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9. the evolution of the headquarters organizational structure

The structure of FAO naturally reflects the subject matter falling within the Organization's terms of reference, and the tasks it carries out within them. It was quite simple at the outset, when the Organization's programme of work, its budget and staff were all quite limited, and the number of its Member Countries relatively small. But as all of these grew in size and the programme of work increased in scope, since FAO deals with all major aspects of agriculture, fisheries and forestry, through both its Regular Programme and its Field Programme, its structure naturally became more complex. The changes that have taken place over the years have been far too many and too detailed to set out fully here, so only their broad outlines are given below. This summary inevitably contains some material which overlaps with information contained in subsequent sections regarding the evolution of various organizational units, but the two sets of information are presented from different perspectives, both of which are essential to understanding the Organization's historical evolution.

1945 through 1950

During the year following the Quebec Conference, four substantive divisions were established: the Economics and Statistics Division, the Fisheries Division, the Forestry and Forest Products Division, and the Nutrition Division. A Director of Information was also appointed. In the period between October 1945 and September 1946, Director-General John Boyd Orr had been so preoccupied with the plans for a World Food Board that he had taken no steps to set up an Agriculture Division. However, as a means of indicating to Member Governments that this was being considered, he convened a meeting of a Standing Advisory Committee on Agriculture just prior to the Second Session of the Conference. Then, on 2 December 1946, the nucleus of the Agriculture Division was established.

In March 1947 a Rural Welfare Division was also established, and by July 1947 the organizational structure included:

an Agriculture Division, with three Branches;

an Economics, Marketing and Statistics Division, with five Branches;

a Fisheries Division, with three Branches;

a Forestry and Forest Products Division, with two Branches;

a Nutrition Division, with two Branches;

a Rural Welfare Division;

a Common Programme, Technical and Administrative Services Division; and

an Information Service, with three Branches, one of which was responsible for liaison with the UN.

FAO came into existence at a time of food shortages following World War II. One of the early actions of the Director-General, following the Quebec Conference, was to convene a Special Meeting on Urgent Food Problems, in May 1946. This resulted in the establishment of an International Emergency Food Council, which functioned under the aegis of FAO but as a separate entity. In November 1947, that Council was dissolved, and the FAO Council established an International Emergency Food Committee in its place. This new Committee continued to function as an arm of FAO until it was no longer needed and was dissolved by the FAO Council in June 1949. This historical note is included here because it has a bearing on some of the structural changes described below.

The organizational chart, as it had evolved by 7 March 1949, included the following “technical divisions”:

Agriculture Division, with Animal Industry, Plant Industry and Land Use Branches;

Distribution Division, with Cereals, Fats and Oils, Rice, Fibres, Livestock, Fertilizer, and Miscellaneous Commodity Sections. The Director of this Division also acted as Secretary General of the International Emergency Food Committee;

Fisheries Division, with Economics, Biological and Technological Branches ;

Forestry and Forest Products Division, with Forestry and Forest Products Branches;

Nutrition Division, with an Area and Field Branch and a Nutrition Programmes Branch;

Rural Welfare Division.

In addition, one substantive division was at that time classified as a “Service Division”:

Economics and Statistics Division, with Statistics, Economics of Production and Development, Food Production and Utilization, and Economic Analysis Branches.

There were also two other “Service Divisions”:

Administrative Division, with Personnel and Management, Budget and Finance, Records and Documents, and Plant and Operations Branches;

Information Division, with Regional Information, Public Information and Publications Branches, the latter including an Editorial Section, Translation Services, and the Library.

In addition, by March 1949, a Constitutional Functions, Legal and External Affairs Unit, headed by a Special Assistant, had been created in the Office of the Director-General. It also dealt with Conference and Council affairs.

1951 through 1958

When the permanent headquarters of the Organization was transferred from Washington to Rome during the early months of 1951, the Distribution Division was abolished and its staff and functions combined with those of the Economics and Statistics Division. The Rural Welfare Division was also abolished, its functions being assigned in part to the Nutrition Division, but mostly to the Agriculture Division. Some changes were also made in branch structures, e.g. an Agricultural Institutions and Services Branch was added to the Agriculture Division. Some divisional names were simplified. Also, since the Field Programme was being developed, a Chief of the Expanded Technical Assistance Programme (ETAP) was designated in October 1950. Later, as the Field Programme expanded, the Deputy Director-General was designated as Chief Coordinator, and a unit was established in the Director-General's office to deal with ETAP.

