|PC 93/9 - FC 109/14 c)|
Rome, 9 – 13 May 2005
Report on Follow-up to Joint Inspection Unit Recommendations
1. The reports of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) of direct interest to FAO are submitted to the Committees for consideration along with the comments of the Director-General (and the comments of the UN system Chief Executives Board, if applicable and available). The Committees will recall that an enhanced format of the comments of the Director-General and a more systematic approach to reporting on follow-up actions taken as a consequence of the JIU recommendations, was introduced in 2002.
2. This report tabulates the Secretariat’s follow-up action taken in addressing those recommendations which were endorsed by the Organization (i.e. with or without modification) in the eight JIU reports considered by the Committees in 2003. The Committees may wish to note the document.
3. The present document provides the Committees with follow-up information on pertinent recommendations contained in eight JIU reports which were considered by the Committees during 2003, as follows1:
JIU ref. number
Council ref. number
PC and/or FC session
Support Costs Related to Extrabudgetary Activities in Organizations of the United Nations System
Review of Management and Administration in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
May and September 2003
Extension of Water-related Technical Cooperation Projects to End-Beneficiaries: Bridging the Gap Between the Normative and the Operational in the UN System (Case Studies in Two African Countries)
Reform of the Administration of Justice in the UN System: Options for Higher Recourse Instances
UN System Revenue-producing Activities
Managing Information in the UN System Organizations: Management Information Systems
Evaluation of the UN System Response in East Timor: Coordination and Effectiveness
Implementation of Multilingualism in the UN System
4. As a matter of course, for each of the above reports, the present document covers only the recommendations:
5. In view of its special importance, the Report on Administration and Management of FAO has been covered in more depth and comprehensive follow up information is presented in the Annex.
JIU/REP/2002/3: Support Costs Related to Extrabudgetary
Activities in Organizations of the United Nations System
Recommendation (with original no.)
Legislative organs may wish to consider permitting UN system organizations to retain the interest earned on extrabudgetary resources contributed to multi-donor activities where resources are commingled and separate donor-specific accounting is not possible. They may wish to determine that this income should be used to reduce extrabudgetary support costs and that appropriate reporting is made to legislative organs on the relationship between such interest income and support-cost rates.
This recommendation was supported on pragmatic grounds only, as conceptually there is no logical relationship between the cost of supporting a project and the extent of interest earned on project balances. Its implementation in FAO depends on donor acceptance and is made on a case-by-case basis. In general, the Organization is more successful in retaining the interest earned for funding additional activities rather than for having it contribute towards reducing support costs.
Executive heads should review the extrabudgetary support-cost legislation applicable to their respective organizations and present proposals to their legislative organs aimed at eliminating contradictions in this legislation.
In FAO any such contradictions were resolved with the approval of the new support cost policy by the Council in November 2000. An annual report provides information to the Finance Committee on the implementation of the support cost reimbursement policy.
The Executive Board of UNDP should review the practice of incorporating indirect support costs for UN system organizations as part of the cost of substantive UNDP project inputs and expenditures. The Executive Board may wish to revise this policy in line with the principles described in the recommendation 9 below.
The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) considered the report on UNDP strategic cost management and implications for cost recovery (DP/2004/35) which the Administrator of UNDP submitted to UNDP Governing Bodies in September 2004. The report provides a more detailed picture of UNDP cost recovery policy, including the harmonization of cost recovery principles and practices in UNDG funds and programmes. It does not include any proposal for change or major departure from the current cost recovery policy.
In implementing new extrabudgetary support-cost policies and rates established along the lines indicated in Recommendation 9 above, executive heads should give careful prior consideration of the effect of these changes upon support-cost income, ensuring that a larger proportion of the costs associated with supporting extrabudgetary activities does not fall upon core resources. Any reduction in support-cost income due to reduced support-cost rates should be offset in principle through the achievement of more efficient administrative services.
