- Evaluation Plan:
- 2009-2013, Independent Evaluation Office
- Evaluation Type:
- Planned End Date:
- Completion Date:
- Management Response:
- Evaluation Budget(US $):
Evaluation of UNDP contribution to strengthening electoral systems and processes
|Title||Evaluation of UNDP contribution to strengthening electoral systems and processes|
|Atlas Project Number:|
|Evaluation Plan:||2009-2013, Independent Evaluation Office|
|Planned End Date:||01/2012|
|Corporate Outcomes (UNDP Strategic Plan 2008-20013)|
|Evaluation Budget(US $):||250,000|
|Source of Funding:|
|Evaluation Team members:||
|1||Recommendation 1: UNDP should intensify efforts to build the shared sense of purpose among headquarter, country-office and project teams, and to improve their understanding of the UNDP approach and programming options for electoral assistance.|
|2||Recommendation 2: UNDP should assess the way it frames relationships with national authorities for electoral projects, and develop a model that embodies UN impartiality within its long-standing relationship within a country.|
|3||Recommendation 3: UNDP should ensure a more consistent grounding of electoral assistance in the broader democratic governance framework to better incorporate the values of that framework.|
|4||Recommendation 4: Beyond addressing technical needs, UNDP programmes should strategically focus on the areas of critical need for credible, inclusive processes.|
|5||Recommendation 5: UNDP should prioritize efforts to clarify the application of the United Nations electoral assistance policy framework to more effectively fulfil the institutional mandate of development assistance.|
|6||Recommendation 6: UNDP should strengthen implementation of electoral cycle projects so they are able to retain their process-oriented focus.|
|7||Recommendation 7: More emphasis and effort are needed to reduce the costs of some of the supported processes and ensure they are context-appropriate and sustainable.|
|8||Recommendation 8: UNDP should streamline its electoral assistance processes to ensure that they are more efficient in the fast-paced environment of the electoral process they support.|
This recommendation is very much in line with the UNDP AOC, which calls for improving performance 'from good to great' so that UNDP programming and implementation consistently lead to positive impact. The AOC means that UNDP will use the best configuration of knowledge, policy, programme and corporate services to support consistently high quality electoral assistance delivery at the country level. The actions proposed here form part of a larger organizational effort that goes beyond addressing the issues raised in the present evaluation and that seeks to standardize UNDP performance on the ground - not just in the area of elections but overall. UNDP will do more to make policies and guidance easily available - in particular through Teamworks - to encourage cross-regional information sharing. UNDP will also make greater use of in-house expertise through a strengthened quality assurance function for electoral assistance design, in particular by regional centre and headquarters advisors. UNDP will also make greater use of regional electoral workshops and trainings to contribute to consistency and effectiveness. Finally, senior country office leadership plays a particularly important role in framing the dialogue with the government on UNDP electoral assistance and will be engaged more through management/cluster meetings and training to build coherence.
