(1) At the 46th session (March 1976: CO-ORDINATION/R.1211, para. 7 and annex III, para. 19) the Committee, having considered the recommendations of its Task Force on Harmonization of Programme Budget Presentation, agreed on the following principles for medium-term planning, while recognizing that not all organizations were in a position to comply in every respect:
(a) The medium-term plans of the organizations should cover a six-year period, and the periods covered should as far as possible be synchronized, in the interests of inter-organization co-ordination and co-operation.
(b) The medium-term plans should be on a fixed-horizon rather than a rolling basis, and they should be periodically updated.
(c) The medium-term plans should be oriented towards the major problems and issues with which the organizations are likely to be confronted and approaches and strategies for dealing with them.
(d) The medium-term plans need not give information on activities at the programme element level.
(e) The medium-term plans should contain:
descriptions of problems;
statements of objectives;
outlines of strategies;
resource indications to the extent required to show shifts in emphasis.
(f) The medium-term plans should identify areas where inter-organization consultations had taken place in the planning process, or where inter-organization co-operation would be required in implementing the plan.
(2) The Committee also endorsed the recommendations of the Task Force with regard to the formulation of objectives (CO-ORDINATION/R.1211, annex III, para. 20):
(a) Objectives should be expressed in terms of a state to be reached or maintained and should be outward-looking, i.e., directed towards an external impact.
(b) They should be framed in such a way that progress in attaining them can be verified, without unduly costly data collection. The indicators to be used in verifying progress, and the target groups to be reached, should be identified.
(c) The assumed links between successive levels of objectives and the related programme activities should be made explicit.
(d) Policy-making organs should not only review and approve medium-term objectives, but also participate in the verification of progress in attaining them.
(e) Means of action to be used should not be included in statements of objectives.
(3) With regard to evaluation, the Committee noted the agreement in the Task Force that careful and precise programme design was indispensable for evaluation and that success in carrying it out depended on the clarity of programme objectives; that other prerequisites at the design stage were descriptions of the indicators to be used in verifying progress and identification of linkages between inputs, outputs and objectives; and that evaluation implied judgements concerning quality of output, efficiency in the use of inputs, effectiveness (impact) and significance (relevance).
(4) The work in paragraphs 1-3 above was reported to ECOSOC by ACC in its annual report for 1976-1977 (E/5973).
(5) At the 47th session (September 1977: CO-ORDINATION/R.1238, para. 4 and annex IV) CCAQ approved draft comments, on the basis of a text drawn up by its newly-established Working Party on Programme Planning, Budgeting and Evaluation, on a JIU report on evaluation in the UN system (JIU/REP/77/1). With some amendments, these comments were subsequently approved by ACC (CO-ORDINATION/R.1255, para. 17). ACC also suggested that the Working Party should follow the work of JIU on evaluation methodologies and be ready to assist the JIU where appropriate.
(6) At the same session the Committee was advised of the Working Party's view (CO-ORDINATION/R.1238, annex III, paras. 18 and 19) that UN should again consider the adoption of a six-year planning cycle like other organizations and that the organizations should take measures to adjust cycles starting in 1982: the plans should also be prepared in time to be reflected, after inter-organization programme consultations and review by governing bodies, in the programme budget covering the first two years of the planning period. For the synchronization of budget cycles, see Section 16.8.
(7) Also at the 47th session (CO-ORDINATION/R.1238, para. 11 and annex III, paras. 20-22) the Committee endorsed practical arrangements for prior consultations on programme planning documents (e.g. highlighting activities of common concern in letters transmitting programme budget documents to other organizations for comment, especially for new programmes or new parts of existing programmes; identifying in the documents activities budgeted for as a result of inter-organization consultations; holding double rounds of consultations on medium-term plans; channelling comments of interest to particular ACC sub-committees to the secretaries of the sub-committees concerned). It was subsequently agreed by ACC (CO-ORDINATION/R.1255, para. 22) that all comments on programme planning documents should be communicated to the UN Office for Inter-Agency Affairs and Co-ordination with suggestions from the receiving organization on the allocation of each comment to the appropriate ACC subsidiary body.
