Friday, March 14, 2008

UNDP's history is full of management failures

This state of affairs is not new. Negative reports on UNDP’s performance go back at least a decade and a half. It is only now becoming public knowledge.

Only a very few mainstream media outlets ever bother with extensive coverage of United Nations operations and performance. An almost exhaustive list includes the International Herald Tribune, The Economist, The New York Times and the Financial Times (UK), as well as the more controversial Fox News Network. Even they report on the UN only sporadically.

If it was not for people such as Russell Lee, almost nothing would be known about the United Nations, as was largely the case before Innercitypress came along.

Reporting on UNDP must also compete against the extensive and well financed UNDP spin machine. Every single UNDP report will make one or more of the following claims:

  • A trusted partner in development;

  • a leader in development thinking;

  • connecting countries to knowledge and ideas;

  • an important affirmation of the confidence partners have in UNDP’s role and performance'
    more nimble and adaptable, UNDP will be prepared for the challenges ahead;

  • Operating as an Effective and Accountable Development Partner;

  • stronger, more focused and better connected;

  • seeks and achieves results, and that underscores accountability in all that we do
    looks for new and creative opportunities to help people build better lives, through partnerships and the exchange of knowledge;

  • ensuring that our resources flow steadily behind our mission to reduce poverty;

Amongst the many independent evaluation reports that I have in my possession I will here repeat only briefly sections of those that I had already reported on. (The rest will become public as soon as I can confidently attach names to the failures.):

While these programmes were well conceived, relevant and important, they all suffered major problems for a number of reasons, and lasting results are very few.


Poor design of the actual projects, without adequate consultations with and ownership by the government institutions involved:



  • Weak programme management by UNDP and inadequate accountability by its institutional partners, especially UNOPS;

  • Inadequate transfer of technical and management expertise by external consultants to local staff

  • Inability by UNDP to quickly modify programmes to reflect the changing political and security environment.

  • the absence of an effective monitoring and evaluation system.

most programmes and projects suffered serious problems during implementation, some had to be terminated, and there are very few sustainable results. It seems equally evident that UNDP did not thoroughly scrutinize the proposed programmes and projects, before accepting funding.


The relationship between UNDP and government partners was not good at the central level during 1997-98. Both NGO’s and private sector partners indicated that their experience with UNDP in the execution of projects to have been negative. Experience in project execution through UNOPS has also appeared to be costly, bureaucratic and slow. Partners have questioned the quality of technical assistance particularly that recruited through UNOPS.


Bureaucratic procedures have been employed by both UNDP and National partners to protect themselves and to provide excuses for inaction.



  • the impact on communities targeted by programming in this sector has by and large been negative.

  • High expectations have not been met, promised funding to community projects has been slow to deliver at best, and often not arrived.

  • the Country Office did not adequately support the implementation of these projects in a timely and efficient fashion but was rather seen as slow, bureaucratic and without transparency.

UNDP must also ensure that the inputs, especially the international advisors and consultants that are funded, are relevant, efficient, effective and client oriented.



  • strongly believes that UNDP should not handle any more cost sharing, Trust Funds and other funds on behalf of other partners, before it has drastically improved its own performance and efficiency.

  • the shortage of resources that were made available for the project at this central level, complicated implementation efforts on the ground.

1 comment:

Domain Names 4 Sale 24-7 said...

Excellent site and I have just now added your RSS to my site:
unitednationsmoveon
mc