SAS® in the new millennium
Meeting United Nations goals with SAS® software
From eradicating extreme poverty and hunger to reducing child mortality and ensuring environmental sustainability, the United Nations has called for sweeping global changes with its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). But how can SAS – and you – play a role in helping meet these goals?
In 2000, the United Nations Millennium Declaration established the eight MDGs to set objectives based on clear performance indicators for the developing world. The goal date for achieving these objectives is 2015.
Although significant progress has been made toward achieving these goals, José Antonio Ocampo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, noted in The Millennium Development Goals Report in 2006, “Much more can and must be done, both by developed countries in increasing their support and by developing countries in using foreign assistance and their own resources more effectively.”1
Technology is part of the answer
MDGs not only reflect global justice and human rights, but they are also vital to international and national security and stability. Preventing states from failing is far less expensive than rebuilding failed states. Poor societies are much more likely to face conflict over scarce vital and natural resources.
Without the transparent view of effectiveness that data analysis provides, social projects are not understood as contributing to national and international progress, often resulting in internal competition for project resources and in some cases being seen as the proximate cause of social unrest. Intelligent analysis can support civil stability by transparently showing progress toward mutual goals.
When properly planned, tracked and measured using advanced data analysis, projects can be less expensive and more likely to succeed. Advanced data analysis can help remove speculation and assumptions and uncover hidden reality to accurately evaluate project feasibility and understand the critical role of human performance in successful implementation.
Managing program performance
The SAS international development solution for program performance management includes software, services and best practice methodology in a completely transparent environment. SAS provides a timely, accurate view of information linked to budgeting, scorecarding and strategy maps with predictive analytics that goes beyond helping you understand what has happened to helping you understand what will happen and what to do next.
In addition to the benefits of advanced data analysis and reporting to plan and evaluate social development projects, UN programs and funds require effective measurement and management for accountability to prevent fraud and satisfy integrity checks on the use and allocation of funds.
For reporting purposes, national governments submit compiled statistics on their progress toward the MDGs to the UN Statistics Division and the statistical offices of the various international organizations, but adjust them for comparability. Most data is derived from international agencies’ surveys and is not always up to date. In some cases, agencies submit estimates for nonreporting countries based on what similar or surrounding countries have reported.
The UN’s 2006 report reiterates the concern about data: “Since the periodic assessment of progress towards the MDGs began five years ago, the international statistical community has been concerned about the lack of adequate data to compile the required indicators in many parts of the developing world. At the same time, the monitoring requirements themselves have focused attention on this shortcoming and raised awareness of the urgency to launch initiatives for statistical capacity building. Though there have been many steps in this direction, much remains to be done until all countries are able to produce a continuous flow of social and economic data needed to inform their development policies and track progress.”
Factors such as inadequate measurement techniques, ineffective accountability standards, and unidentified or unquantifiable project deliverables (such as measured progress) can all contribute to the vulnerability of UN-funded programs to fraud, waste and abuse. In the absence of measurement, risk mitigation and transparency, corruption can be an endemic reality in the developing world.
Encouraging financial stability, reduced corruption
For lending to be effective, a recipient project must be clearly part of a larger national, regional or global strategy. It must comply with regulatory measures and operate with minimal risk exposure. Building a strategy of transparency and progress measurement begins with data integrity. Data privacy issues and a lack of data standards can prevent traceability in projects, increasing risk exposure across an organization. Inconsistent data from disparate sources can hardly support a myriad of people, processes and reports with any degree of reliability and integrity.
The absence of accountability and lack of a cohesive, global anti-corruption strategy – coupled with a lack of governance and fiscal resources to invest in the infrastructure of developing nations – all increase the risk of fraud, waste and abuse. Integrity checks continue to be manual and time-intensive. Without effective funding, program failure can result in not achieving an MDG.
The undeniable truth of government is that it is an expensive business; typically, the more radical the agenda or the more holistic the policy, the more it will cost. Another sad truth is that where there is money, abuse or errors inevitably follow. Such misuse – intentional or not – costs governments and taxpayers.
The single most useful weapon you have to counter misuse is the ability to generate intelligence and meaning within the huge repositories of raw data that underpin the day-to-day business of government. Intelligence allows you to identify poorly designed processes, hidden relationships within data and traces left by fraudsters so that you can manage risk and enable progress.
Implementing a strategy and technology solution to find and predict misuse helps organizations ensure that vital services and programs are in place. For this reason, organizations around the globe are turning to SAS to reduce the burden of mishandled money and restore funding back to what it was originally intended for – improving lives through attaining the MDGs.
SAS offers superior data analysis techniques, development expertise and in-country networks of regional offices, ensuring local expertise in support of UN and multilateral development bank-funded projects. SAS software also provides multilanguage support to meet the needs of international organizations and has an in-depth understanding of the challenges faced by developing countries to support them in their efforts to achieve the MDGs.
* 1United Nations (2006). The Millennium Development Goals Report. New York: United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Challenges for international development
1. Developing countries lack technological resources, human capital and knowledge to perform the essential functions of project implementation.
This story appears in the Third Quarter 2008 issue of