PART Iii: performance in 2007
performance of headquarters
executive management

Executive Management

In 2007, OCHA’s Executive Management – under the leadership of the Under-Secretary-General – focused on management reform, including the completion of OCHA’s internal restructure (or ‘realignment’) and the further bolstering of administrative support and capacity.

As in 2006, significant changes in senior leadership presented a number of challenges for OCHA during 2007. A new Under-Secretary-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator, new Chiefs of the Policy Development and Studies and the (newly established) External Relations and Support Mobilization Branches, and a new Executive Officer all took up office during the year, while the Assistant Secretary-General left at the end of 2007.

Five-Year Vision

After broad consultations with staff and stakeholders, the Under-Secretary-General proposed a long-term perspective or ‘vision’ for OCHA in July. Built on the foundation of existing policies and strategies, the document aimed to provide a clearer sense of direction about OCHA’s position and future, and to identify some of the intermediate benchmarks to be reached in fulfilling its goals. It was not intended to be set in stone, but rather to act as a baseline to which modifications could be made as circumstances change over time. The Strategic Framework, including OCHA’s organization-wide goals and objectives that form the basis of individual work plans, was adapted to correspond with the OCHA’s vision.

Strengthening OCHA

OCHA strengthened the coherence of staff and management with the establishment of the Strategic Planning Unit, implementation of the Guidance Management Project, hiring of new training staff and initiation of a major Information Management Review. Through a more accountable and rationalized work and cost planning structure, development of policy-based induction and targeted training modules, and organization-wide policy instructions, standard operating procedures, guidelines and handbooks, OCHA took significant steps towards enhancing managerial accountability and the professionalism of all of its staff.

The Road Map

A self-evaluation conducted in 2006 revealed that OCHA had a clear and coherent vision for its work and that staff were highly motivated and committed, but that there was a perceived lack of top-level management support, management processes were considered weak, and implementation of the 2004 restructure had not increased the effectiveness of the organization. Based on the self-evaluation’s recommendations, as well as on recommendations from other audits and evaluations (including those on the Indian Ocean tsunami and Pakistan earthquake responses) and a comprehensive risk assessment, a ‘Road Map’ was established in 2006 which set out a number of management objectives and concrete actions or steps (110 in total) to be taken to address issues in management, human resources and administration, as well as some section-specific issues. Timelines and managers responsible for each action or step were identified. While some progress had been made in 2006 (with 34 recommendations, or 31 per cent, implemented), most recommendations (51, or 46 per cent) were implemented during 2007.

A number of other initiatives were catalysed by work undertaken on the Road Map. Some of these (such as the strengthening of administration and the establishment of the Strategic Planning Unit) are described below; others are covered elsewhere in this report (the strengthening of OCHA’s emergency response capacity and systems on pp. 60–62, the Information Management Review on pp. 64–65, regional offices on pp. 68–69).

Work associated with the Road Map was concluded at the end of 2007, with the remaining actions and steps absorbed into ongoing work plans.

Management

The establishment of the Strategic Planning Unit took effect on 1 January 2007, and it was fully staffed by April. The work of the Unit – particularly the elaboration of OCHA’s Strategic Framework along with a concise list of performance indicators – has enabled OCHA to focus better on its planning efforts, utilize its resources more efficiently and better measure its performance.

The Guidance Management Project was activated in June 2007 to support the implementation of OCHA’s Policy and Guidance Management System – identified in late 2005 as a key initiative towards strengthening the level of skill, professionalism and consistency of OCHA’s staff performance. The Project leads OCHA in a unified approach to policy and guidance, with special focus on meeting the needs of staff in the field. In its first six months, the Project’s activities included: an organization-wide audit of existing guidance materials; ongoing development of policy instructions and standard operating procedures; the development of an organizational framework; and the identification of requirements for information management in support of the Guidance Management System.

Human Resources Management

A number of pilot projects were initiated to improve the timely recruitment and equitable mobility of field staff. A multiple duty station roster system was launched for selected occupational groups in late 2007, and several generic job profiles were created in readiness for the full implementation of the roster management system. The development of guidelines is in process for a number of these human resources initiatives.

In order to improve the effectiveness of OCHA’s Performance Appraisal System, compliance statistics – broken down by branch and section – were compiled and posted on intranet quarterly.

