Nikola Benin, PhD


1.1 The context of Mexican foundations Historically, foundations in Mexico were set up for charity purposes and were mainly driven from the Catholic Church, a legacy of colonial customs. As the nineteenth-century liberal government took over the mission of assistance, these charitable activities were organised into legal entities. Many foundations preserved the practice of altruistic donation and became more professional with time. In the twentieth century, many more were created to implement programmes and offer grants to individuals or CSOs in line with their purpose and mission, which broadened their focus and increased their intervention capacities. The professionalisation of foundations is more recent, especially in the area of engagement in specific causes. For example, many corporate foundations have appeared in the past 20 years, operating as the companies’ social branches. The private sector thus participates in improving the well-being of local communities, also as an additional way to meet corporate-social-responsibility goals. In parallel, foundations have become increasingly active in promoting development in the country, defending what they consider to be just causes. Foundations operate in a complex environment, defined by a very diverse set of actors, institutions, regulations and processes, all of which significantly affect and influence their actions. The following are a few examples. The FPA grants support to legally constituted CSOs, which include foundations and other actors. This support derives from the policy objective of fostering CSO activities initiated in 2004. Since the implementation of this new policy framework, several public initiatives have been implemented at the federal level to boost foundations’ projects and programmes. For example, the Joint Social Investment Programme (JSIP), run by the national development institute — Instituto Nacional de Desarrollo Social (INDESOL) —, allocates funds to CSOs for the management of development promotion projects. The problem is that there is no distinction between the types of actors that are legally defined as CSOs. Moreover, the resources granted by the FPA to the social sector, especially those out of programmes with operating rules, are often divided into very small amounts that can hardly be significant for foundations.2 On the other hand, other agencies that distribute much larger financial amounts to CSOs follow very fuzzy rules, with little auditing and transparency. Furthermore, the context of foundations is defined by the existence of an increasing number of mechanisms and participation spaces in which they interact with CSOs (potentially including foundations) and various FPA bodies. At the end of 2015, the FG reported that there were nearly 400 mechanisms with these characteristics, 153 of which were councils, 64 consultation fora and the rest distributed under 20 other types of mechanism (Rodríguez, 2015). Fewer than half of these are covered by the operating rules and other official policy documents. Hence, the government needs to improve the quality of the regulatory framework, including making performance and accountability mechanisms more transparent. The Mexican government produces a report that describes the existing relations between the CSOs – including the foundations – and the federal government (SEGOB, 2016). “The joint responsibility that is part of joint investment should allow channelling mutual resources (public and private) into projects of public interest in which there are common purposes. The government should preserve its governing function and the CSOs should be able to participate freely without losing their autonomy.” (Director of a citizen movement, interviewed on 26 August 2015) 18 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 19 I. OUTLINE OF THE PROJECT: CONTEXT, KEY CONCEPTS AND METHODOLOGY Finally, a third contextual area for foundations is the issue of access to information. The current law on transparency and access to public information, Ley General de Transparencia y Acceso a la Información Pública, published in May 2015, makes it an obligation for practically all governmental information to be publicly available. Getting information from the government is thus more than a procedure; it is a right. Foundations and other CSOs are also required to make certain institutional information public. It is interesting to note that although there is a legal and institutional framework that generally governs relations between CSOs (as a whole) and the FG, the institutional environment for foundations has become increasingly complex following a series of governmental decisions. Issues such as accountability, access to public funds, production of statistics, policy dialogue platforms and co-management of multilateral projects are areas, amongst many others, that significantly change the institutional context for foundations. Changes in these regulations can even modify the legal form of CSOs and foundations. For the purpose of this project, some key concepts have been defined in the following subsection. 