The level of support costs is monitored annually through a Cost Measurement Survey. Income is also carefully monitored and reductions in Project Support Cost rates are granted, in full accordance with the FAO support cost policy, when they relate to activities and/or modalities of implementation that require low operational and administrative support. However, it should be recognized that the net amount of support costs funded from the Regular Budget (i.e. core resources) will vary from period to period as a result of many factors (e.g. decentralization of services). Moreover, the offset may not always occur in the same period.
The UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) should ensure that the process for establishing support-cost policies be monitored and regular comparative reporting of such policies be developed and disseminated. The outcome of this reporting should be reviewed by appropriate CEB machinery with a view to harmonizing, to the extent possible, the principles underlying support-cost policies, and by executive heads who should report thereon to their respective legislative organs.
Based on this recommendation, in particular the call for greater harmonization of support costs charges among organizations, a working group was established by the Finance and Budget Network of the HLCM. The group, led by UNESCO and with active participation of FAO, met on two occasions and reported to the meeting of the Network of 25-27 February 2004. Executing agencies have agreed: 1) a common definition of principles for the purpose of recovery for support costs; 2) that the objective of the harmonization should not be a uniform programme support cost or recovery percentage for all United Nations organizations, fully recognizing that the latter have different mandates, funding patterns, organizational and operational structures; 3) common definitions of cost categories, including various elements of direct costs, fixed and variable costs; and 4) that cost recovery would generally apply to variable indirect costs.
Legislative organs should continue to monitor overall administrative and other support expenditures and to review these components in the budgets of the UN system organizations. In so doing, Member States should ensure that administrative and other support requirements in core budgets do not increase in proportion to overall core resources.
Monitoring is already being done. Results are regularly reported to FAO Governing Bodies in the biennial Programme Implementation Report.
JIU/REP/2002/4: Extension of Water-related Technical Cooperation
Projects to End-Beneficiaries: Bridging the Gap Between the Normative
and the Operational in the UN System (Case Studies in Two African Countries)
Recommendation (with original no.)
The UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) should request the ACC/SWR to establish a database of the water-related technical cooperation projects executed or funded by the UN organizations. The database, which could be classified both thematically and geographically, should be maintained and continuously updated by the Subcommittee secretariat. It should contain, inter alia, information about the objectives, nature and activities of the posted projects, the region of intervention in the recipient country, and the targeted end-beneficiaries.
No action appears to have been taken at system-wide level. FAO has contributed together with other agencies to the World Water Development Report, including the water database.
The CEB should request the ACC/SWR, through a joint arrangement among its members, to elaborate common and comprehensive guidelines for the implementation of UN development and management projects in the water sector. The guidelines should incorporate, to the extent possible, the intersectoral aspects of the water projects with the aim of fostering interagency collaboration at the country level. They should also ensure, inter alia, that the relevant objectives and activities included in Agenda 21 are well observed throughout the overall cycle of the water projects.
The “UN-Water” meeting was held at FAO Headquarters from 18 September to 1 October 2004 to finalize terms of reference and discuss thematic action plans.
CEB should request the ACC/SWR to proceed with the establishment of its website. The website should, inter alia, provide substantive information about the meetings of the Subcommittee and the decisions taken therein, and provide linkages to the database and the guidelines called for in recommendations 1 and 2 above. It should also provide a means for sharing the experiences, lessons learned, and best practices, as well as collaborative and complementary activities, in the water-related projects executed by the UN organizations and/or other donors.
The above UN-Water meeting proposed to develop an Internet site to enhance visibility of activities.
The CEB should request the ACC/SWR to devote part of its sessions to operational issues, including: early promotion and advocacy of new programmes/projects in order to allow better synergies and complementarities in the design phase; discussion of specific operational problems involving several UN organizations at the country level; discussion of policy or operational issues raised to the ACC/SWR by some of those operational UN Water Committees called for in recommendation 7 below; discussion and follow-up on joint programmes/projects emanating from the Subcommittee; and discussion of joint interventions in case of emergencies or major problems in the water sector in certain countries. Due to the limited resources allocated by the organizations to their participation in the Subcommittee meetings, CEB should encourage ACC/SWR to resort to a wider use of modern communication technology to bring on board the technical advisors involved in the operational issues under discussion during this portion of the sessions.
