4.1 Monitoring policy of UNDP, its operational context and roles and responsabilities


Policy context for monitoring

Any organization that strives for results requires a robust, continuous and effective monitoring system. This requirement becomes even more relevant for UNDP, as the organization is aiming for results that: are nationally owned and form part of the multi-stakeholder framework, such as the UNDAF or national development plan; cover global, regional and country levels; are defined and achieved through the engagement of a broad range of stakeholders; and have to be accounted for. UNDP works towards a robust monitoring system through effective policies, tools, processes and systems so that it can meet the multiple monitoring challenges it faces.

The monitoring policy of UNDP is stated in the POPP and notes that all results—outcomes and outputs—to which UNDP is contributing must be monitored, regardless of budget and duration. Each programme supported by UNDP must be monitored to ensure that:

  • The outcomes agreed in each programme (country, regional and global) and their constituent projects are being achieved. This is a collective responsibility among UNDP and its partners. However, UNDP is responsible for monitoring its contribution towards the outcome by ensuring that the outputs being generated with UNDP assistance are contributing towards the outcome.
  • Each constituent project of the respective programme produces the envisaged outputs in an efficient manner as per the overall development plan and the corresponding annual workplan. This is a specific UNDP responsibility.
  • Decisions of programmes and projects are based on facts and evidence.
  • Lessons learned are systematically captured for knowledge and improving future programmes and projects.

The UNDP Strategic Plan 2008-2011 further emphasizes that outcomes must be nationally owned, hence the first line of accountability rests with national authorities. UNDP will contribute to those outcomes. Therefore, its chief accountability must be for its contributions to national development impact. The on-the-ground performance of UNDP should be assessed first at the country level, as part of a joint process with governments and other partners, and second at the corporate level, by senior management and the Executive Board, based on monitoring and evaluation data. UNDP is directly accountable for the corporate services and global and regional programmes that support country programmes.

Operational context for monitoring

The key reference for monitoring is the M&E framework associated with each programme (see Chapter 3). Within this, the results frameworks (sometimes referred to as ‘results and resources frameworks’) of the corresponding planning documents—such as the UNDAF, Global Programme Document, Regional Programme Document, CPD and constituent project documents—further indicate what is to be monitored. The results frameworks state: the selected national, regional and global development results towards which UNDP contributes, including UN level outcomes as applicable (based on the UNDAF); outcomes more specifically addressed by UNDP support at the country level (in CPDs), regionally (in regional programme documents) and globally (in global programme documents); and outputs associated with each outcome. The results frameworks also give indicators, baseline and targets for each outcome and output as applicable.

While the prime objective of monitoring in UNDP is achievement of results, it is also necessary to monitor the appropriate use of resources at all levels. UNDP does this through monitoring at three levels: outputs and projects, outcomes, and programme.

Figure 14 depicts the nexus among:

  • The results continuum: outcomes and outputs
  • The management arrangements and entities of projects and programmes
  • The inter-relationships at the three levels of projects, programmes and results (both outcomes and outputs)

From Figure 14, the following can be noted.

Project and output level

The project is the entity that uses inputs and resources and converts them to activities and outputs. It is also the entity from which monitoring actions begin. Outputs generated by projects are always connected directly to an outcome28. UNDP projects normally operate in complex development settings and it is important to be clear on each project’s role, deliverables and outputs, and their connections to other projects to avoid mix ups.

There is a critical responsibility at each project level with regards to: the generation of the planned output through a carefully planned set of relevant and effective activities; and proper use of resources allocated for those activities. Both these aspects must be monitored. The primary responsibility for monitoring at the project or output lies with the project manager. Primary monitoring tools used at the project level by UNDP are: the corporate project management system (Atlas); field visits, consultations and reviews with stakeholders; Annual (and quarterly) Project Reports; and the Annual Project Review Process.

Outcome level

The outcomes are achieved by the generation of outputs through projects (and other related activities such as soft advocacy). These projects and related activities could be supported by UNDP or others.

