This information is copied from the 2013 Peace Corps Annual Performance and Accountability Report, page 21. Here is the text to link to:
“Reduction in the percentage of Volunteer positions that were filled by applicants for service (Indicator 4.1.1.b): Over the past three years, the agency has experienced difficulties in providing the number of Volunteers that have been requested by overseas posts. The number of Volunteers requested by a post represents the number of funded Volunteer positions that the post can fully support for 27 months of service. When Volunteer requests are not fully met, it represents a missed opportunity for the communities expecting Volunteers and for the talented and motivated Americans who could have served as Volunteers. The primary challenge in providing skilled Volunteers at the levels requested by posts is the decrease in the number of applications for Peace Corps service over the last few years-from a high of 15,386 applications received in FY 2009 to 10,091 applications in FY 2012 and 10,118 applications in FY 2013.
Significant process changes in FY 2013 related to the implementation of a new electronic applicant processing system also contributed to poor performance on this indicator this year. Improving Volunteer recruitment and selection processes to better meet the skill needs of host countries is a critical priority for the agency. Major process and structural changes are currently underway, including reducing the length of the Volunteer application, expediting the application process, providing applicants with more transparency and choice regarding their potential Volunteer assignment, and other reforms to improve the application experience.”
To see a month by month count of Peace Corps Applications from 2007 to present, here is the text to link to:
Please note that the government fiscal year begins on October 1 of each year and the month by month count begins each October.
The annual report refers to the so-called “traditional” Volunteer applicant for the 27 month assignment. Since 2010, the Peace Corps Response program has been open to non-RPCVs as well as RPCVs. Those applicants are not included in this count. Also, students who are jointly enrolled in a college program and Peace College are not included if that service only includes two or three semesters of Peace Corps service. It is not known if there is a shift in applicants from the 27 month “traditional program” to a Peace Corps Response or college programs incorporating Peace Corps service.
The analysis of the decline in Peace Corps applications does not discuss the negative impact of the national reporting of the Kate Puzey murder and testimonies of RPCVs who were victims of sexual assault during service. The Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011 mandated major improvement for the safety and security of serving Volunteers. Peace Corps has issued reports describing the “change in culture” as a result of this law. The tragedy of victims of sexual assault has been widely reported in the national media. Safety and security improvements have not been as widely reported to the general public. Applications may be down also due to the increased political violence in many parts of the world, which could speak to concern among potential applicants about general safety.
The decline needs to be evaluated. Alluding to administrative processes is not sufficient.