The UN-Water meeting also discussed enhanced synergy and consistency of implementation of action plans at country and regional levels. The suggestion was made to use networks at the country level to disseminate information and monitor specific actions/programmes.
The CEB should proceed to enhance the resources and technical capacity of the Secretariat of ACC/SWR, including through the provision of one or two full-time professional posts. The(se) post(s) should be filled by candidates having technical expertise in the area of water resources and information technology in order to enable the Subcommittee secretariat to discharge more efficiently its mandated functions, and to allow it to undertake new activities such as those described in recommendations 1 to 4. Funding for these posts could be provided either through an agreed jointly financed arrangement among the CEB members participating in the Subcommittee, or sought externally.2
No action would seem to have been taken along those lines, while the UN-Water mechanism will seek to meet the prescribed requirements to the maximum degree.
In conjunction with recommendation 63, and as a means to concretize it in the water sector, the UN General Assembly may wish to request, through the Commission on Sustainable Development and the UN Economic and Social Council, that the UN Resident Coordinators establish, as appropriate, operational Water Committees with the participation of the UN organizations involved in water-related projects in the country, represented by their senior water expert(s) at the country Office. UN General Assembly may also wish to recommend, through the Commission on Sustainable Development and the Economic and Social Council, that such committees be entrusted, inter alia, with the following functions: to enhance coordination/ collaboration and exchange of experiences among its members; to explore the potential for synergies and complementarities among their country programmes/projects; to elaborate coordinated and concerted UN approaches towards the relevant national authorities, as well as towards the donors and other non-UN actors involved in the water sector in the country; to implement and oversee other inter-agency activities at the country level, including those contained in recommendations 8 to 10; to work as an interlocutor to the ACC/SWR as and when needed, and to disseminate and discuss the means to implement the relevant decisions of the latter, as appropriate.
FAO stands ready to participate in concrete initiatives in this regard (see above).
The UN General Assembly may wish to request, through the Commission on Sustainable Development and the UN Economic and Social Council, that the UN Resident Coordinators ensure that the UN organizations involved in water-related projects would, where appropriate, harmonize their participatory approaches and IEC techniques in the field, and that the operational Water Committees, called for in recommendation 7 above, would facilitate and oversee such efforts, including through the exchange of information and experiences among its members and by holding seminars or other forums of interaction with non-UN actors serving the same or similar communities.
See recommendation 4 above.
JIU/REP/2002/5: Reform of the Administration of Justice in the UN System:
Options for Higher Recourse Instances
Recommendation (with original no.)
The organizations’ capacity for informal conciliation, mediation and negotiation should be strengthened. Every organization that has not yet done so is encouraged to establish an independent, central ombudsman function performed by a senior official appointed by the executive head, in consultation with the staff representatives, for a single, non-renewable five-year term. This function should be complemented, at every major duty station, by a person or a panel responsible on a part-time basis for informal conciliation, mediation and negotiation functions, under the overall guidance and supervision of the ombudsman.
It was decided to introduce mediation as an alternative dispute resolution process on a trial basis for one year, as of 1 January 2005. This process will incorporate a consensual dispute resolution avenue within the Organization's internal recourse procedure. Given this new mediation procedure and until such time as an assessment is conducted following the completion of the trial period, the establishment of a central ombudsman function to provide an informal conciliation mechanism would be duplicative at this juncture.
Publish annual reports containing summarized information on the number and nature of the cases heard before joint appeals boards, joint disciplinary committees and similar advisory bodies, as well as general statistics on the disposition of such cases; the confidentiality of their proceedings should be preserved.