In UN and UNDP operating environments, there are normally more than one outcome hierarchies: UNDAF outcomes and UNDP country programme outcomes. In Figure 14, higher level outcomes, such as UNDAF or national outcomes, are depicted by the irregular shapes. The country programme outcomes are depicted by circles. They could also be conceived as sub-outcomes that lie within a higher level national or UNDAF outcome as depicted.

Note: There could be a number of sub-outcomes associated with a broad national outcome or an UNDAF outcome.. They serve the purpose of convenience of communication and presentation, particularly in complex results frameworks and multi-agency environments such as UN and UNDP cycles. Sub-outcomes may be referred to differently, for example, as 'intermediary outcomes'. Note also that in some cases they may not be needed. For example, an output generated by a national agency or a single donor (for example, World Bank) could be directly connected to a national-level outcome without necessarily a sub-outcome level. Sub outcomes or country programme outcomes guide UNDP to remain focused on its mandate and comparative advantage while addressing a UNDAF or national outcome.

Monitoring at a given outcome level requires a clear understanding of all contributory outputs to the outcome from all partners and the connections of the sub-outcomes to other levels of outcomes. Each partner is responsible for its own contribution toward the outcome, but the responsibility for monitoring the overall outcome is shared among all partners. For practical purposes, one of the partners should be assigned the responsibility to coordinate among the partners. Given the primacy of national ownership for all development results, primary responsibility for monitoring at the outcome level should be with the government or a national institution. UNDP supports this monitoring function of national institutions and focuses on developing their capacities for monitoring. This focus can extend to developing national monitoring systems. However, such capacity development activities should be elaborated within overall capacity development approaches as stated in the UNDP approach for capacity development29 (referred to in Chapter 3).

Primary monitoring tools used at the outcome level by UNDP are: the corporate results management system (RBM Platform); field visits, consultations and reviews with stakeholders; findings from project and programme monitoring; Annual Reports; and the Annual Programme and UNDAF Review Process. For outcome monitoring, UNDP systems should be augmented by links to national systems and those of other development partners. UNDP should always seek to engage existing national processes in this regard.

UNDP programme level

Depicted by the cross shape in Figure 14, UNDP programmes support several projects and outcomes. Programme-level monitoring entails:

  1. Oversight of all constituent projects
  2. Monitoring for each outcome that is being supported by programme funds
  3. Accountability of the programme for UNDAF, contribution to national results, and achieving the corporate outcomes in the Strategic Plan

The primary responsibility with UNDP at the programme level rests with the programme manager. The monitoring tools used at the programme level by UNDP are generally the same as those used at the outcome level.

It is important to understand that while outputs and outcomes are intrinsic elements of the results chain, projects and programmes are, in effect, arrangements to manage the generation of the outputs towards achieving outcomes. UNDP monitoring covers all the above elements.

Roles and responsibilities for monitoring

Monitoring of development results takes place at different levels—typically the national, programme, outcome and project output. There are specific individual and collective monitoring responsibilities at each level for partner organizations.

While some monitoring functions can be assigned to specific entities or functionaries, such as project managers at the project or output level, monitoring responsibilities at outcome and higher result levels are collective efforts. Successful monitoring and achievement of results depends on each partner being clear on their individual and shared roles and responsibilities. The respective roles and responsibilities associated at each point at which monitoring takes place and how they apply to UNDP programmes and projects are indicated in Table 18.

Table 18. Roles and responsibilities for monitoring

Who: Actors and Accountability

What: Roles and Responsibilities

How: Timing and Methodology

National authorities

Main responsibilities:  

  • Lead and oversee national programmes to determine progress towards intended results
  • Identify and manage partnerships

Monitoring for programme level results

  • To ensure nationally owned results-based monitoring and evaluation
  • To provide clear basis for decision-making and guide development initiatives
  • To use partner monitoring systems based on their comparative advantages
  • To link results with resources and ensure accountability in the use of resources
  • To ensure quality and the appropriate use of monitoring evidence and lessons learned
  • To resolve key bottlenecks to implementation in order to improve the chances of achieving results (outcomes)
1. At initial planning stages
  • Through active participation in development and approval of M&E frameworks for national programmes and UNDAF.

