40. This section describes the import of the reform proposals from the standpoint of programme focus and organizational structure. Brief programme narratives are presented in Annex IV to the document.
41. While very supportive of the advances made in the application of strategic planning and results based budgeting methods, the governing bodies have stated their expectation for greater clarity to facilitate their understanding of the Organization’s programmes and satisfy themselves that they are well focused and avoid excessive fragmentation. One self-evident dimension of this problem is the format and contents of various planning documents, including size, presentation and level of detail which is meaningful for the governing bodies. The Programme and Finance Committees will be initiating an in-depth review of this aspect at the September 2005 session, also in the light of practices in comparable UN system organizations. The Secretariat is committed to supporting changes in the process in line with the wishes of Members.
42. Building on the principle of simplification and transparency, while preserving Members’ priorities and strengthening inter-disciplinarity, a more focussed presentation and implementation of activities can be achieved through a more condensed programme structure. A configuration involving eight Chapters is proposed:
Chapter 1: Corporate Governance
Chapter 2: Sustainable Food and Agricultural Systems
Chapter 3: Knowledge Exchange, Policy and Advocacy
Chapter 4: Decentralization, UN Cooperation and Programme Delivery
Chapter 5: Management and Supervision Services
Chapter 6: Contingencies
Chapter 8: Capital Expenditure
Chapter 9: Security Expenditure
43. The new Chapters 2, 3 and 4 would permit recognition of the main contributions of the new departments and the decentralized structures - the functions of which are described further below - to the substantive work of the Organization. Hence, these Chapters involve three major interdisciplinary thrusts:
Chapter 2: Sustainable Food and Agricultural Systems brings together Agriculture, Biosecurity, Nutrition, and Consumer Protection; Forestry; Fisheries and Aquaculture; and Natural Resources, Technology and Sustainable Development.
Chapter 3: Knowledge Exchange, Policy and Advocacy brings together Economic and Social Development; Alliances and Rural Livelihoods; and Knowledge Exchange, Communications and Capacity Building.
Chapter 4: Decentralization, UN Cooperation and Programme Delivery brings together Coordination and Decentralization; and Outreach Programmes including the Technical Cooperation Programme.
Chapter 5 would enhance transparency and understanding by regrouping a range of services now dispersed over three different Chapters. The special purpose Chapters hitherto dedicated to Capital Budgeting proposals and the proposal in the main PWB for Security Expenditure, as well as the provision for Contingencies, would continue without modification.
44. Below the Chapter level, the somewhat artificial dichotomy between the “Major Programme” and “Programme” levels – and attendant 2-digit and 3-digit coding system – which currently creates an unnecessary hierarchy without strengthening accountability for results, would be eliminated. The new Chapters would comprise a reduced number of constituent Programmes. Going down from the present 60, the 42 proposed programmes are tabulated below:
Proposed Programme Structure
Chapter 1: Corporate Governance
Chapter 2: Sustainable Food and Agricultural Systems
Chapter 3: Knowledge Exchange, Policy and Advocacy
Chapter 4: Decentralization, UN Cooperation and Programme Delivery
Chapter 5: Management and Supervision Services
Chapter 6: Contingencies
Chapter 8: Capital Expenditure
Chapter 9: Security Expenditure
45. In addressing the content of the programme of work, in the context of the objectives set for FAO by the Membership, the Director-General has been mindful of the new challenges and opportunities arising from trends in the external environment, particularly those referred to in Section I. In accordance with the Council’s criteria for priority-setting, he has also taken into account the views of Members as expressed in various fora and FAO’s comparative advantage, in particular by focussing programmes on areas where FAO makes a unique contribution and proposing to reduce or eliminate work that is being done adequately by other institutions and can be shared through networks. Ultimately, the Director-General came to his conclusions on the content of the programme, drawing also on his own experience and having sought the views of senior managers, in the conviction that the proposals must serve to impart new direction to FAO’s work and infuse new dynamism in its action.
46. The overall direction of the reform proposal is implicit in the chapter structure laid out above, which reflects in the first instance the areas of major corporate emphasis. Thus the substantive work of the Organization is refocused clearly on the three major thrusts under Chapters 2, 3 and 4. Chapter 2 covers those areas of FAO’s work which lay the foundation for sustainable food and agricultural systems. Chapter 3 groups a range of economic and social programmes with investment information and statistical activities, so as to clarify their importance in fulfilling FAO’s functions for knowledge exchange, policy and advocacy aiming to facilitate the uptake of sustainable food and agricultural systems. Chapter 4 recognizes the imperative of promoting closer cooperation with the wider UN system through a decentralized structure, both at the global level and in countries, and of harmonization of this effort with the delivery of FAO’s own programmes of development cooperation to reduce food insecurity.
