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Evaluation of UNDP Strategic Plan 2008-2013
Commissioning Unit: Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Plan: 2009-2013
Evaluation Type: Thematic
Completion Date: 04/2013
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Bureau for Policy and Programme Support
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
 
1. Recommendation:

Recommendation 1. The new Strategic Plan needs to be clear about the direction it wants UNDP to take, and UNDP management needs to ensure that adequate tools are put in place to support and monitor implementation of the strategies and priorities contained in the plan.

A key conclusion was that efforts to implement priorities and approaches were mixed and not carefully monitored from the start of the Plan. Even though the role of the Plan is to provide direction, the role of UNDP management is to operationalize and implement this direction through ensuring clarity of concepts and approaches, developing tools such as guidance, and monitoring its implementation. Yet, the examples of capacity development and gender mainstreaming suggest that guidance and monitoring are not enough to ensure implementation of the approaches identified in the Strategic Plan. Even combined with strong leadership the central actions are necessary but not sufficient to guarantee implementation. 

Management Response: [Added: 2013/05/20] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation. The new strategic plan, 2014-2017, will be clearer about the future direction of UNDP. The organization recognizes the need to be more systematic in ensuring that adequate incentives and capacities are in place so that its priorities and approaches are more effectively reflected and implemented in all its programmes. As noted in the evaluation, UNDP made great efforts in gender and capacity development and, having learned from those efforts, is in a stronger position to support the use of its other approaches and priorities systematically over the coming years. UNDP is intent on ensuring a smoother, more managed transition to the new strategic plan, which includes developing stronger incentives to support the deployment of its approaches.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1 The new strategic plan provides greater clarity and focus for the future work of UNDP.
[Added: 2013/09/25]
Executive Office 2013/09 Completed The new strategic plan was approved by the Executive Board in September 2013.
1.2 UNDP develops adequate tools which enable the approaches outlined in the plan to be used fully in its programmes, and which support and monitor implementation of the strategic plan.
[Added: 2013/09/25] [Last Updated: 2014/02/27]
Bureau for Development Policy (BDP), Executive Office 2014/01 Completed UNDP has developed the SP IRRF, approved by the EB in September 2013, and accompanying tools including theories of change, indicator methodological notes, and guides to alignment, linking and baseline and target setting. UNDP has revised its CPD template (approved by the EB in January 2014) and related quality assurance processes and tools, and has updated its corporate scorecard to incorporate clear monitoring and incentive measures.
1.3 UNDP provides targeted support to country offices in order to support their capacity to transition to the new strategic plan, including through COSI.
[Added: 2013/09/25] [Last Updated: 2018/01/26]
Regional bureaux, BDP, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR), Executive Office 2014/02 Completed RBx each have regional roadmaps and have included on average 5% of regional programmes for support to M&E/RBM; regional workshops and targeted CO support for SP alignment/ transition is being rolled out with BDP/BCPR support, including through ?socializing? theories of change and indicator methodological notes 2018 update: COSI benchmarks are analyzed based on ROAR data and reported on to the Executive Board. UNDP had a partnership with UNV, with an Evaluaiton Specialist Volunteer deployed to RBAS region during 2017. COSI benchmarks was one of the tasks the UNV followed-up on. UNDP and the IEO conducted training workshops for all five regions during 2016 and 2017, COSI benchmarks was among the items discussed. History
2. Recommendation:

Recommendation 2. The new Strategic Plan needs to explicitly address the trade-offs that occur as a result of the UNDP business model.

UNDP’s comparative strengths are not just in parts of its focus areas but, inter alia, in its longterm commitment and in general its position as a trusted partner. These are elements of an underlying ‘theory’ of how UNDP works that is operationalized through a business model. The trade-offs faced by UNDP are inherent in any business model and need to be made transparent, with decisions made by the Executive Board as to UNDP’s position. Specifically, agreement must be reached on the trade-offs in two areas: first, between national ownership and organizational priorities with clear organization, approaches, strategies and focus combined with guidance for programme units when faced with a potential trade-off; and second, between addressing long-term capacity development needs and short-term results, which requires a review of the incentives faced by programme units when reporting on results and the investments in processes of innovation, learning and adaptation that are required if long-term capacity development is to be effectively supported. 

Management Response: [Added: 2013/05/20] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation. UNDP organizational results are defined at an organizational level and determined at the national level based on national demand for UNDP engagement in specific areas. Improved business analytics and pipeline management will further improve the ability of UNDP to ensure that there is a convergence between its priorities and demand for its support in key areas. Learning lessons from implementation of the current strategic plan, UNDP is intent on ensuring a smoother, more managed transition to the new strategic plan, including more clear guidance to its programmes on managing trade-offs that emerge from the approaches and priorities laid out in the strategic plan. Issues related to the UNDP funding model and associated trade-offs will continue to feature in performance monitoring and reporting to the Executive Board. UNDP will also use the new integrated results and resources framework to underpin a more robust reflection of the relationship between results and resources.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 Reporting under the new strategic plan provides more robust analysis of the trade-offs that occur as a result of the UNDP business model, including the relationship between national demand and organizational priorities; between transformational and short-term results; and between funding sources and the pursuit of durability in the long term.
[Added: 2013/09/25] [Last Updated: 2018/01/26]
Executive Office 2014/02 Completed New SP/IRRF approved by EB in September 2013. Reporting will occur each year at the annual session of the board. The previous SP Annual Reports of the Administrator have seen a stronger focus on national demand and organizational priorities and the attempt to analyse the results-resources relation. Action completed, with activities in this area continuing under the recommendations 14.2 and 16.2 in the evaluation of the SP 2014-2017. History
2.2 Stronger UNDP performance management and business analytics enable more accurate forecasting of business model implications for achieving results under the new strategic plan.
[Added: 2013/09/25] [Last Updated: 2018/01/26]
Executive Office 2014/12 Completed This has been work in process throughout the implementation of the previous SP. Completed, with activities continuing in the SP 2018-2021, based on SP 2014-2017 evaluation recommendations. History
3. Recommendation:

Recommendation 3. The new Strategic Plan should emphasize the priority of support at the country level and explicitly recognize that no matter how good the work is at the centre, it is at the country level where the difference is being made.

