JM 2000 /2



Rome, 25 - 29 September 2000


Additional Information


I. Introduction

1. At the May 2000 Session, the Programme and Finance Committees considered the Director-General's proposal to enhance FAO's presence at the country level through the outposting of senior technical officers1. The Committees decided to consider this item further at the Joint Meeting in September 2000 and requested that additional information be provided2 .

2. The purpose of this document is to provide the information requested, excluding the decentralization of operational responsibility for national field projects to FAORs, which will be dealt with in a separate document.

II. Rationale for increasing FAO's presence at the country level 3

3. While maintaining the maximum number of FAO Representations established by the Governing Bodies, the Organization has consistently widened the scope of the FAOR network through innovative steps such as multiple accreditations, stand-alone National Professional Officers (NPOs) and National Correspondents (NCs). This approach resulted from practical difficulties experienced in assisting many developing countries in food and agriculture matters without the presence of the Organisation in the country. An additional guiding principle was that all member nations should have the opportunity to:

4. Nineteen countries made requests to improve their liaison with FAO. As of mid-July 2000, ten countries4 had informed the Director-General of their wish to establish an FAO Representation using the FAOR/technical officer modality described in document JM 2000/01.

5. While the size of FAO's Field Programme is not a criterion for the establishment of an FAOR (although it is a criterion for determining its size), it should be noted that FAO has a fully-fledged representation in almost all countries5 where the 1999 Field Programme expenditure exceeded US$ 500 000. Any extension of the FAOR network will, therefore, take place in countries with a relatively small Field Programme. The lesser time required for Field Programme-related liaison tasks will make it possible to combine reduced representational functions with the duties of a technical officer.

6. The adoption of the Strategic Framework 2000-2015 gives added significance to the role that FAORs play in normative activities. For instance, policy and regulatory frameworks for food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry at the international and national levels are becoming critically important in an increasingly interdependent and globalized world economy6. Resident FAO Representatives are particularly instrumental in disseminating the results of analyses and facilitating the understanding of issues at the country level, thereby greatly assisting developing Member Nations in making their voices heard internationally and in obtaining adequate and timely information about global initiatives and topical issues. Complementary to the work of technical staff at Headquarters and in the regions, FAO Representatives also contribute to building the national capacity required for conducting international negotiations (such as the Uruguay Round and the new round of multilateral trade negotiations). They contribute to adapting national policy or regulatory frameworks to international agreements and standards in many crucial areas, for example in relation to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), genetic resources for food and agriculture, food standards (Codex Alimentarius), the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the Code of Conduct for the Distribution and Safe Use of Pesticides, and the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent.

7. Similarly, many countries wish to benefit, via the presence of a resident FAO Representative, from increased access to the Organization's expertise, experience, information and databases.7 There is, therefore, a legitimate interest in the FAO Representative's role in facilitating implementation, at the national level, of the Organization's normative programmes, be it by supporting pilot activities, or by enhancing national capacity building for data collection, analysis, interpretation and dissemination.

III. The current balance of work in the FAO Representations

8. Work measurement surveys and related cost measurement studies are undertaken by FAO for a number of reasons: to identify the distribution of staff time between programme budget headings, provide basic data for determining the cost of administrative and operational support (AOS) and technical support services (TSS) to the Field Programme, and to maintain time series data prepared on a full cost accounting basis for use in internal cost studies, savings exercises and benchmark comparisons.

9. Annual work measurement studies are conducted at the end of each year when questionnaires are completed by all staff graded D-1 to G-5 in the technical departments, operational units and Regional Offices, and all professional and general service staff (to G-4) in FAO Country offices. In addition, questionnaires are also completed by the staff in certain units providing technical or AOS support (e.g. the Office of the Inspector-General, the Office of Legal Counsel, the Procurement Service (AFSP), and the Evaluation Service (PBEE)).

     Staff uses the questionnaire to estimate the percentages of their time spent on:

It is noted that the number of staff filling out the questionnaires in the FAO survey has always far exceeded requirements for statistical reliability.

10. This survey was used to help respond to the Committee's question concerning the current distribution of the FAO Representative's time, summarized in Table 1 below for the calendar year 1999. In this regard, it is noted that the Committee used the expression "normative and operational activities". As the survey did not specifically make this distinction, the expression has not been used in the tables - instead, a summary of the terms used in the questionnaire is provided to facilitate interpretation of the data.

