The present evaluation, like most others, focuses on UNDP’s projects, yet in considering the notion of a programming cycle, attention turns inevitably to the organizational context within which overall objectives are set and projects are planned, financed and implemented. In particular, on the basis of the findings of this study, it is suggested that certain elements of UNDP organizational culture and structure appear to get in the way of efforts to achieve quality programming. The problems described below also represent barriers to the achievement of a situation where intercountry programmes, taken as a collectivity, substantiate the priorities and principal values of the organization.

Like many other donor organizations and more than most, UNDP is highly decentralized in its operational structure. The organization is not lacking in bureaucratic procedures and regulations, yet unlike many of its counterparts, UNDP either lacks or does not use mechanisms to ensure internal consistency or through which to ensure common standards.

In internal planning documents, reference is made to the need for UNDP to become "a learning organization". On the basis of the findings of this evaluation, a great deal must be done if this ambition is to be realized.

The first set of issues raised relates directly to the question of organizational learning. The second group focuses on issues related to project assessment and quality control, the third deals with programming strategy and the fourth with monitoring, evaluation and accountability.

Essentially, all the issues discussed pertain to organizational learning. Several of the topics - monitoring, for example - are discussed elsewhere in the report. They are given emphasis here in order to draw attention to the need for action at the senior management level in dealing directly with deficiencies in internal structures and processes.


Learning and Information-sharing: Organizational Issues

The study identified the following problems:

Project Assessment/Approval and Quality Control

The following problems have been identified:

Programming Strategy

Monitoring, Evaluation and Accountability

Careful, thorough preparation, including broad-based consultations and careful assessment of the capacity of selected partner organizations; Insufficient time and resources given to preparation, design and the appraisal process, resulting in poorly focused projects;
Building on previous activities and lessons learned; Too many projects, a scattering of projects by topic and theme and under-budgeting of projects;
Involvement of stakeholders and/or beneficiaries in project design and implementation; Absence of common standards for project quality and of a mechanism for assuring it;
A definition of the problem to be addressed and a focus on problem-solving at the heart of project design and reflected in project objectives; Poor definition of stakeholders and beneficiaries;
Realistic setting-out of expected results (and, ideally, performance indicators; Inadequate attention to adopting a consultative and participatory approach in working with partner(s) and stakeholders;
A coherent, practical implementation strategy linked to objectives and a budget based on a careful, realistic assessment of probable costs and structured and balanced in keeping with priorities and the relative needs of the activity sets and primary objectives; Insufficient internal staff allocation and poor use of professional and technical capacities to supervise project appraisal, design, management and monitoring;
A strategy for anchoring the project at the country level and an approach that emphasizes involvement of country offices and resident representatives from an early stage; Inefficiency in integrating organizational processes and the needs of project planning and implementation;
A clear definition of roles and responsibilities regarding overall project management, accountability, implementation and achievement of results; Weak management capacities within UNDP, both in New York and in country offices, in supporting intercountry programmes;
A straightforward structure for project governance; The absence of a commitment to learning and of a structure, within and across projects, to facilitate information collection and data exchange.
A realistic allocation of resources (human and material) to support management, monitoring and backstopping;
An effective strategy for information-sharing and learning, built on the experience of other projects;
A realistic strategy for capacity development where it is relevant to the project and where the project has resources to support it;
A project document that lays out all the elements of design clearly and coherently and that is designed as a management and monitoring tool.