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Final external review – how did we fare?

Magnifying-glass wThe report of our final external review has been published. The review’s aim was to determine to what extent GCP has supported genomic research and molecular plant breeding for developing-country partners. In addition, as GCP represented a new business model for international agricultural research in CGIAR – the Challenge Programmes (CPs) – the review also examined whether the CP model has indeed been useful, and to what extent particular aspects of it might be replicated in the current CGIAR Research Programmes (CRPs). The idea was to learn from one of the first multi-Centre multi-partner CGIAR programmes that were the predecessors of the current CRPs.

Previously, GCP has undergone several reviews. This final external review of was at the request of GCP’s management and Executive Board, with the consent of the GCP Consortium Committee. It was implemented by the CGIAR Independent Evaluation Arrangement (IEA). The review was undertaken in late 2013, and therefore about a year before GCP’s closure. The review report published in April 2014 made 11 recommendations, all of which GCP agreed with.

The review included two surveys – one on Programme evaluation administered to stakeholders and grant recipients, and another on governance and management administered to a smaller select audience, conversant with these aspects through their interaction with GCP. Some of the lessons learnt from GCP would be relevant to CRPs and other similar research initiatives in terms of governance, transparency in operations, mix of competitive and commissioned projects, and the crucial role of strategic capacity building (CB) to meaningfully and sustainably empower developing-country partners, by fully integrating CB into core research.

The review rated GCP as follows:

  • highly satisfactory for relevance, research effectiveness, impact and sustainability, quality of science, and governance and management; and,
  • satisfactory for research efficiency.

The report’s conclusion stated that: "The Review Team established that GCP has performed well, has met the majority of its genetic enhancement goals and surpassed others, and will leave a formidable legacy of useful and accessible products and information.”

Previous external reviews have underscored that effective partnerships have been one, if not the major, achievements of the Programme. The 2008 External Programme and Management Review (EPMR) noted that perhaps GCP’s most important value was “…the opportunities it [GCP] has provided for people of diverse backgrounds to think collectively about solutions to complex problems, and, in the process, to learn from one another.” More recently, this final review stated that GCP’s “research partnerships provide gains that are more than the sum of their parts…[with]… synergies and benefits that appear to have enduring value.” A key lesson is that a partnership initiative requires specific management structures and financial resources to be successful: it does not occur spontaneously on its own.

This afternoon, the GCP Director, Jean-Marcel Ribaut, will be presenting part of the report to members of the CGIAR Fund Council who are visiting our Host Centre, CIMMYT. Jean-Marcel’s presentation will mainly focus on lessons learnt, and their relevance for CRPs. Earlier in March this year, he’d made a presentation at a meeting of the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council, focusing mainly on the results of the two surveys above. Our thanks to all who responded to the surveys, which were a core part of the review.

The final review report and the terms of reference for the Review Panel, as well as reports for all previous reviews, are on our Reviews and evaluations page. If you're interested in more of GCP's history, and a candid view of what the Programme looked like as twilight approached and the lessons learnt at the time, see this 2012 blogpost.