Several years ago, USAID created a beautiful repository for all those progress reports, lessons learned reports, and technical studies that it generates: The Development Experience Clearinghouse. From its frontpage:
- Ataulfo mango in Chiapas : a value chain analysis
- Finance in value chain analysis : a synthesis
- Grassroots civic education and media for
democracy in Egypt : final report
- Strengthening the accountability and
transparency of the legislative process in the West Bank/Gaza (BATAN) : project
- Microfinance and HIV/AIDS : the role of donors and funders
- A new approach to estimating abortion rates
- Quality programs for orphans and vulnerable children : a facilitator's guide to establishing service standard
This past week's email contained around 130 titles. Sure, some of the reports are very specialized or just routine progress reports. However, there must be a lot of great information buried in this pile of reports. Unfortunately, it remains buried. I am intrequed to learn what was learned during the grassroots civic education project in Eygpt, but I fear that the report is just a routine, "we did what we promised to do" report. I don't have time to wade through 130 reports a week.
- Have the DEC website switch to a youtube format: The information page for each report would include both a counter to show how popular it is and a place to leave comments. You could easily see which reports are most popular (and in theory most interesting) for any category or country. The comments would let you know what other people thought of the report (or the project).
- Have a New York Times "Review of Books" style newsletter that also comes out each week. This review could highlight the best new reports and dig out some of the buried jewels. Alternately, this could be a great subject for a blog: The USAID Report Review. Ideally, you would have reviewers from the different fields and from different geographic areas. If the review or blog attracted enough attention, it could even improve the quality of the reports themselves as people actually competed to be highlighted in the blog.