Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Key recommendations of independent review of the UNDP evaluation policy

Evaluation recommendation 1. UNDP senior management must decide whether decentralized evaluation is of a high enough priority that it is willing to commit the focus and resources needed to implement the approaches envisaged in the new Handbook on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluating for Development Results. Management should do this by:
(a) Acknowledging the magnitude of the challenge; (b)Taking a clear lead in ensuring that changes envisaged are implemented as quickly and effectively as possible;
(c)Revising the UNDP Programme and Operations Policies and Procedures (POPP) where necessary, to ensure alignment between the handbook and policies and procedures; and
(d)Defining the means, capacities and timeline required to implement the changes needed to strengthen the decentralized evaluation system, and ensure resources are allocated, implementation is properly monitored and corrective action taken, if needed.

This recommendation will require changes in systems and practices across the whole planning and project cycle, with ‘evaluation’ being integrated into all new initiatives as they are being developed, as well as into staff appraisal systems.

Evaluation recommendation 2. The senior management of UNDP will need to build on the opportunities to build national leadership and ownership in evaluation. In responding to changes introduced by the UNDG on results reporting and results frameworks used at country level, the senior management of UNDP will need to revise the new Handbook for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluating for Development Results, the UNDP Programme and Operations Policies and Procedures, and other tools and guidelines.

These revisions should also recognize an ongoing need for the Evaluation Office to draw upon this data for the assessment of development results and corporate level evaluations, which are still required to meet corporate level accountability and learning objectives. The Evaluation Office should reassess its methodological guidance in the light of these changes, and work within UNEG to craft a common response on how to balance corporate and national-level needs for evaluative evidence.

Evaluation recommendation 3. The Executive Board should amend the evaluation policy to institutionalize the independence of the Evaluation Office. This would include:
(a) Recruitment of the Director of the Evaluation Office. In the current policy, the Administrator appoints the Director of the Evaluation Office, in consultation with the Executive Board, and ensures there is no conflict of interest in employment, including limiting the term of appointment to four years, renewable once, and barring re-entry into the organization. Institutionalization of independence would be significantly strengthened if the role of the Executive Board in appointing the Director were strengthened and clearly spelled out in the policy;
(b) Recruitment of the Evaluation Office Staff. As long as standard UNDP human resources practice is followed, the power of the QUARRY 1 to overrule decisions made by the Director should be removed;
(c) Clarifying relationships. The relationship of the Director of the Evaluation Office to other senior managers within UNDP, and on what basis the Director would participate in strategic planning processes within UNDP, should be clarified;
(d) Expanding career opportunities for the Evaluation Office Staff. The possibilities for Evaluation Office staff to be mainstreamed into core positions in the wider organization, with opportunities to rotate and be promoted in line with standard UNDP procedures, should be strengthened; and
(e) Budget. The process for setting the budget of the Evaluation Office is currently described in broad terms within the present policy, whereby the Administrator is responsible for provision of sufficient resources, and the budget is negotiated biannually with the Bureau of Management. The guiding principle should be that the budget is set to adequately fund the work programme agreed upon between the Evaluation Office and the Executive Board. Good practice would be for the budget to be approved by the Executive Board as part of the Evaluation Office workplan approval process.
Evaluation recommendation 4. The Evaluation Office to consider the degree to which the present approach to development and implementation of assessment of development results truly contributes to country ownership. Particular issues that should be considered are: participation of government partners in deciding the scope and focus of the assessment of development results; and consideration of the recommendations of, and management response to, the evaluation.

Evaluation recommendation 5. The Evaluation Office should work through UNEG to clarify (a) the comparative advantage of UNDP in building capacity for evaluation at the country level; and (b) what steps should be taken by the Evaluation Office and the respective country programmes to build on this comparative advantage.

Evaluation recommendation 6. The Executive Board should consider requesting a review to be presented to the Board in 2012 covering:
• The degree to which the roles and responsibilities laid out in the 2007 POPP and 2009 Handbook have been fully and effectively implemented;
• The degree to which adoption of approaches advocated in the Handbook has strengthened (i) RBM and (ii) decentralized evaluation at the country level;
• The degree to which independence of the EO has been institutionalized;
• The degree to which the policy has been implemented and made a positive contribution in UNDP’s associated funds and programmes;
• Whether an effective approach to strengthening country ownership and capacity building has been identified and is being implemented.

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