Rome, 9-13 May 2005
Policy and Operational Framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP): Findings of the Internal Consultation
1. This document is one of the two supporting documents upon which the report entitled “Policy and Operational Framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) – Management’s Proposals for Strengthening the TCP” is based. It describes the consultative process that took place within FAO during November and December 2004 under the auspices of the Field Programme Committee (FPC). The second supporting document describes the consultation process, coordinated by FAO’s Evaluation Service (PBEE), with governments and other important external stakeholders.
2. This document is organized into three parts. Part I provides the background to the internal consultation; Part II reviews the process that was implemented for this consultation; and Part III provides the principle findings of the consultative process.
3. At its 92nd Session, the Programme Committee reviewed a document entitled “Policy and Operational Framework of the TCP: responding to a changing environment”(PC 92/7). The objective of the document was to provide a basis for an initial discussion by the Programme Committee on the major issues to be addressed in adapting the TCP to evolving circumstances. This document constituted the first step in the review process of the TCP to be undertaken by the Secretariat with the guidance of the Programme Committee.
4. The document identified a number of significant changes in the international environment and within the Organization that have taken place since 1976 and to which the TCP should respond. It acknowledged that in some cases, the TCP had already responded, but that there remained further scope for exploring how the TCP could best respond to, and benefit further, from these recent changes.
5. Given these new realities, the critical question lying at the heart of the TCP review process is: What are those aspects of the TCP that need to be strengthened or modified to reflect the contemporary needs of government, what new elements could be added, and which aspects need to be preserved and/or reinforced in order to maintain the Programme’s core value, respond effectively to the emerging needs of member countries, and ensure that appropriate attention is given to food security and rural and agricultural development issues?
6. The Committee endorsed the document’s principal findings, including the recommendation that a consultative process, involving an internal consultation in FAO and an independent review to elicit the views of governments, be initiated to identify proposals for strengthening the impact and effectiveness of the TCP by ensuring that it is aligned with new realities at country level as well as with the technical capacities that FAO has to offer. It was further agreed that three broad sets of issues should constitute the primary focus of the consultative process: (i) national TCP processes; (ii) TCP criteria and categories; and (iii) country eligibility.
7. The Secretariat decided to manage the internal consultation through the FPC1.
8. The internal consultation was intended to elicit the views of FAO staff members on the above-mentioned set of issues, and to draw on their experiences, insights and knowledge in order to strengthen the TCP and the service it provides governments and the world’s poor and hungry.
9. In October 2004, the Technical Cooperation Department prepared an Issues Paper in order to facilitate debate and discussion within FAO on the TCP. This Issues Paper was organized into two main parts: Part I provided the background to the consultative process; and Part II focused on the three main issues highlighted by the Programme Committee and added the issue of TCP procedures to reflect additional comments of Members of the Programme Committee.
10. On 5 November 2004, the Chairperson of the FPC, in consultation with the Director, OCD, circulated the Issues Paper to the FPC members, the five regional and subregional offices, and a sample of thirteen FAO representations (FAORs), encouraging them to seek the views of as many staff as possible in order to respond to the questions raised in each of the four above-mentioned sections.
11. The FPC Secretariat received 29 contributions and consolidated them by issue and contributor in one comprehensive table. In addition, it consolidated the main findings and recommendations in a five-page summary note. To ensure transparency, a module entitled “TCP Review” was developed on FPMIS in order to make available all of the background documentation and contributions received from technical and operational divisions at headquarters, regional offices and FAORs. The FPC met in mid-December 2004 to review the various inputs received and to agree on principle findings and recommendations for submission to the Secretariat.
12. In February 2005, the Secretariat prepared the final report to be considered by the 93rd Session of the Programme Committee, taking into account the findings of this consultative process, the recommendations of the report of the Independent Review of the TCP (PC 93/INF/3), the recent Independent Evaluation of FAO’s Decentralization, the External Auditor’s comments regarding the TCP, and TCP-related findings of recent PBE Thematic Evaluations.
13. The Field Programme Committee agreed on a number of issues, in particular:
- TCP gives member countries access to the global experience and specialized international expertise of FAO (compared to national sources of assistance). Moreover, assistance is less supply-driven than much donor support and can lead to very significant results if well designed and matched with sufficient commitment from governments;
- TCP allows the implementation of innovative/pilot initiatives for subsequent expansion and up-scaling with national or donor support;
- TCP provides important feedback for normative programmes.
- Removing criteria. It was suggested that the criteria requiring that all projects respond to an “unforeseen”, “urgent” and “specific” problem or need be abolished. With respect to “unforeseen”, it was argued that apart from emergency projects, many TCP-supported issues cannot really be described as completely unforeseen (e.g. WTO, support to PRSP and UNDAF processes, policy support, food quality, standards and safety). With respect to “urgent”, again, apart from emergency projects, in many cases TCP resources are used in a catalytic way, i.e. to provide seed money to trigger larger programmes which were neither unforeseen nor urgent per se. Moreover almost any “need” for technical assistance can be expressed in a way that reflects an urgent need. With respect to “specific”, the complex and multidimensional nature of problems should be recognized as they are increasingly addressed in many TCPs. This is not coherent with a criterion focusing on a specific problem.
- Modifying/strengthening criteria. The focus of the TCP should be broadened beyond production, the financial ceiling for regional projects should be increased, and greater emphasis should be placed on sustainability and follow-up, as these two criteria were viewed as crucial elements, although they were often very weak.
- Reducing approval times. The approval process could be reduced through simpler and clearer approval procedures, the introduction of fast-track procedures for project budgets under US$100 000, pre-approval of concise project profiles, and more flexibility in the use of international consultants.
- Strengthening project formulation. Project formulation could be enhanced through the introduction of peer review mechanisms of project proposals, systematically increased involvement of out-posted technical staff at the outset of the formulation, analysis of TCP past performance if appropriate, more flexibility in the use of the TCP Facility to cover programme development needs, improved briefing of FAORs on TCP scope and modalities of functioning, thorough assessment of government capacities to fulfil their commitments, and an increase in provision for study tours and external training.
- Enhancing implementation and delivery. Project implementation and delivery could be enhanced through more flexibility in the use of the TCP Facility for international technical expertise, removal of the 12-month contract limit for national experts, more flexibility in the choice and use of budget items/project inputs during implementation, and compensation for national project coordinators seconded to projects.
14. The possibility of changing the name of the TCP in order to better reflect its nature, scope and purpose was considered.
1 The Field Programme Committee, reactivated by the Director-General on 1 February 2001, is chaired by the ADG of the Technical Cooperation Department. It is composed of the ADGs of the technical departments, the ADG of the Administration and Finance Department, the Director of the Office for Coordination of Normative, Operational and Decentralized Activities; the Chief of the Development Law Service, and the Director of the Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation. It has as resource persons the ADGs of the regional offices and it involves the FAO representations on an ad hoc basis.