47. Within the chapters, the constituent programmes (as shown in the box above) provide a more articulated indication of priorities for FAO’s effort and consequent resource allocation. Some programmes, while including certain activities which FAO is already undertaking, constitute in their conception a new area of emphasis for FAO, with the requirement for an appropriate level of resources to ensure that their full potential can be realized. Other programmes build on ongoing work but with significant shifts in focus and attendant resource requirements towards the highest priority aspects. A third category of programmes includes activities which remain highly appreciated by Members and are thus expected to continue, albeit with adjustments to enhance efficiency and effectiveness, but which are grouped with related activities to encourage greater synergy. Finally, Regular Budget funding is reduced or eliminated for several areas of work compared to the present programme, in particular where it is clear that they are covered by other institutions on which the Organization can draw through thematic knowledge networks.
48. New areas of emphasis include the programmes on knowledge exchange and capacity building, on alliances and advocacy initiatives against hunger and poverty, and on rural infrastructure and agro-industries. To encourage innovative means of implementation, significant allocations of non-staff resources are foreseen for capacity building and thematic networks. Another priority area would be capacity and institution building related to policy, comprising seminars for policy makers at sub-regional level and closer matching of supply and demand for training in specific priority issues. Attention would also be given to courses on agricultural policy analysis and implementation in various locations, including at Headquarters, and also to broadening possibilities for training through internship arrangements at various levels. Seminars and training courses would also be organized on such subjects as disaster prevention and mitigation.
49. Programmes that incorporate significant shifts in focus and resources in ongoing areas of work include:
50. Activities adjusted to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness, including through consolidation, encompass work on: horticulture; diseases and pests of both animals and plants, including IPM; livestock-environment interactions; the clustering of land, including land tenure, and water management and conservation with related activities in the sustainable natural resources management programme; planted forests and trees outside forests, incorporated with sustainable forest management; information systems; policy analysis across a range of subjects; and the delivery of technical and policy assistance by multi-disciplinary teams at sub-regional level.
51. Several areas would be significantly reduced, compared to the present programme of work, either due to deliberate lower priority attached to them or the possibility to carry out the same or slightly adjusted work through alternative arrangements, lessening the burden on Regular Budget resources. These include:
52. The relative mix of new and ongoing activities constituted the first consideration in determining possible resource allocations. It was further necessary to take into account:
53. These considerations have involved a process of arbitration which will require further refinement of the proposed programmes, involving managers as well as senior staff, on the basis of views expressed by Members on the reform proposals, and in the light of the eventual budget level approved by the Conference.
54. The overall substantive work of the Organization is influenced by the resources that are required for corporate governance and for discharging management and supervision services, as planned in Chapters 1 and 5 respectively. In addressing the reform proposals, the Director-General has sought strategies and actions to minimize the cost of support services through efficiency and performance gains, including streamlining actions and new management structures, as described in Section IIIc. The functioning of governance structures falls within the direct competence of the governing bodies. Substantial progress has already been achieved by the governing bodies since the implementation of Conference Resolution 13/97, and Member Nations may wish to consider some suggestions that are outlined in Section V.
55. A major feature of the proposed reform process is to enhance inter-disciplinary work, with participation from all levels in the organizational structure. The various structural changes would assemble staff working on closely related themes and facilitate mutual interactions which is the essence of inter-disciplinarity. The organizational structure and the related resource allocation process recognize that several units would spearhead adherence to important cross-cutting themes such as capacity building and knowledge management, which are further described below.
56. As regards the existing Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIAs), the Programme Committee, at the September 2005 session, is due to consider a document on experience with PAIAs so far. In the present proposals, it is envisaged that the programmatic framework for PAIAs should ensure ex ante consideration of requirements instead of ex post. They would be fewer in number and would be attached to the most closely related department in the organizational structure. The latter would thus take over the responsibility of coordination, monitoring and reviewing of approved joint activities, instead of the rather loose arrangements of working groups adopted hitherto.
57. This more proactive approach in managing PAIAs is not only consonant with the accent put on an enhanced culture of inter-disciplinary cooperation in the present reform proposals, but would be a natural consequence of the fact that the proposed organizational units in the new departments share the same scope as several PAIAs. Adequate resources would be factored in the budgets of the concerned departments to back up this coordination role and could include provision for dedicated human resources to serve as facilitators. This is clearly preferable to the critical reliance on the “goodwill” of interested units to provide needed financial contributions, as is often the case at present.
58. Transverse presentations of two key cross-cutting dimensions of the total programme of work, i.e. the use of thematic knowledge networks and support to capacity building, are made below.
