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Project Delphi: plan of action

Executive Committee Meetings

Project Delphi: plan of action

4 September 1996

4 September 1996
4th Meeting

(i) This Conference Room Paper sets out the Action Plan for Project Delphi. It was approved by the Senior Management of UNHCR on 3 September 1996 for presentation to the Executive Committee for endorsement of the broad directions of the Plan, and thereafter, also to serve as the central reference document for UNHCR staff at this stage of the change process.

(ii) The presentation of the Action Plan marks a significant phase in the Project Delphi process. This initiative was foreshadowed by the High Commissioner at the last annual session of the Executive Committee (October 1995). She gave then a commitment to restructure the way UNHCR worked with a view to improving its efficiency and effectiveness, one aspect of which would be the Office's capacity to contract and expand in response to operational demands. A summary of the objectives of Project Delphi and its methodology may be found in paragraphs 1-3 of this Conference Room Paper; more detailed information on these was presented to the Executive Committee at the 25-27 June 1996 meeting of its Standing Committee (see EC/46/SC/CRP.38). This methodology consisted of a thorough review of major processes for operations and the management of human and financial resources allocated to them. It should be noted that the entire process has been one characterized by the involvement of and ownership by the staff of UNHCR.

(iii) The Action Plan is the fruit of Phase II of the Delphi project process. It built on the broad conceptual framework for change which had been elaborated in Phase I by a UNHCR Change Management Group. Elements of this conceptual framework are set out in this Conference Room Paper in Section II: Overarching Principles (paras. 5-11). One central concept is that of the "situational" approach (para. 6), and the strategic orientation implicit in the situational approach to achieve durable solutions to refuge situations or problems (para.7). Underpinning all UNHCR's activities are the High Commissioner's responsibilities for international protection (para.8)

(iv) The situational approach concept has also been the principal element in determining UNHCR's Management Structure (paras. 110-124), including the respective responsibilities of the three substantive levels of management between the High Commissioner and UNHCR's beneficiaries (para. 24). The new organizational structure has five key components: Executive Office; International Protection; Oversight; Operations; and Operations Support Services. The groupings under the broad heading of operations (either "stand alone" situations such as the former Yugoslavia, or clusterings of situations such as the Americas ) were determined with reference to the key concept of the situational approach.

(v) The basis of all of UNHCR's activities should be a clear strategic vision. Section III (paras. 12-18) of this paper focuses on Strategic Policy (and two related types of policy, namely Global Operational Policy and Principles, and Operation-specific Policy).

(vi) A substantially revised Operations Management System is the subject of Section IV of this Conference Room Paper (paras 19-27). The system addresses the problems that were identified with the present System (para. 20). The revised System, structured on the principles referred to above, is the means whereby UNHCR ensures that all aspects of its operations are appropriate, consistent and effective. This System reflects a significant shift in operational decision-making from Headquarters to the field, with Headquarters remaining responsible for global management; standard setting, including the norms and principles of international protection; fund raising and donor relations; allocation of resources; operations support; internal oversight; and reporting to legislative bodies.

(vii) To support operations, strategies in the areas of international protection (paras. 29-38); operations (paras. 39-46); financial services (paras. 47-53); human resources management (paras. 54-67); information and communications (paras. 68-76); and training (paras. 77-84) have been elaborated. These strategies support the management role and authority of the Director of an Operation (or a "situation"), in particular the comprehensive and strategic approach he/she is expected to take in addressing a given refugee situation. While the strategies reflect the standard setting and related functions of the relevant Headquarters Divisions, they also presuppose that each operation will be subject to regular self-evaluation/monitoring against established performance indicators and operational benchmarks built into a Plan of Operations.

(viii) It is recognized that, given the level of decentralization envisaged under Project Delphi, it will be necessary to enhance UNHCR's internal oversight function (paras. 85-97). This enhancement envisages, subject to further consultations with the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services, UNHCR having its own internal audit function. It is also intended to set up an Oversight Committee to ensure effective review and follow-up of all reports related to oversight.

(ix) The issue of internal communications is central to UNHCR's objective of being an effective and efficient organization. This important subject is addressed in paragraphs 98-102.

(x) More detailed information on the cost implications of implementing the Action Plan will be presented to the Standing Committee at its January 1997 meeting. As many of the components of the Plan relate to already existing projects, for which budgetary provisions have been made, and in view of the expected savings resulting from efficiencies, decentralization and the reduction of staff at Headquarters by some 200-250 posts, the net resources which will be required for the Plan's implementation should be able to be accommodated within the procedures of UNHCR's normal budgetary cycle.


1. In document EC/46/SC/CRP.38 entitled Project Delphi, which was presented to the Standing Committee at its third meeting on 25 to 27 June 1996, UNHCR undertook to present the results of Phase II of Project Delphi dedicated to Action Planning to the Standing Committee for endorsement. These results have been brought together in an Action Plan which is the subject of this Conference Room Paper. The wide scope of Project Delphi and the complex nature of many of the issues examined mean that to be comprehensive, this paper is of necessity detailed. The Plan of Action is, nevertheless, still only a high-level indication of UNHCR's intentions, not a detailed blue print for implementation. Subject to the Executive Committee's broad endorsement of these intentions, much detailed elaboration will be required. The Executive Committee will be kept regularly informed of progress.

2. Project Delphi was foreshadowed by the High Commissioner in her opening statement to the Annual Session of the Executive Committee in October 1995 when she made a commitment to restructure the way in which UNHCR worked, so as to improve the delivery, accountability and performance of the Office, and build the capacity to contract and expand in response to operational demands. The process aimed at bringing about such a restructuring was formally launched by the High Commissioner in a directive to all staff on 4 December 1995. The framework for planning and effecting the changes envisaged by the High Commissioner was named Project Delphi. The overall coordination of the Project was placed under the supervision of the Deputy High Commissioner. Phase I of the Project was facilitated by a Change Management Group (CMG), consisting of a small group of UNHCR staff with wide-ranging Headquarters and field experience, appointed by the High Commissioner. The group was assisted by a part-time consultant. It was the intention of the High Commissioner that the exercise from the beginning should be a UNHCR-owned process, with the broadest possible involvement of staff. This was achieved by the participation of staff in consultative mechanisms such as the Focus Groups and the Delphi Cells. Phase I culminated in a report (the CMG Report) which was presented to the High Commissioner on 1 May 1996. The CMG Report set out the broad conceptual framework for the changes that UNHCR needed. It also proposed the steps, methodology and timetable for the subsequent phases of the Project Delphi. The Senior Management Committee of UNHCR strongly endorsed the Objectives and Overall Recommendations of the CMG Report (see Annex 1) and agreed that these should serve as the foundation for the work on Project Delphi to follow.

