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PWB Chapter 5: Support Services

Major Programme 5.1: Information and Publications Support

Regular Programme   US$000  
  Programme of Work 18,064  
  Adjustments to Programme of Work arising out of Budgetary Transfers 297  
  Final Programme of Work 18,361  
  Expenditure against Final Programme of Work 18,356  
  Variance of Expenditure (Over)/Under Final Programme of Work 5  
  Budgetary Transfers as percent of Programme of Work 1.6%  
Field Programme   US$000  
  Extrabudgetary TF and UNDP delivery 280  
  Extrabudgetary emergency project delivery 0  
  TCP delivery 0  
  Total Field Programme delivery 280  
  Ratio of Field to Regular Programme delivery 0.0  
  Technical Support Services, professional staff cost 134  

386.     In working closely with FAO technical departments to prioritise and communicate the Organization’s main messages to a wide-ranging public, the Information Division (GII) focused on both traditional media (print, radio and television) as well as on emerging media (electronic, CD-ROM, DVD). Selected indicators of media outreach, use of multimedia and issuance of major publications are shown in Tables 5.1.1, 5.1.2 and 5.1.3.

387.     During the biennium, the FAO Newsroom, which functions as the main corporate vehicle for posting press releases and for publishing in-depth articles on specialised areas of concern, continued to expand its coverage. Italian and Chinese versions of the Newsroom were launched, an electronic News Alert system was introduced and reporting increased on subjects of global concern such as avian influenza, post-Tsunami rehabilitation, food safety and problems related to drought and famine.

Table 5.1.1: Media Outreach (selected indicators)

Description 2000-01 2002-03 2004-05  
Press releases, news stories and news & highlights/ news briefs 170 (plus 31 regional) 314 398  
Regional Press releases   136 220  
Feature articles (including Director-General byliners, and focus on the issues, ) 69 39 66  
Press conferences - headquarters 21 16 52  
Press conferences - elsewhere 11 65 27  
DG interviews arranged   39 + 34 regional 12 + 56 regional  
Video productions 80 22 31  
Radio reports, interviews, etc. 580 686 759  
Coproductions with broadcast partners 18 22 2  

388.     A key feature of the biennium has been the success of strategic information campaigns on subjects of intense interest to international media, most notably the avian influenza emergency. From the very beginning, given the necessity of disseminating the message of prevention of this disease at its source, comprehensive global coverage of developments and their implications was provided as close to real-time reporting as possible.

389.     In addition to increased coverage in the print media, major attention was given to multilingual information relevant to rural radio and international radio stations. Similar emphasis was given to in situ reporting through the fielding of photo-reportage missions to cover, inter alia, the SPFS, TeleFood projects and FAO’s work in emergency rehabilitation.

390.     UN coordination was also increased on issues such as UN Reform, Tsunami and avian influenza, through greater inter-agency cooperation via audio, video and e-conference with the United Nations Communications Group (UNCG), of which the Director GII is a member.

Table 5.1.2: Multimedia (selected indicators)

Description 2000-2001 2002-2003 2004-2005  
Exhibits and displays 41 51 158  
Public information materials (excluding multimedia presentations) 181 582 256  
Multimedia presentations (all working languages, plus Italian and Japanese) 0 130 9  
Internet pages generated 3,056 2,440 2,428  

391.     In the field of publishing policy and support, including management, production and dissemination of FAO's specialised information products in official languages, GII continued to prioritise its advisory and standard-setting activities, including the development and implementation of publishing tools and appropriate training for the benefit of originating units at headquarters and in decentralized offices. Management of co-publishing arrangements with non-profit and commercial partners continued, as did administration of, and support to, non-official language publishing. Successful efforts were made to identify solutions for effective and efficient printing and reproduction, as well as promotion and dissemination of FAO's information products in order to increase global outreach.

Table 5.1.3: Publications (selected indicators)

Description 2000-01 2002-03 2004-05  
Major publications        
Books and monographs (all languages) 481 679 1,405  
Booklets, brochures and leaflets (all languages) 362 683 484  
Electronic products (all languages) 37 56 74  
Periodicals (individual titles) 4 8 10  
Yearbooks (trilingual) 11 6 7  
Yearbooks (multilingual)   9 8  

Major Programme 5.2: Administration

Regular Programme   US$000  
  Programme of Work 48,074  
  Adjustments to Programme of Work arising out of Budgetary Transfers 885  
  Final Programme of Work 48,959  
  Expenditure against Final Programme of Work 48,956  
  Variance of Expenditure (Over)/Under Final Programme of Work 3  
  Budgetary Transfers as percent of Programme of Work 1.8%  
Field Programme   US$000  
  Extrabudgetary TF and UNDP delivery 0  
  Extrabudgetary emergency project delivery 0  
  TCP delivery 0  
  Total Field Programme delivery 0  
  Ratio of Field to Regular Programme delivery 0.0  
  Technical Support Services, professional staff cost 23  

392.     The major programme covers the Organization's accounting, financial control and reporting systems; assists programme managers and technical staff in the use of modern information technology; and develops and administers personnel policies, ensuring that FAO is served by competent and motivated staff.

