1) The Director-General’s Review of the Programmes, Structures and Policies of the Organization presented a comprehensive package of reforms to the FAO Council in May 1994. Decentralization was defined as one of “Guiding Principles” in that reform, underlying proposals for change to assure a reinvigorated and more effective Organization. The Guiding Principle envisaged “The largest possible measure of decentralization of technical activities to regional, sub-regional and country levels……… FAO Headquarters is too remote from the rural masses of Asia, the small-island states of the Pacific, the immense problems of the fragile countries of Africa, the specific issues of interest to Latin America and the Caribbean, the Near East and Eastern Europe. It is imperative that the Organization remain relevant and visible and be seen to act in proximity to the problems. The positive spin-offs of an active decentralization policy are to enhance the use of national, sub-regional and regional capacities, achieve substantial economies in implementation modalities and shorten the time lag between the expression of needs of Member Nations and their satisfaction by the Organization”32.

2) The process of increasing decentralization has been implemented over the period since 1995, adjusting and evolving with experience. Measures have included:

  1. In the regional offices:
  1. Expansion of the technical staff of regional offices serving the five developing regions;
  2. Establishment and staffing of policy assistance branches in each of the regional offices, which also address field programme development;
  3. Establishment of regional Management Support Units to provide administrative and human resources services to the regional offices, and the field programme;
  1. Establishment of five sub-regional offices for: Southern and East Africa; Pacific Islands; Central and Eastern Europe; Caribbean; and North Africa;
  2. Establishment of two additional liaison offices with the European Union and Belgium; and with Japan;
  3. Increase in the number of countries with an FAO office or liaison officer through a number of arrangements, such as out-posted technical officers, national correspondents and multiple accreditation;
  4. Decentralization of technical cooperation project operations, first to the regional offices and subsequently for national projects to FAORs with a coordination and monitoring office in the Field Operations Division in Rome (emergency project operations continue to be handled from HQ);
  5. Restructuring of FAOR offices with the replacement of international programme and administrative staff with nationals;
  6. Establishment of the Office for Coordination of Normative, Operational and Decentralized Activities (OCD) which coordinates the decentralized structures; and
  7. Adjusting procedures and strengthening information technology and communication infrastructure to support the decentralization process.


3) Senior management decided that eight years on from the decision to further decentralize important functions of the Organization, it was timely to undertake a comprehensive independent evaluation of the results so far. The need for such an evaluation was also emphasised in the Governing Bodies33 as well as by the External Auditor34 and the Joint Inspection Unit.

4) In this context decentralized functions are considered to be all those functions which are undertaken away from FAO Headquarters in the regional, sub-regional, country and liaison offices. The relationships will be examined between centralized and decentralized structures and functions as well as among the latter. An assessment will be made of what functions can be most effectively centralized as well as decentralized. It is recognised, in carrying out this analysis and drawing conclusions that execution of functions centrally and through decentralized offices is not a static process, but one that moves forward with the evolving needs of member states, advancing technology and resources available to FAO.

5) Within the orientation provided by FAO’s Strategic Framework, the evaluation will be formative, with its primary purpose being to suggest how to enhance the benefits of decentralization to member countries, while correcting any negative impacts and also ensuring increased cost–efficiency. Thus, the central purpose of the evaluation will be to further the aims encapsulated in the Guiding Principles quoted above, i.e. while ensuring the coherence of FAO as a unitary organization to increase the:


6) The evaluation will focus on assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the decentralization with respect to organizational structures, functions and procedures as they have been established to the present. While the various steps of the decentralization process will be reviewed, the emphasis of the evaluation will be very much on identifying adjustments in the decentralization as it exists today that would be important to better meet the needs of the future.

7) The evaluation will also analyse the validity and effectiveness of the overall decentralization strategy to the evolving global environment and needs of member countries, drawing attention to relevant changes in those needs. The workings of the decentralized structures are seen as having a key role to play in each of the five FAO strategies to address cross-organizational issues35.

