Executive and Administrative Offices
The Executive Office (EO) serves as the focal point in OCHA for all budgetary, financial, human resources management and common administrative support services, and assists the Under-Secretary-General and ERC with the provision of administrative support for activities at headquarters and in the field. The EO comprises the administrative services in New York, which also serves as the Executive Office of OCHA, and the Administrative Office in Geneva (AO).
Under the umbrella of the AO, the Field Support Section and the Staff Development and Learning Project supported the overall objectives of the Executive/Administrative Offices. The FSS came into existence in March 2005, to serve as focal point for administrative, financial and especially human resources requests and queries from the field. The SDL focuses on strengthening staff capacity through learning programmes.
- Provide strengthened support to OCHA field operations
- Ensure the proper functioning of the Field Support Section
- Develop tools, in collaboration with the ICT section, to enhance the management of resources and operations
- Assist and support executive management
OCHA’s expanded field presence saw AO focus on enhancing its capacity, structures and mechanisms to improve support to the field. EO/AO also participated in regional meetings to identify areas in which Regional Offices can provide supplementary support. A workshop on best practices was held in Geneva to address common concerns, learn from experience and ultimately enhance local administrative services.
After the tsunami disaster and the South Asia earthquake, EO/AO was tasked with establishing new field offices, preparing emergency cost plans, deploying emergency personnel and installing key administrative and financial mechanisms.
Pending the dissemination of the Field Administrative Manual, completed in 2005 and undergoing final review, EO/AO launched a series of circulars to keep field offices up to date and address common queries.
Troubleshooting missions were undertaken, as were field visits to address staff concerns, provide training and discuss practices with local service providers.
The establishment of the FSS in March 2005 added value to the EO/AO role in addressing emergencies, supporting the financial and human resources sections of the AO in support to the field. EO/AO offered support to the nascent FSS in defining its role and relationships with other administrative sections.
The Field Accounting System was put into operation in August, and enhancements in financial reporting were introduced to improve cash flow management and managers’ continuous knowledge of financial reserves.
The EO assisted the Under-Secretary-General in his presentations before intergovernmental bodies to justify and articulate OCHA’s budgetary requests. It also attended to the requirements of the Fifth Committee, including the implications of tabled resolutions for budgets and programmes, and assisted executive management in General Assembly deliberations that led to the establishment of the upgraded CERF.
Under delegation of authority, EO/AO accepted voluntary contributions on behalf of OCHA, issued allotments and approved staffing authorisations, including the creation of extra-budgetary posts.
The delegation of authority for OCHA to recruit, deploy and administer its field staff was approved by OHRM, and EO/AO is undertaking discussions with OHRM to develop the parameters, elaborate monitoring mechanisms and ensure that adequate capacity is in place to take on this added responsibility.
Staff rotation policy guidelines were completed (though not endorsed by OHRM until 2006) and will help provide a structured career development path for staff. EO/AO continued to follow up and seek authorisation from OHRM to implement, on an exceptional basis, the recommendations of the Secretary-General’s Working Group to align the conditions of service for OCHA field staff with those of the UN Funds and Programmes.
The General Service Skills Inventory project, aimed at providing enhanced career opportunities for General Service support staff, reached an advanced stage, with specific recommendations on staff development and career prospects for each staff member.
To address chronic delays in recruitment, despite expedited procedures, EO/AO started the development of a roster system intended to supersede the expedited procedures and be the sole modality for recruitment of field staff. While consultations with OHRM are continuing, the system is expected to be launched in 2006.
In Geneva, the process of converting project posts continued and is ongoing as these posts become vacant and are redefined to conform to posts of a continuing nature. A total of 13 posts remain to be converted.
The EO/AO continued to assist executive management in the implementation of the Human Resources Action Plan for 2005, ensuring OCHA performance in meeting vacancy, geography, gender and staff development targets. Apart from dialogues between staff and management, and quarterly meetings with the Under-Secretary-General, ‘town hall meetings’ were held throughout the year on various topics ofinterest to staff.
Support was also provided to executive management with regard to OCHA’s recommendations for the Secretary-General’s reform programme, consolidating and articulating earlier OCHA proposals in the areas of human resources and financial management.
AO’s expansion and establishment of various administrative mechanisms led to improvements in the timeliness of response to field queries, the facilities accorded field offices in preparing cost plans and monitoring of their financial status, and administrative support provided by regional offices, particularly in Africa. Improvements were seen in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami and South Asia earthquake, when the first cohort of staff was deployed immediately and a second group was quickly recruited,
using expedited procedures.
While a number of human resources management initiatives affecting field staff were pursued, implementation was delayed in 2005 pending OHRM endorsement. Most of these initiatives were included in the Secretary-General’s reform proposals, however, increasing the possibility of their implementation in OCHA on a pilot basis.
The design of tools to improve the management of financial authorisations to the field offices, and to provide offices with access to generate available funds at a given point in time, was not completed due to the reordering of priorities within the ICT section.
Tools were put in place to improve the management of cost plans and provide financial information to field offices through FAS, allowing one login ID with controlled access rights for all OCHA applications, standard and protected presentation of cost plans to all authorised persons worldwide, and access by field offices and headquarters to financial information at any given time.
Executive management was supported through help with preparation of OCHA in 2005 and the 2006-2007 programme budget, and its articulation before intergovernmental reviewing bodies. The General Assembly approved all of OCHA’s proposals, representing a 4.2 increase in regular budget appropriations for 2006-2007, despite a zero growth policy overall.
At the end of 2005, the EO coordinated the preparation and submission of OCHA’s biennial programme performance report to the General Assembly, with an implementation rate of 97 percent.