59. Many units within the Organization are active in the generation and dissemination of knowledge but essentially on an ad hoc basis. Much of the formal communications work of the Organization in recent years has been on disseminating information which it has generated or synthesised through its corporate Web sites. While FAO’s Web sites are very frequently visited, this is essentially a one-way movement of knowledge. So far there has been no corporate policy for developing and supporting networks and for creating interactive query mechanisms as a means of enriching the knowledge base for the work of the Organization and of increasing its multiplier effects. The reform process seeks to remedy this by singling out knowledge exchange as a priority area for action across the whole Organization and by putting in place a Division which would have the objective of building up this very important dimension of the Organization’s work and linking it better with its external capacity building programmes as well as with its media-based communications activities.
60. Underpinning this proposal is the acknowledgement that FAO has so far only tapped a small part of its potential to serve as an increasingly effective knowledge organization. It recognizes that a very large part of the knowledge and thinking which is of greatest potential value to its Members is not written down or displayed on Web sites but is stored in the minds of its staff and others who share similar interests: this is particularly the case of knowledge and experience which relate to emergent critical problems – of which there are many in agriculture - which have to be addressed on a learning-by-doing basis. It also builds on the importance of being able to bring to bear inter-disciplinary thinking in addressing many of the more complex development-related issues that are relevant to FAO’s mandate.
61. Under the reforms, FAO will intensively promote the emergence of knowledge networks at two levels. One axis will be to improve knowledge sharing and exchange between headquarters and decentralised FAO structures while the other will be between FAO and experts in centres of excellence in member countries. These networks will play a key role in creating a capacity to respond interactively to queries submitted to the Organization through the proposed “Ask FAO” facility.
62. By deliberately extending its involvement in thematic based knowledge networks, FAO will become better linked into the global knowledge community and thereby have a greater influence in debates on global issues. It will also enable the Organization to identify good sources of specialised expertise which could be engaged in programme design and implementation.
63. Responsibility for guiding and facilitating the growing engagement of the Organization in knowledge networks will be one of the principal functions of the Knowledge Exchange, Communications and Capacity Building Department.
64. FAO devotes substantial resources to training and capacity building, especially in its support for country and regional level activities, for rural people, specialized individuals, policy makers and institutions. Work in this important area is spread throughout most of the programmes but is not visible as an activity in any of them. It is undertaken by many different units, projects and individuals, often working in isolation from each other and thus losing the benefit of potential synergies. There is no formal coordination, although several informal networks have developed for sharing of ideas and experience between staff and with interested people outside the Organization.
65. The reform process responds to the interest expressed by many Members to see FAO play a more prominent role in capacity building. This has led to the proposed creation of a specific programme for knowledge exchange and capacity building and creation of an organizational entity within the Knowledge Exchange, Communications and Capacity Building Department to strengthen the capacity building dimensions of the Organization’s programmes, coordinate capacity building activities across the various departments, to provide a clear sense of direction and to put in place a wide ranging programme of training activities. A collegiate approach, involving key players from across the Organization, would be taken to setting priorities and goals as well as to training programme design, respecting the fact that the bulk of the Organization’s training work could continue to be undertaken by staff of the technical divisions.
66. The thematic focus of training activities will vary over time, but one of the underlying objectives will be to offer training opportunities on themes of major emerging significance, targeted both at policy makers as well as technical staff whose work requires them to have a good understanding of the latest thinking on such themes.
67. The main areas of focus for expanded training activities will include:
68. In relation to its institution-building objectives, the programme would draw on experience, spread across the Organization, in institution building, synthesising best practices, providing methodological support to various units and promoting sharing of experience.
69. The Director-General’s proposed restructuring involves an extensive reorganization of the departments and divisions at Headquarters, to achieve a better balance and greater synergies both between and within departments and to align the functions of departments as closely as possible with the proposed changes in programme structure described above. It would also make FAO’s decentralized structure more effective in responding to Members’ needs and contribute to more efficient use of staff resources.
70. The proposed Headquarters structure involves establishment of ten departments, each headed by an Assistant Director-General. The Offices of the Inspector-General and of Programme, Budget and Evaluation, as well as the Legal Office, would continue to report directly to the Director-General. Annex II presents the structure in graphic form.
71. The aim in defining departmental responsibilities has been to assemble the relevant expertise within the Organization in entities which will address, and be accountable for the achievement of, core corporate objectives in the proposed revised programme structure. This has the effect of bringing together staff working on common or closely related problems, and will thus facilitate greater synergy in programme implementation.
72. The reduced number of programmes is also expected to facilitate the creation of a “flatter” and less hierarchical management structure. Services or their equivalent are expected to become the lowest recognized level of management in the headquarters structure, thereby reducing the number of staff engaged in managerial functions at other levels. A proposed decrease in the overall number of services would both lower management overheads and provide greater flexibility in deploying staff, as well as encouraging teamwork. Moreover, the elimination of management “layers” would considerably streamline decision-making processes.