Appropriate measures have been taken to issue an annual report for 2004 by the end of the first quarter of 2005.
JIU/REP/2002/6: United Nations System Revenue-producing Activities
Recommendation (with original no.)
Increasing Revenue from Publications
With regard to each sub-recommentation:
Research and Development (R & D) in Science and Technology
It would not seem that this matter has as yet been discussed in the CEB machinery. Should inter-agency studies be initiated to meet the spirit of the recommendation, FAO stands ready to participate in spite of the complexities. No doubt, the experience of WHO would be a critical factor to bear in mind.
Substantive Training and Public Lectures
These arrangements can be considered on an ad hoc basis, where potential demand would justify them.
Reinforcing the Marketing Function
Regarding each sub-recommendation:
JIU/REP/2002/9: Managing Information in the United Nations System Organizations:
Management Information Systems
Recommendation (with original no.)
With a view to enhancing transparency and comparability of financial implications of MI system projects, UN Secretary-General, in his capacity as the Chairman of CEB, should request the CEB/HLCM to establish a standardized cost classification, to be used for cost estimates of MI system projects implemented by the UN system organizations and to report thereon to the competent legislative organs of these organizations through the Executive Heads of the respective organizations (paras. 42-44).
In May 2004, FAO was asked to lead a working group of ICT Managers of the UN system to produce a common ICT Strategy. This strategy finalized in August 2004, contains an overall Charter and 15 major initiatives for action. It was endorsed by HLCP, HLCM and CEB, and implementation options will be considered by HLCM in April 2005.
The Strategy Charter stresses the need: “for the UN system to establish common standards and guidelines for the development of Business Cases for ICT investment proposals and for ICT project costing.”
Strategy initiative 5 covers opportunities for all UN organizations to adopt standard approaches to proposal preparation and costing. It recommends a situation whereby all UN Organizations comply with best practice in terms of establishing return on investment for IS and ICT investments, using common templates for describing the business case for each of these investments.
In order to enhance cooperation and coordination in respect of designing and implementing MI systems in the UN system organizations by avoiding duplicated efforts and investments, UN Secretary-General, in his capacity as the Chairman of CEB, should request the CEB/HLCM (paras. 4, 40, 41, 45-47):
1. To intensify consultations on this matter, by taking into account the following options:
2. To report thereon to the competent legislative organs, for review and appropriate action, through the Executive Heads of the respective organizations.
The above ICT Strategy also recognizes the need:
Strategy initiative 2 (Sourcing of services) examines the opportunity for switching many of current independent agency-based ICT support services from high cost locations in Western Europe and North America to lower cost regions. It indicates that potential savings will be greater if combined with a move to a shared service facility, such as ICC, especially if this shared service facility were also provided from a lower cost geographic base.
JIU/REP/2002/10: Evaluation of the United Nations system response in East Timor:
coordination and effectiveness
Recommendation (with original no.)
The Secretary-General should request the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), as chairman of IASC, to produce a UN “Who Does What” manual on emergency situations. To achieve this mandate, IASC should work to identify a clear division of labour in emergency situations among UN agencies, funds and programmes, which should be based on the comparative advantage and the value to be added by each organization in such situations. It should also ensure that the division of labour would be commensurate with the emergency capabilities of the organizations to undertake the specific activities assigned to each. In this context, IASC should serve as a forum to exchange and share information about best institutional practices for emergency response available within its members.
Mr. Egeland, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, has asked his colleague, Mrs. Yvette Stevens to lead consultations on a “Review of Global Humanitarian Response Capacity” through the IASC Working Group, with technical support from OCHA's policy branch, in particular for the identification of external support to the process. FAO participates actively in ongoing discussions in the IASC on the issues highlighted in this recommendation.