3. The objective of Phase II of Operation Delphi, facilitated by a temporary Planning Group, was to transform the conceptual framework for change provided by the CMG Report into a Plan of Action. This phase of Project Delphi was largely guided by Working Groups under the leadership of the Senior Management of the Office. There were four Working Groups on Core Functions: Policy Formulation and Dissemination; External Relations; Operations Management; Internal and External Oversight. Each of these Working Groups produced a report which was reviewed by the Senior Management of UNHCR. In the light of the conclusions of these Working Groups, as endorsed by the Senior Management Committee, other sections of the Office were then tasked to look at a number of Support Functions, namely, Human Resource Management; Programme and Financial Management; Information Technology; and Training. Having completed the review of the main processes of UNHCR, the issues related to Organizational Structure and Internal Communications were examined.

4. This Conference Room Paper is based on the intensive work of these various groups, which, in turn, reflects the wide-ranging inputs of UNHCR staff, both at Headquarters and in the Field. One of the strengths of the Delphi Process has been precisely this involvement and ownership by the staff of UNHCR, which augurs well for the implementation stage of the Delphi Process.


5. As the work of the Delphi Project progressed, there emerged certain key principles that coloured and determined the considerations of the various Working Groups. The most important of these principles are discussed in this Section and elaborated thereafter.

6. One central concept throughout the whole Delphi Project deliberations has been that of the situational approach. This approach is based on the realization that UNHCR needs to focus more on objectives aimed at achieving solutions for persons of concern rather than on individual country projects dealing with only one aspect of a particular refugee problem. It is on the basis of these objectives that the operations should be designed, resources allocated and operations implemented and evaluated. The situational approach is thus a comprehensive approach to operations planning and management which focuses on all aspects of a refugee problem, existing or potential; for example, in the case of refugee outflows for which the likely solution is, or includes, voluntary repatriation, the situation approach would mean that the related Operations Plans, from the outset, would cover both the country of origin and country(ies) of asylum. It is recognized that the situational approach also may encompass "thematic" situations in which UNHCR's priorities may not be tied to a specific refugee problem, for example capacity-building, fund raising and promotion of refugee law. The situational approach has also been the key concept in determining the new management structure of UNHCR.

7. A further emphasis was on the need to maintain a focus on achieving a durable solution to a situation or a problem. The situational approach, and the related Operations Plan drawn up to address a situation, should ensure a long term view of an operation, in particular the articulation of a strategy to achieve a durable solution. The Operations Plan would contain a comprehensive review of the situation, including an analysis of the external environment, in order to define actions to realize the solution for that problem. Thus there is a need for an early and clear strategic orientation towards the search for solutions to be fully integrated into the normal planning process.

8. With the objective of achieving a broader focus on international protection, the provision of which is the raison d'être of UNHCR and pervades the whole spectrum of activities undertaken by UNHCR, the need to better integrate protection and assistance was also highlighted, at the level of Strategic Policy, Global Operational Policies and Principles, or Situational Policies (see the next section for these distinctions), and, more concretely, in Operations Plans.

9. The following considerations were found to be of particular relevance to the redesign and re-engineering of UNHCR's operations management and support systems: to make them more effective and efficient; to ensure greater delegation to the field, but within a framework of accountability; to eliminate duplications and overlaps; to move operational decision making closer to the "point of delivery" of operations; and to exploit technological potential and allow wide and timely access to information.

10. In the Delphi Process and the elaboration of the Action Plan, a pervasive consideration has been implementing arrangements. A clearer distinction needs to be made between those activities and tasks which should be carried out by UNHCR staff and those which could more logically be entrusted to others, provided they could be carried out effectively. It is felt that UNHCR's Operations Management System should facilitate external implementation and its management, whilst continuing to ensure UNHCR's overall supervisory and monitoring responsibilities.

11. Commensurate with the emphasis on decentralization throughout the Delphi Process, there has been a corresponding emphasis on effective monitoring, self-evaluation and control (against predetermined objectives and benchmarks) as an integral component of all operations efforts; in addition, steps have been taken to improve the effectiveness of UNHCR's oversight functions (which would be directed from Headquarters).


1. Strategic direction

12. The Ad-hoc Working Group on Policy Formulation and Dissemination highlighted the need for UNHCR to have a clearer strategic vision of its role, anchored in the Statute of the Office, and addressing the wide range of existing and likely challenges.

2. Objectives

13. The main objectives for UNHCR vis-à-vis policy formulation and dissemination are the following:

  • to clarify and structure the mechanisms for the formulation of the various types of policy;
  • to support the role of the Executive Committee (and other bodies within the United Nations) in shaping policy;
  • to enhance the capacity within UNHCR (at Headquarters and at the operations level) to formulate various types of policy;
  • to develop means for the effective dissemination of policy of various kinds.

3. Planning framework

14. The Working Group on Policy Formulation and Dissemination stressed the need to make a distinction between three types of policy: Strategic Policy; Global Operational Policies and Principles; and Operation-specific Policies. It was felt that failure to make such a distinction had led to confusion both as to the mechanisms for policy formulation and the choice of the most appropriate means for the dissemination of each type of policy.

15. The formulation of Strategic Policy - the vision of the Office - is, by definition, the responsibility of the leadership of the Office: the High Commissioner, supported by the Deputy High Commissioner and the Assistant High Commissioner. Strategic Policy formulation has the challenge of interpreting and realizing the mandate of the Office in the light of contemporary challenges. To facilitate the formulation of the Office's strategy, the Working Group proposed that a regular Global Strategy Paper be prepared. In addition, it was proposed that a range of Strategic Policy Papers, comparable to a Government White paper, be prepared in the course of a year. These Strategic Policy Papers would be closely linked to the deliberations of the Executive Committee. It was also recognized that Strategic Policy, including the related decisions and conclusions emanating from the Executive Committee, need to be better disseminated throughout the Office as an authoritative statement of the future direction of UNHCR. It is proposed that the principal vehicle by which strategic policy recommendations are formulated for consideration by the High Commissioner and the Senior Management Committee would be the Policy Committee chaired by the Assistant High Commissioner. The Committee's new terms of reference would inter alia set out the relationship between the Policy Committee and the Senior Management Committee, which has the final responsibility for advising the High Commissioner on policy and other matters. Substantive inputs and support to the work of the Policy Committee would come particularly from the Division of International Protection and from the Centre for Documentation and Research (see in this regard EC/46/SC/CRP.49).

16. Global Operational Policy and Principles (often in the form of Guidelines for particular issues, for example, refugee women and children) would set out, in an integrated manner, protection and assistance standards that are applicable to UNHCR's work globally. The Working Group underlined the need to improve the procedure for the formulation, endorsement and dissemination of such policy and principles. In particular, there was need for a central point of reference and authority to prioritize, promulgate, and ensure consistency among such guidelines, most critically between protection and assistance standards, to bring clarity to the plethora of existing guidelines and help establish between and within them a hierarchy of importance.

