2004 Global: Strengthening Management in UNICEF
Author: Donohue, John. J.
Following the Multi-donor evaluation of UNICEF and the Booz, Allen and Hamilton Management Study of UNICEF, the organization invested heavily in the Management Excellence Programme. This effort is recognized as having made a significant difference to UNICEF management performance. In September 2004, the Evaluation Office released a brief summary of key internal and external institutional reviews and evaluations conducted during the period of 1992- 2004, "UNICEF's Strengths and Weaknesses". In the subsequent work of the task forces, it became evident that the contribution from the various units of the organization showed partial views of organizational improvement needs. Consequently, the Evaluation Office commissioned John J. Donohue to summarize areas of management requiring attention within the new Medium-Term Strategic Plan 2006-2009.
The objective of this review is to summarize areas of management requiring attention within the new UNICEF Medium-Term Strategic Plan 2006-2009 (MTSP). Some areas identified for improvement are persistent, having been previously identified in the 1994 Booz, Allen and Hamilton Management Study of UNICEF. The aim is to provide an evidence-based aide-memoire against which UNICEF can check its progress in planning the institutional performance improvement dimension of the new MTSP.
This paper uses evaluative material produced since 1999, when UNICEF's response to the Management Study, the Management Excellence Programme, concluded. Using a simple corporate management conceptual framework, the report highlights some areas identified for improvement that are still persistent. This review is not comprehensive but is rather a compilation of clues that flag areas of management requiring improvement. The paper does not attempt to catalogue the many efforts already underway in the organization to address the issues identified.
Findings and Conclusions:
1. Managing for Results
Country Programme Management:
Effective country office management is necessary in order to ensure that positive results for women and children are achieved. Major donors also consider assessment of results as the factor that most affect their contributions. Clearly, strengthening of management and business practices in COs will be a determining factor in the delivery of results as well as improving both Regular Resources and Other Resources contributions.
Assisting children and women in complex and frequently dangerous emergencies has become mainstream business for the organization and a major source of funds. Emergencies place relentless pressure on UNICEF to respond to those most at immediate risk. No doubt, it will be a major component of UNICEF's work over the next MTSP period and should be acknowledged as such in the next Strategic Plan.
2. Process Management
Human Rights-based Approach to Programming (HRBAP):
The human rights-based approach is critical to the future of the organization and the success of the next MTSP. A major effort is called for to refine the approach in the context of RBM.
The modest treatment in this paper of bureaucracy as a management issue understates the underlying concern in the documentation about the heavy weight of bureaucratic and control procedures put on staff and the need to lighten them as they carry out their duties on behalf of women and children. UNICEF needs to lighten the bureaucratic weight on the shoulders of the staff to make them more free to achieve, and be held accountable for, the outcome of the next MTSP. .
UNICEF's effectiveness at mobilizing for women's and children's rights is linked to the ability to communicate to the world that it serves, the world it works with, and the world it depends upon for resources. Revamping will be required to assure a significantly enhanced ability to communicate effectively to these stakeholders in the future.
The need to sharpen and clarify accountability across all levels of the organization emerges in many documents as critical to a fully functioning Results-based Management process.
Role of the Regional Offices:
Throughout the documentation, the Regional Offices are identified as cross-roads of much responsibility and increasing authority. A review of what is required and what it is reasonable to expect of ROs would be helpful, once the management implications of the MTSP have been clarified.
4. Managing Resources
Human Resources Management:
Ultimately, the success of the next MTSP will depend on improving the human resource base of UNICEF to one that truly manages by results for women and children on the ground. It requires: improving management skills across the organization, an effective Division of Human Resources, and a management culture that is results-driven.
Safety and Security:
Safety and security of UNICEF's most valuable asset, its people, are fundamental to the success of the next MTSP. Today, the bar has been raised, crisis situations could arise anywhere and real preparedness – not just on paper - is required across the board. The papers point to ongoing concerns that risk the well-being of field staff and their dependents, and affect their ability to fulfill their roles under duress.
Cash Advances to Government (CAGs) continue to be a problem that finds its roots in many places, from the limitations of ProMS in support of this function to the leadership and skills of the Representatives to manage their accountability over CAGs. The bank reconciliation process, as well, has problems.
Funding (OR and RR):
The documents point to a reality today of a flat Regular Resources financial base for the core financing of the next MTSP priorities. RR is overshadowed by Other Resources (OR), which is driven by donor priorities. The level of OR constitutes a threat to sustained RR financing, which will require constant attention. A strategic funding plan is essential to the successful execution of the next MTSP, as called for in the Medium-Term Review of the current MTSP.
5. External Environment
Establishing the guidance and support for staff to create and maintain the more dynamic and strategic partnerships necessary to achieve the objectives of the next MTSP is a major challenge.
UN reform is an important movement that is a given. Even more will be expected of the organization over the next MTSP period if it is to emerge in a leadership role, as it must, in this effort. UNICEF will either lead or be led.
The set of documentation reviewed makes limited or indirect references to important management themes requiring attention. The persistence of some of these issues is a concern and may point to the need to have clear mechanisms in the organization to address them.
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