1.2 Key concepts and definitions Mexican foundations Civil society is a network of relations amongst subjects that are produced relatively independently from the state and the market and can be classified into the two following categories (Hevia de la Jara and Isunza Vera, 2006): • Individual actors (citizens) who participate through individual means (petitions, letters, complaints, through information systems, website reviews, etc.) and collective means (protests, pressure, street demonstrations). They are extremely variable and they only participate when directly affected by specific cases. • Collective actors (organised civil society): these include civil associations, academics and other groups (of parents, of ejidatarios [collective landowners], professionals, etc.) participating in lobbying activities, in collegial bodies and in specific sectors. In this study, “collective actors” refers to CSOs, traditionally understood as being part of the “third sector” (Salamon and Wojciech Sokolowski, 2004), as a series of formal and informal organisations, registered or not, private (in the sense that they are not part of a public institution), which do not distribute economic benefits amongst their members and executives, have no commercial purpose, do not seek political power, and are self-governed and voluntary (meaning supported by people with no contractual obligation). “The institutional design (Who makes up the executive bodies? Who selects them and what are the selection procedures?) and the attributions of the councils are essential for the existence of democratic governance. An example of progress in forms of democratic governance is that of the discriminationprevention council, CONAPRED, where the Governing Council (the highest collegial executive body) has equal representation, in that it comprises seven representatives of the federal executive authority and seven from the consultative citizens assembly (made up of representatives of the private and social sectors, and of the academic community). Its subjects of deliberation are not mandated, but seven of the members are formal members of the Governing Council and represent half of the Governing Council.” (Director of a citizen movement, interviewed on 26 August 2015) 20 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 In this sense, CSO intentions are diverse, they use a variety of means, and their operations are complex. Foundations are a particular type of organisation falling under this category. At the global level, foundations have been defined as “independent, non-state entities that associate private resources and deploy these through funding or by running own programmes to advance social, cultural, economic, environmental, scientific and other public-good purposes at the local, regional and/or international levels” (OECD netFWD, 2014).3 The concept of foundation in Mexico, unlike in most of Latin America, does not refer to a legal form of not-for-profit organisation, but rather to civil associations (asociación civil, or AC) and private-aid institutions (instituciones de asistencia privada, or IAP). There are also few other legal not-for-profit entities in the country, designated as public-charity institutions (instituciones de beneficencia pública, or IBP), public-charity organisations (asociaciones de beneficencia pública, or ABP), as well as civil societies. In Mexico, organisations calling themselves foundations are usually registered as AC or IAP. Therefore having the name of “foundation” does not mean that it is neither a donor organisation, nor an organisation with own resources. It can be an organisation seeking resources by submitting funding proposals or using other fundraising mechanisms. On the other hand, there are many foundations that run programmes and/or fund third parties. Categories that would encompass all foundations would include: a) donor foundations, geared to granting resources to other organisations or causes; b) operating foundations, which have their own programmes and resources to implement them; and c) mixed foundations, which use their resources to fund other organisations and run their own programmes. Hence, foundations in Mexico can be understood as “not-for-profit organisations with own funds or a continuous flow of funds, either from a company, a family or a group of donors” (Butcher García-Colín, 2013). The category of foundation used for this study also includes the definition by CEMEFI, CIESC, WINGS and Comunalia4 – a network of community foundations created in 2010. These organisation have enlarged the concept of foundation, leading to a more specific definition of the types of existing foundations in Mexico: 1. Family foundations 2. Corporate foundations 3. Multi-corporate foundations 4. Community foundations 5. Intermediary foundations 6. International foundations in Mexico5 Federal Public Administration “Public administration” is a set of hierarchically established institutions that have the means of developing and implementing government laws and policies. Under this definition, public administration can fall under federal, state or municipal government. For the purposes of this study, we will concentrate exclusively on the FPA, considered as the FG’s operational embodiment. The FPA, in accordance with its organic law, is made up of centralised and parastatal institutions. Centralised public administration is constituted by state agencies and departments (and their decentralised bodies), and by the Legal Counsel of the Federal Executive Authority. Parastatal public administration is constituted by decentralised entities such as state-owned enterprises (state manufacturing companies), national credit institutions, ancillary credit organisations, I. OUTLINE OF THE PROJECT: CONTEXT, KEY CONCEPTS AND METHODOLOGY 20 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 21 national insurance and bonding institutions, and public trusts. For the purposes of this study, only state departments and some of their decentralised bodies have been included, particularly those with the highest potential of collaboration with foundations. 