discharge of its functions. These functions include:

Acting as a protector and keeper of the Quality Assurance Mechanism in the country: The council ensures that the spirit and the provisions of the QuAM are respected at all times.

Issuing certificates to eligible NGOs: The council issues the Quality Assurance Provisional Certificates, Certificates, and Advanced certificates upon recommendation from the relevant District Quality Assurance Committee.

Revoking Certificates: Where an NGO has flouted the Quality standards, upon recommendation from the district committee and upon further investigation if required, the Council revokes its Certificate.

Monitoring the implementation of the QuAM: The National Council monitors the implementation of the scheme and keeps required records to that effect.

Acting as a source of information for the QuAM at national level: The Council ensures that the Mechanism is known and understood throughout the NGO community in the country, working, as appropriate, throughout the district committees. It keeps other stakeholders (government, donor agencies, etc.) informed about the QuAM and the progress of its implementation. The Council issues an annual report.

Sensitizing the NGO community and other stakeholders on the QuAM: In addition to providing information on the QuAM, the Council is expected to take active steps to sensitize the NGO community and other stakeholders nationwide on the benefits of QuAM. This may include distribution of leaflets on the QuAM, making presentations at various national and district for a, visiting NGOs, taking part in radio and TV talk shows, organizing an annual prize for best NGO achievers, etc.

Endorsing the appointment of District committee members: The Council endorses the appointment of all district committee members. Where such endorsement is rejected, this decision is communicated to the relevant District committee and fresh elections held.

Supporting the District Committees in their work: The National Council supports the district committees through, among others, training of committee members, provision of information (leaflets, copies of annual report, etc) and support to sensitization campaigns.

Revising the QuAM as and when necessary: Based upon district committees’ advice and its own monitoring, the National Council may from time to time propose a revision of Quality Standards and of the implementation of the scheme to the assembly of board members from DENIVA, the NGO Forum and boards of other national NGO networks.

Liaising with government and other stakeholder: The Council collaborates with other relevant bodies, such as the NGO Registration Board, the Office of the Prime Minister, the office of the IGG, and other professional bodies.

Supervision of the QuAM Secretariat: The Council supervises the QuAM secretariat in its support, record keeping and others roles.

Acting as the QuAM ‘Court of appeal: The Council acts as final arbiter in any dispute involving an aggrieved NGO, as outlined in section 5.

Council Meetings

Quorum: The quorum for any council meeting is 5 members present. Decisions are normally reached by consensus. Where a vote is held, the chairperson can exercise a casting vote if necessary.

Absences. Where a member is absent from 3 successive meetings, his/her membership from the Council lapses and a replacement is sought, in accordance with 3.1. above

Chair: In the absence of the chair at one meeting, members present will designate an alternate for that meeting.

Office: The committee meeting will be held at the recognized office of the council.

Minutes: All meetings will be minuted and these minutes kept in a safe location.

Notice of meetings: Two weeks’ notice will be given by the chairperson of any council meeting.

Frequency of meetings: A minimum of one annual meeting shall be held. In addition, meetings will be held as and when deemed necessary by the council.

Secretary: The head of the QuAM secretariat acts as secretary to the council meetings.

ELIGIBILITY, ROLES OF A DISTRICT QUAM COMMITTEE AND PROCEDURES OF PUTTING A COMMITTEE IN PLACE

This is directly extracted from the QuAM Implementation Guideline Manual and this ought to be followed when implementing QuAM. 

The district quality Assurance certification committee performs a central function in the implementation of the NGO Quality Assurance Certification Mechanism (QUAM). Great care should therefore be taken that it performs its roles with utmost integrity and responsibility.

Where two or more districts prefer to work together, they are at liberty to have one District Committee to vet NGOs operating in these several districts.

2.1 Selection and Composition

The district committee is entirely composed of representatives from civil society, respected figures in the district. It is composed of 5 voluntary members, of whom at least two are women.

Members are nominated by any NGO representative active in the district and recommended by the NGO district network/forum at a meeting open to all network members. Members are appointed at specially convened assembly of all executive committees of NGO networks/for an active in the district. Members are appointed in their individual capacity, for a three year term, renewable once. Their appointment must be endorsed by the National council. Where such endorsement is rejected, new elections will take place.

Members could for instance be:

Retired civil servants who have initiated or supported a community project in their locality

Community leaders with a record of serving the local population selflessly

Religious leaders with an active interest in civil society issues

Retired NGO staff supporters

Active citizens, known for their interest in fostering an active society.

The following qualities are essential to serve on the committee:

Active interest in promoting the objectives of the Certification Mechanism

Unquestioned record of integrity and objectivity

Willing to stand by decisions

Some knowledge of NGos, their culture, their challenges and their activities.

Known and normally resident in the district.

Available to serve on the committee, as volunteers (with only expenses being reimbursed).

To avoid any conflict of interest, no NGO district network member or representative of a candidate NGO (or intended candidate NGO) sits on the committee.

2.2 Roles:

The committee is the focal point for the Certification Mechanism in the district. It is answerable to the specially convened assembly of executive committees of district networks /fora for the discharge of its functions.

These include:

Acting as a protector and keeper of the NGO Quality Assurance Mechanism in the district.  The committee ensures that the spirit and the provision of the QUAM are respected at all times.