Once the changes associated with the transfer to Rome had been consolidated and a new organizational chart was approved on 3 June 1952, the structure included five “technical divisions”, as follows:

Agriculture Division, with Animal Production, Plant Production, Land and Water Use, Rural Welfare, and Agricultural Institutions and Services Branches;

Economics Division, with Economic Analysis, Commodities and Statistics Branches;

Fisheries Division, with Fisheries Biology, Fisheries Economics and Statistics, and Fisheries Technology Branches;

Forestry Division, with Forest Policy and Conservation, Research and Technology, and Forest Economics Branches;

Nutrition Division.

In addition, there were two major services, and three units that reported directly to the Director-General:

Administrative and Financial Services, with Personnel, Finance, Budget and Administrative Planning, and Internal Services Branches;

Information and Educational Services, with Information, Documents, Library, and Legislative Services;

General Secretariat;

Expanded Technical Assistance Programme;

Special Assistants to the Director-General.

This structure remained relatively stable through 1958, but a number of changes still took place. A Regional Analysis Unit was established in the Agriculture Division in 1952. By 1955, the name of this unit had evolved to Programme and Analysis Unit. In 1956, it was renamed the Programme Analysis Service, and a Programme Planning Service and a Programme Operations Service were also established in the Agriculture Division. A unit for Internal Audit was formally included in the structure in 1953; in 1957 its title was expanded to Audit and Inspection. In January 1956, the ETAP Unit was discontinued, and a Programme and Budgetary Service was set up in the Office of the Director-General to deal with both the Regular Programme and ETAP. In May 1956, this Service was divided into a Programme and Budgetary Service and a Field Liaison Service, and an International Agency Liaison Service was established. In 1957, an Atomic Energy Branch was added to the Agriculture Division, and the Information and Educational Services were transformed into an Information Division, with Editorial, Audio-Visual and Documents Branches, and Legislative and Library Services.

However, none of these changes affected the overall structure materially.

1959 through 1969

In October-November 1958, the Director-General placed a detailed reorganization plan before the Twenty-Ninth Session of the Council. The Council authorized the implementation of an interim plan during the remainder of 1958 and 1959, and of the ultimate version of the plan during 1960, subject to the necessary budgetary provisions being voted by the Tenth Session of the FAO Conference. Since the interim plan represented steps toward the ultimate plan, only the latter is described below.

The new arrangement, which was fully in effect from the beginning of 1960, constituted a major step toward the present departmental structure. It provided for the following:

Technical Department, with Divisions for Animal Production and Health; Fisheries; Forestry; Land and Water Development; Nutrition; Plant Production and Protection; and Rural Institutions and Services; and an Atomic Energy Branch;

Economics Department, with Commodities, Economic Analysis, and Statistics Divisions;

Department of Public Relations and Legal Affairs, containing an Information and Public Relations Service, Publications Service, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Liaison and Protocol, Rural Legislation Branch, Conference and Operations Branch, and Library;

Division of Administration and Finance, with Finance, Administrative Planning, Personnel, and Internal Services Branches;

Internal Audit and Inspection;

Programme and Budgetary Service, in the Office of the Director-General, with Programme Services, Programme Research and Evaluation, Programme Liaison, Field Operations Liaison, Budget, International Agency Liaison, and Training and Fellowships Branches.

This basic structure was maintained to a substantial degree from 1960 through 1969, but a number of important changes were made during this period:

As of July 1960, the Division of Administration and Finance was transformed into a Department of Administration and Finance.

As of September 1960, a unit was set up in the Office of the Director-General to deal with the Freedom from Hunger Campaign.

As of June 1962, there was some restructuring of major units in the Office of the Director-General, and a Programme Formulation and Budget Division, a Programme Liaison Division and a Division of Technical Assistance Coordination were established within the Programme and Budgetary Service. In April 1964, the FAO/IBRD Cooperative Programme was added to this Service. As of July 1960 the post of Director, Programme and Budgetary Service, had been elevated to the rank of Assistant Director-General.

Late in 1962, following approval by the Thirty-Ninth Session of the Council, the Rural Institutions and Services Division was transferred from the Technical Department to the Economics Department, the name of which was changed to Economic and Social Policy Department. In May 1968 a further change was made, to Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

As of 1 October 1964, a Joint FAO/IAEA Division on Atomic Energy in Agriculture replaced the Atomic Energy Branch. It was located in Vienna, Austria, but from the FAO side it continued to function as a part of the Technical Department.

As of 1 January 1966, following a decision by the Conference late in 1965, the Fisheries Division was upgraded to a Department, containing a Fisheries Resources Exploitation Division and a Fishery Economics and Products Division. At the same time, the Information and Public Relations Service and the Publications Service of the Department of Public Relations and Legal Affairs were transformed into a Division of Public Information and a Publications Division, respectively. At the beginning of 1968, a unit was added to this Department to deal with the Industry Cooperative Programme, which had been developed during the previous biennium. On 1 July 1969, the Department became the Office of Information and General Affairs.