73. In any organizational structure, there is a need for effective mechanisms for facilitating inter-departmental and inter-divisional work which can successfully harness multidisciplinary skills to address complex issues. The proposed structure allows for the functions of several Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIAs) to be internalised within defined structural entities. The formal responsibility for coordinating those PAIAs which would remain, would be assigned to specific units within the structure, with greater responsibilities being given to coordinators, linked to a higher level of funding. In the same way, some divisions or services, such as those responsible for best practices, capacity building and food security, whose effectiveness depends heavily on their ability to engage staff from other departments in implementing their work programmes, would have resources to enable them to “contract” the supply of required expertise from other units in a predictable way.
74. The proposal also envisages that there would be “institutional homes” within the structure for thematic networks to strengthen communications between staff sharing common interests with external individual specialists in centres of excellence of member countries. Finally, the composition and functions of a number of internal committees, which serve as advisory panels, assist in oversight or coordinate work transcending the responsibilities of individual units, is under review with a view to streamlining or strengthening them.
75. The rationale for and major components of each department is presented below. Concentration is mainly on those departments and related organizational units which would be entirely new or subject to substantial change, and these brief descriptions may be read in conjunction with Section III a) on programmes and the narratives in Annex IV which provide more information on the thrust of the programmes for which the various departments are responsible.
76. The creation of this department responds to five important and inter-related needs for ensuring maximum coherence within FAO and between FAO and other parts of the UN system. The department would thus group a series of functions so as to facilitate a common approach, and provide for overall supervision of them by an Assistant Director-General.
77. Two functions are highly specific: (i) to provide a node for corporate coordination to maintain unity of purpose between the different units of the Organization, wherever they are located; and (ii) to group in one organizational entity the responsibility for ensuring the security and safety of staff and assets of the Organization and complying with UN security standards in all locations where the Organization operates.
78. The three broader thrusts of the department’s work would involve: a) promoting FAO’s cooperation within the UN system at all levels, facilitating its role as an active partner in system-wide activities, including addressing the Millennium Development Goals and fostering close relations with individual UN partner agencies; b) ensuring that the decentralized offices of the Organization continue to have a locus through which to report to Headquarters and receive guidance; and c) continuing to ensure the effective functioning of the Conference, Council and other Governing Bodies, and facilitating a better two-way information flow between FAO and the central UN intergovernmental organs such as the Economic and Social Council.
79. This department would address in a holistic manner the range of issues encompassed by biosecurity and the food chain, or “farm to table” approach. It would thus include the production, management and conservation of crops and livestock, would bring together staff dealing with diseases and pests of plants and animals, and would also handle work on food quality and consumer protection. The Department would, therefore, be responsible for FAO’s contributions to Codex Alimentarius under the joint programme with WHO. The Joint FAO/IAEA Division in Vienna would continue to support the application of atomic energy (isotopes and radiation), related biotechnological methods and food quality analysis to improve the capacities of member countries.
80. While its mandate would remain basically unchanged, the structure of the Forestry Department would be adjusted to ensure better interaction among various facets of its work. Two important cross cutting themes the department would address are forest fires and reforestation.
81. The addition of aquaculture to the title of the department reflects the proposal to ensure achievement of a better balance within the programmes between fisheries and aquaculture, in the light of the growing importance of aquaculture in food supplies and rural livelihoods. The department would have a structure similar to that of Forestry, and would also handle, through the office of the ADG, all-encompassing issues such as the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
82. The department would be responsible for a coherent portfolio of disciplines related to the sustainable management of natural resources. Work on land and water resources would bring in land tenure issues; work on the technical and environmental aspects of sustainable development would now include mountain development, and work on research and technology, including relations with the CGIAR and the NARS, would encompass research outreach through extension. The impact of climate change on agriculture would be given priority in the department’s structure as well as in its work programme. A major cross-cutting theme for the department would be the economics of natural resources.
83. This department would bring together the analytical and statistical work to underpin effective policies and strategies with work on perspective studies, agricultural development economics, policy assistance, and trade and marketing. It would consolidate the Organization’s work on food security monitoring and reporting. This work would be organically linked, through the incorporation into the department of the Investment Centre, to FAO’s assessment of needs and support to the efforts of developing Members to mobilize resources at a level commensurate with the size and nature of their rural development, poverty reduction and food insecurity problems.
84. The department would be responsible for the coherence, quality, content and scale of all of the Organization’s outreach activities, including both normal technical cooperation activities and emergency programmes. Resource mobilization and the Technical Cooperation Programme would be handled in this department as well. These activities serve a dual function of on the one hand, translating into operation and action the concepts and findings developed through FAO’s global and norm-setting activities and, on the other hand, enriching that global work through the feedback from field experience.