Table 1 - Average Distribution of Staff Time at FAO Country Offices in 1999
by Category of Activity


General Service Staff National Professional Officers (NPOs) International Professional Staff (FAORs)
Regular Programme 18.9% 38.4% 35.6%
Studies, research and advisory services to Government 2.1% 10.8% 7.8%
Collection and dissemination of FAO data and information 3.7% 7.1% 3.2%
Coordination with UN, IFIs and donors at country level including UNDAF and other country specific development activities 2.7% 8.7% 11.3%
Other RP activities including organization or attendance at conferences, seminars, meetings, etc. 10.4% 11.8% 13.3%
Representational Activities including promotion of FAO's image 3.8% 5.7% 8.4%
Technical Support Services to projects (TSS) 6.1% 30.2% 18.5%
Project identification, formulation and appraisal 2.1% 13.4% 8.4%
Technical backstopping, including reporting, project meetings and evaluation 4.0% 16.8% 10.1%
Administrative and Operational Support (AOS) 28.6% 19.1% 22.5%
Personnel services 6.5% 4.1% 4.6%
Procurement including sub-contracting 7.2% 4.0% 6.1%
Training and Fellowships 3.8% 3.0% 2.3%
Project monitoring and accounting 11.1% 8.0% 9.5%
Office management and supervision including secretarial, registry and library services 42.6% 6.5% 15.0%
TOTAL FAORs 100% 100% 100%

11. However, it should be noted that annual work measurement surveys can vary significantly between FAO country offices (depending upon many factors such as the size and nature of the field programme) and, to a lesser extent, between years. As more operational responsibility is passed to FAORs, the average time spent on TSS and AOS will rise, although this is not likely to have a serious effect on the proposed new offices where the field programme is minimal.

IV. Duties of the FAO Representative/technical officer8

12. Officers assigned to new FAO Country Offices will combine representational and technical duties. In accordance with the normal workplanning procedures of their respective Technical Unit(s), these officers will be called upon for technical work in the host country as well as in neighbouring countries. Their work will consist of normative activities under the Regular Programme (RP) which may involve undertaking studies, organizing or attending technical meetings, conducting training activities and providing technical support services (TSS) to field projects. It is estimated that about75% of the officer's time will be spent on TSS and other RP tasks, leaving on average 25% available for other duties as described in the table below.

Table 2 - Comparison between the average time distribution for conventional FAO Representatives in 1999 and the estimated time distribution for FAORs/Technical Officers under the new proposal

  Average FAORs 1999 Estimated FAOR/ technical officer Comment
Regular Programme activities 36 45 The technical officer will continue to perform technical tasks under the (normative) Regular Programme in the host country and in neighbouring countries.
Technical Support Services to projects (TSS) 18 30 The technical officer will continue to provide technical support to projects under the supervision of the technical "mother" Division at Headquarters not only in the host country but also in a number of neighbouring countries.
Administrative and Operational Support to Projects (AOS) 23 10 The Field Programme in the countries where this scheme will be established is relatively small so the officers will hardly provide any administrative and operational support to projects in the host country. In the future, if the new FAOR becomes responsible for project operations under the new arrangements for Field Programme implementation, some limited additional human resources may need to be made available under support cost funding.
Representational activities including promotion of FAO's image 8 8 To be maintained at the same level.
Staff Supervision and Administration 15 7 In general, the country offices created under the FAOR/technical officer modality will be much smaller than those created to date. Moreover, GS staff will be provided and administered by the Government. Hence, requiring only limited administrative supervision by the FAOR.
Total 100 100  

13. As for all FAO Representatives, the officers will be accredited to the Government and have direct access to the Ministers/Ministries concerned with FAO's mandate.

V. Equipment and furbishing of new country offices9

14. Country Offices to be created under the FAOR/technical officer modality, will be equipped and furnished in accordance with UN standards with funding provided by the host government. The cost impact depends to a very large extent on price levels in the host country. A one-time cost of $ 50 000 will be required to cover the purchase of a vehicle, computers and communications equipment and furniture.