2. Annual reviews (of progress towards results) by

  • Reviewing progress, issues, and trends in the achievement of results given in documents for the annual review
  • Making decisions on changes as needed
  • Approving future work including M&E tasks

3. Participating in joint monitoring (selectively as decided by prior agreement with partners)

Senior managers of UNDP programmes
Main responsibilities:  

  • Lead, implement and monitor the progress of country programmes, together with governments, UN organizations and other partners
  • Collaborate with national partners to determine the focus and intended results of UNDP assistance to the country
  • Identify and manage partnerships
  • Assess the overall performance of UNDP assistance to the country (progress towards and achievement of results)
  • Ensure the strategic and cost-effective use of UNDP resources

Monitoring for programme level results

  • To forge strong coalitions for results
  • To provide clear basis for decision-making and guide development initiatives
  • To ensure active and results-based monitoring
  • To ensure quality and the appropriate use of monitoring evidence and lessons learned
  • To resolve key bottlenecks to implementation in order to improve the chances of achieving results (outcomes)
  • To link results with resources and ensure accountability in the use of resources
  • To adjust UNDP assistance in view of emerging changes as if required
  • To position UNDP strategically within the framework of development cooperation with the country
  • To approve M&E framework for the programme (for UNDP CPAP M&E Plan) in line with UNDAF and national M&E plans as applicable
  • To use project and outcome level monitoring data and feed it into programme discussions
1. At initial planning stages
  • Through active participation in the development and approval of M&E framework

2. Participate in joint monitoring (see above)

3. Prior to annual reviews by

  • Determining strategic contribution being made by programme towards results through review of outcome group reviews and Annual Project Reports
  • Deciding on strategic changes needed in programme results and resources, if needed
  • Finalizing evidence-based contribution of programme as a whole to annual review

4. Participate in annual reviews

UNDP portfolio managers
Main responsibilities:

  • Contribute to sectoral/outcome level coordination mechanisms
  • Manage UNDP portfolio of programmes and projects in a thematic area such as governance or poverty, in other words, UNDP contribution to outcomes

At outcome level

  • To analyse progress towards achievement of outcomes
  • To assess the efficacy of partnership strategies and take related actions (e.g., better coordination with partners)
  • To monitor the effectiveness of implementation strategies in tackling the constraints to the achievement of results (outcomes) and take related actions
  • To ensure effective use of resources, deploying them to maximize the possibility of achieving results (outcomes)
  • To discern and promote capacity development in monitoring and evaluation
  • To use project-level monitoring data and feed it into outcome level discussions

1. At initial planning stages

  • Through active participation in development and approval of M&E framework for respective outcomes

2. Throughout programme cycle by carrying out monitoring activities and joint monitoring

3. Prior to annual reviews by determining:

  • Progress towards the achievement of outcomes
  • Progress of the partnership strategies for achieving outcomes
  • Rate and efficiency of resource use
  • Issues that require decisions at the annual reviews
  • Inputs to programme reviews and annual reviews

4. Participate in annual reviews at the outcome level

Project managers and staff
Main responsibilities:

  • Manage UNDP- assisted projects to help produce outputs
  • Contribute to project management and project performance

At the project level, monitoring outputs

  • To ground the project in the larger context
  • To take steps towards achieving output targets
  • To ensure effective collaboration with partners
  • To interface with beneficiaries
  • To ensure efficient use of resources
  • To feed information of project data to higher level monitoring (outcome and programme-level monitoring)

1. At initial planning stages

  • Development of and agreement on M&E framework for project through an inclusive process

2. Throughout programme cycle by carrying out monitoring activities connected with the project

3. Prior to annual reviews by determining:

  • Progress towards the achievement of outputs and contribution related outcomes
  • Rate and efficiency of resource use
  • Issues that require decisions at the annual reviews
  • Inputs to programme reviews and annual reviews in the Annual Project Reports

4. Ensure holding annual reviews of the project