MSI Staffer Named Tetra Tech Project Manager of the Month

MSI’s Tracey Brinson was named Project Manager of the Month by TetraTech CEO Dan Batrack, an honor given to those who work at the highest level of excellence. We asked Tracey about her work…

Q: You oversee a tremendous amount of work contracted by USAID and World Bank in conflict and post-conflict environments. These include, to name a few, challenging projects in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Morocco, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Is there any commonality across the regional portfolio?

A: Every project objective and country context is different, of course. But if there’s a constant, it’s that situations on the ground continually change, sometimes quickly and dramatically. So we have to adjust and sometimes redesign on an iterative basis. I really credit our country teams with being flexible thinkers and innovative operational specialists, and being able to stay in a responsive mode. Many have been working for MSI for years, and because of their tremendous experience and expertise, we’re able to generate results across such a large amount of concurrent projects.

Q: Many of the contracts in your portfolio are fixed price. That seems to be at odds with what you’re saying about the flexible nature of the work required to achieve objectives. Yet your projects reach high levels of financial performance. What’s the trick?

A: There’s no secret, actually. It ultimately comes down to clear and productive communications, and strategic decision making with the project management teams to control costs. We are also deliberate about having contingency funds. While we may not be able to anticipate what will change and when, we know that being agile means we’ll incur downstream costs…so we plan on this from the start and thus are able to stay on budget.

Q: At any given time, in addition to working directly with key field project staff you have approximately 20 project managers reporting to you, covering a broad spectrum of technical work. How do you keep so many teams on track?

A: I find that an open and trusting approach really works. Listening to my staff’s opinions before making final decisions is a big part of it. They often are much more in tune with internal dynamics and subtle external factors regarding their projects than I may be. MSI’s other departments, like our contracts team, also give me great guidance. We’re all in it together.

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Implementing Anti-Bribery Standards in Indonesia

As part of International Anti-Corruption Day activities, USAID CEGAH, implemented by MSI, sponsored a panel discussion on the SNI/ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Standards. These standards have become one of the most recognized global standards for anti-bribery management programs. With widespread international acceptance, the standards have the potential to change behavior in the international marketplace in order to level the playing field for all companies.

Moderated by CEGAH Chief of Party Juhani Grossmann, the panel featured presentations from the head of National Standards Agency, the Presidential Deputy Chief of Staff, an ISO 37001 expert from Singapore, and a Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Advisor.

Speaking on the significance of the Anti-Bribery Standards, CEGAH COP Grossman said: “Constructive yet honest engagement with the private sector is the only way to reduce the supply-side of corruption. ISO 37001 is one of the tools we have used to engage with the government and the private sector to do just that. It allows companies to not verify that their anti-bribery systems are robust, but also receive are a reputational benefit. This complements more repressive anti-corruption methods, such as the recent emergence of corporate criminal liability, and individual certification processes, such as Certified Integrity Officers.”

In addition to its participation on this panel, CEGAH sponsored a variety of events and activities to showcase the impacts of its anti-corruption work for International Anti-Corruption Day. These included launching the Gratuity Online application to report gifts given to local authorities, and publishing a new guidebook on corporate criminal investigations for judges and law enforcers.  It also created advisory services to strengthen integrity mechanisms and minimize risks from corruption and fraud in the healthcare and infrastructure sectors.  

The panel discussion focused primarily on Indonesia’s progress in the implementation of SNI/ISO 37001. Although Indonesia’s score on the international Corruption Perception Index has seen steady improvements over time, the country’s Anti-Corruption Agency (KPK) remains committed to curtailing the negative effects of bribery, citing statistics that showed 25 percent of the anti-graft agency’s cases in recent years were against business owners, and 55 percent of cases involved bribery.

MSI is the prime implementer of the USAID-funded CEGAH (meaning “prevent” in Indonesia Bahasa) program, which aims to reduce corruption in Indonesia by addressing its root causes and strengthening the community of accountability. In addition to our work in Indonesia, MSI currently supports other transparency and accountability programming in Liberia, Mali, Mexico, Afghanistan, and Ukraine.