VI. Recruitment and appraisal of FAO Representatives10

15. Over the last six years, FAO Representatives have been recruited on the basis of their technical background and through a selection process which has ensured that their competence and experience were commensurate with their responsibilities. The desired characteristics of an FAO Representative are: a) an advanced university degree in agriculture, fisheries, forestry, agriculture economics; b) extensive professional work experience in a technical area related to his/her academic background and relevant to the work of the Organization; c) at least 10 years of professional experience and exposure to programme/project formulation, negotiation, implementation, supervision or evaluation; d) significant managerial experience; e) knowledge of, and exposure to the UN system, and/or other international development-oriented organizations; f) fluency in the FAO official language of the country of assignment and preferably proficiency in one other official language.

16. An external recruit assigned as FAO Representative receives a two-year initial appointment, the first is on a probationary status and includes a full performance assessment. Thereafter, an internal review of the performance of the FAO Representative is undertaken at each contract extension, and any feedback received from the host country is taken into account in this review.

17. Apart from the reviews regularly undertaken by the Office of the Inspector General and the External Auditor, FAO Country Offices are also subject to a six-monthly local audit. In addition, FAO Representatives receive every six months a Management Letter containing inter-alia feedback on general management issues and audits findings, together with directives emanating directly from HQ divisions. As FAO Representatives receive requests from many Units at Headquarters and in the Regional and Sub-regional Offices, these Management Letters serve to a)communicate to the FAO Representative the "corporate" perception of their achievements in specific areas; b) provide any necessary guidance and suggest eventual remedial action; c) commend exceptional performance, and d) help the FAO Representative to focus attention on particular programme priorities.

VII. Premises11

18. When preparing the Host Country agreement, FAO and the host Government agree on the location of the FAO office and on respective contributions. The host Government is expected to provide a substantial contribution to the cost of the FAO Country Office either in cash or in kind (e.g. staff, premises or utilities). It is estimated that the total value of government contributions to FAO Country Offices in the 1998-99 biennium amounted to about 17% of the Organization's budget for FAORs under Major Programme 3.4.

19. The issue of the country office location is a matter that requires close consultation with the host Government, especially when the premises are provided free-of-charge by the Government. Premises are shared in cases where the FAO Representative office is located in a country also hosting a Regional or Sub-regional Office. In other instances, preference is given to establishing the country office close to or in a technical line Ministry as this facilitates contacts with the host Government. The premises situation in 1999 is summarized in the table below.

Table 3 - Location and Funding of FAOR Premises in 199912

  Premises provided free-of-charge by the host Government Premises cost-shared with the host Government Premises funded by FAO Total
Co-located with RO or SRO 5     5
Located in a Ministry of the host-government 5     5
Located in UNDP or UN building 7 9   16
Located in separate quarters 29 1 22 52
Total 46 10 22 78

20. In 46 countries, i.e. 59%, premises are provided free of charge by the host government. In 10 other countries, the cost of the premises is shared between the host government and the Organization. Thus, host governments provide for all or part of the cost of premises in 56 countries, i.e. 72%. Sharing UN/UNDP premises is possible when this is mutually acceptable to the host Government and does not result in an additional cost to the Organization.

21. The Organization's policy regarding premises could be summarized as follows:

VIII. Criteria for the establishment of FAO Country Offices13

22. The Organization's policy to widen the scope of the FAO country office network in response to specific requests is based on the principle that the FAO Representative is an integral part of the delivery of FAO's services to member countries. Document JM 99/1 "Report on Decentralization", submitted to the Programme and Finance Committees in May 1999, indicated that the Director-General takes into account the following considerations when establishing country offices:

IX. The role of the FAO Representative in country-level UN-system coordination14

23. At the country level, the FAO Representative is the agricultural member of the UN Country Team and is expected to harmonize his/her actions and positions with those of other UN agencies and to fully cooperate with the UN Resident Coordinator. In general, a shift is intended from inter-agency coordination - which is limited to information exchange - to a goal-oriented collaboration by a cohesive UN country team. This objective is pursued through a number of mechanisms, including:

Annex I.
Extract of the latest Joint Meeting and Programme Committee reports

Extract of CL 119/8 Report of the Joint Meeting of the 83rd session of the Programme Committee and the 94th session of the Finance Committee.