The Secretary-General should request the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), as chairman of IASC, to strengthen the IASC functions of early warning and contingency planning. In this context, IASC, through its current Reference Group on Contingency Planning, should consider measures to improve networking and communication among IASC members and ensure a systematic exchange of contingency assessment among its members. Individual organizations should also enhance their own capacities for contingency assessment and planning in their respective areas of activities. In this regard, OCHA should give particular attention to enhancing its analytical capacity in order to exercise appropriate leadership in the timely formulation of integrated contingency plans.
See previous point.
The Secretary-General should request the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), as chairman of IASC, to produce a template for coordination structures among the organizations. The template should be guided by the “Who Does What” manual recommended above, and should be activated and formalized during the emergencies.
See previous point.
The legislative organs of participating organizations may wish to encourage the Executive Heads of their respective organizations to make more use of CAP as a planning and programming tool, and to enhance their organizations’ capacities to achieve this, in the framework of the ongoing efforts within IASC to strengthen CAP as a tool for strategic planning and coordination.
FAO takes full advantage of the CAP as a programming and planning tool for developing and implementing its emergency and early rehabilitation programmes.
The legislative organs of those participating organizations which have not yet done so, may wish to support the establishment of an emergency revolving fund in their respective organizations.
The Special Fund for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activities (SFERA) was established in April 2004, as reported to the Finance Committee in September 2004 (FC108/9). Expansion of the scope and funding level of SFERA was noted by the FAO Council in November 2004 (“Advance funding for Emergency and Rehabilitation Activity” - CL127/22).
JIU/REP/2002/11: Implementation of Multilingualism in the United Nations System
Recommendation (with original no.)
As part of their reporting on the use of languages, executive heads should submit to their governing bodies information on the status of languages used for work within the Secretariat and in that connection, they should indicate:
Among various initiatives in the framework of the Language Policy, concrete actions took place in the biennium 2002-2003 in order to enhance language-related resources and tools, particularly as regards terminology databases and computer-assisted translation techniques. These are being pursued in 2004-2005. However, financial resources allocated to these efforts are limited and unlikely to fully close the gap between the different languages in terms of available resources and tools. Further investments would be required to ensure the sustainability of such developments.
Heads of secretariats are invited to ask evaluation and/or internal monitoring bodies to include in their programmes of work for 2004:
Regarding a), the concept of such an inventory has been supported, while comprehensive implementation of this recommendation is to materialize as part of the skills inventory package component of the Oracle HRM system.
As to b), while feedback is collected through informal ways, a formal survey of such a comprehensive nature would be very costly and cannot be envisaged at present within the resources available.
As appropriate, executive heads should undertake a survey to better assess user satisfaction with the services provided in different languages in the context of meetings and for the dissemination of information; targeted groups for such a survey should include not only linguistic groups of Member States, but also representative groups of NGOs and accredited representatives of news media.
There is currently no formal arrangement for assessing user satisfaction of the language services provided for meetings. However, informal discussions do take place with delegates and meeting secretariats on quality of translation and interpretation in different languages. Due attention is given to this source of feedback. It is planned to move towards a more formal approach for assessing user satisfaction with language services.
In order to maintain or improve the quality and multilingual content of outputs provided in the different languages of the Organizations:
The UN Inter-Agency Meeting on Language Arrangements, Documentation and Publications (IAMLADP) is addressing workload issues and working conditions of language units and makes related recommendations. The report of IAMLADP is usually submitted to the General Assembly, but not generally to the Governing Bodies of other UN system organizations.
Legislative bodies may wish to:
It may be recalled that since the 2000-01 biennium, Programme Entity 222P5 Programme for the Improvement of Language Coverage has provided central support for infrastructure enhancements in support of the five official languages and for correcting long-standing deficiencies in language coverage.
Executive heads should encourage or continue to encourage their staff and particularly their senior staff to foster a cultural change within Secretariats by making fuller use of their linguistic capabilities which should be translated into more visible indicators in the workplace.
Strong encouragement has consistently been given to senior staff to broaden their language skills, including through specially tailored training opportunities and this effort is expected to continue.
