PC 90/6 b) / FC 104/INF/20(a)


Programme Committee and Finance Committee

Ninetieth Session of the Programme Committee and
Hundred and fourth Session of the Finance Committee

Rome, 15 - 19 September 2003

JIU Report on Review of Management and Administration in FAO: Action Plan

Table of Contents



I. Introduction

1. The above JIU Report (REP/2002/8) was considered by the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees in May 2003. The last two paragraphs of the report of the Joint Meeting on this item read as follows:

“The Committees, therefore, agreed that it was preferable that more detailed discussions on the recommendations and their impact be undertaken in their individual sessions, in order to ensure more informed consideration and a more efficient division of work between the two Committees.
 
The Committees agreed that further discussions of the JIU report should be supported by an additional document containing a detailed time-bound action plan with action offices indicated, covering on-going or planned follow-up activities. Accordingly, they requested that this document be prepared for their next sessions, so as to be able to advise the Council more fully on the possible reactions from FAO Governing Bodies to the JIU report, at its session in November2003.”

2. The present document has been prepared in response to this request.

II. Scope

3. Since the Finance Committee is to consider a comprehensive progress report on human resources management issues, it was felt more appropriate to include in that progress report the planned follow-up to the recommendations in the JIU Report linked to human resources management (i.e. 8a) and b), 10, 11 and 12).

4. Accordingly, the “Action Plan” below covers in tabular format the proposed follow-up to the remainder of recommendations in the JIU Report, which is submitted to the consideration of the two Committees, depending on respective interest.
 

Recommendation

Action already taken or underway (if applicable)

Proposed future actions

Timing

Responsible Unit

Comments (including eventual resource impact)

1. The Director-General should ensure that:

1 (a) Efforts continue to provide precise performance indicators and targets, and to identify what the Secretariat can be held directly responsible for;

Outcome indicators are part of the enhanced programme model. Considerable efforts have been made to have more precise outcome indicators in the MTP 2004-09.

Further refinements of outcome indicators will be sought in the next programming cycle (starting with MTP 2006-2011). Results based budgeting will also be extended to the non-technical programme in the MTP 2006-11.

Particular effort will be made during 2004-05, but this, by its nature, is a continuing process.

PBE to lead.

These primarily conceptual improvements in programme design should not normally require significant additional resources.

1 (b) Links between activities described in operational work plans at the departmental level, and overall strategic objectives, are clearly identified;

Identification by technical units of the linkages of their programme entities and biennial outputs to corporate Strategic Objectives are mandatory in the preparation of the PWB.

Continued efforts will be made to identify and justify links, which will be strengthened through further methodological development related to priority setting.

Continuous process, but methodological improvements to be developed with advice from the Programme Committee in 2004.

PBE and all concerned units.

1 (c) Monitoring and accountability mechanisms are established to ensure the implementation of Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIA).

Procedures have been established and a reporting template developed for PAIAs groups to perform annual assessments and report achievements to the DDG.

Based upon the experience gained during 2003, existing arrangements will be reviewed in 2004-05 and modified if necessary.

Continuous by its nature, but specific review of effectiveness of the mechanisms will be undertaken in 2004.

PBE to provide overall guidance and elaborate reporting formats.

The effective implementation of PAIAs remains a concern and central provision of resources is expected to continue for some time.

2. The Director-General should ensure full institutional acceptance and implementation of the new programming process through an extensive training curriculum for managers and concerned staff–at Headquarters and in the Regional Offices–which would:

2 (a) emphasize inter-disciplinary approaches as well as the general principles of RBP;

Inter-disciplinary approaches and more generally RBB principles are the essence of the new programming model. Central catalytic provision to support PAIAs already exists.

Further refinements will be sought in MTP 2006-2011 with focus on inter-disciplinary work and application of RBB principles. Methodological development will continue in relation to implementing the strategy for enhancing inter-disciplinarily.

Continuous.

PBE to provide conceptual guidance and support programming efforts. Requests for catalytic funds will be assessed to support PAIAs.

Central provision of resources is expected to continue for some time.

2 (b) impart specific skills, such as the formulation of objectives and indicators as well as self-evaluation techniques.

Training has been organized, applying conceptual advances and available system support, since the introduction of the new programming model.

Further training is foreseen, primarily focussed on “resource persons” in various units who are expected to assist colleagues. Support to auto-evaluation during 2003-04 through PBE has been assured by extra-budgetary funding.

Major effort in 2003-04, but continuing thereafter.

PBE to guide training.

It is difficult to estimate precise requirements. Available staff development resources equivalent to 1.35 percent of staff cost are expected to contribute significantly to these efforts.