|1.1 Improve cross-regional collaboration to share lessons and approaches in UNDP electoral assistance such as during global management meetings and regional bureau/cluster meetings.||Regional bureaux, BDP, regional centres||No due date||No deadline established||BDP has ongoing regular dialogues on electoral assistance to share status checks, strategy and lessons learned with RBA and RBAP, which together account for 75% of electoral assistance work and on specific country cases with other regional bureaux. This allows for cross-regional lessons learned. The annual DRR/DCD Dialogue in the Asia Pacific region in March 2013 looked at two issues, one of which is electoral support in politically volatile environments. As a practice, UN/UNDP internal conversations are being organized side to side to major electoral conferences and trainings. A conversation among UNDP/UN electoral staff was organized side to side the Global Electoral Officials Conference in October 2013.|
|1.2 Develop a stronger quality assurance role in the design of electoral assistance projects that makes use of in-house expertise.||BDP and BCPR, with regional bureaux||2014/06||Completed||BDP (DGG and KCIG) developed a TOR for UNDP programming criteria to improve the quality of the design of electoral assistance projects. However, it was decided that this work should be folded into the corporate initiative on programme and project level quality assurance (rolled out in 2015), which apply to all projects including elections. BPPS has a critical role in providing substantive support to ensure that quality criteria are met in all projects.|
|1.3 Ensure electoral policies and guidance are easily available, accessible and frequently updated using the Teamworks platform and other methods.||BDP||2013/02||Completed||All electoral policies are available online on Teamworks and have been circulated through the Democratic Governance Practice Network. Online Toolkit on Electoral Assistance is updated regularly to include all guidance available. Key policy documents have also been shared by the Administrator and BDP Director.|
|1.4 Ensure UNDP input to DPA/EAD-produced guidelines on needs assessment missions and types and principles of United Nations electoral assistance and ensure their distribution to country offices.||BDP (engaging DPA), regional bureaux||2012/09||Completed||UNDP feedback has been incorporated into needs assessment guidelines and other six policy documents developed in the context of ICMEA. These documents have also been circulated to country offices and are all available in Teamworks and the Online Toolkit on Electoral Assistance. Needs Assessment Guidelines and Policy Directive on Types and Principles of UN Electoral Assistance are due for review in May 2014. UNDP will engage in a review of lessons on the two years of implementation and participate in the review of these policies in the context of ICMEA.|
It is the DPA-led needs assessment process that continues to set the parameters of UNDP electoral assistance and requests from EMBs are still considered exceptional, with the executive branch more often seen as the initiator of such requests to the United Nations. UNDP will advocate more to consider the EMB as a routine source of electoral requests. Electoral assistance - like democratic governance and even development - features both political and technical dimensions. UNDP believes that the solution to political challenges in the electoral field is not to distinguish further between the political and technical dimensions, but rather to manage the political aspects in a manner that allows UNDP to maintain the highest level of impartiality. This can entail calling on DPA services when and as needed. In peacekeeping or mission contexts, this will mean clearly distinguishing the lead political role of the mission from the technical role that UNDP plays, while designing the technical assistance to take into account the political context. UNDP will explore ways to sensitize senior UNDP officials more on the lessons learned with respect to the political-technical relationship and to what role DPA can provide. UNDP electoral assistance projects usually feature clear reporting lines of CTAs to the UNDP country office (normally to the head of governance or to the senior country office management) in order to reinforce the chain of accountability and communication through which electoral assistance is closely aligned to the UNDP country office's democratic governance work.
|2.1 Sensitize senior country office and electoral staff - taking advantage of inductions of resident coordinators, country directors and deputy country director and other opportunities - to the fact that they can rely on DPA to provide political support or interventions on international norms and standards.||Learning Resource Centre, United Nations Staff College, regional bureaux, country offices, BDP||No due date||No deadline established||Induction courses now regularly include a session on electoral assistance and DPA?s role. More could be done to ensure a comprehensive treatment of electoral assistance ? as part of development programming as well as peacekeeping and political assistance ? in staff induction processes.|
|2.2 Finalize lessons learned study with DPA and DPKO on integrated electoral assistance for recommendations on division of labour between missions and UNDP.||BDP (engaging DPA and DPKO), BCPR||2012/09||Completed||The lessons learned study was finalized and presented to the Integration Steering Group in February 2013. Findings are being used for the development of new policy guidance on integrated electoral assistance.|
