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Programme Outcome

Regular Programme   US$ `000
  Appropriation 30 348
  Expenditure 32 960
  Over/(Under) Spending, US$ `000 2 612
  Over/(Under) Spending, % 9%
Field Programme   US$ `000
  Extra-Budgetary TF and UNDP Delivery 231
  Extra-Budgetary Emergency Project Delivery  
  TCP and SPFS Delivery  
  Total Field Programme Delivery 231
  Ratio of Field to Regular Programme  
  Technical Support Services, Prof. Staff Cost 33
  Technical Support Services, % of delivery 14%


321. The Major Programme covers financial, personnel and computer services. It maintains the Organization's accounts, financial control and reporting systems; assists programme managers and technical staff in the use of modern information technology tools; and develops and administers personnel policies to help ensure that FAO is served by competent and motivated staff. The over spending indicated in the above table mainly resulted from adverse staff cost variance, the impact of encumbered abolished posts requiring some time for redeployment to be completed and the on-going FINSYS replacement project, which required additional expenditures for technical support and peripheral hardware and software.

322. As reported to the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees in September 1997, a review of the Administrative and Finance Department was performed as part of an overall Management Review to determine the appropriate staffing levels and staffing structure of the Organization. This review which was carried out with the assistance of external consultants has led to a number of structural changes which are briefly described below.

Programme 5.2.1 - Financial Services

323. This Programme covers the administration of the Organization by the Finance Division (AFF) and related financial services within the Regional Offices. AFF was extensively reorganized during the biennium to take account of the Organization's decentralization efforts and enhance its support to FAO programmes in general. One of the main features of the new structure was the assignment of responsibilities for decentralized accounting, accounts receivable and payable and internal control to new separate units. The reorganization also increased compatibility with the Oracle packages, which continued to be developed as the replacement for FINSYS, the present financial system. As indicated in Table 5.2-1, the reduction in the Organization's total activities resulted in a decline in the number of staff on the payroll and the payments and transactions processed during 1996-97 in comparison to 1994-95.

Table 5.2-1: Financial Services (Selected Indicators)

Description 1994-95 1996-97
Staff on Payroll (monthly average) 6 500 5 800
Travel Authorizations processed (`000) 33 25
Payments (`000)    
Personal accounts 20 18
Travel 54 41
Other 55 47
Bank account transactions (`000)    
HQ 242 224
Field Imprest 210 207

324. In the development of the new Oracle financial system, general specifications were completed and subjected to gap analysis. An important goal achieved in this regard was further simplification of transaction processing. Significant work was undertaken to develop the new instruction manuals to provide adequate guidance to staff charged with financial responsibilities both at Headquarters and in the field, which was a prerequisite for implementation of the new systems.

325. The local audit programme was expanded world-wide and, as planned, the frequent checks of country office imprest accounts strengthened control over financial operations in the field. The local auditors were also used to monitor systematically accounting performance in the field, bring about internal control improvements and highlight training needs. A more systematic implementation of the recommendations of the External Auditor was also initiated.

Programme 5.2.2 - Computer Services

326. Significant changes occurred in the use of Information Technology (IT) to support the Organization's activities, which led to proposals for modifying the structure of the Computer Services Division. Emphasis was on two basic services: the development of applications for information systems and the establishment and support of the Organization's IT infrastructure covering both decentralized offices and Headquarters. The extent of the services provided is indicated in Table 5.2-2.

Table 5.2-2: Computer Services (Selected Indicators)

Description 1994-95 1996-97
Support of Administrative Applications    
FINSYS/PERSYS/Payroll, change requests resolved 770 386
New Complementary Applications 10 38
Staff time for Oracle Financials (work months)   95
Support of Technical Applications    
FAOSTAT users supported 180 633
FAOSTAT data bank accesses (External Users) 3 560 725 186
FAOSTAT records downloaded (External Users) 224 258 100 962 601
Internet, average number of users sessions (per month) n.a. 47 836
Intranet, average number of users sessions (per month) n.a. 23 932
Use of HQ Infrastructure, Mainframe and Network Services    
Email accounts supported 2 350 3 050
Help Desk calls (average per month) 750 1 000
Mainframe accounts supported, including Regional Offices n.a. 1 770
Online transactions, including Regional Offices (per month) 1 613 000 1 570 000
Use of Decentralized Offices Infrastructure    
Decentralized Offices with Email connection 17 85
Decentralized Offices with Local Area Networks 11 23
Decentralized Offices with Internet connections   65
Email accounts in Decentralized Offices n.a. 750
Email messages - HQ to Decentralized Offices (per month) n.a. 26 500

327. Support was provided both for administrative and technical applications. The major administrative systems, FINSYS/PERSYS, continued to be maintained, while significant resources were devoted to the development of its replacement based on Oracle packages. Applications to support the Organization's technical information systems made extensive use of evolving Internet technologies and enormous growth occurred in Internet access to the FAO Web-site, particularly, the statistical database, FAOSTAT, which was successfully migrated to Oracle.