17. The third type of policy distinguished by the Working Group was Operation-specific Policy. This would elaborate the application of strategic policy and global standards within an operation; this could entail regional variations, which would need to be justified. Such policy is geared towards solutions of refugee issues, taking into account the specific political and regional situation. The formulation of solutions-oriented policies for particular situations, specifically in terms of developing a policy framework and options for decision-making, will be the responsibility of the officer entrusted with the overall responsibility for addressing and resolving a situation. An example of such an approach, albeit at the regional level, is found in five Regional Strategy Papers prepared by the existing Regional Bureaux for the Global UNHCR Representatives Meeting convened by the High Commissioner in April 1996, and refined in the light of the discussions at that Meeting.

4. Action planned

18. The various time frames set out below (short-term, medium-term, long-term) refer to the completion of a given action; some actions (with expected results in the medium-term or long-term) would need to commence immediately, while others, by their nature, are consequential and depend on a previous action being taken.

(a) Short-term (completion in up to 6 months)

  • review the terms of reference of the Policy Committee and determine its composition;
  • strengthen the capacity of UNHCR to formulate strategic policy;
  • determine the most effective way to disseminate strategic policy (including related conclusions and decisions of the Executive Committee) throughout UNHCR;
  • clarify the procedures for the in-house clearance of Global Operational Policies and Procedures, to ensure their conformity with the broad lines of UNHCR's strategic policies;
  • develop measures to support the capacity of Directors of Operations (for the various refugee situations) to formulate Operation-specific Policy.

(b) Medium-term (completion within 6 to 12 months)

  • initiate the preparation of regular Global Strategy Papers;
  • initiate a Strategic Policy Paper Series and, if appropriate, link one such study to the theme of the Annual Session of the Executive Committee;
  • have in place a system for the clearance, registration, dissemination, tracking and retrieval of directives related to Global Operational Policies and Procedures;

(c) Long-term (completion within 24 months or more)

  • monitor and review the implementation of the various actions related to policy formulation and dissemination to ensure that they are in conformity with the objectives that are set out above.


1. Strategic direction

19. At the heart of UNHCR's actions to give effect to the findings of Project Delphi throughout the full spectrum of its operations is a substantially revised "Operations Management System". The System provides the means whereby the Organization ensures that all aspects of its operations (the provision of international protection, assistance and the search for solutions), are appropriate, consistent and effective. The Operations Management System specifies the sequence of relevant actions at different levels and locations, and establishes responsibilities accordingly. Operations management also involves the establishment of the operational guidelines, standards and norms that assist the Organization in planning and implementing its activities, reviewing implementation and making operational decisions in a consistent manner.

20. In the course of Project Delphi, five broad problem areas were identified related to the current Operations Management System: the volume and content of operations were not sufficiently linked to a clear articulation of strategic objectives, in particular the envisaged durable solution; protection and assistance activities were often planned, viewed and implemented in a parallel, rather than an integrated fashion; supervisors of operations, in many instances, did not have sufficient managerial flexibility; operational procedures were sometimes overly cumbersome; and the means for identifying and correcting problems were not effective. The changes to the UNHCR Operations Management System proposed by Project Delphi are intended to overcome these problems.

2. Objectives

21. The major objective of the new Operations Management System is to reflect in the System, in a coherent and integrated manner, a range of standards related to operations, support and accountability, thereby ensuring that UNHCR's operations are managed in a more effective, efficient and accountable manner. Such a System would have the following characteristics:

(i) it requires a clear strategic orientation towards the provision of international protection and the search for solutions. This orientation is fully integrated into the normal planning process and will, in the related operations plans, encompass the identification of appropriate solutions, the resources and time frames required to achieve them, and the relevant constraints;

(ii) it embodies a comprehensive approach (the "situational approach") to operations and planning which focuses on all aspects of a refugee problem, existing or potential, and establishes and implements coordinated objectives aimed at achieving durable solutions within all countries covered by the situation (most commonly, the countries of asylum and of origin);

(iii) it requires that stated objectives for all UNHCR activities, relating to both protection and assistance, be measurable (to the extent possible, bearing in mind the nature of UNHCR's work), indicating assumptions and constraints. Objectives are developed and presented in a manner which facilitates review and evaluation, including an assessment of impact. Objectives are prioritized at a global level and within each situation;

(iv) it presupposes that each operation will be subject to regular self-evaluation/monitoring exercises against established performance indicators and operational benchmarks. Such self-evaluation and monitoring would allow an assessment of impact, and of corrective action and support required, and serve as a basis for reporting on activities. Self-evaluation exercises would be complemented and balanced by a system of controls implemented by UNHCR's Internal Oversight Service;

(v) it facilitates, within a range of criteria and management controls, effective external implementation (i.e. by implementing partners) whenever appropriate;

(vi) it requires planning on a multi-year basis, (of particular importance when the objective of an operation is the achievement of a durable solution); this multi-year planning is reflected in operations plans and projected resource requirements; detailed budgeting, however, would be limited to the "planning year";

(vii) it allows greater flexibility in the management of resources at all levels, by combining, to the extent possible, all resources into one implementing instrument (which delegates authority to commit funds for all components of an operation). Managers would be able to shift resources from one component to another within agreed parameters. (This single implementing instrument is sometimes referred to as the "envelope");

(viii) it moves operational decision making as close as possible to the point of delivery, and reduces the number of steps involved in developing and managing a UNHCR operation; this requires a greater level of accountability by managers at each level.

3. Planning framework

22. In planning an Operations Management System (OMS) which would incorporate the key concepts of Project Delphi, two structural elements, in particular, need to be taken into account. These are the respective roles envisaged for Headquarters and the Field, and for the different substantive management levels associated with a "situational" approach to operations.

23. The broad range of functions which will be the responsibility of Headquarters is set out below in paragraph 113(ii). Of these functions, those that relate particularly to the Operations Management System include the following: standard setting for UNHCR activities, including the norms and principles of international protection; funding and donor relations; allocation of resources; operations support; overall evaluation and control; and reporting to legislative bodies. The Field (at the levels of management described in the following paragraph) would be responsible primarily for the following: assessing needs at the point of delivery, including the development and quantification of protection and assistance objectives over a multi-year period, and for designing operations; ensuring that strategies and design are consistent with objectives among all countries included in what is defined as the "situation"; implementation of operations (namely the management of all human and financial resources allocated to an operation); ongoing monitoring/self-evaluation of operations against pre-determined benchmarks; and support to, and control of, implementing partners.