85. The department would focus on (i) moving from many small projects towards more integrated multi-component technical cooperation programmes, linked to the programmes of other members of UN country teams and fully aligned with government priorities; (ii) shifting progressively from generating projects and programmes for execution by FAO towards supporting nationally and regionally directed and implemented development programmes; (iii) improving the linkages between FAO’s support for emergencies, rehabilitation and longer term development; (iv) establishing unambiguous accountabilities and responsibilities and improving operational and technical support for sub-regional and country offices; and (v) improving transparency and performance through more effective supervision, monitoring and reporting, as well as a deepened understanding of country and regional development objectives and programmes. It would also offer leadership within the Organization in support of large-scale national and regional food security programmes, and would ensure that the “best practices” identified and disseminated through FAO’s knowledge-exchange activities and resulting from field experience are incorporated in FAO’s own cooperation programmes.
86. The creation of this department reflects the priority to be given to more vigorous advocacy, in follow-up to the World Food Summit: five years later, and in contributing to the achievement of the MDGs. It would bring under one umbrella, a number of awareness-raising and cooperative initiatives for which responsibility has heretofore been spread among various units: promotion of national alliances, FAO national committees and associations; NGO and civil society partnerships; cooperation with Parliaments and decentralized national bodies such as regions, municipalities and economic and social councils; and World Food Day, TeleFood and other special events.
87. A second major thrust would be on mainstreaming attention to gender issues and equity in rural societies, with introduction of a new focus on child nutrition and on addressing the special needs of indigenous peoples and those suffering from disease. The third area of concentration would be on supporting rural peoples’ organizations and other rural institutions, on addressing the question of rural employment as part of broader rural livelihoods strategies. Close partnerships in these areas would be sought with other UN organizations, at global and country levels.
88. The division would host the secretariats for the International Alliance Against Hunger (IAAH) and the UN System Network on Rural Development and Food Security, and would have special responsibility for follow-up to the adoption of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food.
89. The main purpose of this department would be to ensure that FAO adopts a more proactive approach to developing and sharing information, knowledge and best practices with and between member countries and other centres of excellence. It would group the key activities that comprise effective support of knowledge exchange, communication and capacity building.
90. This includes staff who support the information communications and technology infrastructure that connects FAO subject experts with counterparts in countries across the world, staff who develop information systems that capture FAO knowledge and best practices and make it available to others, as well as information analysts who categorize and synthesize FAO knowledge to make it more readily accessible.
91. It also includes experts in capacity building who aid national institutions in strengthening their capacity to respond to the demands of their populations, and both promote and support the preparation and conduct of capacity-building programmes by FAO units and assistance programmes. Finally, it brings in the expertise of those whose task is to ensure that FAO’s main messages are effectively communicated to the broader public.
92. Information systems development activities are currently dispersed throughout the Organization. To improve integration between systems and avoid duplication of effort all information systems concepts, development and management activities would be brought together in the department. It will also provide the basis for an effective management information system for decision making by senior management.
93. One of the main developments of the Human Resources Management Model and a key aspect of the reform proposals is the introduction of a Shared Services Centre. This centre would be a stand-alone organizational entity which provides centralized support services in an efficient manner by consolidating administrative functions to deliver them as effectively and efficiently as possible, thus avoiding fragmentation and duplication so that economies of scale can be achieved and cost savings realized. Aside from a number of other cost-saving measures in support services, introducing such a service centre would achieve efficiency gains in administration by trimming operating costs and using technology to eliminate paper processing. In addition to housing this centre, the department would provide the essential management services dealing with FAO’s human, financial and physical resources.
94. The structural changes are intended to heighten the Organization’s capacity to respond to the needs of member countries as well as those of their regional and sub regional organizations that play an increasingly important role in relation to agriculture, food security and trade in food products. This calls for a truly universal and networked organization that works at the country, sub-regional, regional and global levels. Capacity, resources and authority at each of these levels should be commensurate to the task at hand, respecting the principle of locating action at the level at which it can be most effectively implemented within available resources.
95. The main focus of the changes in the decentralized structure is on supporting action at the country and sub-regional level. In this context, FAO’s role is to make itself a useful and valuable partner, contributing, where it has comparative advantages, to the design and implementation of nationally-owned policies, strategies, programmes and projects in relation to the achievement of the MDGs and to the growth of the agriculture sector, the sustainable management of natural resources and participation in inter-regional and international trade.
96. The starting point for this approach at the country level will be the national medium term priority frameworks (NMTPFs), to be developed under the leadership of the FAORs in consultation with government officials, development partners and the donor community. These will describe how FAO can best assist the country in meeting its priorities, including the MDGs targets, taking into account the interests and programmes of partners and donors as well as other frameworks which might already exist, such as the CCAs, UNDAFs and PRSPs. Beyond their country focus and application, the NMTPFs will serve as building blocks for FAO’s regional and sub-regional programmes and as important input to decisions about the mix of technical skills needed at the sub-regional level. Thus, the Organization’s programmes can be built first and foremost on a country-level foundation, which, together with the results of the Regional Conferences and other regional bodies and commissions, can subsequently be melded into the Organization’s corporate strategies, plans and programmes of work.