328. Regarding the IT Infrastructure in the decentralized offices, all Regional Offices, Sub-regional Offices, Liaison Offices, and FAO Representations were interconnected to each other and to FAO Headquarters by email using the same standard software. Individual email accounts were established for staff in almost all locations. A majority of the decentralized offices were also connected to the Internet. As a result of these rapid developments, demands for the ongoing operational support of the global infrastructure increased significantly.

Programme 5.2.3 - Personnel Services

329. The Programme, which is carried out by the Personnel Division (AFP) in collaboration with regional staff, continued to provide support to the process of decentralization, including the review and streamlining of procedures and the analysis of staffing requirements. Assistance to the decentralization of the project operation activities from Headquarters to the Regional Offices entailed the review of General Service posts in RLC, RNE and RAF in order to assess staffing needs to match the type and volume of activities being decentralized and to ensure the accuracy of the classification of posts. Assessment of the volume of activity and responsibilities of MSUs led to the elimination of two MSUs through mergers. Coordination was provided for staff redeployment resulting from the restructuring of the Organization. Several areas of work, such as recruitment of consultants and staff training increased significantly as indicated in Table 5.2-3.

Table 5.2-3: Personnel Services (Selected Indicators)

Description 1994-95 1996-97
Staff serviced holding Fixed-term/Continuing Appointments (annual average)    
Headquarters 2 928 2 415
Decentralized Offices 2 208 2 016
Total 5 136 4 431
Recruitment and appointment of staff 900 763
Recruitment of Consultants & Special Service Agreement Holders 1 671 3 646
Staff Training days (participants x duration)    
Project/programme design and management, average course duration 5 days 602 1 670
Management, average course duration 2.6 days 410 79
Computer skills, average course duration 1 day 7 116 7 125
Language, average course duration 11 days 7 896 12 152
Insurance and Compensation claims    
Medical insurance claims handled 132 844 143 086
Staff compensation claims handled 310 372

330. The FAO Manual was revised to reflect the decentralized office structure and the revised delegation of authority to department and office heads resulting from the creation of the MSUs. Contractual arrangements for the use of non-staff resources were reviewed and proposals made to reduce the number of instruments in use and streamline the related procedures. The business requirements related to the introduction of the Oracle Human Resource packages, the successor to PERSYS were also reviewed. The Corporate Roster was deployed for general use throughout the house.

331. A strategy for increasing recruitment of candidates from non- and under-represented countries and of women was developed and implemented. As a result, the number of countries which were not represented among the staff was reduced from 53 to 36. Unfortunately, it is not possible to report similar success in the recruitment of women as the proportion of women in the professional and higher categories remained at about 22 percent at Headquarters and 18 percent for the Organization as a whole, when decentralized offices are also included. To increase the number of qualified applicants for senior positions, Permanent Representations were advised quarterly on vacant positions in the Director category and professional vacancies were published on the Internet. In cooperation with other UN Organizations in Rome, the Job Classification Standard for General Service Posts in Rome was finalized, and policies in line with the Consultative Committee on Administrative Questions (CCAQ) Work/Family Agenda were developed and implemented for the introduction of 80 percent and 50 percent part-time work and for compassionate leave.

332. Staff Development continued to be strengthened with a major growth in the delivery of computer training to support the deployment of advanced work stations throughout the Organization. Language training was successfully reinstated for staff members families, Permanent Representatives and embassy personnel, on a fee-paying basis. A full Training Needs Survey was completed.

333. In collaboration with the Joint Advisory Committee on Medical Coverage (JAC/MC), the medical insurance scheme was reviewed and substantive changes introduced. The Basic Medical Insurance Plan and Major Medical Benefits Plan (BMIP/MMBP) contract was extended through 31 December 2000 pending a comprehensive review of the medical insurance scheme of the Organization and a tender issued for the Group Life, Accident and Disability Insurance Plan (GLADI).

334. The Medical Unit extended its traditional activities to include prevention and health promotion. Breast cancer screening was intensified and new programmes introduced included screening for cervical cancer, staff counselling, vision screening and ergonomic advice. Health promotion seminars for staff were offered and a programme of continuing medical education (CME) was introduced for all medical staff. A new programme of services for outside laboratory testing was introduced and resulted in 140 working hours being saved each month on average. The focus on prevention and health promotion may have contributed to a reduction in sick leave, as certified medical absences fell by approximately 1 350 working days per year.

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