24. Under the High Commissioner's overall responsibility for UNHCR operations world-wide, the Operations Management System will need to focus on three substantive management levels: the Director of an Operation (sometimes referred to as the Situation Manager); the Country Representative (sometimes referred to as the Country Manager); and the Field Office Manager (sometimes referred to as the Manager at the Point of Delivery). Project Delphi recommended that there should not be more than three substantive management levels between the High Commissioner and the beneficiaries of UNHCR's operations. The Director of Operations is responsible to the High Commissioner and determines the situation-specific responsibilities of the relevant Country Representatives (whether Headquarters or field-based, all Directors of Operations would enjoy the same delegated authority). The Country Representative of the High Commissioner is responsible to the Director(s) of Operations involving that country. The Head of Field Office (at the point of delivery) will generally be located at the sub-office level, and assume more direct responsibility for management at that level than hitherto. He/she is responsible to the Country Representative and, where appropriate, directly to the Director of Operations (Situation Manager), as decided by the latter. At each level, a manager is responsible for determining objectives and the means to achieve them, and has authority and is accountable for managing the operation and deploying allocated resources within the framework of global and situation-specific policies, standards, guidelines and parameters.

25. While the elements and sequence of the existing Operations Management System are not radically different to the proposed new System, an Operations Management System reflecting an approach as outlined in the previous paragraphs would represent a significant departure from current practice. Some of the more notable changes at Headquarters and in the Field would be as follows:

  • Under the proposed new System, Headquarters would approve operations plans (protection and assistance objectives and the intended means to achieve them) and allocate resources at a significantly higher level (i.e. at the global and "situational" levels) than in the past, without prior review of details of a particular project; the resource allocation mechanism would thus change from one in which decisions are based upon a rolled-up consolidation of detailed submissions to one based on a higher level review; in the course of a year, Headquarters would examine and record project documents, including those reflecting reallocations within the newly delegated authority, as they arrived, measure them against approved objectives, monitor expenditure, and prepare relevant reports;
  • Allocation of resources will be done by a new Operations Review Board meeting at Headquarters; it will review submissions from the situations/countries around the world from the point of view of objectives, design, and overall costs of proposed operational plans; on the basis of global priorities, and with reference to the level of anticipated resources (on which indicative figures would already have been provided by the Board), the Board will approve operational plans and allocate resources to an operation, situation or country as appropriate; this allocation will include an indicative breakdown between the direct delivery of protection and assistance (operations), and staff and other support costs;
  • The current centrally-prepared implementing instrument (the Letter of Instruction (LOI)) which gives authority to commit funds within a detailed budgetary framework, would be replaced by a new instrument ("the envelope") which would contain a statement of objectives for a "situation"; a list of related activities and the agreed programme design; the agreed amount required to achieve them; expenditure authority up to this amount within established parameters and available income; and a statement of the amount initially available for implementation;
  • The review function at Headquarters would have both comprehensive and selective components. It would no longer involve detailed examination at the project level. There would be a comprehensive high-level review before new operations began, and an annual global review of the objectives, design and resource requirements of all operations (under both General and Special Programmes). During and on conclusion of implementation, in addition to the monitoring and control of expenditure against authorized levels and agreed parameters, there would be a selective (sample) review of progress and respect of guidelines. Detailed inspection and evaluation of selected operations would be undertaken by the Internal Oversight Service, as described in paragraphs 94-95 below.

26. The cycle in which UNHCR operations will be planned, resourced, implemented and reviewed has been developed in its broad outlines. While managers of UNHCR operations will be required to do multi-year planning, it has been decided that for fund raising, reporting and control purposes, UNHCR will maintain an annual operations cycle for budgeting and the establishment/review of operations plans; this is to ensure that planning matches current needs and predicted resources, and that the Executive Committee can exercise regular oversight over programmes, including approval of the General Programmes target. The stages of the cycle are set out in schematic form in Annex 2. The sequence of activities as presented in the schema applies equally to General Programmes, Special Programmes and new emergency operations. For stable, mandated activities usually included under General Programmes and for Special Programmes which are relatively predictable, the relevant month in the cycle is indicated.

4. Action planned

27. Some of the changes suggested above can be introduced over the course of 1996/1997. Others can be incorporated only when other changes have occurred, particularly those which would require improvements in information technology.

(a) Short-term (completion in up to 6 months):

In the short term, preliminary steps, by way of pilot projects, would be taken to ensure the following: - delegation of greater implementation authority, on a case-by-case basis, to more point-of-delivery managers;

  • granting increased flexibility to situation managers to move resources within the situations;
  • greater flexibility within current implementing instruments;
  • more administrative processes related to projects will become the sole responsibility of the country representative, and will no longer involve Headquarters.

(b) Medium-term (completion within 6 to 12 months):

  • the introduction of a multi-year planning approach which incorporates from the outset the "search for solutions" and a coordinated approach in countries of origin and asylum, i.e. the situational approach;
  • establishment of a methodology for organizational prioritization and prioritization within situations;
  • elaboration of measurable objectives (to the extent possible, bearing in mind the nature of UNHCR's work) for protection and assistance activities;
  • specification and initial development of an integrated, fully accessible Operations Management data base;
  • development of operational guidelines, standards, norms, indicators and benchmarks, and the elaboration of self-evaluation mechanisms;
  • review procedures for support to, and control of, implementing partners;
  • recommend ways to improve the management of obligation levels and the tracking of expenditure (including of earmarkings);
  • review the implications of the "envelope" concept and make the necessary changes in procedures; design the new implementing instrument;
  • the establishment of the Operations Review Board for resource allocation. The Board would meet in May 1997 to establish 1998 budgetary levels, including the General Programme target to be proposed to the Executive Committee;
  • ensure that relevant reporting mechanisms for the Executive Committee, etc. continue without disruption;

(c) Long-term (completion in next 18 months):

  • on the assumption that the relevant structural, responsibility, accountability and control frameworks are in place, full implementation of the new Operations Management System would be introduced during 1998.


28. The following sections of the this Action Plan look at support to be provided in the following areas: International Protection; Operations; Financial Services; Human Resources Management; Information and Communications; and Training.


1. Strategic direction

29. The foregoing sections dealing with policy formulation and the Operations Management System have highlighted the need to ensure that policy at all levels, as well as operational priorities and objectives, comprehensively reflect the protection mandate of the Office. The role of the Division of International Protection in the development, promotion and advocacy of global protection standards is central to the discharge of the Office's mandate.

30. Protection as an integral part of UNHCR operations involves, however, more than the automatic application of legal standards or policy directives. It includes a whole range of activities linked to the elaboration, promotion and implementation of these standards, on a consistent world-wide basis, which require a special expertise.

31. This expertise will continue to be firmly integrated into operations, and thus be decentralized to the maximum extent possible. As a corollary to its standard-setting and advocacy role, and in support to UNHCR operations as described in this section, the Division of International Protection will work to ensure the consistency of UNHCR's protection activities world-wide.