|2.3 Input to DPA/EAD-drafted needs assessment mission and principles and type of electoral assistance guidelines to expand consideration of requests for electoral assistance from EMBs.||BDP (engaging DPA), BCPR and regional bureaux||2012/08||Completed||UNDP lobbied EAD for inclusion of this provision into the principles and types paper. The final draft notes: ?Requests for electoral assistance can be made by the head of government or the minister of foreign affairs. In some circumstances, requests from other entities such as a ministry involved in the delivery of electoral assistance or the electoral commission may also be considered as acceptable. Requests cannot be made by groups within the legislature, not by civil society or other groups.?|
Elections are one input into UNDP democracy and governance work. In and of themselves, elections offer value as a unique and sufficient development goal. However, many linkages between elections and the broader governance framework exist with the electoral cycle approach and ensuring greater traction for the approach will also help to ensure more linkages between electoral assistance and work with political parties, civil society, including women's groups, media, domestic observers, security forces, parliaments and the judiciary. When electoral assistance is identified in the CPD/CPAP, linkages with other areas of UNDP work in country (and regionally) are identified at that time. UNDP will use the findings and recommendations from its study on longer-term electoral assistance to identify ways of using the electoral cycle approach better in environments where focus on the EMB per se may not be yielding the desired results. Similarly, UNDP will use the findings from the study on gender mainstreaming in electoral assistance and other knowledge products to identify key entry for gender mainstreaming in the electoral cycle. UNDP will also make better use of institutional and contextual analysis and collaborative cross bureaux (BDP-BCPR-regional bureaux) approaches to programme development (both country programmes and sector projects). In cases where there is no political will for competitive, multi-party processes, UNDP should carefully assess its options for support. It is crucial that UNDP is fully associated with the political analysis of the NAMs and does not limit its contribution to the design of future potential electoral projects. It is the DPA-led needs assessment process that continues to set the parameters of UNDP electoral assistance and the final decision on whether to assist a country lies with DPA. Country offices should be fully associated with the decision-making the political analysis provided to DPA since they need to take NAM recommendations forward with counterparts and are best placed to highlight the sensitivities and appropriateness of any given support.
|3.1 Adapt the institutional and contextual analysis methodology to the electoral assistance area.||BDP (including OGC)||2012/09||Overdue-Initiated||BDP has finalized the draft of the Guidance Note on Using Institutional and Context Analysis for Electoral Assistance, but launch has been delayed due to ongoing discussion on this product with DPA. Launched of the publication expected for first quarter of 2014.|
|3.2 Identify electoral assistance and democratic governance synergies in the CPD/CPAP when possible and at project design phase, in particular in ABP priority countries.||Regional bureaux, country offices, BDP and BCPR||No due date||No deadline established||Good work done to identify electoral assistance and democratic governance synergies in the CPDs and/or precursor strategies in DRC (Q2 2012) and Afghanistan (Q1 2013; Q1 2014). BDP electoral team collected all CPD and CPAP and initiating tracking the ones that envision electoral assistance.|
|3.3 Finalize the lessons learned study on the longer-term impact of United Nations electoral assistance and the study on gender mainstreaming in electoral assistance.||BDP||2012/08||Completed||Both lessons learned studies completed.|
This recommendation assumes that UNDP is trying to do everything everywhere, which is not confirmed by a close reading of what country offices are actually doing in electoral assistance, which tends to be fairly focused. What does bear scrutiny, however, is whether UNDP is taking the most strategic approach in a given context, which is rarely a factor of UNDP decision-making alone. In several countries, UNDP had designed electoral cycle approach projects that prioritized work with actors such as political parties that were deemed essential to peaceful and inclusive elections based on thorough analysis. However, these activities were considered by other actors as 'complementary' and ultimately dropped by the project when funding and priority were instead placed on 'core' electoral management. Greater advocacy therefore needs to be done in-house and with donors to recognize that work with the EMB alone may not be the best or only entry point for UNDP. Donors and EMBs also sometimes come to UNDP as the provider of last resort. This is a role that many will presumably continue to ask of UNDP in general and is not isolated to electoral assistance. In these contexts, the ability of UNDP to respond is highly appreciated by partners, so much so that in some cases if UNDP were to limit its areas of support it may present a reputational risk for the organization. At the same time, UNDP will do more to design electoral assistance projects with clear benchmarks for progress and, where possible, seek to transform and reduce its role over time to meet changing needs. This entails understanding the trajectory of countries that have been net 'importers' of United Nations electoral assistance, but are now providers of peer support, and knowing how UNDP can use the electoral cycle in each context to accompany programme countries along this pathway.