Effective support to strengthening country offices must be the priority of UNDP central and regional support. Taking into account context variability, the generation of coherent policy support needs to be anchored at the regional level. For its central research function, in the spirit of One UN and in order to prevent duplication of work, UNDP should work more closely with the United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs and the United Nations University. Moreover, to overcome the tendency to work in silos, sustainable human development as a unifying principle should be explicitly at the centre of country-level programming. Practical support and guidance need to be provided to ensure that this becomes a reality.

Management Response: [Added: 2013/05/20] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

UNDP acts at the global, regional and country levels, and prioritizes support at the country level where development progress affects people?s lives. UNDP recognizes the importance of the global and regional policy functions inter alia to support country offices and to benefit all partners through shared knowledge and learning. UNDP accepts that the agenda for organizational change now needs to focus on country offices. The 2013 annual business plan includes important measures to capitalize on more than three years of intensive effort to improve the organization?s results-based management culture, and to strengthen country office performance and learning through greater focus, strategic priority-setting, ongoing efforts such as COSI and refining UNDP business models.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 The new strategic plan clearly emphasizes that support for the country level is the priority of UNDP, and that it is at the country level that UNDP makes the greatest difference.
[Added: 2013/09/25]
Executive Office 2013/09 Completed The new strategic plan was approved by the Executive Board in September 2013.
3.2 See key action 1.3 above.
[Added: 2013/09/30] [Last Updated: 2018/01/26]
Regional bureaux, BDP, BCPR, Executive Office 2013/09 Completed 2018 update: COSI benchmarks are analyzed based on ROAR data and reported on to the Executive Board. UNDP had a partnership with UNV, with an Evaluaiton Specialist Volunteer deployed to RBAS region during 2017. COSI benchmarks was one of the tasks the UNV followed-up on. UNDP and the IEO conducted training workshops for all five regions during 2016 and 2017, COSI benchmarks was among the items discussed. History
3.3 UNDP?s future global programme leverages the global policy function to optimize the policy mix in order to service countries and to promote knowledge sharing and South-South exchange.
[Added: 2013/09/30] [Last Updated: 2014/02/27]
BDP, BCPR, Executive Office, regional bureaux 2014/01 Completed UNDP global programme 2014-2017 was approved by the EB in January 2014
4. Recommendation:

Recommendation 4. When assessing performance, the new Strategic Plan needs to take the country programme as the unit of analysis. This will allow a more realistic and meaningful assessment, taking into account the country-level context.

In complex development situations and areas of intervention, the role of context is vital in determining performance. The contexts and areas in which UNDP works can only be fully internalized if performance assessment is made at the country level (i.e. the country programme). Taking the country level as the unit of analysis for performance in terms of contribution to outcomes would still require country office reporting on approaches and outputs for aggregation at the corporate level. Moreover, a focus on the country programme would allow the monitoring and evaluation systems to be vertically integrated so that selected independent evaluations could validate (or not) the performance assessment made through the monitoring system.

Management Response: [Added: 2013/05/20] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

UNDP understands the recommendation, and agrees that there is the need to establish clearer performance criteria as part of a stronger performance monitoring system. UNDP recognizes the central role of the country programme as the main ?unit of analysis? in managing the organization?s performance; UNDP currently monitors performance against country programme outcome indicators and country management indicators as an integral part of its performance monitoring and reporting architecture. The challenge of aggregating data to analyse organizational performance, while understanding the unique country context within which results are generated, is one that is faced by all large development actors. UNDP has made notable progress in its use of performance data since 2011, and continues to build its own capacity to produce high quality, contextualized and nuanced performance metrics that go beyond compliance-oriented reporting to provide a meaningful picture of what is working and what is not.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 The new strategic plan has a results framework with SMART indicators at every result level that can be incorporated into country-level programming, including new country programme documents and results and resources frameworks.
[Added: 2013/09/30] [Last Updated: 2018/01/26]
Executive Office, BDP, regional bureaux 2014/02 Completed The new strategic plan/ Integrated results and resources framework was approved by the Executive Board in September 2013 and will be fully populated with baselines and targets by June 2014. New CPD format approved by the EB in January 2014. Has been long implemented with the SP 2014-2017 IRRF. It can be demonstrated that several CPD have adopted the SP IRRF indicators. History
4.2 UNDP annual reports ensure that analysis of UNDP performance is founded on data and analysis of country level performance, and is reflective of country context.
[Added: 2013/09/30] [Last Updated: 2018/01/26]
Executive Office, regional bureaux 2013/09 Completed Aanalysis of country level performance drawn from the country offices’ result oriented annual reports informed UNDP annual reports of the administrator History
4.3 UNDP develops a stronger and more integrated performance monitoring system that provides a stronger evidence base for better evaluations.
[Added: 2013/09/30] [Last Updated: 2018/01/26]
Executive Office, Bureau of Management 2014/10 Completed This has been work in process throughout the implementation of the previous SP. Completed, with activities continuing in the SP 2018-2021, based on SP 2014-2017 evaluation recommendations. History

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