2. Objectives

32. The objective of the protection support strategy to be implemented by the Division of International Protection, in close coordination with the Division of Operations Support as concerns the OMS, is to ensure effective, timely and consistent support to UNHCR's protection activities in field operations. Such support includes:

(i) the development and dissemination of relevant global standards and guidelines;

(ii) assistance in the development of regional or situation-specific standards and guidelines, and the provision of specific legal advice;

(iii) measures, including the identification and training of appropriate staff resources, to increase the professional capacity of the protection function in the field;

(iv) operational guidance, in particular to ensure consistency in the implementation of global standards and guidelines;

(v) the further development of planning, monitoring and reporting tools within the framework of the Operations Management System.

3. Planning framework

33. Support in objective-setting and activity design, as well as technical/legal expertise, will be made available through staff resources dedicated to an operation or group of operations. Headquarters-level units will remain responsible for global policies and standard-setting, and will provide guidance and back-stopping to the operations, particularly in urgent and/or complex protection situations.

34. Standards will reflect the principles and values of the Office, its mandate and the norms of public international law, as well as the jurisprudence developed over time by the international community. UNHCR's special expertise will ensure that the particular protection needs of its beneficiaries are reflected in these standards as appropriate.

35. Operational guidance will translate global standards into practical guidelines and, as required, specific guidelines for and advice to particular operations. The Division of International Protection will assist in the elaboration of such guidelines and provide continuing support to operations with regard to their implementation. The Division will also support and assist in the training of staff, government counterparts and operational partners, as well as design and update the systems and tools which will enable the sound management of protection activities in the field.

36. As these systems and tools, covering all phases of an operation from design through monitoring to reporting, are developed, tested and incorporated in the OMS, there would be less demand for centrally-provided protection support.

37. Protection support at Headquarters also includes those tasks of a more direct operational nature that are carried out more practically and/or economically at Headquarters. These include central resettlement activities such as the discussion of resettlement criteria and quotas with interested Governments, the processing of emergency resettlement cases and individual/family voluntary repatriation, and the production of refugee identity and travel documents. The extent to which the more operational of such activities should continue to be managed from Headquarters is under review.

4. Action planned

38. The Action Plan for Protection Support is as follows:

(a) Short-term (to be completed in 6 months):

  • re-structure the Division of International Protection around its principal functions of strategic policy advice; promotion and advocacy; standard-setting and operational guidance, ensuring consistency in application and other forms of operational support;
  • develop mutually supportive strategies for each of the functional areas of the Division.

(b) Medium-term (to be completed in 12-18 months):

  • develop a staff training plan consistent with overall training priorities and the need to enhance accountability in the protection area;
  • ensure the full integration of protection concerns into the planning of operations as the new Operations Management System is implemented;
  • elaborate measurable objectives for protection activities; develop indicators, benchmarks, and reporting and self-evaluation mechanisms; and, generally, pursue the medium-term goals related to the Operations Management System;
  • review the relationship between the central resettlement and other more operational functions and related activities in the field with a view to enhancing the latter to the maximum extent possible.

(c) Long-term (to be completed in 24 months):

  • gradually decentralize more protection support functions to operations, where made possible by the achievement of the above mentioned goals.


1. Strategic direction

39. Operations support will be assured by a Division of Operations Support (DOS) which replaces the current Division of Programmes and Operational Support (DPOS); DOS will incorporate funding and donor relations responsibilities (previously in the Division of External Relations) and the NGO liaison function. More details about the new Division are found in paragraph 120 below.

40. The Operations Management System described in this paper provides the framework for UNHCR's Operational Support strategy and is the major management tool for its implementation. Important elements of the operations support strategy are integral parts of that system. As a general principle, the overall management of operational support will remain centralized, while the provision/delivery of such support will be decentralized to the maximum extent possible, while still ensuring consistency, cost-effectiveness, accountability and the necessary reporting.

2. Objectives

41. The objective Division of Operations Support is to ensure effective, timely and cost-efficient support to UNHCR's operations and to UNHCR's implementing partners. More particularly, at Headquarters, the requirements to meet this objective are the following:

(i) mobilization of the necessary financial and material resources;

(ii) the provision of the necessary programme design and professional/technical support, and the development, with outside bodies as appropriate, of policies, standards, guidelines and operational arrangements;

(iii) overall programme coordination, including supporting and servicing the overall resource allocation function, monitoring/control and reporting.

All other requirements would be met as close to the point of delivery as possible.

3. Planning framework

42. While resource mobilization and allocation at the highest operational level will remain a central responsibility, the operations management system will allow reallocation of resources by operations managers within approved parameters and subject to any conditions attached to specific contributions. Only resource requirements that cannot be met within the authority for deployment or reallocation of a single Director of Operations will be decided centrally.

43. Support in programme design and professional/technical expertise will be made available through resources dedicated to an operation or group of operations whenever warranted. Where the need does not justify dedicated resources, and cannot be met by other locally available resources, this support will be provided by or organized from the centre. Headquarters-level support units will remain responsible for global policies and standard setting, and will provide professional/technical guidance and back-stopping to the operations. Standards will reflect the internationally accepted norms of specialized agencies and technical bodies; UNHCR's own professional/technical expertise will ensure that the particular needs of its beneficiaries are reflected in these standards as appropriate, and will develop and maintain refugee-specific policies, standards and guidelines. Programme design support will reflect standards, lessons learnt and the agreed or recommended contributions of the relevant other organizations, and provide operations managers with an integrated approach covering all aspects of known best practice to meet their objectives and achieve solutions.

44. Overall programme coordination, control and reporting will remain the responsibility of Headquarters, but a significant amount of the country- and operation-specific work now being undertaken centrally will become the responsibility of the relevant Director of an Operation, and be undertaken in the field. The description given above of the Operations Management System provides more details. The central programme coordination function will be responsible for the effective functioning of the Operations Management System, including ensuring that the needs of the Executive Committee in this regard are met. Information will be reviewed centrally and consolidated in order to meet the requirements of overall monitoring/control as well as for management information and reporting within UNHCR, to the Executive Committee, General Assembly and other bodies, and as required by donors.

45. Operations support also involves the central provision of certain globally available services of a more directly operational nature, notably: an emergency preparedness and response capacity; procurement and logistics. A specific activity is already underway on the latter: the Supply Information Management System Project (SIMS), begun in late 1995. This project, which was realigned in light of the recommendations of Project Delphi, has the objective of defining and introducing standardized procedures and supporting software to manage and disseminate information on all aspects of an integrated supply chain. The DISA report (para. 74) is directly relevant to this project.

4. Action planned

46. The following Plan of Action has been developed:

(a) Short-term (completion in up to 6 months):

  • structure the new Division of Operations Support to reflect its principal functions of: resource mobilization; support to resource allocation; programme coordination (including reporting); programme design and technical support; direct operational support (from Headquarters);
  • review strategies for each of the functional areas of the new Division;
  • coordinate and oversee implementation of the short-term goals in the Action Plan related to the Operations Management System.