Administration

During 2007, the Executive and Administrative Offices expanded both in terms of functions and of seniority of staff, to better support the activities of headquarters and field offices and the increasing demands on their services. The post of Executive Officer was upgraded, new posts of Chief of Finance and Chief of Human Resources were created, and new staff for all of these positions were recruited. Two staff development and learning officers (one in New York and one in Geneva) joined OCHA to develop an induction programme and expand existing training opportunities.

Workshops on administration were delivered at OCHA’s regional offices in Bangkok (Asia and the Pacific) and Nairobi (Central and East Africa), and these were supplemented by administrative support missions to a number of OCHA field offices. Preparations were made for taking on the ‘delegation of authority’ to recruit and administer professional field staff; in December OCHA was granted this delegation and it came into force on 1 February 2008.

Section-Specific Issues

While a number of the section-specific issues covered in OCHA’s Road Map were completed in 2006 (including a reassessment of the role and functions of External and Donor Relations, Early Warning and Contingency Planning, desk officers and the Internal Displacement Division), work on the others (including the strengthening of OCHA’s surge capacity and revising the role and functions of information management and regional offices) is discussed on pp. 52–54 (Donor Relations, External Relations and Liaison), pp. 60–62 (Emergency Preparedness and Response) and pp. 64–65 (Information Management).

The ‘Realignment’

OCHA realigned some of its important headquarters functions at the beginning of 2007, with the overarching goal of centralizing the management and reporting of field response by consolidating the country desk structure of the Coordination and Response Division (CRD) into one location (New York). As country desk functions were no longer to be undertaken in Geneva, some structural readjustments were made in order to streamline the office’s core functions and capitalize on its European location.

New York

OCHA began consolidating its country desks during 2006, and by 1 April 2007 the transfer of desk functions to New York was complete. While much remains to be done to optimize the new desk structure, its advantages are clear in the elimination of duplication in work and confusion about focal points for geographical coverage at headquarters. A number of thematic task teams and training packages were established to build the capacity of desk officers in the full range of tasks required of them. Challenges currently being addressed include training on natural disaster response and guidance on implementation of humanitarian reform.

Geneva

The major structural changes in Geneva as a result of the realignment were completed in 2007, however refinement of section work plans and internal relationships continues in support of delivering on OCHA Geneva’s five core functions:

  1. stewardship of inter-agency coordination (including the IASC, the Global Humanitarian Platform, clusters and HC strengthening);
  2. development and management of emergency preparedness and response tools (staff and non-staff resources, stand-by partnerships, standards and protocols);
  3. resource mobilization (both inter-agency appeals and OCHA funding);
  4. collaboration with the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) and other partners in disaster preparedness and mitigation; and
  5. provision of administrative services to Geneva and field offices.

From 1 January 2007, CRD in Geneva ceased to exist. Former CRD staff were either retained in their sections under different branches or reassigned to one of the ‘new’ parts of OCHA:

  External Relations and Support Mobilization Branch – bringing together Donor and External Relations, Public Information, the Consolidated Appeals Process Section and a new Geographical Coordination and Monitoring Section (intended to facilitate liaison with partners on country-specific issues), as well as the new OCHA Liaison Office in Brussels
  Emergency Preparedness Section – created to work closely with ISDR, UNDP, the Red Cross movement and other partners in support of disaster risk reduction and response preparedness
  Displacement and Protection Support Section – replacing the former inter-agency Internal Displacement Division

Oversight of the Emergency Services Branch, as well as management of the day-to-day work of the Administrative Office, continues to fall under the responsibilities of the Deputy Director, Geneva. Organizationally, the Administrative Office reports to the Executive Office (in New York). The External Relations and Support Mobilization Branch has taken shape but it is still developing around its mission statement. Those sections that report directly to the Director, Geneva, are: the IASC Secretariat, the Humanitarian Reform Support Unit, the Humanitarian Coordination Strengthening Project, the Displacement and Protection Support Section and the Emergency Preparedness Section.

Work to complete the realignment of functions between New York and Geneva will continue in the context of the 2008 Mid-Year Review and the preparation of OCHA in 2009. A full assessment of the impact of the realignment will be possible in next year’s Annual Report.