393.     The financial systems that were originally launched in 1999 were enhanced through the introduction of the new Web-based Budget Maintenance Module (eBMM) and the development of eTravel. Several corporate technical and administrative information systems were developed and enhanced, and a major upgrade of the Oracle applications was successfully implemented. Support also continued to be provided to the corporate decentralization policy with the rollout of the upgraded FAO Wide Area Network (WAN).

394.     The Management Support Service (MSS) continued to provide a range of central administrative support services, advice and management information to division directors and departmental managers in the areas of finance, budget, procurement requisitioning, personnel and travel, in accordance with the established rules and regulations of the Organization. It absorbed the services of staff in ODG units when ODGX was downsized (a savings of US$ 535,000). Main accomplishments included expanded training of budget holders and the development of self-service training modules for the delivery of training to remote locations. Key indicators reflecting the main categories of MSS output are shown in Table 5.2.1.

Table 5.2.1: Management Support Services (selected indicators)

Description 2002-03 2004-05  
Average number of staff at FAO headquarters serviced by MSS 2,072 2,256  
Number of servicing actions processed by MSS 15,954 11,176  
Number of travel entitlement actions processed by MSS 3,308 3,319  
Number of short-term and fixed-term staff appointments processed 931 567  
Number of consultants and Personal Services Agreements processed 11,272 10,325  
Number of staff separations processed 2,228 1,925  
Financial services provided      
Requests for financial system assistance received 10,898 12,053  
Number of staff trained in financial systems 310 425  
Overtime processed 8,288 7,884  
Journal vouchers processed 11,348 11,156  
Letters of agreement processed 946 1,075  
Travel and Shipping      
Number of travel advances processed 31,500 36,110  
Number of travel expense claims processed * 21,584  
Number of shipments of household goods and personal effects processed * 1,698  
Number of field travel authorisations processed * 15,853  
Number of lump-sums processed * 2,429  
* statistics not available for the previous biennium

Programme 5.2.1: Financial Services

395.     The programme covers the financial services in support of FAO's Regular Programme and extrabudgetary operations. It included advising on financial and related policy issues; designing and managing the Organization's financial and cost accounting systems and procedures; maintaining the accounts; and preparing the financial statements of the Organization for certification by the External Auditor. The programme during 2004-05 involved financial management and accounting for about US$ 1.5 billion.

396.     At the beginning of the biennium Member Nations’ Regular Programme contributions were converted to a "split assessment" regime, which involves calling for funds in both euro and US dollar to match expected expenditure patterns. An extensive project to record and report assessments in the two currencies was successfully implemented45.

397.     As part of the work on further strengthening the control environment, a significant volume of financial and accounting policy and procedural documentation was revised and published on the Finance Division Intranet site in order to communicate authoritative policy and procedural information to user groups both at headquarters and in decentralized offices.

398.     As a result of streamlining of procedures, significant improvements were achieved in processing times for invoices and payments. The increased quality of vendor master file data, made in order to conform to new international banking requirements, led to achievement of above market benchmark Straight Through Processing (STP) rates and lower bank charges.

Table 5.2.2: Financial Services (selected indicators)

Description 2002-03 2004-05  
Staff on payroll (monthly average) 4,190 4,061  
Payments processed (excluding payroll) 74,000 69,500  
Receipts processed, excluding bank transfers 14,000 11,000  
Updates of vendor accounts * 8,900  
Investments managed (US$ million) 452 577  
Systems access requests processed 8,000 7,970  
Support to FAOR and Project offices      
Replenishment requests processed, including projects 2,006 1,181  
Number of offices supported 137 142  
Projects opened 1,900 2,326  
Projects closed 1,098 2,582  
Journal vouchers      
Budget journal batches posted 8,875 7,143  
Manual journal batches posted 11,283 14,544  
*statistics not available for the previous biennium

Programme 5.2.2: Information Systems and Technology Services

399.     A large number of new information systems, new versions of existing systems, and changes to the supporting infrastructure were implemented and resulted in improved and more efficient processes and higher quality and more timely information for informed decision-making. Highlights include:

  • Identification of solutions for the Document and Workflow Management requirements and their implementation.
  • Management Information Reports, to provide an interim solution to senior management’s need for summarised information about FAO’s financial, budget, human resources, and programme situations, supplemented with key summary statistics on technical information.
  • A major upgrade of the Oracle e-Business suite’s Oracle Financials functionality as a prelude to the implementation of the HRMS project in 2007 and the many changes required in other systems which interface with it.