FOLLOW-UP TO JIU REPORT 2002/8: REVIEW OF MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATION IN FAO
The above JIU report, which focussed entirely on FAO, was submitted to the Programme and Finance Committees in May 2003 (document CL 124/INF/14). Its recommendations were addressed in more depth by the Committees at their sessions of September 2003, in the light of two supplementary documents: an "Action Plan" addressing those recommendations not relating to Human Resources Management (PC 90/6 b) and the regular "Progress Report on Human Resources Management Issues" prepared for the FC, which also covered the recommendations in the JIU Report with an HRM dimension (FC 104/15). This Annex brings together all JIU recommendations in the first column and reproduces in columns 2 to 4 the information provided to the Committees in September 2003 via the above "Action Plan" and HRM progress report.
A fifth column has been added to report on the status of follow up, as assessed to date.
Management Response in September 2003
Action already taken or under way (if applicable)
Proposed future actions
Follow up status
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 (RBB) 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.
Refinement of indicators has been sought in the MTP 2006-2011, while for the first time, RBB principles have been applied in the same document to the non-technical and technical cooperation programmes, with a complete new structure of entities.
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 (SO) 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 PC in 2004.
Major efforts were made to specify links of programme entities of technical programmes to SOs in the MTP 2006-11 formulation process (with description of attendant contributions).
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.
For the first time, progress reports on the implementation of PAIAs in the entire 2002-03 biennium were submitted to the DDG by all PAIA Chairs (except for Gender and Development which is a special case governed by Gender and Development Plan of Action submitted to the Conference). The reporting procedure has since reverted to the originally intended yearly periodicity, with progress reports submitted in early 2005 covering the year 2004. The PC is to consider a report on experience with PAIAs at its September session of 2005.
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.
The MTP 2006-11 includes an updated text for the Strategy to Address Cross-organizational Issues on enhancing inter-disciplinarity. The catalytic provision for PAIAs under entity 210S5 is being continued.
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.
As foreseen, the availability of extra-budgetary support has greatly facilitated the initial implementation of auto-evaluations in technical programmes. Training in RBB was provided at 4 levels as part of preparation of MTP 2006-11 in the first half of 2004: briefing of Directors at the Senior Officers Information Forum; MTP briefings for officers and support staff (total attendance 250) including guidance on improvement of indicators and strategic linkages; revision and distribution of self-help PE formulation training materials for technical programmes, emphasizing indicator formulation; and hands-on support provided by PBEP focal points to non-technical and technical cooperation departments during for-mulation of results-based entities.
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 videoconferences with RRs is to continue. It is planned to hold similar videoconferences with the Subregional 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.
Further video-conferences have been held with RRs and SRRs as a continuous process.
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.
Same arrangements are to be pursued.
As at present.
No change to report.
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
Manual Section (MS) 119 of the FAO Admin. Manual (dealing with delegations of authority on administrative matters) has been updated to reflect decisions taken on streamlining of personnel management, as well as the directives issued since 2001 regarding delegation of authority on specific subjects. The listing of delegations of authority has been issued as an Appendix to the afore-mentioned MS. The revised version of this M.S. is presently under final checking by the Divisions concerned prior to publication in the near future. As earlier reported, this is an ongoing process and further areas will be addressed, particularly in the implementation plan prepared as a result of the independent evaluation of FAO’s decentralization and submitted to the PC/FC in May 2005.
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 and 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.
An updated version of the OCD Circular on Responsibilities and Relationships was issued and disseminated. It reflects in particular the new context of operational responsibilities transferred to the FAORs.
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.
The development of Oracle HRMS includes a module on performance management which is intended to be integrated with the corporate planning system (PIRES) probably at the biennial output level thus creating the accountability linkage necessary. As mentioned above, further progress has been made in the application of RBB principles to all areas, and not only technical programmes as hitherto.