|4.1 Input on DPA/EAD-drafted needs assessment mission guidelines to identify early UNDP comparative advantages and to eliminate division between ?core? and ?complementary? activities.||BDP (engaging DPA), BCPR and regional bureaux||2012/08||Completed||As a result of input from UNDP, the DPA/EAD needs assessment guidelines discuss various stakeholders and entry points in a very UNDP programme-friendly manner. There is no distinction made between "core" and "complementary" activities.|
|4.2 Use the institutional and contextual analysis adapted to electoral assistance to design electoral assistance projects that take into account winner-takes-all politics.||Country offices, regional bureaux, BDP, BCPR||2014/12||Overdue-Initiated||Draft Guidance Note on Using Institutional and Context Analysis for Electoral Assistance finalized in 2013. Launched of the publication expected for first quarter of 2014. Bangladesh (Q1/2014) would pilot ICA for governance, including elections. Draft Guide has been shared with CO for their use in this exercise.|
|4.3 Use the lessons learned study on the longer-term impact of United Nations electoral assistance to identify strategies for evolving electoral assistance from large-scale technical assistance to partnership over time.||BDP, regional bureaux, country offices||No due date||No deadline established||Lessons from this study are already starting to be used in electoral assistance. For example, at an October 2012 lessons learned exercise on the electoral assistance experience in Libya, the study was used to identify pragmatic strategies to transition from large-scale political mission support to support focused on longer-term national capacity and sustainability; also in Pakistan the findings on capacity development strategies and training centres are being used for the development of their activities in the area (Q1, 2014).|
Decisions 2010/23 and 2011/23 of the Policy Committee of the Secretary-General have sought to clarify pending issues of division of labour among different parts of the United Nations system working in electoral assistance, from how policy is formulated to how the United Nations should respond to demands for electoral assistance from Member States. DPA and UNDP have also signed a Note of Guidance on Electoral Assistance (most recently in September 2010) that governs their division of labour in this area. However, differences in interpretation of this guidance continue to affect implementation in the field. These differences largely relate to interpretations of what it means for the United Nations focal point to have a normative and political role in setting the broad parameters of electoral assistance and what it means for UNDP (or other United Nations actors) to take the lead in designing and delivering technical assistance at the request of Member States, respecting these parameters. UNDP will continue to work at the technical level, through the ICMEA, to better collaborate with DPA and share information on approaches used by UNDP at country level with national and international partners to design and deliver electoral assistance. UNDP will also engage through senior management with DPA to ensure that the division of labour and policy guidance in this area is mutually understood and consistently applied by DPA and UNDP in a manner that allows UNDP to deliver on its development mandate.
|5.1 Senior-level UNDP engagement with DPA on the policy framework governing elections and clarification of how to implement Policy Committee guidance.||Executive Office, BDP, BCPR, regional bureaux||2012/09||Completed||UNDP maintained senior and working level engagements with DFS and DPA on the operational support review and the framework for a single roster. While these process was delayed due to discussions among different UN entities, however, significant progress has been made in 2015, and single UN system electoral roster was established and made operational.|
|5.2 Participate in the ICMEA regularly to ensure information sharing and mutual understanding of mandates and constraints.||BDP, with BCPR and regional bureaux||No due date||No deadline established||Regular participation through BDP in the monthly technical-level ICMEA meetings and participation by BDP in the two Director-level ICMEA meetings in 2013.. An action agenda on information sharing and knowledge products was produced as a result of those meeting.|
The electoral cycle approach is being used by more than half of UNDP country offices undertaking electoral assistance. Some of the constraints in fully implementing the approach, however, are beyond UNDP control. These include the timeliness of donor funding and interest, the electoral management framework in place (i.e., whether an electoral administration is permanent or reconstituted before elections), and national funding and interest in the inter-election period. UNDP will endeavour to work on those variables within its control, such as ensuring that guidance on using the approach is available - particularly during the United Nations Development Assistance Framework and CPD drafting stages of programming - and the consistent use of electoral-cycle-savvy staff in the design of electoral assistance projects. GPECS will continue playing a vital role in promoting the electoral cycle approach with both donors and national counterparts by financing long-term initiatives between elections. To date, GPECS has supported electoral processes and institutions in 18 countries with a total allocation of $14 million (11 in Africa, one in Asia and six in the Arab States region). Moreover, regional initiatives, workshops and seminars, geared at advocating the electoral cycle approach, will continue to be organized on a regular basis across all regions.
