To ensure transparency and fairness in the three large-scale technology competitions run in 2021 by the Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN), fairness monitors kept an objective and unbiased eye on the proceedings.
Nadean Langlois took on the role for two of the competitions. Her 31-year career developing technology competitions and delivering programming with Western Economic Diversification Canada gave her a strong foundation and personal interest in both technology development and equity in all aspects of a competition. She has also been a fairness monitor with Emissions Reduction Alberta for several years.
"I'm the advocate or the watchdog working on behalf of CRIN," said Langlois. "I observe the process to ensure it's consistent, free from conflict of interest and that confidentiality is respected. Applicants appreciate that."
Fairness monitor activities include:
- Review of all program guidelines to ensure the review team carries out the evaluation in accordance with the intent of the competition.
- Participate in orientations for the reviewers and coaches, and discussions on the processes and interactions with competition applicants to ensure fairness, transparency, confidentiality and consistency.
- Act as timekeeper during applicant presentations so each project receives precisely the same treatment.
- Monitor the review sessions to ensure an open and fulsome discussion.
She has no insight into individual applications or project proposals, but ensures the access to information for applicants, and the review and decision-making process for eligibility and assessment is completed the same way for all proposals.
"I'm also a resource throughout the process for reviewers and coordinators to discuss situations or questions that may come up," she said.
At the end of each competition, Langlois submits a report documenting the process and attesting that the review and evaluation of the submissions was fair and consistent with CRIN's competition guidelines.
Use of a fairness monitor may be an emerging best practice in technology competitions for the high degree of confidence they provide in the integrity of the process. Advisory committees may also be used to provide this oversight. Both options provide multiple views and levels of review with internal and external perspectives. In the past, applicants and funders may have only had access to an appeal mechanism at the end of the process to verify fairness.
One unique challenge of the CRIN competitions was the role of CRIN alongside the three third-party competition coordinators. Each had some variation in structure and roles. Langlois' insight into two of these competitions was a thread of consistency across multiple parties and levels of decision-making.
"I love learning about environmental technologies. And because of my career experience I have a strong personal interest in ensuring tax dollars are invested wisely," said Langlois. "I can 100 percent attest that every application to the CRIN competitions was thoroughly reviewed and given a fair shake. I did not observe any concerns with respect to equity or fairness and I think CRIN, the public and the applicants would want to be assured of that."
Connect with Nadean Langlois on LinkedIn