4 (d) Precise timelines for updating and simplifying important administrative instructions.
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 Phase I.
The HR User Group will be established in 2003 and will be effective throughout the project – anticipated to be completed by mid-2006.
The Human Resource User Group (HRUG) was established as planned in 2003, and has been meeting regularly since. It includes representation from Regional Offices, and through OCD, keeps FAORs involved. Video conferences have been organized with ROs. The HRUG is kept up to date on progress and actively contributes to the HR management requirements definition. A website, accessible from both HQ and field offices, has been set up to communicate project progress. Progress is also being made for replacement of FAS.
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 Sept. 2003.
The Capital Budgeting Facility had been formally established by the FAO Conference in December 2003, and the first proposals to use the facility were included in the MTP 2006-11 for endorsement by the FC and Council.
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.
The evaluation of decentralization and the related Management response have been considered by the PC and FC at their September 2004 sessions and the Committees are expected to return to the issue in May 2005 and to consider a follow-up implementation plan preared by the Secretariat.
7 (b) The need to maximize synergies at the regional level, in particular, with regard to the Field Programme;
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 August 2003.
The conclusions of the FAOR and ROB/MSU reviews have been considered by the Field Programme Committee and will be taken into account in the follow up to the discussions in Governing Bodies of the comprehensive review of decentralization mentioned under (7a).
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.
As recalled above, an updated version was issued in 2004.
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;
The functions and responsibilities of FAORs are described in detail in Manual Section 118. Based on these, a standard profile for the posts of FAORs has already been developed embodying the minimum requirements in terms of education, experience, abilities and skills. The PC/FC had been informed of the basic competency requirements for posts of FAORs at their joint session of September 2000 (document JM 2000/2).
The functional statement for FAORs is being revised and re-issued to cover the new role in project operations. The profile of the FAOR is also being amended to place more emphasis on managerial/ operational skills.
The Manual Section 118 was re-issued in November 2003 and the profile for FAORs was amended. A Competency Profile is being developed for FAO Representatives.
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/UN system;
A roster of suitable candidates meeting the requirements of the standard profile has been maintained for many years.
The roster is being computerized to facilitate its maintenance and use and to allow a tracking system of candidates.
The roster of candidates was computerized in 2003 and candidates have been screened. As from 2005, posts of FAORs have been advertised on the Internet.
8 (c) Ensure the prompt completion of the WAN project…
Service and equipment orders for all feasible connections have been placed.
All offices within the project scope expected to be completed - a total of 83 connections.
As of 31/12/2004, 79 decentralized FAO locations were covered by the WAN, while one feasible location has been postponed to early 2005. A follow-on project is to connect up to 24 more locations in 2005, using a VPN technology which is especially suitable for small offices and places where FAO offices are hosted by other organizations, e.g. in New York. At all these sites, the entire FAO Intranet becomes accessible, including much of the reference material mentioned in other JIU recommendations.
…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 process. See also 8 (c) above.
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/ opportunities to discuss important corporate matters and facilitate interaction and exchange of experience among the FAORs: (a) special ad hoc technical consultations involving a number of FAORs at HQs/ 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.
The proposal for seminars included in the RG scenario for 2004-05 had to be dropped as a result of the lower level of the approved PWB. OCD will continue to use the existing mechanisms to facilitate horizontal linkages among the FAORs.
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;
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.
The coverage of country offices (and role of the Liaison Offices) have been given due prominence in the independent evaluation of decentralization and the recommendations have been considered in the follow-up implementation plan prepared by the Secretariat. Any further guidance from the Committees and the Council will be followed up.
10. The Director-General should:
In the light of the Finance Committee’s deliberations on the progress report on HRM (ref. CL 125/4, paras. 77-80), this matter may be considered closed, while the FC will continue to receive regular progress reports.
