Background

As a follow up to concerns raised in February 2010 that the work of the HLCM Networks was too spread out and risked duplication and overlap with UNDG activities, this item was introduced to ensure smooth coordination and a focused HLCM programme of work, in turn resulting from improved coordination between all CEB pillars and between the different networks of HLCM. The discussion was divided into three sub-items:

  • Presentation of the programmes of work of the newly established UNDG Joint Funding and Business Operations Network, represented by its Co-Convener, Ms. Mari Simonen; and, of the UNDG Working Group on RC System Issues, represented by its Co-Convener, the HLCM Vice-Chair, Ms. Jan Beagle.
  • Briefing on the status of the joint UNDG-HLCM study to identify common principles of Results Reporting, an initiative agreed by the joint HLCM-UNDG meeting of September 2010 and co-led by UNDP and WFP.
  • Approval of the HLCM programme of work, compiled by the CEB Secretariat on the basis of the prioritized overview of HLCM activities and on the Implementation Plan for the recommendations of the HLCM-UNDG joint mission, which were presented and approved in September 2010.

Discussion

The work of the UNDG in the area of funding and harmonization of business practices would focus on implementation of existing agreements in collaboration with HLCM networks, particularly in the areas of procurement and ICT.  Collaboration between UNDG and HLCM would also focus on the alignment of the harmonization of business practices with the UNDAF roll out process. This was highlighted as an important joint initiative, that promises to improve the effectiveness of the UN at the country level, and results directly from the recommendations of the joint HLCM/UNDG mission completed in 2010.

The key priorities for UNDG in the area of harmonization of business practices for 2011-2012 would be:

  • Pursuing integrated approach to programme and operations.
  • Implementation of already existing guidance on elements on harmonized ICT and common procurement.
  • Support to the implementation of Common Services.  
  • Helping speed up the removal of bottle necks organizations find in terms of legal clearances, e.g. MoUs.
  • Supporting on-going initiatives, such as the Harmonized Approach to Cash Transfer and Common Premises.
  • Focus on joint funding mechanisms, especially multi donor trust funds, on their effectiveness and on harmonization of procedures for their management/administration.

A few key challenges that needed to be overcome for effective reform were also identified by the UNDG. To succeed in change, the UN as a system needed to make sure that adequate recognition and rewarding schemes were in place for staff at all levels working on harmonization issues.  In the view of the UNDG, current funding challenges risked pushing UN organizations to look inwards.  Therefore, leaders needed to take responsibility and keep the momentum to implement agreed solutions.

The key priorities for the UNDG Working Group on Resident Coordinator System Issues would be:

  • Full implementation of the Management and Accountability System at all levels, with particular focus on strengthening mutual accountability between the RC and UNCT members;
  • Implementation of the recommendations from the joint HLCM/UNDG field mission;
  • Performance appraisal instruments;
  • Integrated missions leadership policy; and,
  • RC talent management and development.

Emphasis was placed on the key leadership role of the Resident Coordinator in driving change and promoting an integrated approach to programme and business operations. An RC pool of the highest quality, with candidates from many organizations of the system, was recognized as essential, as was the need to provide for incentives for staff to work jointly, both in work plans and in performance appraisals. The recently approved financing through the HLCM HBP Plan of Action of joint training of UN Country Teams and operations staff by the Staff College was another tangible representation of HLCM/UNDG cooperation. The importance of mutual accountability was stressed in view of the fact that existing instruments were not yet implemented by many organizations.

The Committee was also briefed on the progress of the UNDG-HLCM study to identify common principles of Results Reporting.  A task team with experts from 12 agencies, under the joint leadership of WFP and UNDP, was formed. A small team of consultants was undertaking a desk review of UN organizations’ results reporting procedures and mechanisms, with a view to producing a review of best practices.  An orientation and consensus building exercise with UN focal points would take place in late March 2011 to discuss challenges and opportunities facing the UN system and possibilities for learning from key innovative models currently in practice. A schedule of interviews and visits would then be agreed at key institutions both in Europe and the US, including a proposed conversation with the OECD. A second focal point meeting would be held in New York in late April, whereby findings would be discussed and viable recommendations agreed upon. Full harmonization would not be the aim, but instead agreed principles across the system, drawing on already existing commonalities. The final product was expected to be finalized in May 2011, when the agreed findings would be submitted to the UNDG and the HLCM.

The HLCM prioritized Programme of Work was finally presented to the Committee by the CEB Secretariat. The Programme of Work re-grouped activities as selected and prioritized by the Committee and its Networks, assigning priorities to them as follows: High - those activities that come directly from the Harmonization of Business Practices Plan of Action or on direct request by the Committee; Medium - on-going activities carried out by the Networks; and, Low - activities that are important, but only require the Committee to be kept informed.

Action

The Committee:

Took note of the cooperation and coordination with the UNDG and requested that its continuation remains a priority.

Took note of the progress in the area of results reporting, recognizing the need to avoid ad-hoc reporting requests in favor of more consolidated efforts and urged organizations to commit the necessary attention to this matter while the study is being completed.

Approved the HLCM Prioritized Programme of Work in the areas of finance and budget, human resources, information and communication technology and procurement, as outlined in document CEB/2011/HLCM/6.