3. The Director-General should:

3(a) Invite Regional Representatives (RRs) to participate, at least on a rotational basis, in the Senior Management Meetings (the use of video-conferences could be considered for this purpose);

Most recently, the Director-General has held a series of video-conferences with individual RRs to discuss issues of current interest.

The holding of further video-conferences with RRs is to continue. It is planned to hold similar video-conferences with the Sub-regional Offices.
It is also recalled that OCD participates in the SMMs, and one of its established functions is to take account of, and report on eventual concerns of RRs.

Frequency will depend on the urgency of discussing matters of common interest between HQs and the Regional Offices.

ODG – Cabinet and OCD

3(b) Consider ways to disseminate more widely and systematically, as appropriate, the conclusions of the Meetings.

Conclusions of meetings which do not involve particular confidentiality issues are conveyed to the staff at large by the SMM participants themselves.
OCD conveys information, highlights of discussions and decisions made during the SMM to the decentralized offices through The OCD Bulletin issued quarterly.

Same arrangements are to be pursued.
The OCD Bulletin will continue as a vehicle for disseminating such information.

As at present.

ODG – Cabinet and OCD

4. The Director-General should prepare an overall plan of action for the delegation of authority and responsibility to managers at Headquarters and in the decentralized offices, including:

4 (a) A clear definition of those areas of responsibility which require that administrative authority be retained centrally;

Centrally held authority, delegations and responsibilities have been documented in the functional statements of each office and division.

Two current studies: a review of the Regional Offices and a review of the FAORs, may lead to recommendations on further delegations of authority or to revisions in working relationships.

The updating of procedures and administrative rules and regulations is an ongoing process.

AFF, AFH

4 (b) A clear division of responsibilities and description of channels of communications between the various central administrative services (including the Finance Division (AFF), the Human Resources Management Division (AFH), the Management Support Service (MSS) and the Management Support Unit (MSU) of the Office of Coordination of Normative, Operational an Decentralized Activities;

The OCD Circular on Responsibilities and Relationships clarifies the respective responsibilities and lines of command in carrying out the functions assigned to each organizational unit, in particular: (a)the relationships between the officers and organizational entities at the decentralized offices and at Headquarters; and (b)the involvement of the decentralized offices in planning and implementing the activities of the Organization.

The OCD Circular on Responsibilities and Relationships is currently being revised, to reflect the operational responsibilities transferred to the FAORs.

October 2003

OCD

4. (c) A transparent and comprehensive system of accountability;

The definition of outputs in the Programme of Work and Budget 2002-03 provides the framework for improved accountability.

The full implementation of the results based model, integrated with performance management, will further enhance accountability.

The implications of results based budgeting for enhanced accountability of managers and staff will be further exploited during implementation of the PWB 2004-05.

PBE

4 (d) Precise timelines for updating and simplifying important administrative instructions.

cf. above

cf. above

5.The Director-General should ensure that offices away from Headquarters are fully consulted in the definition of business requirements linked to the design of systems included in the second phase of the Oracle project, and in particular, in the development of the human resources/payroll modules.

Useful inputs have already been obtained through the report on the Regional Workshops held in 2003 and the interviews conducted during the ROB/MSU Review in Asia. Further inputs will also be obtained via the OCD review of FAORs.

An HR User Group will be established to fully involve FAO users in the Oracle HRMS project. The group will include representatives from TC, OCD, Regional Offices and FAORs. If appropriate, a field sub-group may be formed to address the specific requirements of the decentralized offices.

A similar approach will be taken to fully assess decentralised offices’ requirements for the development of a new field accounting system. This has been factored in a project to be funded from resources from arrears for the consolidation of Oracle PhaseI.

The HR User Group will be established in 2003 and will be effective throughout the project – anticipated to be completed by mid-2006.

The project to develop a new field accounting system is scheduled to start in late 2003/early2004.

AFH/AFI for the HRMS system.

AFF/AFI for the Field Accounting System

6. The Council may wish to approve the proposals included in the Medium Term Plan 2004-2009 for the introduction of capital budgeting to ensure sufficient and stable funding for the further development of corporate administrative systems.

Issue is under consideration by the Finance Committee (a document was submitted to its May 2003 session, with proposals for an eventual Facility to meet the spirit of this recommendation – N.B. not only for requirements linked to corporate administrative systems).

The Finance Committee is to pursue its discussion of the matter, including eventual changes to Regulations.

Outcome and timing would depend on progress in reaching agreement among Members in FC, Council and Conference. However, the matter will be further considered at the FC session in September 2003.

PBE in consultation with AFF.

Modalities for funding of the Facility or any other formula akin to capital budgeting, will be part of the discussions.