8) In assessing this, account will be taken of the views of member countries on the services they require and receive, their quality and effectiveness. In addition, experience of other organizations of the UN system, in particular other specialized agencies will also be considered.

9) A key element of success for decentralization is adjustment of processes, procedures and supporting infrastructure, including for information technology. Several ongoing and completed internal working groups and reviews have examined financial and administrative procedures, levels of authority, lines of reporting, support cost reimbursement, staffing and IT requirements, particularly but not exclusively with respect to the development and operation of the Field Programme. Reports of the Office of the Inspector-General have also addressed FAORs and regional Offices. The evaluation will thus, not itself examine these aspects in detail but will draw on the work of these groups to form its judgements.

10) The evaluation will be comprehensive but in the course of the work the evaluation team will define and focus on those areas in which it feels there are particular strengths to be built upon and weaknesses to be addressed. Within the scope of the terms of reference, the evaluation team will thus, have the independence and a degree of flexibility to explore in greater depth those issues which it identifies as being of importance.

11) The analysis will be approached from the point of view of identifying key needs and concerns, in a situation of limited resources where not all expectations can be met. To the extent possible satisfaction of member countries and work with development partners will be assessed both for FAO as a whole and disaggregated for Headquarters and the decentralized structures. Arrangements in other agencies will provide a useful bench-mark. Among the factors to be examined in assessing the overall adequacy and effectiveness of the decentralization, are:

  1. Current and evolving satisfaction of member countries in:
  1. Identification and prioritisation of response to their needs;
  2. Provision of technical cooperation services;
  3. Emergency preparedness and response;
  4. Assistance in developing programmes and participation in country planning and strategy development work such as the CCA/UNDAF and PRSP processes;
  5. Policy and technical analysis, advice and dialogue at national and regional levels (including international issues);
  6. Information provision and dissemination;
  7. Fostering and providing a framework for national, regional and global dialogue;
  8. Support for sub-regional and regional economic and political integration; and
  9. Resource mobilization.
  1. The extent to which FAO’s decentralization facilitates more effective work with development partners (particularly those in the UN system, IFIs and donors) for the benefit of member countries (examined with respect to the points elaborated under a) above).
  2. The allocation of functions in response to the needs identified between the various offices and headquarters and the capacity to carry them out, particularly with regard to:
  1. member countries’ requirements;
  2. capacity and actual performance in carrying out the service in terms of quality and effectiveness of the service provided (including capacity of staff, systems, internal working arrangements and infrastructure); and
  3. cost and other efficiency considerations.
  1. The clarity and coherence of overall organizational arrangements, procedures and responsibilities with respect to the management and work of the decentralized offices and assuring the full complementarily of work and functions performed at Headquarters and that in the decentralized offices. Areas to examine may include with respect to each of the main functions, and for the work as a whole:
  1. Organizational structure;
  2. Clarity of the functions, roles and responsibilities;
  3. Planning, programming and budgeting arrangements for regular programme and extra-budgetary work;
  4. Levels of authority and flexibility;
  5. Controls (technical, financial and administrative); and
  6. Overall coordination, management, information flows and communication; and
  7. Other aspects of systems and procedures.
  1. The parameters imposed by corporate culture and the extent to which they strengthen or hinder the effectiveness of decentralization, including:
  1. Incentives, status and reward structures, practice and conceptions and implications for cooperation, competition and management style;
  2. Impacts on lines of reporting, information flows and communication;
  3. Human resource policies, procedures and practices and;
  4. Attitudes to organizational learning and change.

12) The evaluation team will examine the validity of criticisms and suggestions for improvement made by internal and external reviewers, including the JIU and the External Auditor.

13) Recommendations will be prioritised and clearly identify those improvements which could be made without any additional resources. Indicative costings and savings will be provided for the changes proposed (possibly on a scenario basis).


