we recognize the harm done to public goods & to the public interest whenever good ideas are subverted by their own incapacity to confront the challenges posed by the local environment.
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VRS is a for-profit venture of the Think Tank Fanaka Kwawote. It was set up in recognition of the practical challenges facing actors within the policy and development field as well as their private sector partners in implementing projects within a complex bureaucracy and unique organizational structure and culture in East Africa.
Kwawote and its partners engaged in research, analysis and professional services came to the decision that front end risk analysis and rigorous due diligence is a pragmatic contribution to the future of good public policy.
To succeed, the best ideas both locally and globally must adapt to the complex processes within public institutions even where they hope to teach and reform.
They must in addition navigate the culture and interests of non-state actors that are the resident domestic constituency of best practices.
This is true in Uganda as it is within the region and beyond. To get things done is partly about the resources and mostly about the relationships or networks available to any project.
As a homegrown network of practitioners and researchers, we recognize the harm done to public goods and to the public interest whenever good ideas are subverted by their own incapacity to confront the challenges posed by the local environment.
Many great endeavours fail not based on the merit of the idea but on the inability of a project to navigate the complex hallways of information and decision-making that impose hidden costs, encumber time-lines and frustrate entrepreneurs.
In turn these failures or delays of projects do not succeed in delivering the public goods they were meant to. Some refer to this broken system as corruption. However this is but one side of the story.
We see this as an information challenge. Our intention is to overcome it by providing deserving projects with the best information and local knowledge available to make them succeed.
We refer to the problem above as negative information asymmetry. It is systemic where entire departments of government, organisations in the private sector, local and international NGOs and individuals cannot be assured of a simple, coherent, guided and dependable path to implementing their projects.
They instead face a complicated web of indirect authority and decision-making, laws rendered redundant by undocumented practices, and challenges in finding the right information to procure and use.
It is true that this system breeds its own profiteers however it also means that no major government projects are delivered in time or on budget, no deserving policy decisions meet their deadlines, and regulators exhibit far less power over their sectors than is within the law.
This evidently interferes with the public interest.
At VRS, or [Verification. Registration. Services] we are building a response through dedicated due diligence on behalf of project managers that overcomes these problems. As the name suggests the project involves verifying official documents, clarifying policies and decision-making processes, identifying the right decision makers and registering their lawful interests as required.
It relies on a wide and diverse source of information sources including the country’s leading journalists, and professionals within the state and non-state sector who are bonded in the shared belief that the public interest needs the aid of accurate and timely information and strategic analysis.
In addition to applying superior local knowledge and political-economy analysis to key sectors, we believe this service we will mitigate risk and move projects faster along their implementation path.
VRS also serves as an on-going research and live mapping exercise on decision-making in critical sectors such as the extractives, construction, judiciary, legislation and defense.
VRS is a unique public interest partner. It recognizes that projects conducted in the public interest deserve the kind of professional due diligence and political risk analysis available to large corporations as a matter of course. This is perhaps even more so, we have discovered, for locally based organizations often assumed to know their environment better.