Harmonization and simplification of business practice at the country level
CEB, in particular through its plan of action for the harmonization of business practices, has increased its focus on country level harmonization in response to findings of the high-level joint mission conducted in 2010 by the United Nations Development Group and the High-level Committee on Management to identify bottlenecks in business practices at the country level. The annual report of CEB for 2010/11 (E/2011/104) provided information on the outcome of the mission.
In order to support field implementation, collaboration with the United Nations System Staff College is continuing. In response to the recommendation for an integrated approach to programme and operations at the country level, over 300 programme and operations staff from the 2011 United Nations Development Assistance Framework roll-out countries were trained on how to integrate programming, business operations and joint funding — an initiative jointly funded by the High-level Committee on Management and the United Nations Development Group. The Committee and the Development Group are now working with the Staff College to identify ways to continue to support the integration of programmes and business operations in light of changes in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework support structure. In addition, the United Nations Development Group has developed and implemented a roster system managing technical support and resources in various operational fields in support of country-level harmonization and simplification efforts. The roster system is developed on the basis of training courses, which have been developed jointly by the High-level Committee on Management, the United Nations Development Group and the United Nations Staff College.
In the area of joint procurement, a joint High-level Committee on Management/ United Nations Development Group global survey was completed, which showed a 12.5 per cent average monetary saving on total procurement value of goods/services jointly procured at the country level as well as a range of non-monetary benefits. The survey also included details on challenges and bottlenecks experienced at the country level in the area of harmonization and simplification. In addition, the Procurement Network of the High-level Committee on Management is implementing a project to improve collaboration in procurement in the field under the leadership of the United Nations Children’s Fund. The project is focused on enhancing inter agency cooperation in the area of procurement by identifying necessary adjustments to organization-specific guidance and to inter-agency guidelines on procurement. Implementation of the project, which is funded through the plan of action for the harmonization of business practices and is carried out in coordination with the United Nations Development Group, includes the creation of tools for operations management teams and training materials for inclusion in organizations’ training programmes.
With regard to inter-agency coordination in the area of human resources, the Human Resources Network of the High-level Committee on Management is supporting a project, also funded through the plan of action, which is aimed at harmonizing recruitment and selection processes, and the corresponding legal frameworks, for General Service and National Officer positions at the country level. This was identified as one of the many obstacles to working in a Delivering as One mode by the joint mission of the High-level Committee on Management and United Nations Development Group undertaken in 2010. The project builds on an early review and comparison in the context of the plan of action for the harmonization of business practices, of human resources practices, policies and procedures in the United Nations system, with specific focus on those that pertain to field staff. The initiative has the strong support of the staff federations, and will be led by the United Nations Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organization, with pilot projects in Uruguay and Viet Nam.
In the area of information and communications technology, a proposal by the inter-agency Information and Communications Technology Network, under the leadership of the World Food Programme, is aimed at consolidating and harmonizing data communications services in country offices, building on the experiences of similar projects in Mozambique and the United Republic of Tanzania. Once fully implemented, the project will improve efficiencies by allowing agencies to share access to global communications services.
In the area of common services, the United Nations Development Group finalized the business operations strategy guidelines and a suite of supporting tools that promote the development of common business operations at the country level and provide guidance to United Nations country teams. In addition, 60 staff members of the United Nations system organizations were trained in common services methodology. In the area of common premises, support was provided to 18 Governments and United Nations country teams with the development of common premises.
In the area of joint funding approaches, the United Nations Development Group also supported the application of common budgetary frameworks and carried out work concerning the establishment of Multi-Donor Trust Funds and One Funds, establishment of a clear fiduciary management oversight system, and strengthening country-level capacity in making strategic decisions with regard to funding United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks. The United Nations Development Group also launched an independent global assessment aimed at identifying results of the harmonized approach to cash transfers programme and enhancing the quality and efficiency of the implementation of the harmonized approach. The global assessment reported that 19 out of 140 countries to be compliant with the harmonized approach. For 2012, the United Nations Development Group is aiming to undertake revisions of the harmonized approach to cash transfers framework which are expected to lead to a lowering of the costs of implementation and will address recommendations made in the report.