In June 1968, the Technical Department was transformed into an Agriculture Department, and the Nutrition Division was transferred to the Economic and Social Department.

As of June 1968, there was a further restructuring of some of the units in the Office of the Director-General. The Programme and Budgetary Service was modified to include an Area Service Division, a Programme Formulation and Budget Division, the FAO/IBRD Cooperative Programme, the FAO/Industry Cooperative Programme (transferred from the Department of Public Relations and Legal Affairs), and the International Agency Liaison Division. Also in 1968, a unit was placed in the Office of the Director-General to deal with the Indicative World Plan, a Plan which had been suggested during the World Food Congress in 1963 and which had been evolved during the two subsequent biennia.

A further major development during the 1960s was the establishment, in the autumn of 1961, of the World Food Programme (WFP), under the joint sponsorship of FAO and the UN, as a result of resolutions of the FAO Conference and the UN General Assembly. Its Secretariat is located at FAO Headquarters in Rome. It is headed by an Executive Director, who reports to the Director-General of FAO and the Secretary-General of the UN. In the 1968–69 biennium, the WFP structure included the following:

Programme Operations Division

Programme Development and Appraisal Division

Division of External Relations and General Affairs

1970 through 1981

The question of FAO's structure received special attention at the Fourteenth Session of the FAO Conference, in 1967. A resolution was adopted establishing an Ad Hoc Committee on Organization and requesting the Director-General to develop, in consultation with the Ad Hoc Committee, a reorganization plan sufficiently detailed to be used as the basis of presentation of the 1970–71 Programme of Work and Budget. It further requested him to submit the plan to the 1968 session of the Council for consideration.

The resolution was based on preparatory work by a Review Team appointed by the Director-General and on discussions of the Team's report in the Programme and Finance Committees, and in the Forty-Ninth Session of the Council in October-November 1967. It also requested the Director-General to take appropriate interim steps during 1968–69, within the available budgetary resources and in consultation with the Ad Hoc Committee, to bring about improvements in communications between Headquarters and the field, to ensure more efficient conduct of field operations, and to improve administrative support and personnel administration. A main step which the Conference had in mind in this context was to move forward with the appointment of full-time Country Representatives, chiefly financed by UNDP.

The Fifty-First Session of the Council in October 1968 had before it the Director-General's and Ad Hoc Committee's Joint Report. While recognizing that some of the views it contained would require further study, the Council authorized the Director-General to proceed with the reorganization as proposed in the Joint Report, present his Programme of Work and Budget for 1970–71 on the basis of the plan.

The Fifteenth Session of the Conference, in November 1969, then approved a modified structure, to take full effect from January 1970. Since it differed in many respects from that in effect during 1968–69, and since its main elements remained in effect during the following decade, the structure is outlined rather fully below. The main elements were —

Office of the Director-General, to which were attached the Legal Counsel, Internal Audit, and Freedom from Hunger Campaign, transferred from other areas, and a new Policy Advisory Bureau. The Freedom from Hunger Campaign was renamed Freedom from Hunger/Action for Development in June 1970;

Agriculture Department, with Animal Production and Health, Plant Production and Protection, and Land and Water Development Divisions, and the joint FAO/IAEA Division of Atomic Energy in Food and Agriculture, formerly elements of the Technical Department, as well as a new Agricultural Services Division which had been established in July 1968;

Economic and Social Department, formerly called Department of Economic and Social Affairs, with an Economic Analysis Division, Statistics Division, Commodities and Trade Division (formerly the Commodities Division), Rural Institutions Division (formerly the Rural Institutions and Services Division), and the Nutrition Division which had been placed in the Department in June 1968;

Fisheries Department, with Fishery Resources, Fishery Economics and Institutions, and Fishery Industry Divisions, and an Operations Service;

Forestry Department, with Forestry Resources, and Forest Industries and Trade Divisions, and an Operations Service. The Forestry Department was formerly the Forest and Forest Industries Division in the Technical Department; following the transformation of that Department, it had existed as a separate Division until it was upgraded into a Department in January 1970;

Development Department. This new department, composed largerly of elements of the Programme and Budgetary Service formerly in the Office of the Director-General, included a unit for Programme Formulation, the Area Service Division, an Investment Centre (an expansion of the former FAO/IBRD Cooperative Programme), the FAO/ Industry Cooperative Programme and the International Agency Liaison Division;

Office of General Affairs and Information, composed of the following from the former Department of Public Relations and Legal Affairs: Information Division (formerly Division of Public Information); Publications Division; Documentation, Legislation and Library Division (including elements drawn from the Publications Division), and Conference, Council and Protocol Affairs Division;

Administration and Finance Department, formerly the Department of Administration and Finance, composed of Personnel Division, Management Services Division (formerly Division of Administrative Management), and Administrative Services Division (formerly Office of General Services) and an Office of Controller composed of the Budget Branch, formerly in the Office of the Director-General, and of elements of the former Division of Finance.