|6.1 Ensure guidance of policy advisors familiar with the electoral cycle approach is available to country offices when designing and implementing projects and country programmes.||BDP, BCPR, regional bureaux and country offices||No due date||No deadline established||Sensitization of regional and global electoral advisors to the electoral cycle approach, the lessons emerging from the various evaluations and lessons learned exercise, and UNDP participation in NAMs which helps focus on cost-effectiveness, national capacity and sustainability issues from the outset.|
|6.2 Ensure electoral policies and guidance are easily available and in an accessible format that is frequently updated using the Teamworks platform and other methods.||BDP||2012/12||Completed||Key policies have been sent to all COs by Administrator or BDP Director. All electoral policies are available online on Teamworks and have been circulated through the Democratic Governance Practice Network. They are also available on the Online Toolkit on Electoral Assistance.|
|6.3 Continue to foster South-South peer exchanges among electoral management bodies through established projects such as Pro-PALOP and new initiatives such as the SADC-ECF as part of a sustainability strategy.||Country offices, regional bureaux, BDP||No due date||No deadline established||Pro-PALOP and SADC-ECF projects continue implementation. A mid-term evaluation of Pro-PALOP finalized on Q4/2014. Other south-south cooperation on-going at the moment , mainly through MoU with Indian EMB and significant cooperation with Mexican electoral institutions and the Arab States region.|
Concerns about cost-effectiveness and sustainable solutions apply throughout UNDP work. This is an important consideration in electoral assistance programming but there are also limitations to how well UNDP can manage the costs of electoral assistance when, for example, a country makes a sovereign decision to schedule elections or adopt expensive systems and technologies, a national legal framework calls for certain technology to be used or when funding arrives late and drives up procurement costs. It is also important to realize that in some countries there will be a need for an initial large investment - for example, in a census, in identification cards or in a civil registry system - that will ultimately help to reduce the cost of elections. However, UNDP will step up efforts to help national electoral administrators to understand the implications of selecting technological solutions, including exploring local solutions, and to understand the importance of starting early, since starting late usually equals higher costs. UNDP will make a greater effort to balance economy, efficiency and effectiveness to ensure funds are being spent wisely in pursuit of local priorities. This means not only seeking to reduce costs and run electoral projects better, but also ensuring long-term capacity is built so that programme countries can run credible and sustainable elections on their own with little or no international help. UNDP will continue to organize workshops, conferences and seminars gathering EMBs, electoral practitioners and UNDP staff to raise awareness and to develop policy on issues pertaining to electoral processes. In 2012, a workshop of 230 participants was organized by UNDP in Mombasa, Kenya to highlight the appropriateness and costs of introducing ICTs in electoral process. This provided EMBs, UNDP staff and electoral practitioners with comparative information and data, analysis of timelines and costs, which will allow EMBs to effectively evaluate the choices available and make informed decisions regarding the possible introduction of technology in electoral processes.