Acting as a source of information for the QUAM in the district. The committee ensures that the Mechanism is known and understood throughout the NGO community in the district. It will be assisted in doing so by the national council. It acts as reference point for the QUAM in the district and answer queries on the certification mechanism from candidate NGOs, local authorities and the general public.

Sensitizing the NGO community on the QUAM. In addition to providing information, the committee takes active steps to sensitize the NGO community on the benefits of the QUAM. This includes the distribution of leaflets on the QUAM, making presentations at NGO district for meetings, visiting NGOs, taking part in radio talk shows, etc.

Receiving application and advising on the QUAM process. The committee receives all applications from NGOs wishing to be certified under the QUAM. It advises NGOs where required, on the process to be followed for certification.

Being actively engaged in the certification process. The committee plays a central role in certifying individual candidate NGOs. This includes;

  1. Issuing an assessment form against the prescribed payment;
  2. Taking part in the assessment with the NGO concerned (see assessment form)
  3. Consulting with the public and other stakeholders, as required (see assessment form)

Recommending to the national council that an application for certification be accepted, deferred or rejected. The committee forwards its recommendation to the national council and its reasons for the recommendation. This recommendation may be that the NGO

  1. Be certified as having attained the provisional certification level
  2. Be certified as having attained the certificate level.
  3. Be certified as having attained the advanced certification level
  4. Have its certification deferred
  5. Have its certification rejected.

Recommending that the certificate of an NGO be withdrawn, should a certified NGO flout the agreed standards, upon verification by the committee.

Encouraging good practice. The committee recognises ‘good performers’ in ways it sees fit, such as by regularly publishing a list of certified NGOs in the district. It may organise ‘learning days’ or other events, where NGOs can share experiences arising from the certification process.

Monitoring the implementation of the QUAM and recommending improvements. The committee monitors the overall implementation of the QUAM in the district (uptake by eligible NGOs; challenges of the verification process) and, on the basis of its experiences, suggests any improvement in the QUAM to the National council.

Hearing and addressing complaints from aggrieved NGOs. The committee hears and addresses complaints from NGOs that are not satisfied with the certification process. This explained in section 5 below.

Record keeping. The committee keeps records that are necessary for the discharge of its functions.

Reporting. The committee reports to the specifically convened assembly of executive committees of district networks/for a at least once a year. It also liaises with the National Council, as and when necessary.

The members will elect from their numbers a chairperson, a treasurer and a secretary to perform these tasks.

2.3 committee meetings:

Quorum and voting. The quorum for any committee meeting is 4 members present. Decisions are normally reached by consensus. Where a vote is held, the chairperson can exercise a casting vote if necessary.

Absences. Where a member is absent from 3 successive meetings, his/her membership from the committee will lapse and a replacement will be sought in accordance with 2.1 above.

Chair. In the absence of the chair at one meeting, members present will designate an alternate for that meeting.

Office. The committee meetings will be held at the recognised office of the committee.

Minutes. All meetings will be minuted and these minutes will be kept in a safe location.

Notice of meetings. Two weeks’ notice will be given by the chairperson of any committee meeting.

Frequency of meetings. A minimum of one annual meeting shall be held. In addition, meetings will be held as and when deemed necessary by the committee.

2.4     Finance and logistics:

While the District Quality Assurance Committee may be supported administratively by the district NGO forum or network, it operates independently and is funded through the collection of certification fees.

 QUAM CERTIFICATION PROCESS:  STEPS TAKEN

  1. The candidate NGO applies for a certificate: an application is obtained from the district QuAM committee through the hosting network.
  2. After returning the application form the candidate pays the prescribed certification fees and is given a receipt of payment.  The candidate is then given the QuAM assessment form/ booklet. The relevant sections of the first column of form are filled by representatives of the candidate at the office of the candidate NGO
  3. The district committee may, at the NGO’s request, issues a letter to the candidate, certifying that the certification process has began. The NGO fills the self-assessment part of the form, following the instructions given, and returns it to the district committee with a copy of the receipt, showing payment of the certificate fee.
  4. The committee receives the assessment form and publicizes the fact that the candidate NGO has applied for a certificate (such as on the sub-county notice board in the NGO area of operation), soliciting any comments within 1 month from the public (as described above)
  5. The district QuAM Committee holds a meeting with the candidate NGO and normally not later than one month after receiving the NGO request, to review the self-assessment and to jointly assess that NGO, according to the standards listed on the form. Actual verification takes place. The relevant sections of the second column of the form is filled and signed by the vetting team/ representatives of the committee members at the office of the candidate NGO
  6. The committee fills in the comments after NGO meeting section of the form.
  7. The committee members scrutinize any feedback from the public and may decide to seek additional information. The “section public comments” received of the form is then completed.
  8. The committee sits to review all information and sends its recommendation to the national council, normally within 2 months of the initial request. The committee may provide recommendations for improvements, and what might be needed to obtain a certificate.
  9. The national Council may
    1. (1) approve the recommendation and issue the certificate (or provisional certificate),
    2. (2) seek additional information, where required or
    3.  (3) Reject the recommendation, giving its reasons for doing so. The council normally issues a certificate within 1 month of receiving the district recommendations

 

  1. The candidate NGO is advised by the District committee of the national Council’s decision. The NGO is encouraged to provide feedback on the fairness and other aspects of the certification process to the district committee and/or national council. Where the NGO is dissatisfied with the decision of the council, it may follow the conflict resolution procedure ,as detailed in the implementation guidelines(a copy of which is available at the district committee office)

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