VIEW: We welcome debate on OBA approach

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By Brian Pelan, editor of VIEW

I have just seen a copy of a letter sent to Brendan McDonnell, Director of Community Evaluation Network NI (CENI).

The letter, written by Mark Friedman, founder and director of the Fiscal Policy Studies Institute in the US, is a response to our latest issue on Social Impact (

In the letter, Mark Friedman refers to Brendan McDonnell as being the “Editor of the “Impact Special” publication of the “View“. I would like to point out that I am the editor of VIEW and was in charge of the overall content of our social impact issue. Mr McDonnell was the guest editor, who assisted me with some of the content.

Mr Friedman also writes: “However, amid many worthwhile comments, are articles that reflect a serious misunderstanding of OBA. It seems important to get the record straight so that we can continue the discussion from an informed perspective.

I would have liked Mr Friedman to have given me specific examples of the articles that contain “serious misunderstanding of OBA” rather than a letter, which whilst championing the approach of Outcomes-based Accountability (OBA), did not address which individual articles he is referring to and which particular arguments in them that he took exception to.

As the editor of VIEW, I stand over the content in the latest issue of view. The OBA approach is a central part of the draft Programme for Government and is thus worthy of critical examination.

In the issue, amongst a wide of articles, I carried a two-page interview with Celine McStravick, the director of the National Children’s Bureau NI. Ms McStravick is a firm supporter of the OBA approach and I was delighted to have her featured in our social affairs magazine. I also carried a two-page interview with the academic Toby Lowe. He offered a critical examination of OBA and his analysis was in sharp contrast to the position advanced by Ms McStravick.

I would argue that this practice of offering radically different viewpoints to our audience is good journalism and it underlines what our magazine is about.

I believe a public debate on implementing OBA into Northern Ireland government policy is vital. I would invite Mr Friedman to back our call.

* Mr Friedman’s letter can be read at

















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