Health Information and Publications Network (HIPNET) Proposal : Establish a Process for Coordinating Materials Development across CAs

Proposed Activity: An annual publication planning and coordination meeting (or series of meetings) beginning in October/November of each year for all cooperating agencies who receive funding through the Office of Population. The goal is to create a process that will help to avoid duplication of effort and facilitate collaboration on print and electronic publications and other resources.

Background and Need: In order to avoid duplication of effort, increase collaboration among CAs, and promote a consistent message, HIPNET proposes to establish an annual publication planning and coordination meeting/series of meetings with the first meeting in late October or early November of each year. In future workplan cycles, this meeting should ideally be preceded by a collective needs assessment designed to help us better meet the information needs identified by the field. However, in 2005, this model will be piloted without a needs assessment to gauge the feasibility and usefulness of this strategy.

Timing and Process: Annual work plans cover the time frame July 1 through June 30th. Core budgets are submitted to USAID in January and typically approved in March or April. Therefore, each CA should have an idea of what information resources are under consideration for their own work plans between October and December. Cas should be in a good position to discuss planned publications and decide where possible collaboration exists or duplication should be addressed. HIPNet and USAID will develop and agree on criteria for decision making regarding duplication and collaboration. For example, how to decide whether a publication brings a perspective/slant that’s unique enough to warrant producing it, despite the existence of similar publications? Or if a publication brings a particular agency’s unique perspective, does that necessarily mean that the publication will be produced by that agency alone? We propose that the first meeting in October or November 2004 include a discussion of these issues in order to establish/agree on criteria and guidelines for decision making.

Phase 1: HIPNET will develop a form (see below) or a concept paper outline (also below). Once we decide on whether to use the form or the concept paper, each CA will be asked to complete and forward them to the meeting facilitator prior to the planning meeting. This is designed to facilitate advance information gathering from all HIPNET members and ensure that comparable data is submitted across CAs. The meeting facilitator will consolidate the information and take an initial step to organize information by technical areas if any emerge (e.g., gender, youth, etc.) or in some other way that seems logical. The findings will be presented and opened for discussion.

Phase 2: CAs without collaboration possibilities may leave the meeting. Those with collaboration possibilities will break out in small groups to discuss topic areas and establish meeting dates with communication and technical staff to discuss options for collaboration.

Phase 3: The meeting facilitator will report back to HIPNET on the outcome. The report will include a list of which CAs are working together on which topics. This information will be posted on the HIPNET website so it is accessible to all HIPNET members. Once themes or areas are identified other subgroups will advise as needed.

Implementation and Costs: Implementation can begin this year for the 2005-2006 work plan year. HIPNet co-chairs will serve as the initial meeting facilitators. The only costs involved will be travel expenses for CA representatives to attend the meetings. Additional smaller meetings may be held in person or via conference call if possible.

Evaluation: An evaluation component will be built into this process. Each year a brief report will be prepared which will list each collaborative publication and provide estimates of the cost savings for staff time (if any), printing costs, storage and distribution. In addition to mentioning the benefits of the collaboration the report should also include discussion of any problems that occurred during the collaboration or any downside experienced as a result of it. The evaluation should provide balance between cost savings and what these collaborations actually mean in terms of CA satisfaction with the products and the process. Hopefully, the evaluations will show that there are many, many more benefits to collaborating than not!

Form: Two versions follow – a basic form and a more detailed concept paper based on something used at EngenderHealth. HIPNet and USAID should decide if it would be useful for each CA to provide more information about each project, including the rationale and its particular need/slant or if either of these forms would be adequate.

Draft planning form to be completed by all HIPNET CAs and submitted prior to planning meeting.

CA Name and Relevant Project
Material Title (working title)
Part of a series?
Main technical area addressed
Collaborative Partners already under onsideration?
EXAMPLE: Futures Group/POLICY Project Adolescent Reproductive Health Policy Compendium CD ROM and Website No Policymakers; stakeholders in policy development process
  1. Youth, adolescent RH
  2. Policy development
Yes, FHI/Youth net

Concept Paper [sample form]
Draft title: __________________________________________________

Please provide the following information about the proposed product:

  1. Description – Provide (a) the basic description of the product, including its purpose and intended audience, and (b) an explanation of how the product fits with programmatic and agency objectives.
  2. Need – Describe:
    1. Evidence of field-based need by programs or others
    2. Plan and prospects for using and integrating the publication into programs to advance program and prospects
    3. Any products produced by other agencies that are similar to this one, along with an explanation of why the proposed new product is needed and the value it adds
  3. Level of effort – Estimate the total level of effort required to produce this product. Consider whether will need to be field-tested and/or broadly disseminated; its intended length and scope; and the time it will take to produce.
  4. Cost – Provide an estimate of the total cost of producing the product.
  5. By whom – Is this product to be produced by the agency alone or in partnership with another agency? If a partnership is contemplated, name the partner(s) and estimate the percentage allocation of effort and cost sharing.
  6. Available funds – Describe how the product will be funded. Are funds in hand? Is a donor interested?