1.3 Relations between the FPA, Mexican foundations and CSOs The relation between government and civil society can be described under a wide range of possibilities going from smoothest to most conflictive. In this respect, Anheier (2000) argues that the relationship between the two categories will depend, among other factors, on the type of political regime and the dominant paradigm of the public administration in place. In this sense, these relations can range from indifference, to corporatism, neo-corporatism, partnership, controllership or conflict (Diagram 1); several of these situations can co-exist in the same relationship. In some cases, the organisations serve as complementary public-policy mechanisms by channelling social demands, claims or rights, or as an alternative way to provide public goods and services. This study focuses on the relations between foundations and the FG from the point of view of peer collaboration, identified as the most desirable relationship. Diagram 1. Typology of Mexican government-foundations relations Partnership (Peers) Indifference Defiance Neo-corporatism (Support of pre-defined policies) Controllership Conflict Corporatism (Patronage) Source: Muñoz, 2013. For the purposes of this study, although a multiplicity of relations between foundations and the FPA were observed and analysed, special emphasis is given to those associated with the netFWD Guidelines: dialogue, data and information sharing, and partnerships.6 1.4 Methodological aspects This study is exploratory and descriptive and is based on the interpretation of data from primary and secondary information sources. The findings were obtained from two online questionnaires, one addressed to 46 government agents acting as liaison with civil society, and another one addressed to 81 members of the operational teams of foundations working in Mexico. To validate the results of the questionnaires and deepen the information, focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted with FG servants and foundation executives. Finally, two workshops were organised with executives of foundations and public servants. The first workshop was attended by 6 foundation directors and 6 public servants from various bodies, and the second was attended by 8 foundation directors and 11 public servants. I. OUTLINE OF THE PROJECT: CONTEXT, KEY CONCEPTS AND METHODOLOGY 22 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 As previously mentioned, the concept of foundation in Mexico is fuzzy. Neither the foundations themselves nor public servants seem to be able to identify the differences between foundations and other types of CSO. This aspect is not only relevant to the analysis but also constitutes an important methodological challenge for the study, given the scarce availability of relevant information on foundations to establish a representative sample. For this reason, different sources were consulted, such as the database used by Villar Gómez et al. (2014), including the CEMEFI foundation directory, which, with its 248 entries, was the most comprehensive (CEMEFI, 2010). Based on this set of information sources, the questionnaire was submitted to 81 staff members of various foundations, for a total of 229 questionnaires. This number does not constitute a representative sample in the statistical sense, but offers significant information on this particular sector of CSOs in Mexico. For the FG, a total of 98 public servants, defined by their own agencies as FPA liaison agents with civil society, were consulted.7 A further representative sample of 79 public servants were culled (95% trusted sources and a 5% margin of error), out of which only 46 answered the questionnaire. Finally, a specific theme was identified to perform the analysis of the relations between foundations and the FG. The selected theme was income-generating productive projects, involving populations living in poverty. 1.5 Income-generating productive projects Entrepreneurship programmes, thanks to the direction currently set for them by the FG, are a fertile working field for many foundations aiming at improving the living conditions of their target population. The strong momentum given on a national and international scale to entrepreneurship, perceived as a mechanism to exit poverty, thanks to self-generated productive means, makes it a worthy subject to examine the existing relations between foundations and the FG. Role of the government in productive projects One of the current priorities of the FG in its social policies to fight against poverty is economic, financial and labour inclusion through income-generating productive projects. This priority is embedded in the government’s main social programme, PROSPERA,8 which aims to: “Articulate and co-ordinate the institutional supply of social-policy programmes and actions, including those related to productive promotion, income generation, economic well-being, financial and labour inclusion, education, food and health, and is addressed to the populations living in extreme poverty” (SEGOB, 2014). To achieve this goal, the FG has proposed a collaborative approach between government, civil society and private enterprise, as stated in the PROSPERA mission. “PROSPERA saw that one of the most serious problems facing productive projects was the market entry, and they realised that businesses could provide productive projects with such market entry.” (Foundation director interviewed on 15 July 2015) I. OUTLINE OF THE PROJECT: CONTEXT, KEY CONCEPTS AND METHODOLOGY 22 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 23 PROSPERA sets out several lines in the area of economic inclusion:9 1. Productive inclusion. The purpose of this line is to promote self-generating and sustainable income that will allow a population living in poverty to exit this state and sustain itself through its own means. PROSPERA beneficiaries are given a source of income and high-priority access to 15 productive programmes. 