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Here you will find a checklist summarizing the important points of the section.


What do we mean by oversight and oversight mechanisms?

­­__ Oversight is the maintenance of a watchful eye on an individual, entity or process.

Oversight may also be the responsibility for the operation, implementation, and/or outcome of a process, program, organization or institution, or effort.

__ Oversight may be internal or external.

__ Oversight is different from evaluation in that it is constant and concerned with proper functioning as much as effectiveness.

__ An oversight mechanism is the system or process and the procedures used to exercise oversight.

__ Oversight and oversight mechanisms in health and community services and development should reflect the vision, mission, values, and goals of the groups and individuals engaging in them.


Why establish oversight mechanisms?

__ To assure accountability.

__ To control quality.

__ To ensure adherence to laws and regulations.

__ To control unfair treatment, corruption, illegality, and unethical behavior.

__ To ensure the effectiveness of programs or efforts for which you have responsibility.

__ To help improve the wellbeing of everyone.


Who should be involved in establishing oversight mechanisms?

__ Where possible and appropriate, establishing oversight mechanisms should be a participatory process, and involve:

  • Those from the groups most affected by the issue or situation involved.
  • Those providing the service or products for which oversight is directed (i.e., those being overseen).
  • Those ultimately responsible for the success of the effort – program directors, school principals, elected or appointed officials, etc.
  • Funders and others contributing resources or support to the implementation of the effort.
  • Community activists concerned with the issue or effort in question.


When should oversight mechanisms be established?

__ When an effort or new program or organization is starting.

__ When a problem needs to be prevented from occurring.

__ When the quality or effectiveness of an effort or program is in question.

__ When there is an agreement, contract, or regulation to be followed.

__ When an entity is engaged in an activity that is potentially harmful to the community, its members, or society.


How do you establish oversight mechanisms?

__ In most situations, gather a group of stakeholders to plan and set up oversight mechanisms.

__ Decide what kind of oversight you need. Possibilities include:

  • Oversight in terms of accountability.
  • Oversight of the operation of a program, effort, or organization.
  • Oversight of the conduct of a service, organization, government agency, etc.
  • Oversight of the performance of individuals in an organization or institution – supervision of service providers, teachers, etc.
  • Oversight of the conduct of individuals in organizations and government.
  • Oversight of processes to make sure they’re conducted properly, and that policies and procedures followed and effective.
  • Oversight of agreements and contracts to be sure that their terms are carried out as specified, and that both parties are fulfilling their obligations and receiving what was agreed upon.
  • Oversight to protect vulnerable individuals.

__ Choose an oversight mechanism that is best suited to the type of oversight you expect to conduct. Some types of oversight mechanisms:

  • Oversight by a designated or responsible individual.
  • External oversight by a funder, government agency, or other responsible body.
  • An oversight committee.
  • A watchdog group.
  • A monitoring and evaluation process.
  • Spot checks by staff, supervisors or program directors.
  • Regular oral and/or written reports on the work being done and its results.
  • Mechanical oversight, as by the use of cameras, audio recorders, or mechanical inspection of products.

__ Decide who will conduct the actual oversight.

__ Decide on the methods you will use to conduct the oversight.

Some possible methods you might use with various oversight mechanisms:

  • Individual and group interviews with administrators or managers and staff members, present and past participants, funders, and others affected by or familiar with the entity’s work.
  • Casual conversation with staff members and administrators.
  • Direct observation of the work of the entity.
  • Embedding into the work of the entity, also known as participant observation.
  • Study of organizational or agency files, records, and financial reports, as well as its history, funding sources, and philosophy.
  • Research into practice models or theory that underlies the work of the entity.

__ Train those who will conduct the oversight if necessary. Some possible topics:

  • Get to know the organization or entity you’re overseeing.
  • Understand that people may not want you there, either because they don’t want oversight, or because you’re interrupting their work.
  • Try to establish a rapport with people you interview or interact with. Be natural and respectful.
  • Listen carefully to what people tell you, and ask follow-up questions where it’s appropriate.
  • Use open-ended questions.
  • Pay attention to body language, the environment, and to the interactions among people.
  • Take careful notes in whatever way is easiest and most comfortable for you and others.
  • Respect people’s time.
  • Produce reports regularly, and share your findings with those who are subject to oversight.
  • Praise where appropriate, but don’t blame or criticize.

__ Create an analysis and reporting system.

__ Determine how you will use oversight to maintain or improve the quality of your work or of the entity or situation you’re overseeing.

__ Evaluate the effectiveness of your oversight mechanism and adjust it as necessary.

__ Continue oversight over the long term.