400.     AFI actively participated in, and provided technical support to, the various Knowledge Management initiatives led by other divisions and various interdepartmental working parties, including changes to the FAO Internet and Intranet, and pilot activities in this dynamic area. The number of technical systems supporting the substantive work of the Organization increased by 17% during 2004-05. Furthermore, there was a significant increase in the volume of FAOSTAT data downloaded mainly thanks to a more performant and robust version of the operating software. Re-usable components and system frameworks were further developed in the key demand areas: mapping, statistics, content management and communities of practice. These frameworks facilitated closer collaboration with internal and external partners. In addition, there was a successful adoption of externally developed open source products particularly in the area of relational databases and search capabilities, and a number of field projects were provided with open source solutions (e.g. TADinfo46 in Vietnam). Finally, in line with organizational directives, language coverage in information systems was expanded to the five official languages.

401.     Contributions were made to the UN Common System ICT Strategy, which was adopted by the HLCM and endorsed by the CEB. In accordance with that strategy, significant progress was made with standardising on industry-standard methodologies COBIT (for ICT governance), Prince2 (for project management) and ITIL (for service management). AFI was restructured to better fit this approach, with emphasis given to a structure and work plan to improve and streamline information technology governance within FAO. In this regard, a more effective and efficient governance framework was developed defining organizational structure, process and roles and responsibility to ensure that the Organization's IT investments are aligned and delivered in accordance with its strategies and objectives.

402.     In order to address information security concerns, FAO adopted the 4-stage ongoing process for managing information security as recommended by the HLCM in CEB/2002/5. The Organization initiated the first stage of this process, an information risk assessment funded from arrears. It is expected that the next three stages (policy development, implementation and monitoring) will be carried out during the course of 2006-07. Efforts to improve information security continued with information system access control activities, installation of software patches for existing information systems and including information security considerations in the development of new information systems. The Organization also continued its user education campaign to avoid unauthorised downloads from the Internet which cause virus problems and security concerns regarding copyright infringements.

403.     In order to reduce unit costs and maintain service levels with lower resource levels, AFI also established an Offshore Systems Development and Support Centre (OSDSC) in Bangkok, and based upon its initial success planned to expand this office from 12 staff at end 2005 to the full complement of 20 staff in 2006.

404.     During 2004-05, a number of WAN follow-on projects were executed. Phase One during 2004 provided connectivity to the FAO WAN for a further six FAO Representations, bringing the total number of offices on the WAN to 81. Phase Two provided WAN access via innovative Internet-based technologies for those offices where regulatory or technical obstacles prevented a standard WAN installation. Phase Three, a proposal to extend e-mail facilities to all staff in FAO Representations was approved by the Information Management and Technology Committee (IMTC) at the end of 2005.

405.     Information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure was enhanced by upgrading Windows and Exchange software for headquarters, regional and subregional offices. The relocation and renovation of the Computer Centre was successfully executed funded from an arrears project, and a secondary Computer Centre created to provide enhanced business continuity planning capabilities. Support for open standards software was increased through the introduction of Linux as a standard operating system.

Table 5.2.3: Information Systems and Technology (selected indicators)

Description 2002-03 2004-05  
Support of administrative and technical applications
Financial and human resources systems (change requests) 717 575  
Administrative system support (person years - staff and consultants) 61 74  
Technical systems support (person years - staff and consultants) 70 70  
Technical information systems 85 100  
Number of FAOSTAT statistical data collections 57 53  
Use of administrative and technical applications
Data warehouse reports produced (in thousands) 305 393  
Transactions posted in general ledger (in millions) 5.5 5.7  
Number of Oracle users 2,510 2,169  
FAOSTAT records downloaded by external users (in millions) 867 2,700  
Internet, average number of hits per month (in millions) 40 70  
Intranet, average number of hits per month (in millions) 1.6 0.9  
User support
Help desk calls per month 585 550  
Use of headquarters infrastructure, servers and network services
Total number of servers 180 192  
Total disk space on servers (GB) 10,050 25,000  
Use of telephone exchange (PABX) and audiovisual services
PABX new installations, moves and de-installations 9,213 9,248  
Video conferences 550 769  
Assistance to audio-visual or interpretation equipment in meeting rooms 4,445 5,303  
Use of messaging services
Headquarters e-mail accounts 4,400 5,000  
E-mail accounts in decentralized offices 1,300 1,700  
Number of messages sent to or received from the Internet (per day) 70,000 170,000  
Incoming and outgoing telexes 7,200 7,232  
Incoming and outgoing faxes from the central facility (pages)* 76,711 27,327  
* Many divisions in HQ have their own fax machines and traffic from them is not included.

