The Peace Corps underwent a
complete culture shift during the Obama Administration. The health, safety,
and security of Volunteers are the Peace Corps’ top priorities. Over the past few years, the Peace Corps has undergone one
of the most extensive reform efforts in the agency’s history, intensely
focusing on improving the quality of support we provide to Volunteers,
particularly in health, safety, and security.
Developed and implemented a Sexual Assault Risk-Reduction and Response Program.
The Peace Corps has implemented a Sexual Assault Risk-Reduction and Response Program designed to reduce the risk of sexual assault and ensure Volunteers receive compassionate, timely, and comprehensive support. The SARRR program includes more than 30 policy changes, the creation of the Office of Victim Advocacy, extensive training for Volunteers and staff, and new clearly defined procedures for reducing the risk of sexual assault and responding to Volunteers who report incidents of sexual assault. Not only has the agency fully implemented the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 but has also gone beyond the law’s requirements to provide support and care to Volunteers who are victims of crime. The agency encourages Volunteers to report incidents to Peace Corps staff and seek out support by promoting the utmost confidentiality and a Volunteer-driven process. Read more about the Sexual Assault Risk-Reduction and Response Program.
Strengthened the delivery of health services.
The Peace Corps is committed to providing first-class health care to all Volunteers no matter where they serve. To ensure continuity of high-quality care, the Peace Corps has implemented the following:
health care in the field. The agency improved the supervision, hiring,
credentialing, and management of Peace Corps medical officers at each post.
the Quality Improvement and Post-Service units. Volunteers and returned
Volunteers have direct access to medical professionals at Peace Corps
headquarters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Created a
Health Care Quality Assurance Council. The council oversees, monitors, and
reports on the quality of Peace Corps health services.
an electronic medical records system. The system gives Peace Corps medical
officers better access to Volunteers’ medical files and allows for real-time
oversight, improving the quality of care.
challenges in post-service care. After conducting extensive analyses of
post-service Volunteer health-care issues, the agency collaborated with the
U.S. Department of Labor to create solutions that address concerns related to
Volunteer claims under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act.
- Improved mental
health services. The Office of Health Services stationed mental health providers at regional medical hubs,
utilized evidence-supported techniques in mental health treatment, and revamped
the medical evacuation program in Washington, D.C.
Volunteer health measures. The agency developed objective metrics for Volunteer
health and improving health by utilizing the Healthy People 2020 objectives
and the U.S. Surgeon General’s National Prevention Strategy.
Recruitment and outreach
After several years of strengthening its core programs, the Peace Corps implemented sweeping changes to recruitment and outreach in order to remain competitive and keep up with our rapidly changing world. This forward-looking reform has been highly successful. In the first full year the new application process was in place, more than 23,000 Americans applied for Peace Corps service—shattering a 40-year record for the most applications received in a single year. (See press release.)
application process and choice of countries: Peace Corps applicants can now
choose the specific programs and countries they want to apply to, selecting the
path that best fits their personal and professional goals. The revised online
application takes about an hour to finish and has contributed to a dramatically
improved rate of completion. Previously, less than 30 percent of individuals
who began a Peace Corps application completed it. With the shortened
application, more than 90 percent complete it, providing the Peace Corps with a
much larger pool of highly qualified candidates.
up efforts to recruit in underrepresented communities: The Peace Corps has
partnered with historically black colleges and universities, African-American
fraternities and sororities, and other organizations representing diverse
Americans to expand its reach and develop a Volunteer corps that reflects the
rich diversity of the United States. To strengthen diversity outreach, the
agency created seven new diversity recruiter positions.
A data-driven agency
The foundation of the Peace Corps’ reform efforts during the Obama Administration was a Comprehensive Agency Assessment [PDF] commissioned in January 2010, a six-month process that resulted in a new strategic plan [PDF]. Beginning with this assessment, the Peace Corps has been firmly committed to operating as a data-driven agency, measuring for impact and highly focused on rigorous monitoring and evaluation of all programs.
Strategically targeted resources and country presence for greatest impact:
Portfolio Review: Every year, the
Peace Corps conducts an objective, data-driven analysis to guide strategic
decisions regarding potential new country entries and allocations of Volunteers
and other resources. The Country Portfolio Review results help the agency focus
its work where the need is greatest, as well as ensuring the most efficient use
of taxpayer dollars.
- Focus-In/Train-Up: The
Focus-In/Train-Up strategy dramatically strengthened the quality of technical
training and program support for Volunteers. The Peace Corps partners with host
governments, universities, nongovernmental organizations, and donors to ensure
that Volunteers are focusing on projects that are needed by their communities
and that have been proven to be most effective at achieving development
results. The Focus In/Train Up strategy is further strengthened by the
recommendations of the inter-office Monitoring and Evaluation Task Force.