OCHA in 2009 Cover

Goal Three:

An Effectively Managed and Responsive Organization

OCHA recognizes that in order to deliver on its annual objectives, its management must provide clear direction on corporate priorities and targets, while ensuring the provision of the financial and human resources to achieve them.

As 2009 marks the third and final year of the 2007-09 Strategic Framework, a new framework will be developed, reflecting existing and emerging issues, and drawing on priorities identified in the Emergency Relief Coordinator’s Five-Year Perspective. The 2010-2013 framework will be sourced from a broad array of thematic, policy, and trend analyses, as well as from lessons learned exercises and evaluations. Consultations across the organization and with key stakeholders including partner organizations, national governments, and donors will be critical. The new framework will be completed by the middle of the year in preparation for the 2010 planning cycle.

While OCHA has made strides in the last two years in applying a corporate approach to results-oriented planning and monitoring, increased focus will be placed on monitoring systems, and on accountability for results. In the coming year, OCHA will implement new tools and practices to ensure that reporting of achievements is supported through improved data collection and more detailed assessments. OCHA will seek to make better and more consistent use of internal evaluation and also to improve evaluation capacity, further strengthening the quality of its annual performance reporting on results and impact.

OCHA will continue to improve its system of guidance for staff. Key subject areas will be identified and frameworks – essentially roadmaps – developed for each to direct the production of specific, prioritized policy instructions, guidelines and standard operating procedures. These should clarify OCHA’s organizational stance on key issues and standardize critical operations. These materials will also provide greater clarity for OCHA managers in their expected performance. Key lessons learned will be reflected in all new guidance materials.

Financial Management

In 2009, OCHA will work to improve financial services, monitoring and reporting. This will include developing more realistic budgeting, effectively managing resources, capturing and sharing field information and closely monitoring expenditures in real time. As OCHA works towards enhancing the quality of its budgets, further standardizing of costs will enable a more consistent preparation. More accurate and timely reporting on cash flows and implementation progress will allow improved financial analysis as well as discussion with programme managers on the administration of funds and activities. To this end, OCHA will collaborate with the wider United Nations system, particularly the United Nations Secretariat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The expansion of OCHA offices into new locations, coupled with varying degrees of access to data, has made it difficult to track contributions and share information across offices. To manage better the contribution process and to provide online tracking from pledges and contributions to allocation and reporting, OCHA has initiated development of an information management application (OCHA Contributions Tracking system - OCT). In 2009, OCHA will launch Phase II of the OCT, which will enable OCHA to provide real-time information on the status of pledges and contributions.

Greater support will be offered to field offices, with particular focus on training, audits, and financial management missions. In addition, OCHA will aim to equip staff better to apply consistently corporate policies and procedures through the development and dissemination of user-friendly standard operating procedures.

As part of the United Nations Secretariat, OCHA does not have any delegated authority to certify and approve financial transactions in its field offices, including local procurement of goods and services. These services are provided by UNDP country offices, which provide varying levels of support service to the OCHA field offices. In order to harmonize the service delivery in the field, OCHA and UNDP headquarters will finalize and implement standard service level agreements in the beginning of 2009.

At the same time, OCHA will focus on procurement planning and purchasing at headquarters locations in order to ensure timely and cost effective provision of equipment to field offices. As a means of optimizing the use of existing resources, greater attention will also be given to asset control and management, and to facilitating the rapid transfer of assets to newly established field offices or those with identified needs. Similarly, travel funds will be managed in a more central manner to ensure better coordinated and planned travel.

OCHA is pursuing a single repository of integrated, consolidated and timely financial and human resource data for headquarters locations and field offices. This is also expected to automate processes that have hitherto been manually handled in field offices, standardize routine field administrative procedures and readily provide necessary information to all OCHA staff.

As part of these efforts and taking into consideration the ongoing preparations for the Secretariat-wide enterprise resource planning project, OCHA is studying and evaluating information technology systems used by various field offices. This includes systems used by other United Nations offices in order to meet the operational requirements of OCHA as a whole, with a minimum of modification and adaptation. The evaluation of these systems will be completed in 2009, initiating the development phase.

Human Resources

As a part of ongoing efforts to ensure that the right staff are deployed to humanitarian crises at the right time, OCHA will work towards developing a much more strategic approach to workforce and succession planning, including a comprehensive approach to surge capacity and increased focus on timely recruitment and career development. In this context, OCHA will track and forecast vacancies more systematically and place more emphasis on roster management. OCHA will also aim to offer improved administrative support by providing better advice on recruitment and workforce planning issues, supporting a more active role for programme managers.

In order to reduce the time it takes to recruit staff, OCHA launched the roster management programme in 2008. The full implementation of the programme will allow OCHA to draw easily from a roster of pre-screened and interviewed staff who are available for rapid deployment to field offices. In addition to reducing considerably the recruitment time for regular vacancies occurring over time, the programme is also expected to serve as an important staffing tool for newly-established office recruitment in periods directly after emergency roster deployments.

The Administrative Office in Geneva will streamline administrative procedures and improve client orientation by offering greater responsiveness and problem-solving approaches in serving the needs of staff, particularly those in the field.

Effective February 2008, OCHA was delegated authority to recruit, deploy and administer its staff in the field, with OCHA becoming fully accountable in the second half of the year. In 2009, it is expected that the increased ability of OCHA to manage its workforce will lead to efficiency gains in the administration of field staff. A review of the delegation of authority will be conducted in the first quarter of 2009 to build on the experiences and lessons learned in the first year of operation.

OCHA will increasingly focus on staff development and learning in 2009. At the strategic level, the establishment of a learning board will enable a coherent approach to setting priorities and allocating resources for training and monitoring activities.

At the operational level, a comprehensive induction programme is planned for new staff joining OCHA at headquarters and in the field. The newly launched Humanitarian Field Coordination Programme (HFCP) will train staff on integrated approaches to field coordination, focusing on humanitarian response in emergency situations. Senior staff will complete appropriate leadership and management training. In addition, staff will be expected to comply fully with mandatory training initiatives to uphold the highest standards of integrity in their conduct. Distance learning will afford all OCHA staff with access to training opportunities.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
Corporate strategy revised to reflect emerging priorities.
  • Strategic Framework 2010-2013 launched by end June 2009.
Prioritized thematic frameworks for guidance materials developed and implemented.
  • Six prioritized frameworks created, agreed and in the process of implementation.
Lessons learned gathered from OCHA evaluations and incorporated into OCHA policy guidance.
  • Forty per cent existing lessons learned incorporated into newly developed policy guidance.
Better compliance with financial regulations and rules.
  • Seventy per cent reduction (from 2008 statistics) in the number of unfavourable financial audit recommendations issued by OIOS.
More timely, accurate and accessible data on contributions.
  • Phase II contributions management system launched and available to all field offices by end of 2009.
Timely, transparent and fair recruitment of vacant posts, including through a well-functioning roster and better workforce and succession planning in coordination with substantive offices.
  • Updated departmental workforce and succession plan for 2010-2013.
  • Seventy per cent of field vacancies filled through the Roster Management Programme.
  • Average number of days a field vacancy is vacant is reduced from 140 days to 100 by the end of 2009.
  • Average number of days Galaxy post vacancy remains unfilled until selection is reduced to 170 days.
Improved staff management, including feedback on staff performance and career development, and regular review of learning opportunities by both staff and managers.
  • One hundred per cent e-PAS (Performance Appraisal System) compliance with clear goals, actions and success criteria, including indication of training plans.
  • Induction programme launched and 50 per cent of new staff received induction training.