11. The Committees considered the Director-General's proposals to enhance FAO's presence at country level through the outposting of senior technical officers, described in document JM 2000/01. They also took note of the new arrangements for the implementation of the Field Programme, involving the ongoing process of progressive transfer of operational responsibility for national projects to FAO Representatives (FAORs).

12. A majority of the members of the Joint Committees was prepared to advise Council to approve the Director-General's proposals contained in JM 2000/1. Some members wished, however, to receive additional information that could be discussed during the forthcoming Joint Meeting of the Committees before taking a decision. The Joint Committees generally supported the continuation of operational decentralization while noting the gradual approach and welcoming the plans to put in place the usual and necessary pre-requisites including system support, training and budgetary and evaluation structures.

13. The Committees decided to consider this item further at the Joint Meeting in September and requested that further information be provided on FAORs, particularly: (i) the devolution of operational responsibilities and the impact that such responsibilities would have on the functioning of the FAORs, the current balance between normative and operational activities in the FAO Representations based on existing work measurement studies, and how the Representations would be strengthened in order to cope with their additional workload; (ii) the qualifications of FAORs and how the senior technical officers proposed to be outposted in new Representations would be able to attend to both their technical tasks as well as representational duties; (iii) criteria for establishing FAO country offices particularly Low-Income, Food-Deficit Country (LIFDC) status; (iv) the role of the FAOR in country-level UN-system coordination. In addition, information had been requested on other related questions of detail.

Extract of CL 119/10 Report of the 83rd session of the Programme Committee.

23. The Committee noted the functions and the growing breadth of work performed by FAO Country Representatives, especially in the context of enhanced decentralization and FAO's role in the UN Coordinator System. This called for the highest level of competence and qualifications in the selection of FAO Representatives. Emphasis was also placed on the need to reduce the delays in the filling of vacant posts of FAO Representatives, and their staff and on pursuing a comprehensive evaluation of their performance. Some members requested that FAO respond to an increasing demand for new FAO Representatives, especially request from Low-Income, Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs).

24. The Committee emphasised that leeway, authority and resources provided to FAO Representatives should be commensurate with their significant and growing responsibilities. In this regard, the Committee continued to express an interest in the intended progressive decentralization of operational work to FAO Representatives, stressing that the necessary resources should be made available and the relevant authority effectively delegated to meet additional workload.


1   Described in document JM 2000/01 ("FAO's Presence at Country Level")

2  CL 119/8, paragraph 13 (see Annex I).

3  CL 119/8, paragraph 13 (see Annex I).

4  Algeria, Equatorial Guinea, Jordan, Lybia, Mongolia, Panama, Paraguay, Qatar, Sao Tome and Principe and Swaziland.

5  Exceptions are countries where the FP is mainly composed of emergency assistance and FAO has sometimes appointed a temporary emergency coordinator (Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and the Kosovo province of Yugoslavia), Saudi Arabia where the FP is entirely funded by the host Government through a Unilateral Trust Fund arrangement, and Argentina.

6  See strategy "B" of "A Strategic Framework for FAO 2000-2015"

7  See strategy "E" of "A Strategic Framework for FAO 2000-2015"

8  Refers to CL 119/8 paragraph 13, item ii (See Annex I)

9  Refers to CL 119/8, paragraph 13 (see Annex I).

10 Refers to CL 119/8 ,paragraph 13 item ii and CL 119/10 paragraph 23 (see Annex I).

11  Refers to CL 119/8, paragraph 13 (see Annex I).

12  This table covers 78 FAO Representatives which include the FAORs in Barbados, Samoa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe which are also Sub-regional Representatives as well as the FAOR in Egypt which is co-located with RNE.

13  Refers to CL 119/8, paragraph 13 item iii and CL 119/10, paragraph 23 (see Annex I).

14  Refers to CL 119/8, paragraph 13 item iv and CL 119/10, paragraph 23 (see Annex I).

15  CCA: Common Country Assessment i.e. the process of reviewing and analysing the national development situation and identifying key issues as a basis for advocacy, policy dialogue and preparation of the UNDAF.

UNDAF: United Nations Development Assistance Framework i.e. the planning process that brings together and synchronises the policy planning and actions fo the UN Funds and Programmes.