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MAJOR PROGRAMME 1.2: POLICY DIRECTION AND PLANNING

Programme Outcome

Regular Programme   US$ `000
  Appropriation 18 768
  Expenditure 20 509
  Over/(Under) Spending, US$ `000 1 741
  Over/(Under) Spending, % (9%)
Field Programme    US$ `000
  Extra-Budgetary TF and UNDP Delivery 811
  Extra-Budgetary Emergency Project Delivery  
  TCP and SPFS Delivery 334
  Total Field Programme Delivery 1 145
  Ratio of Field to Regular Programme 0.1
  Technical Support Services, Prof. Staff Cost 53
  Technical Support Services, % of delivery 5%

Achievements

59. Major Programme 1.2 covers the work of several offices in the Office of the Director-General (ODG) including: the Immediate Office of the Director-General, the Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation (PBE), the Office of the Inspector-General (AUD), the Legal Office (LEG) in relation to the legal services it provides to the Organization, and the Office for Coordination of Normative, Operational and Decentralized Activities (OCD) relating to general coordination between Headquarters and the FAO field offices. The heavy workload in these offices was linked the key events in the 1996-97 biennium, such as the WFS (affecting particularly the Immediate Office of the Director-General) and guidance to the major decentralization effort to Regional and Sub-regional Offices.

Programme 1.2.2 - Programme Planning, Budgeting and Evaluation

60. The Programme, which is carried out by PBE, continued to assist in programme formulation and to ensure budgetary control for both regular and extra-budgetary resources. Key documentation prepared for the Governing Bodies included the major Conference documents: the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB), the Medium-Term Plan (MTP) and the Programme Evaluation Report (PER). The Office played its due role in the reformulation of the proposed PWB 1996-97 leading to a revised document going to the Programme and Finance Committees, including a major review of FAO's publications arrangements. The computerized work planning and monitoring system, PLANSYS, continued to support in-house planning requirements while eventual replacement options linked to the Oracle project were studied. Proposals for an enhanced programme and budget process were formulated and a new programming approach was tested in cooperation with selected technical units.

61. Programme reviews and evaluations continued to be undertaken both for the Regular and Field Programmes, many of which were presented in the PER 1996-97 (C97/4). Activities included: several joint evaluations of field projects with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as well as the provision of technical support to developing countries in establishing monitoring and evaluation systems. Training materials on programme and project design were developed, feeding back the lessons of evaluation to FAO staff and developing country personnel. Other measures designed to improve the feed-back of evaluation included: enhancement of the evaluation data analysis system and preparation of evaluation syntheses for the periods 1995-96 (general) and 1993-95 (FAO/Netherlands projects). Support was also provided to the development of new programming approaches. A quantification of several areas of evaluation work is provided in Table 1.2-1.

Table 1.2-1: Evaluation Work (Selected Indicators)

Description 1994-95 1996-97
Project Evaluations Supported 106 110
Field Evaluation Mission Participation 25 28
Reviews Assisted 3 3
Major Reviews Undertaken 9 7
Technical Backstopping and Training Missions Undertaken 12 12

Programme 1.2.3 - Audit

62. The priorities of the Programme include: assessment of internal control and procedures for safeguarding of assets; assistance to Regional and Sub-regional Offices to accomplish their objectives; reviews of the extent to which country offices provide efficient and effective support to the Organization's programmes; audits of field projects to ensure that they are properly managed and executed; assistance to senior management in further improving the efficiency of the Organization and promoting effective control at reasonable cost; and advisory services to other units to enable them to discharge their responsibilities in the most effective manner. The budget provision also covers the fees of the External Auditor, a role performed by the French public sector auditors, the Cour des Comptes, since 1994.

63. Following the "special audit exercise" of 1994 (when audits were carried out in the five Regional Offices and some 75 field offices around the world), it was decided to regionalize the internal audit function, and to engage local audit firms to perform periodic (i.e., monthly, quarterly or as required) audits of imprest accounts, reporting practices, conduct bank reconciliations and other asset verifications. These measures were finalized in 1996. There are now Regional Internal Auditors in the four Regional Offices located outside Headquarters and arrangements completed with local audit firms. The reports of the local firms assist the FAO country offices and the Finance Division (AFF) in maintaining an improved system of internal control, and are monitored by internal audit, thereby enabling it to focus on those areas requiring most attention. In addition, a detailed briefing is provided to newly-appointed FAO Regional, Sub-regional and Country Representatives before they take up their new duties.