14) A prerequisite in achieving the evaluation’s purposes is that it be independent but also transparent and inclusive of stakeholders throughout the process.

15) The evaluation will be preceded by a desk review summarising all the available documentation.

16) The evaluation process will be highly consultative and subject to discussion with the evaluation team. The evaluation process is foreseen as:

  1. Study of background materials and preliminary discussions and briefing in Headquarters;
  2. Preparation of a preliminary listing of issues that the team wishes to explore further (which will be adapted as the evaluation continues);
  3. Visits to all regional offices and a sample of sub-regional offices, countries with and without FAORs, FAORs and liaison offices - where the issues will be explored further with all concerned (a structured check list will be used and it is possible that a standard assessment format for national and regional requirements, functions and standard of service will be developed). A purposive representative sample of countries will be visited with criteria for selection including: regional distribution, size in terms of population, level of development, size of the FAO Programme in the country and types of FAO representation;
  4. Development of questionnaires to be sent to all countries, decentralized offices and concerned Headquarters units, and to development partners following the first country visits which will provide pointers for issues to be covered in the questionnaires;
  5. A few other Headquarters of UN specialised agencies may be visited to gain insight into their experience;
  6. Based on the above information, preparation of a draft report of findings and recommendations;
  7. Discussion of finding and recommendations with concerned managers; and
  8. Finalisation of the report.

17) No review by a separate peer review panel is envisaged as the evaluation will be led by an external consultant and incorporates a workshop.

18) As is normal practise on completion of the evaluation, senior management will provide a formal response to the findings and recommendations, which will be provided to the Governing Bodies, together with the evaluation report.



Team Leaders

David Sands Smith (UK) served his career in the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in Africa and Asia and was: Head of the DFID European Community Development Department (including UK representative on development matters during the Lomé negotiations); Director of the DFID regional office for East Africa in Nairobi; UK Representative to the UN agencies in Rome; Head of the DFID Office in Scotland and Head of Services (which included responsibility for the DFID administrative and personnel functions). He concluded his career with DFID as Head of the Development Policy Department.

Mary Chinery-Hesse (Ghana) is currently a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel on Threats Challenges and Change. She was previously: ILO Deputy Director-General; UNDP Resident Representative (Sierra Leone, Tanzania, the Seychelles and Uganda); and in Ghana Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and Secretary of the National Economic Planning Council. She also served as Chairperson of the Consultative Committee on Programme and Operational Questions of the United Nations, the Commonwealth Expert Group of Eminent Persons on Structural Adjustment and Women, and the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on Review of Progress in the Implementation of the Programme for the Least Developed Countries. Ms. Chinery Hesse was a member of the Council of African Advisers of the World Bank, the Eminent Persons’ Advisory Panel of the African Union, and the Distinguished High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on Financing for Development (Zedillo Commission) and the International Civil Service Commission.

Regional Consultants

Adel Aboul-Naga (Egypt) retired from the position of FAO Representative to Pakistan at the end of 2003. Previous to this, he had been his country’s Representative to the UN agencies in Rome for five years, during which he was also member of FAO Programme Committee, and chairman of both the Group of 77 and the Near East Group. He had been appointed to this post from the position of Under-Secretary for Animal Production in Egypt, when he travelled extensively in the Near East region. Dr. Aboul Naga holds a Ph.D in Animal Breeding.

Minoli Santiapillai (Sri Lanka) has had a career extending over 20 years with UNDP in several Asian countries. She was responsible for UNDP monitoring of FAO projects in Sri Lanka. She also has more recent experience as free-lance consultant for a variety of clients, including the private sector and has worked particularly on gender and social development.

Roberto Cabral y Bowling (Mexico) has had a long academic and research career with the University of Mexico in the field of economic and agricultural development. He has been an economic advisor to the Government of Mexico, including work on the Mexican agrarian reform and on foreign aid for the agricultural sector. He was General Director of Planning in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries and more recently Chief Advisor to the Under-Secretary of State for Hydrocarbons.