2. Financial inclusion. This line of work, through the development bank Banca de Desarrollo, helps beneficiaries access a variety of services, such as financial education, savings accounts, life insurance or loans with favourable rates. 3. Labour inclusion. The goal of this line of work is to increase the purchasing power of the beneficiary families and foster training and employment policies. These initiatives aim at improving social well-being and accessing labour market under favourable conditions. Different services that are linked to productive action are offered, such as job counselling and orientation by a labour advisor. Scholarships are also granted to young people through the Bécate programme for training in labour qualifications, mixed qualifications and qualifications in self-employment. The productive and financial-inclusion lines are interdependent, as it is not possible to develop productive projects without access to financial services. But the labour-inclusion line can be developed somewhat independently from the other two and with different institutional and social actors. With this reasoning in mind, in this study we only worked with the productive and financialinclusion lines of work. Box 1. PROSPERA: Productive territories An example of a PROPSERA initiative that provides a model of relations between foundations and the government is the “Productive Territories” initiative. It is an initiative geared to finding income-generating alternatives under a territorial approach. It is based on a model developed by the rural-development centre RIMISP, in which the territories selected for the initiative are located near urban centres, which allows articulating the supply with its markets. The initiative mobilises a number of different government bodies and agencies. These include the Ministry of Economy’s national micro-entrepreneurship financing programme (Programa Nacional de Financiamiento al Microempresario – PRONAFIM), which has a pool of resources for incubation processes. Given their need of experts in this area, they have the support of foundations such as the United States-Mexico Foundation for Science, FUMEC, which has experience in the field and a number of incubation models. “… effort complementarity is important to ensure that producers get the required support. For example, supplementing the support of INAES in seed capital with incubation funds from PRONAFIM, or with those from the youth institute, IMJUVE, allows agencies to provide producers with the instruments best adapted to their needs.” (Public servant interviewed on 6 October 2015) “Now, among productive projects, everyone is looking for the best quality products. Often, these projects can begin informally to help a small group of producers and then grow to the dimensions of Toks jams and preserves, for example. Not all stories are successes though; some don’t work out.” (Foundation director interviewed on 29 June 2015) I. OUTLINE OF THE PROJECT: CONTEXT, KEY CONCEPTS AND METHODOLOGY 24 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 Role of foundations in income-generating productive projects Income-generating productive projects are entrepreneurial initiatives organised by CSOs or enterprises aimed at generating independent and sustainable income through marketing and sales processes in some type of market (PROSPERA, 2016).10 These income-generating initiatives usually have a co-operative aspect at some phase of the cycle, such as for the purchase of inputs, production, access to financial services or product marketing. The markets to which these initiatives are geared are varied. They can be traditional, dynamic, specialised, local, regional, national or international markets and can be product or services markets. The selection of the markets can vary over time and according to the organisations’ capacities. For their development, these initiatives require access to financial and non-financial resources, as well as a series of organisational and managerial skills. Support to these initiatives therefore usually combines financial inclusion, technical counselling and training. Foundations, especially the corporate ones, are very interested in these initiatives, given the proximity with the private sector and the potential to integrate the corresponding value chain. In agreement with the multi-corporate foundation Fundemex, these projects seek to promote human, technical, entrepreneurial and technological development in order to enable the communities to connect with the market, generating wealth and ensuring its equitable redistribution to community members. These socially oriented projects can be promoted through: i) organisations or enterprises that will develop the productive initiative, ii) the value chains between the organisations and mediumsized and large companies, or iii) the whole of the ecosystem that makes good development of these initiatives possible (social organisations, companies, accelerator or empowering initiatives, financial entities etc.). “Many foundations in Mexico have made important strategic changes towards this type of cause. Not all the companies involved in productive projects necessarily have a foundation, but participating in this type of project is part of their core business. There are foundations that have changed in this