VEGA Members Urge Administrator Mark Green to Improve How USAID Mobilizes Volunteers
On June 6, VEGA member organizations sent a letter to U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green urging him to act quickly to improve how USAID mobilizes volunteers. The groups wrote: “As you evaluate how USAID can more effectively partner and procure, we urge you to act quickly to ensure that USAID field missions have flexible, efficient and practical tools to mobilize skilled volunteers for more effective global development.” The groups expressed alarm that the successor to the mechanism USAID used to access VEGA, the Volunteers for International Security and Prosperity Annual Program Statement (VISP APS), issued last year has mobilized zero volunteers and no USAID field missions have used it to date. By comparison, the VEGA Leader with Associate (VEGA LWA) mechanism was utilized by 41 field missions to provide nearly 40,000 volunteer days over 13 years—an average of 3,076 volunteer days per year.
According to the letter:
VEGA was formed to eliminate the inefficiencies of dealing with many individual NGOs by providing field missions with a one-stop-shop to access a wide range of pro-bono technical expertise with diverse implementing partners. In these times of budget uncertainty, field missions need faster and more flexible procurement tools to be responsive. The VEGA LWA was in high demand because it was fast, flexible and reliable, featuring an internal competition while cutting procurement lead times to less than 90 days.
The letter also quotes Administrator Green, saying, “Yes, I support drawing on volunteers, where practical and cost-effective, to better leverage our resources.” It goes on to say, “We believe that the VEGA LWA was exactly that—a practical and cost-effective way to draw upon volunteers to better leverage our resources.”
These 22 diverse volunteer-sending organizations lastly stated, “We respectfully ask that you urgently use your authority to issue a new mechanism modeled upon the successful VEGA LWA.” The letter was shared with relevant congressional committees and members of Congress.
Read the full letter here.