(b) Medium-term (completion in 6-12 months):

  • refine Divisional structure and rationalize activities (and related human resources) as the necessary information systems become available;
  • pursue the Medium-term goals related to the Operations Management Plan.

(c) Long-term (completion in next 18 months)

  • oversee the full implementation of the Operations Management Strategy.


1. Strategic direction

47. A Division of Financial and Information Services will be responsible for the design and implementation of the strategy related to financial services as recommended by Project Delphi. It will be the responsibility of the Division to provide the Office with accurate and timely annual accounts and to maintain a vigilant and effective control function over the financial operations of the Office both at Headquarters and in the field. The Division will be responsible for ensuring the integrity of all financial functions, including budget; for controlling and monitoring the financial health of the Office; for ensuring control and effective management of all assets; and for maintaining Governments' confidence in UNHCR's ability to ensure value for money, and cost-effective services.

2. Objectives

48. The financial services strategy has the following goals:

(i) to support the decentralized Situation Management concept by professionalizing the financial support function in the field;

(ii) to integrate financial management information into the mainstream of operations in the field;

(iii) to improve the quality of financial information for management purposes by providing financial and budgetary variance analysis for management decision and action at the field level, and at Headquarters;

(iv) to process accounts in the field, as close as possible to the point of delivery;

(v) to improve guidance and training to the field through policy and standard setting at Headquarters;

(vi) to improve financial monitoring of and reporting by non-governmental organizations and implementing partners;

(vii) to analyse and streamline processes to eliminate duplication and overlaps; this would include taking back certain functions from UNOG and designing appropriate integrated systems;

(viii) to streamline cash management, investments and income recording processes;

(ix) to develop a new budgeting process that supports the empowerment of the field and increased decentralization and delegation.

3. Planning framework

49. The Division of Financial and Information Services is developing a three-pronged basic strategy to streamline processes, bring about cultural change, and encourage a partnership approach with the various operations in order to strengthen the financial management capacity and expertise throughout the organization. This strategy will support the situation approach, maximize delegation to the point of delivery, and ensure the responsible exercise of the significant authority and power to act vested in the Director of Operations and his/her subordinates.

50. Firstly, the Division aims to play a more important and active support role, by introducing the function of a Financial Management Advisor (FMA) reporting to the Director of Operations. The FMA will be responsible and accountable for the accounting and reporting of an entire operation, local financial policy and systems, planning and budget control, analysis and monitoring of implementing partners own financial controls, and coordinating response to and action on audit observations.

51. Secondly, the Division will develop effective management tools, policies and systems that are user-friendly and easily adaptable, and provide pro-active guidance in their use and application. This role aims at smoother and more cost effective processes, as well as empowering and training the field to be become more self-sufficient. A Unit will be created with responsibility for policy formulation, systems development, guidelines, reviews and training pertaining to financial matters.

52. Thirdly, there will be a redefinition of the role of the Division with the integration of all the financial functions of the organization under one Division, thus promoting clearer accountability and management responsibility; accounting and budget allocation within the defined envelope will be decentralized, and the resolution of accounting and budget-related problems will take place as close as possible to the point of delivery; the training and support of field finance staff will be undertaken by qualified FMAs in the field; and Headquarters will perform the final roll-up of financial data transmitted from Field Offices, produce central reports, exercise centralized financial control, including of the high-level expenditure against budget. Headquarters will also be responsible for overall policy development, guidelines and financial analysis.

4. Action planned

53. The following Action Plan has been developed:

(a) Short-term (to be completed within 6 months)

  • Reorganization in the Finance and Project Control Section (FPCS)

In order to implement the proposed changes in the role and functioning of financial services in the Division, and considering the changing roles of Headquarters vis-à-vis the Field, structural changes will be required at Headquarters. This restructuring has already begun, with the Payments Unit having been absorbed into Treasury and the Assets Management Unit joining FPCS earlier this year. Further consolidation and rationalization is envisaged in the near future with the integration of Treasury into the current Finance and Project Control Section (FPCS) and the concomitant realignment of Financial Services to cover four distinct areas: accounting operations; financial policy and systems; budget control and resource management and analysis; and treasury.

  • Preliminary Analysis of Systems Design

The planning and initial implementation of the transfer of certain UNHCR financial operations from UNOG will begin, aiming to simplify and rationalize the financial processes. This project is related to the gap analysis which must be undertaken for the IMIS financial modules, as well as the requirements definition for new financial systems for the field. A bottom-up review and analysis will begin, examining the financial processes and procedures from the point of delivery to the centre. Recommendations on an improved budget and financial system will be made and initial planning for the new budgeting process will be completed.

  • Policy Development

A period of intense policy development and research will take place in the short-term with the finalizing of the decentralization strategy, the introduction of a new investment policy, an implementation plan for the transfer of certain financial processing from UNOG, position papers on the implementation of improved monitoring and guidance on financial matters to implementing partners, an investigation of cash management procedures and the formulation of recommendations on the administrative officer function.

Substantial planning and preparation is already underway on the development and implementation of the decentralization strategy, the cornerstone of which is the FMA. Core functional competencies for the FMA have been developed, as have work indicators to facilitate rapid and accurate assessments of success. Detailed objectives have been defined for the pilot project, as well as initial proposals for the restructuring of the section.

  • Pilot Projects

Several pilot projects will be necessary to test the concept of delegated and decentralized financial management in field situations. Two operations are currently being considered, the former Yugoslavia (Sarajevo/Zagreb) and the Great Lakes region (Nairobi/Kigali). The Division also intends to pilot the plan in more stable operations like Southern Africa and South East Asia; Pretoria and Bangkok are being considered as likely locations for these pilots.

Decentralization of support services in the areas of finance and budget (the FMA and possibly some support staff) will be possible as pilot on-line access to FMIS and PIOUS can already be made available in such locations.

  • Ongoing Activities

The Asset Management System was introduced in 1994 and is aimed at increasing the capability of each UNHCR Field Office to improve control of assets purchased by UNHCR for its own use and that of implementing partners. The introduction of the new Asset Management System will be completed in 1996, with special attention being paid to capturing and recording all UNHCR purchased property being used by implementing partners, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Government agencies. Information in the system will be linked with that in the Supply Information Management System (para.45).

(b) Medium Term (to be completed in 6-12 months)

  • The full roll-out of decentralized financial functions will begin based on an evaluation and review of the pilot projects. The roll-out will depend on the development and availability of systems to support the decentralization. Once full competencies for the FMAs are established, work can begin on identifying appropriate staff to fill the functions.
  • The Financial Policy Unit will begin the development and dissemination of improved guidelines and policy documents to the field which will contain new procedures which would have been tested within the pilot projects. Training of the field staff by the FMAs will commence.
  • More intensive work will begin on the analysis for financial systems and the IMIS gap analysis will be undertaken.
  • The new budgeting procedures will be implemented.