Programme 5.2.3: Human Resources Services

406.     The programme, carried out by the Human Resources Management Division (AFH), covers the development of human resources (HR) policies and procedures; management studies and job classification; position management and control; support to recruitment of staff; salaries and allowances administration; social security provisions; staff training; administration of appeals procedures and consultation with staff representative bodies; and overseeing and monitoring the administration and servicing of staff.

407.     Staff development and learning opportunities were provided for improving the skills of FAO staff based on a number of key cross-organizational strategies through three types of staff development and learning services:

  • The in-house learning programme delivered a variety of programmes in the workplace including language, communication and IT skills. FAO staff orientation and retirement programmes were offered on a regular basis. New programmes for the biennium included management development and coaching, dealing with diversity, negotiation and conflict management and logical framework analysis.
  • The external training programme increased activity in the pursuit of maintaining professional skills through access to developmental activities outside the Organization.
  • Divisional learning and development service comprised the largest percentage of divisions’ allocation in the development of competencies of staff members in such areas as strategic planning, team-building and technical training in the context of their annual work programmes.

408.     FAO-specific competency frameworks for managerial and FAO Representative profiles, consistent with related UN system initiatives were developed and implemented. Emphasis was placed on using these frameworks to support human resources development with a view to integrate recruitment and performance management.

409.     Policies were formulated aimed at addressing the needs of the Organization and its changing workforce more effectively. A policy on paternity leave was developed and introduced to promote a more supportive work/family environment. Steps were taken to address the issue of limited applicants from under- and non-represented countries, including continued efforts to target Web sites in those countries for posting of FAO Vacancy Announcements. Other longer-term steps included improving networks within and outside the Organization.

410.     Timely advice was provided to line managers regarding work-related disputes, including through a new mediation procedure, with a view to resolving such disputes at an early stage and keeping the number of administrative appeals and grievances as low as possible.

411.     The HRMS project progressed toward rollout in late 2006. Current business processes and proposed improvements to HR processes were documented, major gaps between FAO requirements and Oracle standard functionality were identified and resolved, and the design and development phase initiated. System development activities being carried out at the OSDSC in Bangkok, achieved considerable savings in costs. Improvements in HR service delivery to derive maximum benefits from this new system were formulated based on a new Human Resources Management Model (HRMM) developed in the latter part of the biennium.

412.     The Organization was actively involved in promoting innovative HR policies through UN inter-agency bodies, including the ICSC, as well as Human Resources Network and the HLCM of the CEB. Policies reviewed under these bodies included inter-organization mobility; mobility, hardship, non-removal and assignment grant schemes; the criteria for the payment of hazard pay; and a framework for contractual arrangements in the organizations of the United Nations common system.

413.     FAO actively participated in the sessions of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Board (UNJSPB) and its Standing Committee. AFH continued to provide social security benefits to the staff and initiated the regular competitive tendering process among international companies for the Staff Medical Insurance Plans.

414.     The Medical Service continued providing regular services and the preventative and curative activities introduced during the biennium, including opening a Walk-In-Clinic and extending physiotherapy services. Significant efforts were also addressed to training in first aid and emergency response in the field, and pandemic influenza preparedness.

Table 5.2.4: Human Resources Management Services (selected indicators)

Description 2002-03 2004-05  
Staff with fixed-term/continuing appointments (as at end of biennium)
Headquarters 2,161 2,162  
Decentralized offices 1,258 1,198  
Total 3,419 3,360  
Staff training days (participants x duration)
Professional and career development courses 2,340 2,238  
Orientation, average course duration 1 day 495 765  
Computer skills, average course duration 1 day 3,616 2,881  
Language skills, average course duration 5 days 20,809 23,401  
Communication skills, average course duration 1.5 days 724 861  
Retirement, average course duration 2 days 773 754  
Project Cycle, average course duration 6 days 194 470  
Insurance and compensation claims
Medical insurance claims handled 188,098 178,528  
Staff compensation claims handled 220 333  
Staff Separations & Pensions
Number of new retirement pension payments 371 352  
Number of new disability pension payments 20 17  
Pension separation queries 5,400 2,061  

45 C 2005/16

1 Transboundary Animal Disease Information System (TADinfo)

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