OCHA in 2007
Activities and Extra-Budgetary Funding Requirements

OCHA at work


Toward a More Strategic Approach to Planning and Performance Management

Ensuring external reform is matched by internal reform

Over the past two years, OCHA has been successfully promoting reform of the broader humanitarian sector. This has resulted in significant changes regarding how the humanitarian assistance is coordinated and funded. This was not matched, however, with an internal reform process to ensure that OCHA can meet the demands of humanitarian and UN reform. Recognizing inherent weaknesses in OCHA's internal workings, senior management commissioned two external reviews in early 2006 to help determine how to realign the organization to respond to the changing external environment. Both reviews urged OCHA management to focus on strengthening OCHA's administration, performance management and strategic planning and address structural anomalies in OCHA's HQ structure. In response to the reviews, OCHA's Senior Management Team (SMT) introduced an improved annual performance management and reporting system and confirmed SMT's commitment to formulating a new strategic planning process.

Creating a new planning & reporting system

OCHA's planning system revolves around seven key elements, with direct linkages between each of the elements as well as built-in performance progress measurement and reporting. The system follows an annual planning and reporting cycle that starts with a strategic planning process in June (for the following year) and ends with an Annual Report in April (for the previous year). What is new is the introduction of two performance monitoring and management events, the mid-year review and the end-of-cycle review. Both these reviews will feed into the planning cycle: the end-of-cycle review will be used to write the Annual Report while the mid-year review will allow staff members to critically review progress, propose changes to the cost plans, and to incorporate any changes or new risks into the design of next year's planning framework. The annual Global Management Meeting, an OCHA senior management meeting that includes all heads of field offices, will take place immediately following the mid-year review so performance data, trends and risks can be jointly discussed.

OCHA expects this new planning framework will significantly strengthen its ability to monitor, manage and report on results. For this reason, OCHA will create a dedicated strategic planning function to support the implementation of the new planning process. The new function will play several roles: coordinate the implementation of the strategic plan; coordinate the OCHA-wide work planning process; ensure the incorporation of risk management into the planning process; monitor performance and risks and ensure that timely action is taken; evaluate performance and ensure that the results and recommendations of evaluations, reviews and audits are addressed; and ensure a higher quality and results-orientation of reporting instruments such as the Annual Report and the Annual Plan (OCHA in 200X).

Setting out a common vision and strategy

The strategic framework for 2007-09 was developed by a small internal planning task team in May and built on the strategic framework for 2002-2005. The framework establishes three corporate goals for OCHA for the next three years:

  • Goal 1: Consolidated humanitarian reform that ensures adequate and relevant humanitarian response
  • Goal 2: Recognized leadership role in humanitarian advocacy and policy
  • Goal 3: A more effective and efficient organization

The goals are transformed into action through annual objectives. For 2007, OCHA determined seven objectives or key priority areas for each of the goals (see page 11). The strategic framework confirms on the one hand OCHA's commitment to humanitarian reform and to playing a critical leadership role in humanitarian advocacy and policy, and on the other hand recognizes the need to balance external efforts with an internal drive towards a creating a more effective and efficient organization.

A joint vision for all of OCHA

The result is a joint vision for OCHA globally and in the field. OCHA in 2007 reflects this joint vision and will show, office by office, how the vision is translated into concrete action. A coherent and joint programme will now allow OCHA to more systematically track performance and achievements and allow for a greater focus on results. This poses new planning and reporting challenges. In order to implement the new planning framework, OCHA will need to test and fine-tune this system over the next two years. Corporate-level indicators are being developed, but their applicability will need to be tested for at least one year.

Lessons learned from this year's work planning process will help to adjust the strategic planning framework during the mid-year review in June 2007. A series of strategic workshops with field and headquarters staff will lead up to the mid-year review and will ensure the full participation of OCHA staff in defining vision, priorities and strategies for the future. The Global Retreat will review the strategic framework and the results from the strategic workshops and decide on priorities for 2008. Unlike past processes, the discussion will now benefit from a broad consultative process and interim performance information and feed-back. The first end-of-year review on the 2007 work programme will be another opportunity to critically assess performance and feed-into the 2007 Annual Report.