Peace Corps Survey Rankings Country-by-Country

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One excellent indication of the health of a Peace Corps country program is the survey responses of the Volunteers. It is easy to take these rankings and rank the countries. With the rankings from the Volunteer surveys, applicants are empowered to request to be posted to a highly ranked country.

The Peace Corps invites volunteer applicants to choose the country in which they prefer to serve. Peace Corps Wiki presents the rankings from the survey data on a country-by-country basis to enable applicants to make an informed choice.

Which Country Should Peace Corps Applicants Choose?

Peace Corps Wiki recommends that applicants request to be sent to a country with highly ranked survey responses.

Peace Corps Wiki recommends that volunteer applicants avoid any country which is ranked in the bottom third of the surveys. Applicants should be cautious about any country in the middle third. They should request to be sent to a country in the top third.

Why would an applicant want to serve in a country with poor survey responses from the best source available, namely, the Volunteers? Would an individual apply to a college with a poor ranking and poor graduation rates? Would he or she eat at a restaurant with poor rankings and poor health department inspections?

If the Peace Corps will not agree to send an applicant to a country with the best survey responses, the applicant should put his or her application on hold until the Peace Corps agrees to do so.

Applicants can easily correlate the survey rankings with the ET Rate rankings – also posted on Wiki. When the two sets of rankings correlate, the data speaks very powerfully as to which countries to request and which to avoid.

Background on the Survey Results

The Peace Corps has taken drastic action to deprive applicants of the survey rankings. In 2008 it released the rankings to Peace Corps Wiki and they were posted online. (See below for the Wiki post regarding these rankings.) When Peace Corps Wiki requested the 2010-2011 rankings, the Peace Corps refused to release them. Apparently, it was horrified that Peace Corps Wiki had posted information was so useful and powerful for volunteer applicants. Clearly, the Peace Corps does not want applicants to have access to data that enables them to be selective.

Peace Corps Wiki – with the support of one of the top law firms in the United States (Sidley Austin) – filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court to secure access to the country-by-country breakouts of the Volunteer survey responses. The Peace Corps fought this lawsuit with wild and unpersuasive arguments about the need for secrecy. The Court dismissed the Peace Corps arguments and the Peace Corps was forced to produce to Wiki these surveys on a country-by-country basis.

The back-and-forth pleadings in the lawsuit are attached. They reveal the desperation of the Peace Corps to keep the survey rankings secret.

When Peace Corps Wiki won the lawsuit in Federal District Court, and before the Peace Corps began to produce the survey breakouts, the Wiki offered to settle the suit, and not force the Peace Corps to produce the documents. The condition was that the Peace Corps agree to take the initiative to transmit the surveys – in rank order – to the applicants. The offer also required the Peace Corps to transmit the cohort ET rates to the applicants – in rank order.

Under this scenario, the Wiki would not post the surveys or ET rates or advise applicants to avoid the poorly ranked countries with the high ET rates. The Peace Corps would gain credibility with the applicants for treating them fairly. The Peace Corps ignored the offer and that is why Peace Corps Wiki is publishing the documents with admonitions to applicants to be selective. Peace Corps Wiki will continue to publish this information for the benefit of applicants until such time as the Peace Corps commits to doing so on its own.

This gruesome process for securing the survey rankings begs one question: Why would the Peace Corps give applicants a choice of where to serve and then deprive them of the information that enables them to make an informed choice?

In the lawsuit, the Peace Corps was successful in depriving the Wiki of the survey rankings for each job assignment within a country. Peace Corps Wiki has seen that there can be substantial discrepancies in the job satisfaction of Volunteers in the different programs within a country. Why would the Peace Corps deprive applicants of the data that permits them to compare the survey responses from applicants in different job assignments? (The Wiki has a pending request with the Peace Corps for the early quit rates on a job-to-job basis.)

Peace Corps Wiki believes that the survey responses and survey rankings mostly reflect the professionalism of the Peace Cops management. In a tough country, the enthusiasm and durability of the Volunteers is often high because Volunteers know that they have a tough assignment. They really do have the “toughest job you’ll ever love” -- nothing less. Wiki finds that the key variable in the rankings is the leadership of the Country Director, whose values and management style dominates the Volunteer experience in that country.

Why Volunteer Applicants Should be Interested in the Survey Results

With these rankings – ET rates and survey responses – applicants can see which countries are well-managed and which are not, which corps of Volunteers has high morale and which does not. It can see this information in the actions and viewpoints of those with the most information, the current Volunteers.

The interest of applicants in the rankings is consistent with what they expect whenever they act as a consumer in other contexts. They expect rankings of colleges, professors, restaurants, books, movies, and everything else. The internet demands transparency. The consumer is king. The internet enables consumers to share information with one another – in this case the early quit decisions and survey responses of Volunteers.

Purveyors of everything – including Peace Corps service – are being held accountable for the quality and price of what they are selling. No one – and no agency – is immune from these market expectations and pressures. That the Peace Corps insists on secrecy and refuses to be transparent with applicants is a sure indicator that it has not adjusted to the 21st Century and is out of touch with the largest cohort of applicants to the Peace Corps – young people who are social media-savvy. It seems as if the Peace Corps believes it can treat applicants – and also Volunteers – in a high-handed, condescending, and bureaucratic manner. For the Peace Corps it appears that the Iron Law of Bureaucracy rules.

The Peace Corps forces those with legitimate FOIA requests to sue it in Federal District Court to obtain information crucial to applicants, refuses to transmit this crucial data to applicants, provides misleading early quit statistics, hides the shortfall in applications, and refuses to divulge the survey breakouts on a job assignment by job assignment basis.

Applicants have to ask whether this is an organization with the values and practices they want to live with for two years.

Because of the lawsuit, the Peace Corps was forced to give Peace Corps Wiki the breakouts for the 2010 and 2011 surveys, but we recognize these are out of date. Peace Corps Wiki has requested the 2012-2014 breakouts and will post them here – in rank order – when they are available. Given the result of the lawsuit, it would be unconscionable and illegal for the Peace Corps to refuse to divulge the breakouts for these recent surveys.

When we post these breakouts and the rankings, the Peace Corps may begin to complain that these are not the most current survey rankings, but it has the option to take the initiative to publish the most current survey rankings. Peace Corps Wiki has found securing data from the Peace Corps under the Freedom of Information Act so difficult and painful that it will not be filing additional FOIA requests to secure updates of the survey breakouts. Peace Corps Wiki urges applicants to request the most current data from their recruitment officer. (Applicants must always ask for the survey responses in rank order!)

If the placement officer won’t provide the data, applicants should put their applications on hold until the Peace Corps becomes transparent with applicants and enables them to make an informed choice.

To be clear, the reason why Peace Corps Wiki is publishing this survey data is to encourage the Peace Corps to intervene to reform the poorly managed programs. If applicants use the data Wiki is providing to become selective, the Peace Corps may reform the poorly managed programs. Peace Corps Wiki is attempting to use market forces – consumer demand – to drive reform. As is explained in another box on the front page, the Peace Corps has no surplus of applicants among those who survive the medical screening process. This means that the Peace Corps cannot turn to other applicants to fill their quotas for the poorly ranked country programs with the highest early quit rates.

Applicants have power both to secure an invitation to serve in a well managed country and also to encourage the Peace Corps to overhaul the poorly managed countries.