direction, often including this activity as one more cause to attend to, amongst the other things these foundations do. We should remember that this also has to do with the companies these foundations come from, since they are the ones making decisions on where they want to place their donations…” (Foundation director interviewed on 29 June 2015). I. OUTLINE OF THE PROJECT: CONTEXT, KEY CONCEPTS AND METHODOLOGY 24 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 25 Box 2. Foundations in productive projects: The Walmart Foundation In order to improve the efficiency of its productive initiatives, Walmart has approached other groups of companies, multilateral organisations and foundations in Mexico to learn how projects that are working on developing value chains have come about, so as to build a collaboration initiative for inclusive agriculture. In this initiative: • participating foundations and enterprises: Walmart, Nestlé, Danone, Toks, PepsiCo, Gigante, Bimbo; • support was received from: Ford Foundation (for the NUP Platform), GIZ and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); • Walmart resources were involved; • an Internet-based platform was built to share information on product supply and demand (NUP Platform); • the global professional services company Accenture produced a consultation document underscoring lessons learnt, based on interviews with companies, multipliers and producers; • Ashoka, which invests in collaborative entrepreneurship, organised an event on inclusive agriculture focused on identifying the role of a good intermediary or multiplier (organisations that support groups of producers) and its place in the ecosystem; 15 multipliers participated in this event. The main lessons learnt on this type of initiative were that: • it must be geared towards clearly defined results (for example, having a stronger pool of suppliers); • it must add value where each of the participants contributes to the primary goal and to developing the result; • it must have key persons working with small groups, where each of the participants has a real decision-making capacity; • the participants must contribute to the proposed goal and be interested in supporting the collective effort. This section has provided an overall view of the contextual and theoretical-methodological framework of the project. The next section provides a one-off review of the most important findings of the diagnosis of the relations between foundations and the FG. I. OUTLINE OF THE PROJECT: CONTEXT, KEY CONCEPTS AND METHODOLOGY 26 26 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 27 II. DIAGNOSIS OF THE RELATIONS BETWEEN MEXICAN FOUNDATIONS AND THE FEDERAL PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION 28 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 II. DIAGNOSIS OF THE RELATIONS BETWEEN MEXICAN FOUNDATIONS AND THE FEDERAL PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION This section offers a diagnosis of the relations between foundations and the FPA taking into account the data provided by the surveys and the focus groups. It starts by establishing a characterisation of the foundations, followed by a general analysis of the relations between the foundations and the FPA. The third part is devoted to analysing these relations in terms of the three OECD Guidelines: dialogue, data and information sharing, and partnerships. 2.1 Characterisation of Mexican foundations The results of the online surveys showed that the largest share of the participating foundations were of the corporate type (36%).11 This share rose to 48% when the group of multi-corporate foundations were included, i.e. those set up by groups of companies providing them with their own assets or regular income. Corporate foundations were followed by community foundations amounting (17.1%). Family foundations accounted for 14.5% of the sample, followed by intermediary ones at 9.2%. Finally 6.6% were international foundations, i.e. with resources from foreign offices and representation in Mexico, operating in the national territory. Figure 1 shows the shares of participant foundations by type. Figure 1. Origin of foundations in Mexico (percentage)12 Family 14% Corporate 36% Multi-corporate 13% Community 17% Intermediary 9% International 7% Not known 4% The survey showed that 62% of the foundations that participated in the study had an endowment fund. More specifically, this was true for 100% of the international foundations, 86% of the intermediary ones, 82% of the family ones, 62% of the community ones, 50% of the multi-corporate ones and 48% of the corporate ones.13 As for their average annual income, the foundations can be classified according to income levels, with 63% of the Mexican foundations between MXN 0 and MXN 20 million, or USD 0 to 1 190 000, and 30% in the MXN 20 to MXN 100 million, or USD 1 190 000 to USD 5 950 000.14 The disaggregated data shows that the MXN 0 to MXN 20 million bracket included 100% of the intermediary foundations, 92% of the community ones, 73% of the family ones, 67% of the corporate ones and 60% of the multi-corporate ones. By contrast, 100% of the international foundations and 35% of the whole of corporate and multi-corporate ones had annual resources amounting to MXN 20 million and more (Figure 2). 