Evaluation of the Third Regional Cooperation Framework in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States

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Evaluation Plan:
2009-2013, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type:
Regional Programme
Planned End Date:
12/2009
Completion Date:
12/2009
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
180,000
This evaluation assessed the performance, results and strategic positioning of UNDP?s Regional Programme for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, 2006-2010. The evaluation found that the programme in general, and the RBEC Regional Service Centre in Bratislava in particular, are extremely important for fulfilling the RBEC mission in the region. But it also noted that the combination of projects, activities and services implemented by the regional programme is beyond what is traditionally called a ?programme?. The evaluation team recognized that the Bratislava Regional Centre has a strong capacity and in-depth expertise in most UNDP priority areas and is a unique source of knowledge and advice for the country offices. It also noted that the programme is being implemented in a fast changing region and in the complex environment of implementing the UNDP regionalization policy.

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Title Evaluation of the Third Regional Cooperation Framework in Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2009-2013, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type: Regional Programme
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2009
Planned End Date: 12/2009
Management Response: Yes
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
Evaluation Budget(US $): 180,000
Source of Funding:
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Team Leader
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 Recommendation 1. Develop and implement a more relevant approach to programming at the regional level73 that recognizes the distinctive¬ness of regional programming within UNDP. RBEC should consider the distinctive nature of regional programming and develop corresponding guidelines based on the existing UNDP documents and RBEC/BRC experience in the region. The new approach might be radical. While results-based policy and strategy remain relevant for RBEC/BRC activities at the regional level, RBEC may not necessarily use the traditional programme framework (similar to the country framework) to describe the regional programme. The regional RBEC strategy based on United Nations policies and UNDP policies and strate¬gies sets priorities for all the countries in the region. Countries should develop programmes in accordance with the existing rules and regulations. Projects as well as activities could be designed and implemented at the regional, subregional, multi-country and country levels. This approach keeps the focus on the country programmes. It allows enough flexibility to include any projects and activities implemented in the region at various levels. BRC consulting, knowledge management and marketing activities can be included as well.
2 . Recommendation 2. Focus on the develop¬ment of ?issue-oriented? regional projects with an emphasis on the subregional level and ensure active participation of the respective country offices in the design of the interven¬tion. Regional projects should be predominantly developed at the subregional level and/or should be issue-oriented. Geographic focus of the regional projects might be substituted or supple¬mented with problem focus and therefore RBEC ?regional? projects may even involve countries from outside the region, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran or China. Issue-oriented projects could involve countries that face or are affected by similar problems. Subregional programming is more natural in that respect and is supported by all country offices. In any case, it is crucial to get country offices involved in the project design at the very early stages so that the project can be most relevant to each of the countries involved and consider their similarities and differences.
3 . Recommendation 3. Keep knowledge products and knowledge management services as a top priority of the regional programme and ensure adequate investment in this area. Knowledge products and services that include development and facilitation of CoP proved to be relevant to the entire region and much appreciated by the country offices and UNDP partners in the RBEC region. Existing efforts to integrate knowledge management into all activities within the regional programme need to be continued and existing products strengthened.
4 . Recommendation 4. Reconsider the strategic position of the regional programme and its contribution to development results through high-quality development services to governments and other UNDP partners in cooperation with the country offices, rather than as a ?link? between the headquarters and country offices or an internal consulting unit focused primarily on supporting country offices and managing projects. With regard to strategic positioning of the BRC and the regional programme, it may be better to put an emphasis on contributing to development results by providing high-quality technical assistance to UNDP partners in the region in cooperation with country offices. In that case, the BRC will not appear to be just an internal ?link? or internal unit supporting country offices. It will look like an active partner in regional development, which better reflects what it really is about. It will also help to harmonize what the BRC does with expectations of potential donors. The BRC needs to make a clear distinction between the project management and consulting modes of operations. The BRC may consider focusing exclusively on the consulting and knowledge management activities, which was recommended by most respondents from the country offices. If the BRC decides to keep both modes, it should revise its organizational structure and systems to separate project manage¬ment business from consulting. To be effective either as project managers or as consultants, the same people should not combine the two roles. Ideally, the regional project manager should be based closer to the place where the project is implemented.
5 Recommendation 5. Strengthen investment in the professional development of staff, specifically in the skills related to consulting activities, and carefully plan staff workload. The BRC needs to build capacity of its consul¬tants. The programme of BRC staff professional development should include consulting skills and customer service skills training. Training should be provided at various levels (beginner, interme¬diate, advanced). The BRC has to carefully plan its core staff workload taking into consid¬eration their travel schedule. Alternating travel and deskwork and remote consultations should be mandatory. Staff rotation and even turnover should be planned rather than resisted: The BRC can intensely use consultants for a certain period of time and then hire new people, who should be on a BRC-approved list of candidates. Since the demand from the country offices and their partners for high-quality consulting services is seriously ahead of the existing supply, the BRC should develop and update regional rosters of consultants by practice areas. A network of pre-qualified consultants can help the BRC provide the proper level of supply.
1. Recommendation: Recommendation 1. Develop and implement a more relevant approach to programming at the regional level73 that recognizes the distinctive¬ness of regional programming within UNDP. RBEC should consider the distinctive nature of regional programming and develop corresponding guidelines based on the existing UNDP documents and RBEC/BRC experience in the region. The new approach might be radical. While results-based policy and strategy remain relevant for RBEC/BRC activities at the regional level, RBEC may not necessarily use the traditional programme framework (similar to the country framework) to describe the regional programme. The regional RBEC strategy based on United Nations policies and UNDP policies and strate¬gies sets priorities for all the countries in the region. Countries should develop programmes in accordance with the existing rules and regulations. Projects as well as activities could be designed and implemented at the regional, subregional, multi-country and country levels. This approach keeps the focus on the country programmes. It allows enough flexibility to include any projects and activities implemented in the region at various levels. BRC consulting, knowledge management and marketing activities can be included as well.
Management Response: [Added: 2010/05/12] [Last Updated: 2011/04/14]

