By Wang Yiyin (王逸吟), Guangming Daily (光明日报), February 21, 2013
Guangming Daily looks at GONGO efforts to transform into effectively-run NGOs, holding up the China Foundation For Poverty Alleviation as a successful example. Recent GONGO (government-organized non-government organization) scandals, including the Guo Meimei incident with a Chinese Red Cross official flaunting her wealth and the China Charities Aid Foundation for Children’s case of a “misplaced decimal point” in its accounting, have led to public mistrust of the sector and prompted soul-searching on how GONGOs can transform themselves.
According to Jin Jinping, head of the Beijing University Non-Profit Organization Research Center, from the beginning, social organizations were frequently established by government officials, meaning that the concept of “separation of government and society” was never practiced by GONGOs. Jin also explains that reforms of government agencies and public service units led to the creation of a number of industry associations that were run by government officials, and maintained the characteristics of earlier government organizations.
China Foundation Center Director-General Cheng Gang adds that many of these organizations have continued to exist as an extension of the government, carrying out activities that were inconvenient for the government to take care of itself. While these organizations were useful during the economic reforms of the 80s and 90s, Cheng feels that they are now outdated. Secretary-General of the Chinese Women’s Development Foundation Chin Guoying admits that her organization is a GONGO, but expresses that this orientation has limited their operations and that she hopes that reform will be possible.
The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation was one of the first GONGOs to separate itself from the government and professionalize its operations in 2000, eradicating its previous administrative system, allowing open application for its personnel, and establishing a new management system. The article goes on to describe CFPA’s experience, and discusses the necessary requirements to allow GONGOs to follow this path, such as the creation of a legal distinction between a public legal personage and a private legal personage (the Red Cross would remain a public legal personage, while many GONGOs would privatize), and the need to rationalize and professionalize resource and personnel management.