|7.1 Develop guidelines based on the Mombasa conference to help national electoral administrators implement ICT solutions in a cost-effective and sustainable manner.||BDP, regional bureaux, country offices||2012/12||Completed||A publication was produced on the efficient use of ICT options in electoral processes, summarizing the Mombasa conference. This was disseminated to EMBs worldwide. In addition, a comprehensive e-learning course on ICT and Elections Management was launched in January 2013.|
|7.2 Continue to place procurement, budgeting and operations advisory support at the disposal of national EMBs and country offices.||PSO, BDP, country offices||No due date||No deadline established||PSO has a team of six people working on electoral procurement. BDP elections team providing support to COs on project development, which often includes budgeting and operations advisory services.|
The newly revised needs assessment mission (NAM) guidelines are expected to facilitate the process (and speed) of request receipt, assessment (and who should participate in this process) and project formulation by UNDP, although last minute requests for assistance will continue to be made by Member States. The project formulation process should systematically give timelines for procurement processes, defining what is feasible and what is not. More specifically, UNDP will endeavour to involve operations experts at the project initiation stage, ensure procurement expertise is available throughout the project, draw up a procurement plan early on and make use of fast track procedures where beneficial. UNDP has developed a roster of vetted consultants that country offices may use to speed up the retention of experts. UNDP is committed to learning and improving its systems and approaches and will work towards better monitoring and evaluation in the area, although enhancing institutional memory requires United Nations-wide commitment. Reporting and tracking systems exist and are widely utilized but the reporting on electoral assistance in the ROAR is not fully accurate and includes gaps in the picture of where UNDP is working. On more specific operational issues, UNDP will continue to engage with the Operational Support Working Group (comprising DFS, DPA, DPKO, UNDP, UNOPS) which has been asked by the Policy Committee of the Secretary-General to advise on how to achieve greater efficiencies in system-wide operational support to elections, including in the areas of procurement, logistics, security, human resources and project management.
|8.1 Explore whether a standardized post-election evaluation or lessons learned exercises should be developed.||Evaluation Office, BDP||2013/12||Overdue-Not Initiated||Some discussions being undertaken on this issue with DPKO?s best practices unit, which undertakes After Action Review for its electoral assistance. Their methodology has been made available to countries in integrated settings; But no work yet undertaken with the Evaluation Office.|
|8.2 Encourage the use of fast track procedures for electoral assistance and provide support to country offices making use of this modality.||BOM, BCPR, regional bureaux, BDP||No due date||No deadline established||In providing policy advice, BDP advisors explain the use of fast track procedures and the possibilities for using this modality.|
|8.3 Explore the more systematic use of the Procurement Support Office to procure goods while promoting greater procurement of local services.||BOM (PSO), country offices, regional bureaux||No due date||No deadline established||BDP and PSO Elections team engage on constant discussions. PSO-initiated training in February 2013 on Electoral Procurement and Operational Support, where BDP participated. New discussions regarding working together on some training and piloting for developing national capacities on electoral procurement (Q3/2014).|
|8.4 Continue to participate in the Operational Support Working Group to provide recommendations to the Policy Committee on how to improve operational support.||BDP, BCPR||2012/09||Completed||UNDP maintained high-level level and working level engagements with DFS and DPA on the operational support review and the framework for a UN single electoral roster. While process was initially delayed due to on-going discussions among different UN entities, however, significant progress has been made in 2015 and the roster was established and made operational.|
|8.5 Identify ways country offices can more comprehensively reflect electoral assistance in the ROAR/its successor.||Operations Support Group, regional bureaux, country offices, BDP||2013/12||Completed||New systems and rules developed for the new Strategic Plan outputs, which makes mandatory the linking of projects with the SP. On-going tracking by BDP elections team also help identify deficiencies in reporting.|
|8.6 Consider preparing a regular (annual or biennial) thematic publication on UNDP support to electoral assistance, which more fully captures electoral support and all of its variations.||BDP with partners||2013/09||Completed||BDP maintains an Online Toolkit on Electoral Assistance that provides an overall umbrella of UNDP electoral support. A number of important publications on different key themes on the area have been prepared post-evaluation: Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Electoral Cycle; Promoting Local Election Management as Part of an Electoral Cycle Approach; The Role of UNDP in Promoting Democratic Elections in Africa (2013) Media and Elections: A Guide for Electoral Management Bodies; Gender Equality in Elected Office in Asia Pacific: Six Actions to Expand Women's Empowerment; Intercultural Citizenship: Contributions from Political Participation of Indigenous Peoples in Latin America; Understanding Electoral Violence in Asia. Several other publications are in the process of completion.|