64. Two significant events occurred in 1997 in terms of the audit and internal oversight functions and attendant reporting practices. One was the conversion of the Office of Internal Audit, Inspection and Management Control into the Office of the Inspector-General in October 1997. Director-General's Bulletin (DGB) No. 97/21 recognized the strengthened internal oversight function that had evolved in recent years at FAO. This action was also in concert with similar steps to strengthen oversight functions within the UN system. In FAO, the oversight mandate has been defined as an independent function providing assurance to the Director-General and, through him, to the Governing Bodies that the outputs of the Organization are produced with due regard to economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Accordingly, the scope of oversight not only embraces the role of inspection and managerial control within the concept of comprehensive auditing (embodying financial compliance and value-for-money features), but includes special investigations and other specific assignments for senior management when required. Second was the decision to provide members of the Finance Committee with the Office's Annual Activity Report. Hence, the 1996 Annual Report was made available to the Finance Committee in May 1997, along with an Information Note on the Audit Regime at FAO.

Table 1.2-2: Internal Oversight and Audit Reports, Observations and Services, 1996-97

Headquarters Reports Issued
  Special Reviews, Audits and Investigations 43
  Audit Opinions 48
  Total 91
Field Reports Issued
  Special Reviews, Audits and Investigations 9
  Regional and Sub-regional Offices 24
  FAO Representatives 22
  Field Projects 35
  Total 90
Other Activities
  Contract Award Services 475

65. As Table 1.2-2 indicates, comprehensive audits, reviews and investigations were conducted on a broad range of activities, including publications and warehousing; travel arrangements; emergency operational activities; the investment portfolio; procurement contracts; certain aspects of payroll and staff medical arrangements; the use of consultants; the Money and Medals Programme and the Year 2000 computer problem. In addition, a larger number of smaller audits were conducted in accordance with the plan of work approved by the Director-General, including many aspects of Regional, Sub-regional, country offices and field projects.

Programme 1.2.4 - Legal Services

66. The Programme provides legal services for the internal management of the Organization and is delivered by LEG. It continued to ensure that FAO's activities were carried out on a sound legal and constitutional basis, consistent with the Basic Texts and the status of FAO as an intergovernmental organization in the UN system. Legal counsel was provided to the Director-General and other units of the Organization and to its Governing Bodies, as well as to the World Food Programme (WFP). Documentation services continued to be developed in support of legal work in the Organization. The Programme also dealt with international legal affairs, including relations with the Host Government, global and regional agreements involving the Organization as well as the legal aspects of personnel matters.

67. Particular focus was given to amendment of the IPPC - approved by the FAO Conference in November 1997, to renegotiations of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources and to the further development of the international network of seedbanks. LEG has also participated actively in the negotiations on PIC procedures relating to the import of pesticides. A quantification of several areas of legal services is provided in Table 1.2-3.

Table 1.2-3: Legal Counsel and General Legal Affairs (Selected Indicators)

Technical normative functions 1994-95 1996-97
Meetings attended for liaison on international conventions 44 55
Basic texts prepared for conventions where FAO exercises depository functions 4 29
Instruments serviced which are deposited with FAO 39 36
Administrative functions    
Written legal opinions 2 700 2 478
Appeals/submissions prepared for the Director-General, the Appeals Committee, International Labour Office (ILO) and Administrative Tribunals 170 237
Interventions for legal proceedings involving the Organization 26 25

Programme 1.2.5 - Programme and Operational Coordination

68. OCD has responsibility for this programme, which ensures ensuring coordination of normative and operational activities between Headquarters units and the decentralized offices. Other activities of OCD are reported under Major Programme 3.4 and Programme 3.5.3.

69. A major focus during the biennium was coordination and support of the decentralization process particularly to transfer project operations and administrative support services to the Regional Offices. Close collaboration was maintained with all relevant units in the establishment of the new Regional Operations Branches and Management Support Units (MSUs) and in the reallocation of functions, posts and staff. The new relationships and reporting lines between Headquarters and these offices were spelled out in a special Circular on Responsibilities and Relationships: Headquarters and Decentralized Offices. The OCD Bulletin, issued quarterly, helped to ensure an adequate flow of information between Headquarters and the decentralized offices.

70. In order to ensure full management support to the FAO country offices and essential services to the Regional, Sub-regional and Liaison Offices and ODG units, an MSU was established within OCD. Its services covered the needs of more than 1,600 staff members.

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