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Youth Compass: A Strategic Guide to Strengthen Youth Activities

MSI is proud to announce YouthPower Action’s Youth Compass, a first of its kind  tool that increases implementers’ abilities to achieve intended results of a youth activity, bring those results to scale and sustain them. The compass, a timeless instrument for navigation and orientation, both represents and operationalizes the Youth Compass’ strategic process.

The Youth Compass has been pilot-tested in two USAID youth activities, one in Jordan and the other in Indonesia.  The outcomes and resulting feedback from these pilots were used to refine and strengthen the guide.



Specifically, the Youth Compass can be used by implementers to strengthen the design or on-going efforts of a youth-focused or youth-included activity. More than an analytical tool, the Youth Compass is a three-step, seven-task strategic process to analyze a youth activity’s weaknesses and opportunities; identify and prioritize strengthening actions; and, incorporate and strengthening actions into the activity.

Informed by the key development approaches of positive youth development, cross-sectoral coordination, and gender equality, the Youth Compass’ conceptual framework consists of four areas: Beneficiaries, Enabling Environment, Youth Participation and Empowerment, and Gender Equality. These serve as standards that a youth activity is both measured against and strives to attain.

The tool is highly adaptable and also provides guidance on use in distinct development scenarios, which include: post-conflict, preventing/countering violent extremism, and, humanitarian assistance.
Click the thumbnail to download the complete guide.
See the Youth Compass on the YouthPower Website.


The Youth Compass One-Pager gives an overview of the who’s, what’s, where’s, when’s, and why’s, for this highly adaptable tool.
Click the thumbnail to download the Youth Compass One-Pager.
Download the one-pager on the YouthPower Website.
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MSI Awarded Bangladesh Counter Violent Extremism Work

To help counter violent extremism in Bangladesh, a problem that has grown dramatically over the past three years, USAID awarded Management Systems International (MSI) a project to support civil society and communities to better understand why and how people become radicalized, and to combat those realities.

Activities of the project, named Obirodh (a Bangla term meaning “harmony and peace”), will include research into the drivers of violent extremism (VE) in Bangladesh, partnerships with local organizations to pilot countering VE activities, and positive alternatives to the narratives of violent extremist organizations. The three-year task order falls under USAID’s Programming Effectively Against Conflict and Extremism (PEACE) indefinite quantity contract.

As described in the publication Foreign Affairs, “[Bangladesh’s] deep secular traditions have never been more vulnerable thanks to Islamist extremists’ increasing inroads into society.”

For nearly a decade, MSI has been a recognized thought leader on countering violent extremism (CVE), and has undertaken CVE and/or CVE-relevant analytics, monitoring and evaluation, and implementation work for the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, INGOs, the U.S Department of State and USAID. VE analytics have been carried out in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Central Asia, and we have implemented CVE and CVE-relevant projects in Mali, Syria, Lebanon and Morocco.

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Evaluation 2017 Conference is Here!

The American Evaluation Association (AEA) is holding its annual conference 6-11 November in Washington, DC. This conference is one of the premier events for evaluators around the world, and this year’s theme focuses on learning opportunities for better practices and outcomes.

For more than 30 years, MSI, a Tetra Tech Company, has helped clients solve complex development challenges through evidence-based learning. As the leading provider of country-level M&E services to USAID through 14 support projects around the world, MSI generates knowledge for more effective development outcomes. A large contingent of our evaluation experts is attending the conference to participate in more than two dozen sessions and workshops. Find an MSI expert to discover more about our innovative and collaborative work!

For more information about the conference, visit the Evaluation 2017 website. 

Enjoy this short video highlighting MSI, a Tetra Tech Company, at Eval2013, the last time the AEA annual conference was held in DC.



Click the thumbnail for a schedule of our presenters, a DC Metro map, and some dining options near the conference. 




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