97. In order to achieve these goals, however, it will be critical to adjust the performance of the Organization’s decentralized structure. Both the Independent Evaluation of FAO’s Decentralization and the review of FAO’s contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals stressed the need to improve and strengthen FAO’s response capacity at the country level, including through measures to ensure selection and appropriate training of the best possible candidates for FAOR positions. At the same time, they recognized that the country offices need to be able to call upon sufficient additional technical and policy assistance capacity if they are to be able to assist countries in the formulation of major instruments such as poverty reduction strategies. Both also recognized that the most feasible approach to providing such support would be through reinforced multi-disciplinary teams, combining a capacity to provide both policy and technical assistance in an integrated manner, at optimum locations within sub-regions.
98. A number of measures have already been introduced to strengthen the FAOR scheme itself and these are to be pursued. The reform proposals add a further dimension in that they envisage a “two-way street” approach in which the technical capacities of the FAORs themselves would be considered part of the multi-disciplinary capacity of the sub-region in which they are located, and would thus be called upon as appropriate for assistance in meeting the needs of neighbouring countries. Evidently such an approach has implications for the staffing of the FAORs, which would need in some cases to be reinforced by National Programme Officers, but it would permit a far greater flexibility and efficiency in the use of the human resources available within the Organization. The re-engineering of the decentralized structure has been conceived in this light.
99. Another key issue addressed is country coverage. In keeping with the principle of universality in serving member countries, a comprehensive approach is essential to ensure that all Members have adequate access to FAO’s services, and the network of Subregional Offices would permit a clear focus on meeting this need. This would be reinforced and complemented by country offices, in line with the approach outlined above, but applying a principle of selectivity in the allocation of a larger proportion of total resources for country offices to the groups of countries identified by the international community as having the greatest needs. In practice, this means that the size and method of funding of the FAO country presence would vary more than is the case at present.
100. It is thus proposed to reform the decentralized network as follows:
101. The proposal outlined above provides both a more equitable and a more effective decentralized structure. Its implementation would have to be undertaken in a phased manner, in full respect of existing agreements with countries and with careful attention paid to the implications for the present staff of offices at the various levels. Its overall budgetary implications are outlined in Section IV.
102. An important aspect of the reform proposal, and one which would need to be actively pursued in the coming biennium, is the development of joint arrangements of various types with other agencies and organizations in the UN system. FAO has long-established arrangements of this nature, such as the Joint Division with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); the Investment Centre, with the World Bank and other IFIs; and the joint programme with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the Codex Alimentarius.
103. Such arrangements, based on close partnerships and joint funding of agreed programmes, facilitate substantive cooperation in addressing major objectives, as well as providing opportunities for increased cost-effectiveness and for elimination of potential duplication of work in areas where mandates overlap. The Director-General proposes to enter into discussions with potential partners to expand FAO’s recourse to such arrangements, aiming for joint arrangements with clear time-bound objectives and sharing of resources, particularly in the following areas: Urban agriculture (with UN-HABITAT); Climate change (with WMO); Agro-Industries (with UNIDO); Rural education (with UNESCO); Rural employment (with ILO); the PIC Convention (with UNEP); Child hunger and malnutrition (with UNICEF); Information technology systems (with ITU); School gardens (with WFP); Women in agriculture (with UNFPA); and Trade and marketing (with UNCTAD).
104. Once formally established, with the approval of the Governing Bodies of FAO and of each of the partner organizations, such programmes would form part of the FAO programme and organizational structure and budget, in the same way as the presently existing arrangements appear.
105. At its 128th session in June 2005, in reviewing the Summary Programme of Work and Budget 2006-07, the Council encouraged the Secretariat to be more ambitious in seeking improvements in efficiency and productivity gains2. In considering the Follow-up to the Independent Evaluation of Decentralization, the Council concurred with the Programme Committee’s assessment of the need for a major shift in organizational culture, including greater empowerment of staff and adaptation of the Organization’s human resource management practices3.
106. The reform proposal offers opportunities for considerable gains in performance and operational efficiency. In several areas, for instance in human resources management, major changes are already in progress. In other areas, new or improved working methods have been under consideration but not implemented, especially where they are dependent on completion of IT investments.
107. The proposed organizational structure will facilitate a more efficient conduct of the Organization’s operations. For example, efficiency savings are facilitated by a “flatter” and increasingly decentralized structure with clearer accountabilities, but they will be all the greater if associated with better working methods. In order to identify immediate opportunities for gains in staff performance and operational efficiency, a review of areas for improvement has been undertaken and provides the basis for further actions, which complement the planned initiatives already described in the main PWB4. In addition, the Secretariat intends to continue a thorough risk assessment review of all existing administrative procedures to determine the extent to which these processes could be eliminated or further streamlined whilst retaining an effective mechanism of internal control. Against the results of this review, the Organization would continue to refine, from a resource requirement and organizational structure perspective, the overall administrative support needs of the reformed Organization. The Organization also recognizes that in the proposed system of delegation there is increased financial risk and that steps are necessary to strengthen the enterprise financial risk management programme.