28 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 29 II. DIAGNOSIS OF THE RELATIONS BETWEEN MEXICAN FOUNDATIONS AND THE FEDERAL PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION Figure 2. Share of foundations by annual income (percentage) MXN 0 to 1 million 21% From MXN 1 to 20 million 42% From MXN 20 to 50 million 18% From MXN 50 to 100 million 3% More than MXN 100 million 9% Not known 7% 2.2 General analysis of the relations between Mexican foundations and the FPA The increasing co-operation between foundations and the FPA should be further strengthened. Unawareness and confusion have persisted in the government regarding the Mexican philanthropic sector and, more generally, the organised civil-society sector. Public servants particularly appreciate foundations for their ability to implement programmes and give them legitimacy, whereas foundations are primarily interested in extending the impact of their actions through joint financing with the FG. The challenges of collaboration include differences in budget cycles, high turnover of public servants, difficulties in establishing horizontal working relations with the FPA and absence of adequate legal instruments. The data in this research corroborate the existence of relations between the foundations and the various FPA bodies, these being complementary worlds with sometimes coinciding rationales. In this respect, almost all the foundations that answered the online questionnaire stated that they had relations or links with FPA agencies or bodies. On their side, 80% of the surveyed public servants stated that they had collaborated with a foundation in 2014. This process has been the product of increasing co-operation between stakeholders both within and without the governmental perimeter, proving the growing complexity and specialisation of the networks of actors concerned with the public sphere in Mexico. The 2004 federal law to foster CSO-implemented activities established that a yearly report should be submitted on the measures to promote and support CSOs. Under this legal mandate, the FG instituted the position of head of co-ordination, to be appointed by the agencies in order to establish collaboration and exchange mechanisms with the CSOs in the various agencies and bodies. Some organisations, particularly foundations, were invited to take part in designing and monitoring programmes in several domains, such as the fight against hunger (National Crusade against Hunger) and productive financing (with the Ministry of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development, SEDATU). This proves the positive attitude of foundations in addressing and gradually integrating new concepts useful for dealing with public issues in Mexico in some FPA areas. In the past few decades, the FG has also promoted the creation of spaces to foster “There is little knowledge of foundations. CSOs are often viewed as subsidy seekers or actors for whom staging protests is sometimes more important than making proposals.” (Public servant interviewed on 6 October 2015) 30 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 dialogue, participation and co-ordination mechanisms. This is reflected in the Appendix to the Public Account reports and in the results of our survey, in which 30% of the public servants chose this option as the first type of support granted to foundations. The relationship of foundations with the FG can take several forms. Some foundations established links with public entities, for example, in social development, mentioned by 27% of the foundations, followed by the health sector (14%) and the education sector (11%). Amongst other public institutions, however, the focus groups observed significant unawareness and complicated joint working mechanisms. It is interesting to note that there are many cases of little openness and flexibility regarding co-ordinated work. In some foundations, there are limited resources to undertake collaborative work with the various FG institutions. Even worse, sometimes the FG is seen not so much as a partner, but rather as a provider of resources (particularly financial) for the expansion of foundations’ own social interventions, as observed in the focus group with foundation staff members and in the survey. Indeed, 26% of the surveyed foundations stated that the reason they were collaborating or had collaborated with the FG was to benefit from joint financing for their projects. Such instrumentalism leads to undermining the significant possibilities that could be offered by the FPA in terms of scale, impact, logistical capabilities, networking and interconnection with strategic partners inside and outside the national territory. Amongst the public servants, the prevailing view (48% of the respondents to the survey) on collaboration with foundations is geared to implementing programmes and policies. This idea is also supported by the fact that 24% of public servants stated that their first purpose of engaging with foundations was programme design, and 14% who stated that their primary goal was policy and programme assessment. The FG would, therefore, appear to view foundations as important partners in gaining public legitimacy and helping them to implement specific programmes, rather than sources of finance. In fact, only 5% of the surveyed public servants stated that they received resources from a foundation for public programmes. In the focus group, public servants indicated that, while they are keen to consult with foundations on policy issues, they do not necessarily follow their advice. This shows the limited impact of foundations on influencing public policies. Regarding collaboration, the data indicated that community foundations had the most regular and productive relations with the FG (Figure 3). Thanks to their working methods and proximity to the population, it is easier for the public administration to establish specific programmeimplementation agreements or direct partnerships