(c) Long Term (to be completed in 24 months)

  • The full integration of financial functions both at Headquarters and in the field will have been effected. The Director of Operations will be able to operate largely autonomously as a result of the provision of the following:
  • well-qualified and well-trained financial staff both in the field and at Headquarters;
  • liaison with only one integrated financial services section;
  • integrated and accessible financial management information.


1. Strategic direction

54. The Report of the Delphi Project Focus Group on People made a number of recommendations, some fundamental, for change in the manner in which UNHCR manages its human resources. The objective was to establish human resource policies and procedures which enable individual staff members to perform effectively: their combined efforts will enable the Organization to meet its present goals and be sufficiently flexible to adapt to future needs. Given that UNHCR is a refugee-needs driven organization, there must be a capacity to expand, reduce and move staff based on operational needs and financial resources. Within this needs-driven context, a performance oriented culture guided by competent, accountable managers, developed through training and effective career management, with the delegated authority necessary to do their job, is essential. Staff/management relations must be nurtured in a climate of mutual trust and respect; and, although working in a professional, performance oriented and accountable way, the management of human resources must maintain a human face.

55. The Division of Human Resources Management (DHRM) has made an initial assessment of the Delphi recommendations in light of change initiatives already underway, and in particular the Career Management System (CMS) project. The issues addressed by CMS have been given prominence by Project Delphi. There is considerable synergy between Project Delphi and CMS.

56. It may be recalled that the Career Management System (CMS) project comprises the following main elements:

  • Performance Appraisal: a system for assessing the performance of individual staff members, based on objectives and competencies, involving a mid-term progress review and an annual appraisal and rating of performance;
  • Staff Development: a process which provides staff and supervisors with tools (especially through training), information and advice to support them in identifying and meeting professional development needs;
  • Career Planning and Counselling: the process of planning and managing the recruitment, posting and promotion of staff, and providing information to support realistic career planning;
  • CMS Information: information on both posts and individual staff members to support the other elements of the system.

57. The initial design of the CMS was piloted from September 1995 to March 1996 in Headquarters and in one region. Generally, reactions were positive, with the increased communication on performance-related matters between supervisor and staff members being particularly welcomed. Adjustments to forms and processes resulting from the evaluation are underway, taking into account the findings of the evaluation and of Project Delphi. Full introduction is expected to begin by October 1996, commencing with senior management and then cascading through the organization.

58 The elements of the Career Management System are clearly relevant to the recommendations of Project Delphi, and, indeed, Project Delphi provides an appropriate context for implementation of the System. The implementation strategy proposed for CMS should be an early demonstration of how the Project Delphi principles, values and objectives are to be adopted by the organization and deliver real benefits. Project Delphi calls for authority to be delegated and for accountability to be enhanced. CMS provides the mechanism for the latter to be achieved, while the manner of its implementation will demonstrate the former.

59. DHRM has also taken some initial steps towards the reorganization of the Division in response to Project Delphi. An information technology strategy to support a decentralized human resource management function has been developed. Work has also begun on a strategic human resources management plan to support the change process.

3. Objectives

60. In reviewing the Delphi proposals for the management of people, particularly the delegation of human resource management authority to line managers, DHRM has identified a number of key areas that must be developed to support the change process. Cultural change in organizations develops only over time and with consistent effort, and it must be supported by appropriate infrastructure and policies. Identified as essential conditions for such changes are, among others, the following:

(i) a sound legal, regulatory and policy base for the envisaged changes to human resource management policies and practices;

(ii) information systems that facilitate human resource management in an organization which will be largely decentralized;

(iii) support of delegation of human resource management functions to the field, particularly through training, for those functions where such delegation is felt to be appropriate and cost-effective;

(iv) the development of monitoring and evaluation systems to ensure equity in human resource management;

(v) the creation of management capacity and support of staff for the proposed changes, the latter requiring comprehensive staff/management consultations and dialogue.

3. Planning framework

61. As a member of the United Nations common system, UNHCR must develop its change proposals within the context of common system staff rules and regulations. A preliminary review indicates that it may be necessary to seek changes in certain areas. Hence, work should commence immediately to review the various proposals in this light and to determine the conditions for implementation or, perhaps, develop alternative proposals to meet the same objective. Also, to manage in a decentralized environment, a framework of human resource management policies, global standards and guidelines, formulated in a manner appropriate to this environment, will be essential. A development plan in this regard is being elaborated.

62. Development of an information technology strategy (with related time-frame) for DHRM has begun. Concurrent with the necessity to replace an ageing, mainframe based central record keeping system is the need for development of decentralized systems to support point of delivery delegation in accord with Project Delphi recommendations. To the maximum extent possible, this strategy needs to focus on the use of the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) developed by UN New York. While this system appears suitable for Headquarters implementation, the issue of a field support function remains as the major challenge, which UNHCR will pursue in consultation with other field-based organizations, notably UNICEF and UNDP.

63. Successful delegation presupposes that the necessary steps have been taken to prepare, where necessary, those in the field who will be assuming the delegated functions. This process requires a significant commitment of resources for related training. Full delegation cannot be achieved immediately, but it can start immediately. Delegation will have to be phased in terms of both scope and geographical locations. Not all functions can, or should, be delegated, and an analysis in cost and other benefit terms will be necessary. Functions will be analysed to determine their most appropriate location.

64. Monitoring and evaluation criteria and systems need to be developed to ensure consistency, equity and transparency in decentralized personnel decisions and administration.

65. For managers to be more directly involved in human resource management, as they should, UNHCR will need to take a more structured approach to their training and development and will need to give this consideration in the selection and posting of managers. A management training strategy and plan is under development, with the objective of significantly increasing the technical capacity and understanding of managers for these functions. More generally, staff support for the changes in human resource management cannot be assumed, but must be developed. This will entail, inter alia, consultation with the Staff Council.

66. Project Delphi has profound implications for the role of Headquarters-level human resource management. This should evolve from a largely administrative, operational function to a smaller, more professional group with strategic human resource planning, policy development and monitoring, and advice to management as its main functions. Certain aspects of human resource administration, notably the recruitment and management of international staff, will need to retain a significant headquarters involvement. The nature of the staff should change as well, with a need for more human resource professionals and fewer support or generalist staff.