108. Many of the current management practices are a reflection of a risk-averse institutional culture, which has led to multiple approvals being required for many actions and to an escalation in the ultimate level of approval. With increased delegation of authority and decentralisation, it is timely to consider opportunities for efficiency gains, substituting ex ante controls and multiple approvals now applied to most types of transaction, with ex post controls supported by effective management information system controls. The objective would be to reduce transaction costs, speed up decision-making, reinforce the accountability of managers by clarifying their understanding of their responsibilities for financial integrity and control over budgeted expenditures, and generally increase the Organization’s effectiveness. A shift from the use of paper-based to electronic forms for most upstream administrative actions, combined with a reduction in the number and seniority of approvals required, will augment the benefits already attained as a result of substantial investments in improved computer-based systems for the downstream dimensions of transaction processing and improve the Organization’s operational responsiveness.
109. A reduction in the number of units and locations at which administrative actions are processed will also reduce management costs, facilitate corporate standardization of transaction processing and generate economies of scale. This will be addressed by the creation of a Shared Services Centre which, building on the positive experience of the Management Support Service, created in 2000 (with a saving of 60 posts), will centralise a number of administrative actions. Where relevant, transfer of functions to locations where the costs are significantly lower than Rome will be considered. This approach is being tested in a pilot project in connection with the information systems development work related to the HRMS project.
110. These improvements are an essential element of the overall reform process and their implementation will ensure the attainment of many of the intended benefits of the programme and structural changes and, for this reason, they are being presented to Members.
111. The Organization is committed to moving quickly on a wide range of inter-related streamlining actions, many of which appear minor but which together have a far-reaching impact on the Organization’s efficiency. These cover human resources management, internal process and procedures and the creation of a Shared Services Centre. The starting point of this exercise would be the independent management reviews recently undertaken of two divisions in the current Administration and Finance Department (AF), extended to include the remaining divisions of the department, and informed by the streamlining opportunities resulting from the reform process.
112. The Organization is currently engaged in preparations to launch the Human Resources Management System (HRMS) of Oracle by the end of 2006. This will lead to significant improvements in the processes for managing staff-related actions throughout the Organization with the introduction of the Human Resources Management Model (HRMM), which goes hand-in-hand with the introduction of the HRMS. The new HR Management Model would implement an integrated human resource management system where the bulk of HR transactions are handled electronically. It would recognise the ability to take decisions on HR matters at a different physical location to the processing of those decisions. It would also reorganise the HR function to rationalise and consolidate service delivery and free up resources for both savings and improvement in the quality of HR planning; and increase delegations, monitoring and accountability through better management information reporting.
113. The new HR management model will also deliver a management information system to facilitate trend analysis and exception reports in real time on a range of HR matters. The system will greatly enhance the capacity of top management to monitor delegated authority and thus improve accountability.
114. In addition to the above improvements in the administration of human resources, management intends to embark immediately on measures aimed at improving staff motivation and to progressively increase flexibility within the establishment so as to enable the Organization to respond better to shifts in the demand for its services. The introduction of these adjustments will be undertaken after consultation with the staff representative bodies.
115. Measures to link staff performance to career development will be developed and introduced. These will involve strengthening the staff performance appraisal process, including increasing the accountability of senior staff, and using it as an objective basis for the possible introduction of merit promotion and merit awards, based on the positive experience of other UN specialised agencies. Explicit recognition will be given to the importance of “horizontal growth” in career development, both in terms of assuming different functions across the Organization as well as increased staff rotation between Headquarters and decentralized offices, joint secretariats, joint divisions and other UN agencies. The Organization would also establish and routinely apply a process for deciding, when a post becomes vacant, whether it would be filled through promotion or internal or external vacancy announcement. Finally, subject to cost analysis and availability of resources, the Organization would introduce “sabbaticals” for top performing staff and actively encourage staff participation in the activities of professional associations, providing supplementary leave for attendance at key meetings and congresses.
116. At the field level, the establishment of project posts for National Professional Officers, funded from and for the duration of individual projects, will greatly improve the motivation of national staff who are increasingly assuming high levels of responsibility in the management of specific projects.
117. The Organization would develop a medium term strategy for adjusting staff skills to emerging demands. This would serve as a basis for determining the most appropriate balance between established posts and non-staff human resources required to respond to Members’ demands and provide a reference point for decisions on establishing a roster of candidates for future posts and announcements of vacancies, and on training and retraining priorities. Flexibility would also be increased through greater use of partnerships with specialised institutions and professional associations, staff exchanges, author’s contracts and “when actually employed” retainer contracts to access highly qualified specialists for specific tasks.