7. The Director-General should urgently undertake a review of the terms of reference of the Regional Offices, as well as of the resources and authority granted to them, taking into account:

7 (a) An evaluation of the decentralization of operational responsibilities to FAORs as applied over the last three years;

A comprehensive evaluation of decentralization is being initiated under the responsibility of FAO’s Evaluation Service.

The findings of this evaluation are to be considered by the Programme Committee, and subsequently by the FAO Council.

The evaluation is scheduled for consideration, most likely at the September 2004 session of the Programme Committee.

Evaluation Service (PBEE).

The total cost of the evaluation itself is estimated to be close to US$700,000, to be spread between 2003 and 2004. The total includes US$145,000 of Staff Cost.

7 (b) The need to maximize synergies at the regional level, in particular, with regard to the Field Programme;
7 (c) the need to ensure a genuine decentralization of the decision-making process in the Organization and to provide RRs with the additional opportunities to make substantive contribution to this process;
7 (d) practices of other UN organizations;

The ROs’ role cannot be reviewed in isolation. The role and adequacy of resources and authority of the three tiers of decentralized structures (ROs, SROs and FAORs) is being studied concurrently through the following inter-related reviews: (a)the above-mentioned full-scale evaluation of the decentralization policy; (b)a review of FAO country offices; and (c)a review of Operations Branches and MSUs in the ROs.

Future action would depend on the findings and recommendations of the reviews. It is, however, the intention of the Organization to: (a)implement the cost-neutral recommendations and those requiring management action immediately; (b)implement those which can be handled through adjustments to current budgetary outlays, within the biennial PWB framework; and (c)assess those requiring medium or long-term budgetary commitments, with a view to implementing them in a phased manner.

The FAOR and ROB/MSU reviews are to be finalized by August2003.

TC and OCD

While efforts will be made to meet the cost implications from within the budget of respective units, there may be a requirement for additional resources.

7 (e) The Circular on Responsibilities and Relationships should be updated, clarified and revised accordingly, in consultation with the decentralized offices.

The draft updated Circular has been shared with the HQs Units and the decentralized offices for comments.

The revised version will be issued on receipt of inputs from the HQ units and decentralized offices.

October 2003

OCD

8. FAORs should be provided with adequate human resources and guidance to fulfil their responsibilities, and the Director-General should, in particular:

8 (a) Develop a standard description of the competencies, skills and experience required of FAO Representatives;

See FC 104/15

September 2003

AFH

Covered in Finance Committee document on Human Resources Management

8 (b) Ensure that the selection of FAO Representatives is an open and fair process which duly takes into account previous experience acquired in the Organization/United Nations system;

(ditto)

(ditto)

(ditto)

(ditto)

8 (c) Ensure the prompt completion of the WAN project…

Service and equipment orders for all feasible connections have been placed.
As at 30/6/2003, 53 offices have been connected including HQ. WAN missions are planned for the period July-November 2003, for 26 FAORs and 4 outposted technical officers (OTO) locations.

All offices within the project scope expected to be completed - a total of 83 connections.

December 2003

AFI/OCD

Further work to connect more locations in 2004 if funds permit.
It may be noted that the difficult sites are characterized by: (a)policy constraints and limitations by the host government; and (b)lack of ICT infrastructure and technical back-up support.

…and the availability on-line of administrative handbooks with search functions

The "How to" section of the FAO Intranet provides procedural guidance in relation to a range of activities of interest to Budget Holders and transaction initiators (e.g. How to process travel, consultants, backcharge transactions etc.). In addition, the AFF Intranet site now provides information in relation to Finance Division and how to contact the various Groups within AFF.

A project is currently underway within AFF to revise existing policy and procedural guidance and develop new material for publication on the AFF Intranet site. Such policy and procedural guidance will be posted as it becomes available.
AFH will continue the process of reformatting all Manual Sections for posting on the Intranet and providing full search functionally.

Ongoing

MSS/AFF/
AFS

8 (d) Organize periodic regional meetings of FAO Representatives.

In view of the high costs and budget constraints, regular regional meetings of FAORs are not possible. However, the Organization is making appropriate use of the following mechanisms and opportunities to discuss important corporate matters, and to facilitate inter-action and exchange of experience among the FAORs: (a)special ad hoc technical consultations involving a number of FAORs at HQs and in the decentralized locations, (b)training courses held at the regional or sub-regional level; (c)briefings of FAORs at HQs; and (d)the IT communication infrastructure.

The deployment of WAN and implementation of the Country Office Information Network (COIN) and the Country Office Web pages will further facilitate horizontal linkages among the FAORs and their access to corporate/regional and sub-regional information and knowledge base.
Four seminars at regional or sub-regional level with 15participants each have been proposed under the Real Growth scenario for PWB2004/05.