(8) At the 48th session (March 1978: CO-ORDINATION/R.1279, paras. 4-8, annex III and annex IV, paras. 1-3 and 29-40) CCAQ agreed the draft text of an ACC statement on the harmonization of programme budgets and medium-term plans, on the basis of the report of the second session of the Working Party. The text dealt with requests made by ECOSOC in part III of its resolution 2098 (LXIII), bearing in mind also the implications of General Assembly resolution 32/197 on the restructuring of the economic and social sectors of the United Nations system. On the subject of medium-term planning the text restated, in amended form, the general principles and the recommendations on objectives in paragraphs 1 and 2 above. In their amended form items (a) to (d) of paragraph 1 above were not substantively modified; however, the texts of items (e) and (f) were revised as follows:
(e) The medium-term plans should contain:
descriptions of problems; their situation and their evolution both in past years and as expected in future over a long-term period;
programme policies and criteria derived from (i);
statements of objectives and, for each of these objectives, (1) targets, the achievement of which can be verified, if possible; (2) approaches or strategies for reaching the targets and realizing the objectives; and (3) types of activities related to the objectives with an indication of location and, if possible, timing;
indications showing shifts in emphasis, where possible.
(f) The medium-term plans should identify areas where inter-organization consultations have taken place at the global, regional or country level in the planning process, where inter-organization co-operation would be required to implement the plans, or where joint planning and implementation of activities are involved.
On the formulation of objectives (paragraph 2 above) the revised text modified the wording of item (a) to read:
Objectives should be expressed in terms of a situation to be achieved or maintained and should be outward-looking, i.e. directed towards an external impact.
Items (b)-(e) in paragraph 2 above were not changed.
The statement went on to express the belief that implementation of the principles and recommendations should be pursued, but it called attention to a number of difficulties; it might be premature to seek to harmonize the medium-term plans except in general terms. The organizations had agreed that compatible planning cycles should be adopted with effect from 1984 - subject to action by governing bodies - and that regular exchanges of information on problems of medium-term planning would be carried out through the Working Party.
The objectives sought by ECOSOC from the harmonization of medium-term plans might, the statement continued, be met from other means. Judging from a Compendium of Budget Introductions prepared at the request of ECOSOC, such a document would probably not prove adequate. On the other hand ECOSOC's aims might be met by a special, concise report to it and to CPC giving a general "overview" of the objectives and plans of the organizations, focusing on main objectives and the related strategies.
(9) At its 72nd session ACC adopted the statement with certain amendments, particularly with respect to the "overview" suggestion. Its amended text is contained in UN document E/1978/43/Add.2. The text of the statement appears in Handbook annex VI. The part that deals with the harmonization of medium-term plans is in paragraphs 29-34.
(10) At its tenth session (CEB/2009/HLCM/FB/4, paras.4-8), the FB Network endorsed the conceptual framework on capital budgeting produced by the working group as useful tool, broad in scope, strategic in focus, and inclusive in nature. The proposed conceptual framework contains agreed principles and definitions for capital budgeting and statements on a series of other critical elements: capital budgeting policy and governance, capital budget scope and restrictions, structure, financing and compliance with IPSAS.
The Network further recommended that the conceptual framework be used as the reference by member organizations in any attempt at introducing capital budgeting modalities in their budgeting frameworks, consistently with their legal and regulatory framework.
The Network also endorsed the recommendation to reconvene the Working Group in 18 months time (June 2010) to further assess progress made and lessons learned by the organizations.
(11) At its seventeenth session (CEB/2009/3, para.38), the Committee endorsed, in principle, the “Conceptual Framework on Capital Budgeting” developed by the Network and recommended that it be used as the reference framework by member organizations in any attempt at introducing capital budgeting modalities in their budgeting frameworks, consistently with their legal and regulatory framework and in relation to their state of advancement.
(12) At its sixteenth session (CEB/2011/HLCM/FB/11, paras.9-11), the FB Network requested the CEB Secretariat to recirculate the conclusions of the Working Group on Capital budgeting prior to the FB Network September 2011 meeting.