10 (a) Establish a task force composed of HR 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;
10 (b) Consider allowing staff representatives full participation in, or at least direct access to, this task force;
10 (c) Resume meeting personally with representatives of recognized staff associations at reasonable intervals.
11. In the short term and in order to:
the Director-General should:
11 (a) Instruct 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;
AFH has a vacancy monitoring system which reports regularly to senior management on all professional vacancies. Production of a further compendium would thus be redundant.
The level of vacant professional posts would be reduced from an average of 21% of established posts (July 2002) to an average of 15% by December 2003. As at May 2003, 18% of established posts were vacant.
As indicated to the Finance and Programme Committees, the level of professional vacancies has been reduced as anticipated. Against a vacancy target of 15% for professional posts at 31/12/03 the actual level achieved was 11%. Given the impact of the approved PWB 2004-2005, the vacancy level as at 31/3/04 was further reduced to 8%, representing the lowest vacancy level for many years in FAO.
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;
Consultations to be undertaken among HQ departments and Regional Offices (RO) to determine feasibility of establishing appropriate criteria for ROs to evaluate candidates in this context.
Analysis and appropriate proposals would be prepared for consideration by the Human Resources Committee (HRC).
This issue is to be considered in the context of a number of studies and reports on decentralization and the relative responsibilities of Regional Offices and technical departments.
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;
AFH already has in place policies and procedures that limit the long-term use of consultants and retirees.
AFH/AFDS continue to monitor the use of consultants and retirees.
No other development to report.
11 (d) Undertake a cost-benefit analysis of establishing a managed mobility system for Professionals
As part of a wider programme of career development, AFH will undertake a study and develop a pilot programme of planned mobility.
Career planning system would be implemented:
Analysis would be prepared and if appropriate, a new policy developed.
AFH undertook a preliminary study regarding the development of a pilot programme of planned mobility. Mobility policy options are being assessed, in terms of a policy of mobility within the Organization given the cost implications of such a policy, prior to submitting them to senior management for consideration. Further analysis will be made of the most viable scheme of rotation that could be implemented i.e. mandatory versus non-mandatory. Also, whether the focus should be on one category or all staff. Integration with other HR management policies such as career development system etc., will also be studied.
12. In order to improve gender balance among the Secretariat’s Professional staff and conform to policy statements by the UN 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
AFH has developed a draft policy for review by senior management prior to consultations with the staff representatives.
Staff Rule 302.409 would be amended as may be deemed appropriate following the consultations.
Proposal is to be reviewed and discussed with staff representatives by December 2003
Staff Rule 302.4.8 was amended so as to introduce the revised policy on 19 April 2004.
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:
Future action will depend upon the decisions of the Governing Bodies.
FC considered the matter at its May 2004 session and the conclusions are as follows:
1 Reports JIU/2001/4 “Enhancing Governance Oversight Role: Structure, Working Methods and Practices on Handling Oversight Reports” (CL 123/INF/18) and JIU/2002/1 “Involvement of Civil Society Organizations other than NGOs and the Private Sector in Technical Cooperation Activities: Experiences and Prospects of the UN System” (CL 124/INF/18) were also considered by the Committees with the Director-General’s comments in their new format, but no recommendation was found to warrant further follow-up reporting.
2 This recommendation was not endorsed at the time the report was issued, but is nevertheless included in this follow-up report.
3 “The General Assembly may wish to request, through the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the Economic and Social Council, that the United Nations Resident Coordinators enhance and complement the current UNDAF exercise with an “Operational UNDAF” process in which the United Nations organizations, working at the country level in general and in the water sector in particular, would, to the extent possible and within their respective mandates, orient their programmes/projects in the recipient country towards integrated interventions where the elements of synergies and complementarities are perceived in the design phase of joint programmes and projects. The Assembly may also wish to recommend, through CSD and the Economic and Social Council, that such integrated interventions be initiated on common selected zones in need within the country and used as pilot programmes/projects, to be extended at the national level through the national and local authorities and with the assistance of other donors.”