There was also one general change which affected eight substantive Divisions in the Agriculture and the Economic and Social Departments: their “branches” and “sections” in Rome became “services”, except for two small “units”. “Services” had already been established in the Agricultural Services Division when it was created in June 1968.

In January 1971 the Legal Counsel's unit was renamed Legal Office, its functions having been expanded by the transfer to it of the Legislation Branch from the Office of General Affairs and Information.

The structure in effect for the 1970–71 biennium was modified in a number of respects at the beginning of, or during, the 1972–73 biennium, as follows:

the name of the Documentation, Legislation and Library Division was changed to Library and Documentation Division and subsequently Library and Documentation Systems Division;

the Programme Formulation Unit was transferred from the Development Department to the Office of the Director-General;

the Economic and Social Department was renamed Economic and Social Policy Department on 1 July 1972;

the Policy Advisory Bureau in the Office of the Director-General was abolished and its staff and functions transferred to the Economic Analysis Division, which was renamed Policy Analysis Division on 1 July 1972;

the Nutrition Division was renamed Food Policy and Nutrition Division in August 1972, and at that time the Food Standards Branch of the former International Agency Liaison Division, renamed Food Standards and Food Control Service, was transferred to it;

the Rural Institutions Division was renamed Human Resources, Institutions and Agrarian Reform Division in August 1972;

the Home Economics Service was renamed Home Economics and Social Programmes Service and was transferred from the Food Policy and Nutrition Division to the Human Resources, Institutions and Agrarian Reform Division in August 1972;

the former International Agency Liaison Division was transferred from the Development Department to the Office of the Director-General, as an Office for Inter-Agency Affairs, in August 1972;

a Research Centre was set up in the Development Department in August 1972; and

an Evaluation Branch was transferred from the Economic Analysis Division to the Development Department and renamed Evaluation Service in January 1973.

Although the basic structure remained essentially the same, some further modifications were made for the 1974–75 biennium, as follows:

an Office of Programme and Budget was set up in the Office of the Director-General, combining the former Programme Formulation Unit with the Budget Branch, which was transferred from the Office of the Controller;

a Financial Services Division was set up in the Administration and Finance Department, consisting of the remaining elements of the Office of the Controller;

on 4 March 1974, the Agricultural Operations Division was created, located administratively in the Agriculture Department, but to service the Economic and Social Policy Department as well. At the same time, the Operations Services in the Animal Production and Health, Plant Production and Protection, Land and Water Development and Agriculture Services Divisions were discontinued; and

on 1 October 1975, an Office for Special Relief Operations was set up in the Office of the Director-General, replacing an Office for Sahelian Relief Operations that had been in existence since May 1973.

The gradual evolution of the Organization's structure continued in the 1976–77 biennium, during which the following changes came into effect:

the Field Liaison Division was renamed Field Programme Development Division, as of January 1976;

Freedom from-Hunger/Action for Development was transferred from the Office of the Director-General to the Development Department;

units were set up in the Office of the Assistant Director-General, Agriculture Department, to deal with Policy Coordination and Planning, Remote Sensing, Environment Programme Coordination, and the International Fertilizer Supply Scheme;

the Council, at its Sixty-Ninth Session in July 1976, agreed to a proposal to raise the Office of General Affairs and Information to the status of a Department, thus reinstating its status prior to 1970;

on 1 November 1976, a Technical Cooperation Programme Unit was established in the Field Programme Development Division, to give special attention to this new Programme.

Further changes in structure made for the 1978–79 biennium included —

expanding the Office of Programme and Budget in the Office of the Director-General into an Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation, incorporating the Evaluation Service transferred from the Development Department;

transferring the Research Development Centre from the Development Department to the Agriculture Department, as of January 1978;

establishing a Global Perspective Studies Unit in the Economic and Social Policy Department; and

terminating the Industry Cooperative Programme on 30 June 1978.

Two minor changes were made in the organizational structure in 1980–81:

establishment of a Policy and Planning Division in the Fisheries Department; and

setting up a Liaison Office in Geneva to maintain contacts with UN-family organizations there.

The Present Structure

The organizational structure that emerged as a result of these and many other evolutionary changes which took place over the first 35 years of FAO's existence, as it grew and adapted its activities to the needs of its Member Countries, is shown in the chart on the opposite page, which was prepared for the Programme of Work and Budget 1982–83, and reflects one further change that is planned to take effect in 1982. More detailed descriptions of the evolution of the major units are set out in Chapter XI.

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