Designing Programs to Succeed: EOF at the Social Outcomes Conference 2021



Taking a different approach when designing and implementing the legal and procurement framework for Results-Based Financing (RBF) programs can radically improve the effectiveness for funders and providers Miléna Castellnou, Principal at the Education Outcomes Fund (EOF) told the audience at the recent Social Outcomes Conference 2021, hosted by the Government Outcomes Lab at the University of Oxford.


Ms. Castellnou joined a panel alongside other experts and practitioners in RBF to discuss how procurement and legal challenges impacts the effectiveness of outcomes-based models.


Reflecting on her considerable experience, including her most recent work for EOF with the World Bank and the Government of Ghana, Ms. Castellnou acknowledged that often, a lack of attention to procurement and legal considertions is the root cause of lengthy and costly processes when it comes to launching and implementing outcomes funds at scale. With respect to RBF programs, the timeline is “often underestimated”—and high transaction costs are incurred—due to a lack of familiarity with procurement and legal considerations: “These are issues that really matter and that, in fact, we probably don't speak about enough.”


To combat these issues, Ms. Castellnou advised RBF practitioners to direct greater focus towards legal and procurement considerations early on, to be able to better anticipate the challenges that could arise, and to adopt specific templates for RBF programs rather than using ones designed for traditional grants or service contracts. These best practices in legal and procurement for RBF are the subject of a recent paper she co-authored with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP Associate, Daniella Jammes, and Hilary Sienrukos, Senior Director in the Program Acquisition and Assistance group at the Millennium Challenge Corporation: ‘Setting Up for Success: Best Practices for the Procurement and Contracting of Results-Based Financing Programs.’


Ms. Castellnou explained that this different approach could be seen in EOF's organizational framework, which has been designed to deliver a cross-sectoral approach that gives governments, sponsors, partners, and stakeholders greater opportunity to scale impactful outcomes-based approaches without putting funding resources at risk. EOF has worked with UNICEF’s legal and supply team to integrate these lessons learned and create a dedicated template aimed at facilitating the launch of outcomes funds with speed and scale.


Ms. Castellnou encouraged attendees to take away a positive understanding of the difference improving these processes can make to RBF practitioners:


“And finally, just to finish briefly with a message of hope is to say that this is challenging, but it doesn't have to be. Over time as practitioners, lawyers and procurement experts become more familiar with results-based financing mechanisms and fit-for-purpose templates have been created, there is no reason why the procurement and legal processes should take longer than for any grant or service contract.”


To read the full paper “Setting Up for Success” click here.