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About the ERGO Peer Learning Group

Context

The global coronavirus outbreak impacted all aspects of our society. As governments, communities, social sector organisations and businesses responded to this unprecedented situation, we wanted to consider the implications that emergency situations have on those involved in outcomes-based approaches to public service provision. 

How have the people in these collaborations innovated and adapted? What are the flexibilities within outcomes-based contracts that can be employed to respond swiftly to an emergency of this scale? What are the limitations? What can the current situation tell us about the ability of outcomes-based approaches to work effectively in highly dynamic or fragile scenarios?

In April 2020, we set up the Emergency Responses and Government Outcomes (ERGO) peer learning group to provide an open platform for those in government, provider organisations, academia and other sectors to share their experience in dealing with emergency or disaster responses, and reflect on the wider implications for outcomes-based approaches. There were two ERGO session formats: structured sessions which explored specific topics relevant to emergency contexts, while open session provided a platform for members to bring discussion items to the group.

Aims of ERGO

The ERGO peer learning group provided a platform for those in government, provider organisations, academia and other sectors to share their experience in dealing with emergency or disaster responses, and reflect on the wider implications for outcomes-based approaches. This group was launched at a time when public, private and social sector organisations were having to rapidly adapt their relationships to meet new challenges caused by the global coronavirus outbreak. 

Core themes

Some of the themes that we explored included:

  • COVID-19 and outcomes contracts: Where and on what dimensions are outcomes contracts able to flex and adapt to the realities of the pandemic? This virtual session brought together legal experts to talk through the strengths and limitations of outcomes contracts in today’s emergency context. The session was designed to be informational for those delivering outcomes contracts who are looking to understand what changes are likely permissible.  
  • COVID-19 Peer Support Sessions: Open sessions for outcomes-based projects to discuss their current challenges and learn from each other about possible solutions. 
  • Learning from other disasters and other contexts: What has emergency response looked like in other contexts? What can we learn from service delivery in fragile contexts? This session brought together a range of experts to speak about the post-COVID-19 policy landscape, approaches to emergency response, and how services are designed to cope, or not, with fragile contexts. 
  • COVID-19: So, you need to change your evaluation/research plan? For ongoing evaluation and research activities, adapting plans in order to recognise (or attempt to isolate) the massive shock of COVID-19 is quite a tall order. It also represents an opportunity to do disaster specific research – but how? This session brought together researchers and evaluators speaking on how they were adapting their existing work to take COVID-19 into account and/or designing specifically for it. 
  • COVID-19 response stories: How are projects and policy-makers adjusting their plans and activities in light of COVID-19? In this session a handful of outcomes-based projects and policy-makers shared how they’d responded to the crisis.