with this type of foundation. This is also explained by the specificity of the goals and operational rules of the programmes. “CSOs see themselves as organisations only considered for consultation purposes, but not considered for decision making in public policies.” (Public servant interviewed on 6 October 2015) II. DIAGNOSIS OF THE RELATIONS BETWEEN MEXICAN FOUNDATIONS AND THE FEDERAL PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION 30 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 31 Figure 3. Distribution of FPA collaboration by type of foundation in 2014 (percentage of answers) 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 36% 14% 14% 11% 10% 10% 3% 1% % Community Intermediary None Corporate Family Multi-corporate International Not known Establishing long-term relations with a variety of actors can be difficult. Public servants and foundations agree that the most important obstacle to collaboration is the difference in their respective budgetary cycles, which restricts the possibility of planning initiatives on a multi-year basis (Figure 4). The government works with annual budget lines, while foundations generally commit to a project for several years. The constant turnover of public servants and the difficulties in establishing horizontal working relations with the FPA are foundations’ primary challenges. On the contrary, public servants do not perceive these issues as their most important concerns. A fourth challenge, perceived as much by the foundations as by the public servants, is the absence of adequate, flexible and efficient legal instruments to facilitate co-operation. Figure 4. Challenges of FPA-foundation collaboration (number of answers) 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 Foundations FPA Difficulty in being heard Lack of recognition Don’t know Difficulty in managing resources Resistance to the proposals Excessive red tape Little flexibility in project management There have been no obstacles Other Difficulty in establishing horizontal working relations Difficulty in finding appropriate legal instruments for co-operation High staff turnover Differences in budget cycles II. DIAGNOSIS OF THE RELATIONS BETWEEN MEXICAN FOUNDATIONS AND THE FEDERAL PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION 32 BRINGING FOUNDATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS CLOSER: EVIDENCE FROM MEXICO © OECD 2016 In the focus groups, public servants expressed a sort of resignation due to a complex scenario that seemed unmodifiable, and they appeared quite unwilling to search for alternatives that might contribute to improving the institutional environment. A measure of aversion to change was also detected. They also showed strong reluctance to giving a more flexible interpretation to the rules set out in the policy documents and regulations, or to do more than what is stated in the law, for fear of being penalised. Issues of transparency and accountability have sometimes resulted in negative externalities in terms of political-administrative innovation. Searching for new working methods in the FPA would involve investing time and other public resources that are currently severely limited and would fall directly under the responsibility of the public servants. This important issue does not seem to improve in the near future given the budgetary cuts made in 2016 and those planned for 2017 by the FPA. Based on the information produced by the focus groups, it can be stated that the FPA is not usually open to partner with foundations or other civil-society actors when the project is not on the government agenda. Furthermore, it was observed that there is little space to introduce new items into the government agenda. In other words, it is very difficult for the foundations to influence the government agenda, as acknowledged several times in the corresponding focus group. 2.3 Diagnosis according to the OECD Guidelines This paragraph describes the findings of the diagnosis conducted through the OECD Guidelines: dialogue, data and information sharing, and partnerships. Dialogue Dialogue with foundations and other civil society actors in Mexico is an increasingly recurrent practice for the government. In the new millennium, formal spaces have been promoted but issues still exist regarding the institutionalisation and legal support for dialogue across the FPA. According to the respondents, formal partnerships and committees promoting dialogue have been established and, though not very frequent, they have been beneficial, especially for knowledge and interest sharing. In the following section, based on the data from the survey, four fundamental requirements for an institutionalised dialogue are analysed: a) identification of the benefits of dialogue; b) the availability of spaces and mechanisms for dialogue and co-operation; c) identification of the obstacles to dialogue; and d) frequency of participation in these dialogue mechanisms. a) The benefits of dialogue Co-operation between foundations and the FPA takes place between specific actors and under projects very clearly defined on both sides. Dialogue is particularly fruitful when agendas coincide, leading to concrete agreements and efficient implementation of projects. From this perspective, dialogue is a useful and instrumentally valuable tool for collaboration because it delivers manifold benefits (Figure 5), such as shared interests, the stakeholders’ deeper knowledge of one another and the clarity of institutional goals. This last aspect was particularly emphasised by the public servants.


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