In 2010, at the request of the Chairs of HLCM and UNDG, a joint high-level mission to Delivering as One countries was undertaken to identify obstacles caused by lack of or poor harmonization or coordination in the area of operations.
In September 2010 HLCM and UNDG endorsed the joint implementation plan that was developed as an annex to the mission report (CEB/2010/HLCM-UNDG/1/Add.1). The implementation plan focuses on the following areas: Leadership and Agency Commitment, the Integrated Approach to Programme and Operations, Change Management and Business Process Review, ICT and Common Procurement, Human Resources, Finance, Common Premises, Legal, and the Harmonized Approach to Cash Transfer. HLCM Networks and UNDG Working Groups have incorporated the identified priorities in their work-plans, as also reflected in the HLCM Prioritized Programme of Work (CEB/2011/HLCM/6).
The Committee received a briefing from the Mission Co-leads on the status of the Implementation Plan, with an outline of the activities that have been launched or completed in each area.
Collaboration between UNDG – through its Joint Funding and Business Operations Network - and HLCM - through its various Networks - has continued to work well. The Joint Mission represented a turning point in this collaboration, which is now fully institutionalized, while follow-up action on the resulting joint implementation plan is well on track.
Building on the findings of the Joint Mission, a strong emphasis has been placed by both HLCM and UNDG on the critical importance of leadership in the area of business practices. Some highlights of the work on the implementation plan are summarized below.
In Procurement, building on experiences in Tanzania and Mozambique, a project on harmonization of processes and procedures, led by UNICEF, has been launched with funding from the HLCM trust fund for the harmonization of business practices (HBP). The project will revise inter-agency guidelines and provide for the adjustments of organizations internal policies and procedures to facilitate collaboration in this area, thereby removing one of the key obstacles to the effective functioning of joint operations in the field.
A second initiative that builds on the experiences in Tanzania and Mozambique is in the ICT area, where WFP will be leading an HBP project for the up-scaling of common network services and ICT infrastructure in the field. It is important to note that this project will only be a pilot to assist up to five additional countries to implement the common ICT solutions, while a global initiative would require significant investment and commitment by organizations.
In the area of Human Resources, under the lead of UNESCO, the HR Network is addressing some of the key obstacles to working as a System that were identified during the missions. A recently funded HBP project will specifically focus on the Recruitment and Selection processes for GS staff and National Officers at country level, addressing the need for common definition and treatment of applicants from other agencies as “internal” candidates, as well as the need for common assessment tools and inter-agency interview panels.
Responding to the key objectives of increasing leadership and agency commitment in the area of business practices, as well as of approaching programmatic and operational planning in an integrated fashion, training programmes have been developed and delivered by the UN system Staff College, with joint support by the HLCM HBP trust fund and by UNDG/DOCO. Such programmes aim to incorporate business practices into the programming process by targeting both operations and programme members of UN country teams, together. The initial feedback from the participants has been very positive. However, successful implementation of the plans prepared by UNCTs will require continued leadership at all levels.
Considerable progress has been achieved by UNDG in connection with HACT. Challenges have been identified and new training material has been completed. Also, a global assessment of HACT is expected in November 2011, which promises to provide information to move forward even more effectively.
Finally, the UNDG Common Services working group is focusing on indicators to measure efficiency gaps. A Monitoring & Evaluation framework for Common Operations is being developed. Once completed and implemented, this would help the UN system respond to the increasing pressure for measurable results in the area of efficiency gains.
In their concluding remarks, the Mission Co-leads noted the importance for the UN system to continue to focus on overcoming obstacles to effectively working together, through the active commitment by leadership at the Headquarters, Regional and Country level. Concurrently, the effort towards Delivering as One should be reinforced by recognizing and rewarding UNCT members for collaborative work.
Took note of the progress made by both HLCM Networks and the UNDG, and further recognized that continued efforts and focus on addressing obstacles to country-level implementation must be given full support and priority by all organizations.
Requested a final report on the follow-up to the joint implementation plan for its fall 2012 session.