FAOR Offices and FAORs

1) Although the functions of FAO country offices are many, the evaluation identified the following roles which are important in determining office competencies:

  1. advocating FAO’s messages;

  2. inputs into, and facilitation of, national dialogue on policy and strategy at all levels;

  3. facilitating coordination and partnership (in a lead or supporting role) among the international community for food security, rural, agricultural, livestock, forestry and fisheries development;

  4. field programme development (for both emergencies and development);

  5. field programme implementation (for both emergencies and development);

  6. facilitating two-way information exchange on all matters relating to FAO’s areas of mandate.

2) If these tasks are to be translated into the skill mix required for the office they broadly correspond to:

  1. broad knowledge of FAO’s area of mandate (this requires broad sectoral knowledge);
  2. knowledge of the country (macro perspective, agriculture, etc.);
  3. knowledge of FAO as an institution and thus, capacity to draw upon its resources, provide insights to its programmes and use its administrative and financial systems;
  4. capabilities in:
  1. policy and strategy development;
  2. networking and communication;
  3. promoting FAO’s services in areas of demand;
  4. management and administration;
  5. leadership; and
  1. willingness of the FAOR (him/herself) to actually do practical work, such as working on papers and project documents, rather than expecting to occupy a role superior to hands on work.

3) The evaluation team concluded that, with variations depending upon the needs and potential of the countries they are serving, FAORs need themselves to possess all the above skills. Although the need for strong management and administration capacity can sometimes be partially offset by the capacities of other staff in the FAOR office, the remainder cannot.

Technical Regional/Sub-regional Officers

4) With the implementation of the recommendations in this report, the responsibilities of technical officers would become broader in terms of the issues to be covered and their policy and strategic roles at both country and regional levels. They would also be expected to work more as members of inter-disciplinary teams. Roles would thus include:

  1. support FAORs in identifying and designing priority areas of action at country level;
  2. identification of needs for specialist inputs at country and regional levels;
  3. contribute, taking the lead as necessary, to design of field projects;
  4. contribute, taking the lead as necessary, to the provision of policy and strategy advice to countries;
  5. contribute to the identification of priority areas of action for the Organization for inter-country normative and project work;
  6. contribute, taking the lead as necessary, to regional normative work;
  7. provide technical support to the field programme, including emergency interventions;
  8. advocate FAO’s technical messages; and
  9. provide, as an appropriate an inter-face between the technical departments of the Organization and countries, communicating the issues of the region to headquarters and headquarters technical concerns in the region.

5) If these roles are to be translated into the skill mix required for the role, competences required are as follows:

  1. wide technical knowledge in one of the Organization’s main areas of mandate and of how their technical field of competence relates to the sector as a whole;
  2. knowledge of the Organization, of its technical priorities, technical resources, and procedures;
  3. knowledge of the group of countries they serve, both as regards their area of work and the broader context;
  4. analytical skills;
  5. project formulation skills;
  6. policy and strategy formulation skills;
  7. coordination, networking and team-playing skills;
  8. capacity for multidisciplinary work; and
  9. verbal and written communication and advocacy skills.

Regional/Sub-regional Representatives

6) The responsibilities for the regional and sub-regional representatives would include:

  1. identify priority areas of action for the Organization for both normative and field programme at country, clusters of countries and regional/sub-regional level;
  2. communicate with, and support FAORs in all aspects of their work, particularly in national dialogue on policy and strategy, and on field programme development;
  3. ensure coherence, unity and synergy between FAO normative and field programme of work in the region/sub-region, in line with national demands and FAO’s Strategic Objectives, in close collaboration with the ADGs of Technical Departments;
  4. facilitate a two-way information exchange between the region/sub-region and headquarters on all matters relating to FAO’s areas of mandate;
  5. plan and conduct regional meetings, including the regional conference;
  6. coordinate and implement FAO’s normative work at regional and sub-regional level;
  7. build a coherent team within the office; and
  8. manage all aspects of the regional/sub-regional office’s work.

