The Strategy Implementation
How to choose the best applications?
Ranking the applications
A LAG's project evaluation process can just remain qualitative but often it is helpful to develop some kind of a ranking system. A widely used model is to give scores for each project selection criteria, i.e. how well the project implements it. Scoring can be a staff exercise or it can be discussed by the Board or Project evaluation Sub-committee. Total scores for each project help comparing and prioritizing them.
Thematic calls for applications
Most LAGs have a continuous call for project applications and also a continuous (perhaps a monthly) project evaluation and decision-making rhythm. This makes it difficult to compare the quality of applications between different evaluation meetings. The problem can be alleviated by organising thematic calls for applications especially on such themes where the resources are scarce and only few projects are possible during the whole programming period.
Many project applications look great on a paper but the writers of the applications or the applicant organisations are simply incapable of implementing them. It is a duty of the LAG staff to actually learn to know the background of the applicants, carry out a simple risk analysis and report this to the LAG Board if something that could affect the decision-making was found. At least the following things are worth checking and can also be asked as attachments to the project application:
- most up-to-date profit and loss account, balance sheet and annual report of the applicant,
- proof of cash liquidity,
- VAT status,
- registration document, statutes and the persons entitled to sign for the applicant organisation,
- minutes of the meeting where the organisation has decided to apply for LEADER funding
- performance in the previous publically supported development projects (if any)
- authorization for construction or environmental work from the relevant authorities when needed,
- rental agreement or proof of property ownership in construction and environmental projects when needed.
Need for flexibility
Innovation requires risk-tolerant decision-making. Sometimes the best ideas come like lightnings from the blue sky: no one could have imagined them beforehand. The LEADER strategies must be flexible enough to include even the most innovative project ideas – of course after checking that they legally fit into the National Rural Development Program's framework.