118. The main PWB document provides an account of current initiatives, including those related to the HRMS, travel and decentralisation. However, in the light of this reform proposal, a number of further initiatives have been identified to be embarked upon by management, subject to availability of resources.
119. In order to take advantage of the fast-changing travel industry and deregulation, the Organization is pursuing a new travel agency contract. The new arrangements envisage compensating the travel agent on a transaction fee basis. The Organization will negotiate fares directly with the airlines and conduct a review, together with other Rome-based agencies, to achieve further economies.
120. Procedures will be introduced to extend the facility for internet bookings with low cost carriers, using the travel agent to administer the booking at Headquarters. This will result in further cost savings. Facilities will also be introduced to support paperless Travel Expense Claim processing thereby speeding up settlement, and the Organization’s current lump sum option provisions on entitlement travel are being reviewed to take account of the changes in the travel industry.
121. Travel decisions will be delegated to decentralized structures, to managers and experts, by providing them the necessary authority over their budgets, with the necessary ex post control systems.
122. A review will be carried out of the Organization’s administrative processes, and proposals made to enhance delegations to headquarters and field operations within a proper framework of internal control.
123. To speed up processes and react rapidly to country needs, the Organization intends to raise the levels of delegation to managers in decentralized offices, allowing them a greater level of authority and autonomy in committing funds within approved budgets, in the engagement of locally recruited staff and consultants and raising levels of authority delegated to budget holders for local procurement. A proper monitoring and reporting system, using modern communications systems, will be introduced.
124. The same system platform as at headquarters (i.e. Oracle) will be provided to all Subregional Offices, giving them access to up-to-date financial information, subject to local telecommunications infrastructure. The Field Accounting System is being redesigned to provide enhanced functionality, robustness, security, better reporting and greater flexibility for FAORs.
125. Improvements which would be made to the Organization’s procurement systems, beyond the increased delegations noted above, will include making more frequent use of framework agreements with suppliers for cross-organizational procurement of non-specialised frequently required goods at predetermined prices. This would make it possible for budget holders to make purchases against approved budgets through these arrangements without further ex ante reference to headquarters. Measures would also be taken to issue as a normal practice international tender notices simultaneously at the global level and within destination countries/sub-regions. Finally, subject to funding availability, the software for real-time tracking of procurement-related actions would be upgraded.
126. The introduction of electronic workflow features will result in processing of payments to consultants becoming less labour intensive. This will result in time-saving across the Organization, and free up staff time which can be devoted to higher value activities.
127. There are some other services which are carried out across the Organization which will be consolidated and provided from one location, thereby achieving efficiency savings. Information Technology Officers currently located in departments and Regional Offices will be centralized and services provided back to departments and field offices under service level agreements, thus achieving savings equivalent to 50% of the current staff costs. In addition, for conferences, procurement and recruitment of staff will be the responsibility of the relevant functional areas.
128. The Organization will also establish a Shared Services Centre in order to achieve efficiency gains in handling administrative tasks by reducing fragmentation and duplication. This will build on the successful experience of the Management Support Service (MSS), created in 2000, following the introduction of Oracle financials, through the merger of 8 departmental Management Support Units (MSU), resulting in a reduction of 60 posts. The SSC will consolidate the MSS, a similar unit in OCD and the MSU in each of the Regional Offices.
129. As a result of the simultaneous setting up of the SSC and the introduction of the Oracle Human Resources Management (HRMS) module already planned to take place towards the end of 2006, it will be possible to achieve savings of US$ 3.25 million in the 2006-07 biennium and US$ 6.5 million in ongoing future biennia. It is worth underscoring, however, that the reductions and attendant savings are contingent on the successful introduction of the Oracle HRMS, without which the pre-requisite functionality would not exist. Once implemented successfully, as mentioned earlier, the Organization will explore options for off-shoring the provision of those aspects of the SSC functions which do not require face-to-face contact.
130. As mentioned in the main document, with the technological advancements in printing and related technologies, the Organization will discontinue printing publications in Rome, other than those requested by member countries and advocacy materials required for distribution in Rome. Instead, it will make all publications available in electronic form and provide an annual book “allowance”. Members could order (through an Amazon-books type interface) any publication in hard copy, the associated cost being deducted from that Member’s allowance. FAO would discontinue the printing of publications, other than those specifically requested by Members. This will provide substantial savings, improve the availability of FAO publications and provide FAO with feedback on Members’ interest in the various publications.
131. The Organization is committed to achieving these efficiencies and, should the Committees desire, reporting on progress will be made to the Finance Committee.
1 C87 REP, paragraph 188
2 CL 128/REP paragraph 72
3 CL 128/REP paragraph 88
4 C 2005/3 paragraphs 114 through 137