7) In performing these roles, competences required include, at a very senior level:

  1. leadership and vision;
  2. broad knowledge of FAO’s area of mandate (this requires them to be very broad in their sectoral knowledge);
  3. knowledge of the region, especially at the policy level (macro perspective, agriculture, etc.);
  4. knowledge of FAO as an institution and thus, capacity to draw upon its technical resources and provide insights;
  5. analytical capacity;
  6. representation, negotiation and communication skills;
  7. networking skills; and
  8. managerial skills.



ACP African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States
ADG Assistant Director-General
AFI FAO Information Systems and Technology Division
AIDS Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
CAP Common Agricultural Policy
CCA Common Country Assessment
CIS Commonwealth of Independent States
COIN Country Office Information Network
CTA Chief Technical Adviser
ES FAO Economic and Social Department
ESA FAO Agricultural and Development Economics Division
ESC FAO Commodities and Trade Division
EU European Union
FAOR FAO Representative
FAS Field Accounting System
FI FAO Fisheries Department
FIVIMS Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems
FPMIS Field Programme Management Information System
GDP Gross Domestic Product
GII FAO Information Division
GMO Genetically Modified Organism
HIV Human Immunodeficiency Virus
IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development
IFI International Financing Institution
IICA Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture
ILO International Labour Organization
IT Information Technology
JIU Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations System
LDCs Least developed countries
LOBR Liaison Office with European Union and Belgium
LOGE Liaison Office with the United Nations (Geneva)
LOJA Liaison Office in Japan
LONY Liaison Office with the United Nations (New York)
LOWA Liaison Office for North America
MDG Millenium Development Goal
MSU Management Support Unit
MTP Medium-Term Plan
NAFTA North American Free Trade Agreement
NEPAD New Partnership for Africa’s Development
NGO Non-governmental Organization
OCD Office for Coordination of Normative, Operational and Decentralized Activities
OCHA UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
OTO Outposted Technical Officer
PAHO Pan-American Health Organization
PEs Programme entities
PPRC Programme and Project Review Committee
PRSP Poverty Reduction Programme
PWB Programme of Work and Budget
RAF FAO Regional Office for Africa
RAP FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
REU FAO Regional Office for Europe
RLC FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean
RNE FAO Regional Office for the Near East
RP Regular Programme
RR Regional Representative
SAD Special Adviser to the Director-General
SAFR Sub-regional Office for Southern and East Africa
SAPA Sub-regional Office for the Pacific Islands
SDA FAO Rural Development Division
SEUR Sub-regional Office for Central and Eastern Europe
SLAC Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean
SMM Senior Management Meeting
SNEA FAO Sub-regional Office for North Africa
SPFS Special Programme for Food Security
TBT Technical barriers to trade
TCA FAO Policy Assistance Division
TCAP FAO Field Programme Development Service
TCAR FAO Policy Coordinating Service
TCAS FAO Agricultural Policy Support Service
TCDC Technical Cooperation between Developing Countries
TCE FAO Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division
TCI FAO Investment Centre Division
TCO FAO Field Operations Division
TCP FAO Technical Cooperation Programme
UN United Nations
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNDAF United Nations Development Assistance Framework
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
Unesco United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNFPA United Nations Population Fund
UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
WFP World Food Programme
WHO World Health Organization
WTO World Trade Organization


32 CL 106/2, paragraph 24 and Executive Summary, paragraph VI, e.

33 86th Session of the Programme Committee and 97th. Session of the Finance Committee

34 C/2001/5 Audited accounts 1998-1999, para 174

35 Ensuring excellence; Enhancing inter-disciplinarity; Broadening partnerships and alliances; Continuing to improve the management process;, Leveraging resources for FAO and its members; and Communicating FAO’s messages.


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