OCHA management and administration
In 2012, OCHA plans to have 2,005 staff, three quarters of whom will be in the field. As a relatively small organization needing to influence a wide range of stakeholders, we must attract the best and must reflect the diversity of the many countries in which we work. We also need to be able to deploy staff with minimum notice, particularly in the event of a sudden-onset crisis. In the past two years, OCHA has achieved considerable success in speeding up its emergency deployments. We use well-established mechanisms to ensure a rapid surge presence, using emergency personnel from external sources and our own staff.
In 2012 and 2013, OCHA will boost its surge capacity by targeting applicants who can demonstrate specific technical or language skills. Three senior roaming emergency surge officers (RESOs) will be ready for deployment to the field for up to 80 per cent of the year. RESOs will include one versatile generalist, one focused on analysis and reporting, and a specialist in internal operational stability and logistics.
Pursuing operational stability
Rapid deployment is just one element in a new, more professionalized approach to securing operational stability in OCHA’s emergency response. OCHA will improve staff succession and continuity in emergencies by extending surge deployments through its regional offices, and allowing for mid-term or “bridging” surges to avoid staffing gaps between the initial response phase and the arrival of long-term staff.
OCHA will also need to ensure that support systems are rapidly in place in emergency situations, and that our staff have everything—from office facilities and accommodation to a budget and workplan—so that we can assume key functions without delay, offering prompt and well-organized humanitarian leadership.
In terms of regular staffing, OCHA has increased its staff in the field by 40 per cent in the last five years. While managing a substantially larger workforce, OCHA lowered its average vacancy rate across its field locations, from 20 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent by mid-2011. Building on this achievement, OCHA aims to address its broader human resources challenges through implementing a coherent approach to sourcing talent, developing staff capacity and managing people.
The implementation of OCHA’s roster system has been successful in ensuring timely longer-term staff recruitment to a wide range of duty stations. But lessons learned point to the difficulty of filling positions in non-family duty stations and retaining staff there, especially positions requiring specific language skills. OCHA will invest additional resources in outreach and targeted recruitment of senior staff for key field positions in countries such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and Sudan. This is to ensure continuous senior leadership and adequate capacities where these are most needed.
The ability to attract and retain staff is largely tied to the availability of career development and opportunities for professional growth for the staff concerned, including realistic, consistent and transparent requirements for staff mobility. OCHA anticipates that in December 2012 the General Assembly will adopt measures on geographic mobility, enabling easier staff movement between headquarters and the field. OCHA will ensure that administrative arrangements are in place to allow for prompt implementation of a Secretariat-wide mobility policy, including standardized assignment lengths for positions considered part of a managed mobility programme.
Learning and improving
OCHA made significant progress in 2010 and 2011 in strengthening organizational learning, drawing on lessons identified through evaluations, audits and performance monitoring. Those lessons are now being translated into action through more-robust planning, budgetary and management decision-making processes that are evidence based. Examples include the development of standard performance frameworks for regional offices and country offices, and the introduction of field office strategies. (See section on Field Activities).
In 2011, OCHA launched Communities of Practice (CoPs) in areas such as IM, reporting and transition. The CoPs aim to facilitate an exchange of information and experience between staff. The CoP programme will be expanded over the next two years. It will offer a valuable resource to improve organizational decision-making and performance by closing knowledge gaps.
By the end of 2013, OCHA will have a financial management culture that enables greater accountability and effective decision-making for programme managers. The use of more integrated data systems will inject more rigour into OCHA’s financial, budgetary, resource mobilization and reporting operations, allowing better documentation. Resource mobilization procedures and cash-management systems will be fully documented and aligned with budgeting and income forecasting.
Management of OCHA’s field-level pooled funds will be equally disciplined, leading to improved allocation of funding according to agreed priorities. Going forward, OCHA will work with the humanitarian community to strengthen performance and accountability systems, improve reporting on results achieved with its funds, and ensure that allocations reach implementing partners as quickly as possible.