For management response for this evaluation, please see management response to Midterm Assessment of the RBEC Regional Programme in Europe and CIS on RBEC's ERC page(http://erc.undp.org/evaluationadmin/manageresponse/view.html?evaluationid=2791).

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation: . Recommendation 2. Focus on the develop¬ment of ?issue-oriented? regional projects with an emphasis on the subregional level and ensure active participation of the respective country offices in the design of the interven¬tion. Regional projects should be predominantly developed at the subregional level and/or should be issue-oriented. Geographic focus of the regional projects might be substituted or supple¬mented with problem focus and therefore RBEC ?regional? projects may even involve countries from outside the region, such as the Islamic Republic of Iran or China. Issue-oriented projects could involve countries that face or are affected by similar problems. Subregional programming is more natural in that respect and is supported by all country offices. In any case, it is crucial to get country offices involved in the project design at the very early stages so that the project can be most relevant to each of the countries involved and consider their similarities and differences.
Management Response: [Added: 2010/05/12] [Last Updated: 2011/04/14]

For management response for this evaluation, please see management response to Midterm Assessment of the RBEC Regional Programme in Europe and CIS on RBEC's ERC page(http://erc.undp.org/evaluationadmin/manageresponse/view.html?evaluationid=2791).

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation: . Recommendation 3. Keep knowledge products and knowledge management services as a top priority of the regional programme and ensure adequate investment in this area. Knowledge products and services that include development and facilitation of CoP proved to be relevant to the entire region and much appreciated by the country offices and UNDP partners in the RBEC region. Existing efforts to integrate knowledge management into all activities within the regional programme need to be continued and existing products strengthened.
Management Response: [Added: 2010/05/12] [Last Updated: 2011/04/14]

For management response for this evaluation, please see management response to Midterm Assessment of the RBEC Regional Programme in Europe and CIS on RBEC's ERC page(http://erc.undp.org/evaluationadmin/manageresponse/view.html?evaluationid=2791).

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation: . Recommendation 4. Reconsider the strategic position of the regional programme and its contribution to development results through high-quality development services to governments and other UNDP partners in cooperation with the country offices, rather than as a ?link? between the headquarters and country offices or an internal consulting unit focused primarily on supporting country offices and managing projects. With regard to strategic positioning of the BRC and the regional programme, it may be better to put an emphasis on contributing to development results by providing high-quality technical assistance to UNDP partners in the region in cooperation with country offices. In that case, the BRC will not appear to be just an internal ?link? or internal unit supporting country offices. It will look like an active partner in regional development, which better reflects what it really is about. It will also help to harmonize what the BRC does with expectations of potential donors. The BRC needs to make a clear distinction between the project management and consulting modes of operations. The BRC may consider focusing exclusively on the consulting and knowledge management activities, which was recommended by most respondents from the country offices. If the BRC decides to keep both modes, it should revise its organizational structure and systems to separate project manage¬ment business from consulting. To be effective either as project managers or as consultants, the same people should not combine the two roles. Ideally, the regional project manager should be based closer to the place where the project is implemented.
Management Response: [Added: 2010/05/12] [Last Updated: 2011/04/14]

For management response for this evaluation, please see management response to Midterm Assessment of the RBEC Regional Programme in Europe and CIS on RBEC's ERC page(http://erc.undp.org/evaluationadmin/manageresponse/view.html?evaluationid=2791).

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation: Recommendation 5. Strengthen investment in the professional development of staff, specifically in the skills related to consulting activities, and carefully plan staff workload. The BRC needs to build capacity of its consul¬tants. The programme of BRC staff professional development should include consulting skills and customer service skills training. Training should be provided at various levels (beginner, interme¬diate, advanced). The BRC has to carefully plan its core staff workload taking into consid¬eration their travel schedule. Alternating travel and deskwork and remote consultations should be mandatory. Staff rotation and even turnover should be planned rather than resisted: The BRC can intensely use consultants for a certain period of time and then hire new people, who should be on a BRC-approved list of candidates. Since the demand from the country offices and their partners for high-quality consulting services is seriously ahead of the existing supply, the BRC should develop and update regional rosters of consultants by practice areas. A network of pre-qualified consultants can help the BRC provide the proper level of supply.
Management Response: [Added: 2010/05/12] [Last Updated: 2011/04/14]

For management response for this evaluation, please see management response to Midterm Assessment of the RBEC Regional Programme in Europe and CIS on RBEC's ERC page(http://erc.undp.org/evaluationadmin/manageresponse/view.html?evaluationid=2791).

Key Actions:

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