Ongoing

2004-05 subject to resource availability

OCD with AFI Support

OCD

The seminars are estimated to cost US$300,000 in the biennium.

9. The Council may wish to formally define a set of objective criteria to determine the nature and extent of FAO country representation. These criteria should reflect not only the specific needs of the countries as measured by their indicators of human development and designation as LIFDCs, but also cost-effectiveness of FAO activities at the national level. Therefore, these criteria should include:

9 (a) the level of foreseen programme and activities at the country level;
9 (b) the ratio of operating costs to overall programme resources.
9 (c) the extra budgetary resources expected for each FAOR;
9 (d) the nature and degree of substantive and administrative services that can be provided by the UNRC system;
9 (e) the nature and level of activities of other FAO partners (such as national committees when applicable) at the country level.
Once these criteria are adopted, the Council may wish to request the Director-General to undertake a review of the country network of FAO, which should extend to cover the Liaison Offices and take into account the results of the on-going review of the National Correspondents scheme.

The current guiding principles used to establish country offices were provided to the Joint Meeting of PC and FC in Sept 2000 (document JM 2000/2). These are: (a) formal request from a member country; (b) host country contribution to the operating costs of the country office and unrestricted access of FAOR to the concerned line ministries; (c) potential and demand for technical assistance; and (d) presence of other UN and non-UN development partners.

Any guidance from the Programme and Finance Committees and the Council will be taken into account in further action.

It may be noted that the criteria proposed by the Recommendation are overly driven by quantitative factors and are essentially linked to the field programme without due regard to the FAOR’s Regular Programme functions and the manifold advantages of FAO’s physical presence in member countries: (a)enhanced coverage of LIFDCs for better implementation of WFS goals; (b)availability and access to FAO services; (c)better articulation of the country’s voice at international fora; (d)a substantive role of FAO in CCA, UNDAF and other country exercises; (e)fuller implementation of normative activities.
It may also be noted that in the wake of budgetary constraints and a rising demand of member countries for FAO physical presence, the Organization has adopted innovative and cost-effective modalities of country coverage in terms of the NCs scheme and OTO/FAORs. However, these have introduced inequities to the detriment of the member states not being covered by a fully-fledged FAO Representation. In order to remove these inequities, a substantial increase in the budget level under MP 3.4 would be required.

10. The Director-General should:

10 (a) Establish a task force composed of human resources management specialists and programme managers with a time-bound mandate to prepare a comprehensive plan of action for the reform of human resources management policies and practices;

See FC 104/15

AFH

Covered in Finance Committee document on Human Resources Management

10 (b) Consider allowing staff representatives full participation in, or at least direct access to, this task force;

(ditto)

(ditto)

(ditto)

10 (c) Resume meeting personally with representatives of recognized staff associations at reasonable intervals.

(ditto)

(ditto)

(ditto)

11. The Director-General should:

11 (a) Instruct the Human Resources Management Division (AFH) to issue in both electronic and paper form a compendium of all present vacancies, and ask departments and offices to promptly initiate the advertisement of all vacant posts;

See FC 104/15

AFH

Covered in Finance Committee document on Human Resources Management

11 (b) Consider delegating to the Regional Representatives–on a pilot basis and with appropriate guidance and monitoring from departments at headquarters–the authority to propose candidates for established posts in Regional Offices up to the P-4 level;

(ditto)

(ditto)

(ditto)

11 (c) Ensure that consultants and Retired Experts do not serve as a long-term alternative to regular staffing and inform the Council of the proportion of staff recruited over the last two bienniums who had previously been contracted as consultants by the departments in which they now serve;

(ditto)

(ditto)

(ditto)

11 (d) Undertake a cost-benefit analysis of establishing a managed mobility system for Professionals

(ditto)

(ditto)

(ditto)

12. In order to improve gender balance among the Secretariat’s Professional staff and conform to policy statements by the United Nations system Chief Executives Board, the Director-General should modify relevant staff rules and sections of the Manual that forbid the employment of spouses of staff members

See FC 104/15

September 2003

AFH

Covered in Finance Committee document on Human Resources Management

13. The Council may wish to consider recommending to the Conference a modification of the Financial Regulations of the Organization so as to institute limits on the terms of office of the External Auditor

Document is for consideration by the Finance Committee at its September 2003 Session, covering:

Previous consideration of the subject by the Finance Committee;

Advantages and disadvantages of the rotation of external auditors;

Recent regulatory developments;

External auditor rotation arrangements in the United Nations system;

Conclusions and recommendations.

Future action will depend upon the decisions of the Governing Bodies.

September 2003

AFD

Whatever decisions are reached by the Governing Bodies, it is not expected that there would be significant resource implications.