4. Action planned

67. The following Action Plan has been developed to give effect to the changes envisaged in the area of human resources management:

(a) Short-term (completion in the first 6 months)

  • Implementation of the Career Management System will commence in late September, with a two-day Senior Management Committee Workshop. Field implementation will be the responsibility of Country Representatives, who will receive training and related support from October through December 1996. By the end of March 1997, it is expected that all staff members will have specific personal objectives, derived from programme objectives, and identified competencies for their performance appraisal. The objective setting process envisaged in the Career Management System will be a key element in establishing and ensuring accountability for results;
  • An information technology plan to support increased delegation has been developed. Gap and user requirement analysis will be undertaken in order to develop a human resource management system appropriate to field conditions, as well as to adapt IMIS to UNHCR specific requirements;
  • The changes envisaged through Project Delphi will affect staff in all areas of UNHCR, from reductions of posts at Headquarters through increased management and administrative responsibilities for field operations. A strategic plan for the medium to long term will be developed to: identify and train supervisors and managers capable of operating in a decentralized environment; maintain and enhance essential skills and staff expertise; and provide UNHCR with enhanced capacity to expand and contract effectively in response to changed operational requirements;
  • The human resource implications of Project Delphi in terms of reduction of staff, redeployment, retraining, etc. are being assessed, and responses are being developed accordingly. These include communications plans, separation policies, training and retraining, and career counselling. A Transition Strategy is being elaborated as a framework for addressing these and other related issues, and a consultative process has been started with staff representatives. Both line management and staff representatives will be involved in arrangements for the reduction of posts at Headquarters, which is expected to take place during the period up to the end of 1998, and any other downsizing exercise.

(b) Medium Term (for completion in 6-12 months):

  • Commencing in September 1996, and targeted for completion within a year, integrated units covering key human resource administration functions, such as compensation and benefits, contracts, and career counselling, are being established, with responsibilities for specific geographic areas. This is a first step towards further delegation to the field, as it will create a group of trained and multi-skilled human resource officers and support staff for future deployment to field operations.
  • The major human resource processes identified by Project Delphi (recruit, compensate/contract, deploy, appraise/develop/sanction, and separate/terminate) are being reviewed in light of specific recommendations for change. The legal, regulatory and policy implications are being assessed. Each process will be reviewed to determine the most appropriate mode of delivery, centralized or decentralized, from both the cost-efficiency and effectiveness perspectives. The monitoring and systems implications are also being identified.

(c) Long Term (for completion in 24 months):

  • Delegation of full authority for the recruitment, management and administration of locally engaged staff, as well as the management of training of all staff, is expected to be operational in all UNHCR offices by the end of 1998. The provision of human resource management advice to field managers will be strengthened through the deployment of human resource staff to operations. Pilot projects will be undertaken in 1996 in Field Offices with existing human resource capacity, in order to determine the training and support requirements for this transition.


1. Strategic Direction

68. The Final Report of the [Project Delphi] Change Management Group identified Information systems as "... critical to the success of all of the key components of the Delphi proposals...."It noted the need to develop an Information Systems strategy which will define organizational Information Systems requirements and present a plan for their implementation.

69. The substantive recommendations of the Report - situational management, decentralization, delegation of authority, more efficient communication - guide the direction of Information Systems planning within UNHCR and require that:

New information systems

(i) must be global, to meet the needs of a decentralized organizational structure, geographically dispersed field operations and Headquarters coordination;

(ii) must be scaleable and modular, in order to anticipate or rapidly meet sudden developments in the field, and to facilitate a phase-out from operations;

(iii) must be robust, in order to be applied flexibly to a wide range of information management requirements;

(ii) must take into account the related recommendations of the DISA Report (para.74).

Systems Evolution

(v) must support a decentralized organizational model;

(vi) a transition/migration strategy must be defined which derives maximum benefit from existing systems during the process of systems renewal.

2. Objectives

70. The major objectives of the Action Plan for Information Systems are the following:

(i) definition and implementation of new systems required for operational managers;

(ii) expanding and enhancing global networks through more powerful telecommunications;

(iii) a properly managed introduction of IMIS;

(iv) exploiting the productivity of office automation, electronic mail and new "group- ware" products;

(v) expanding the use of the Internet and intranet for information and systems usage.

3. Planning framework

71. A structured planning methodology will be used to develop UNHCR's full Information Systems Strategic Plan. The methodology comprises several overlapping phases, the most important of which are:

  • a thorough analysis of the organization's global, strategic information needs, leading to a comprehensive definition of requirements;
  • a review of currently available technology and technological trends in hardware, software, networking, communications, and systems development, leading to strategic decisions on choice of platforms;
  • an evaluation of UNHCR's information systems requirements against existing United Nations family systems initiatives (e.g. IMIS and UNICEF's PROMS), commercially available software, and the feasibility of in-house or outsourced custom-built systems.

These phases are critical to the provision of appropriate information systems to support the needs of the Office into the future.

72. To complete the analysis, several highly focused working groups will develop the building blocks of the Strategic Plan. Certain groups will be split into functional areas such as Human Resources, Finance, and Programme Management. Other groups, such as Technology, Infrastructure, and System Development Structure will be more technical. The synthesis of the work of these groups - representing the fusion of information and technology - will form the basis for the key decisions on UNHCR's Information Systems.

73. Some needs may be met through the enhancement of existing systems; others will require completely new, as yet unspecified, information systems. The proposed time scales must meet the immediate, short-term needs of the organization, while providing for the in-depth requirements analysis necessary to meet the organization's long-term needs.

74. In the development of existing or new systems, UNHCR will be helped by the findings of the DISA report. Under terms of reference agreed in February 1996, the United States Government, through a consultancy contract managed by an agency of the Department of Defense (the Defense Information Systems Agency, or DISA), provided the Office with an in-kind donation valued at approximately $ 2.5 million to review options for improving UNHCR's field response capacity through application of appropriate technologies in the areas of telecommunications and logistics. Following a series of visits to some 30 UNHCR field locations in the first part of 1996 by teams of DISA engineers, and extensive interviews with Headquarters staff, on 22 August 1996, DISA delivered to UNHCR a Working Draft of the consultancy report. This Working Draft is currently under review by relevant technical and management staff in UNHCR.

75. UNHCR's systems development is also taking into account the progress in relation to IMIS. This United Nations project began in 1989. At the outset of the project, UNHCR was an active participant. However, because of serious delays in the project, UNHCR decided in February 1994 to temporarily suspend work on IMIS at UNHCR. In November 1995, UNHCR re-opened regular communication with the United Nations Secretariat in connection with IMIS. In the light of progress on the IMIS project, it is now felt that IMIS could meet UNHCR's basic needs for some of its main corporate systems. The Human Resources module, with some customization and additions, would appear to be largely compatible with most of UNHCR's central needs. It was always understood that IMIS would not meet UNHCR's field requirements, requirements that have increased as a result of the intended further delegation of authority to the field. Further analysis will be required to determine the possible integration between the corporate systems established by IMIS and the new field systems to be developed by UNHCR. This will be done in close coordination with other United Nations agencies with similar concerns. Although further slippage is expected in the finalization of the IMIS Financial module, UNHCR is about to undertake a detailed gap analysis on the basis of the latest version of the software in order to establish what level of customization would be necessary for its utilization. With the qualifications made above, UNHCR plans to move ahead on the IMIS project.

4. Action planned

76. The following provides the time frame for the various initiatives:

(a) Short-term (completion in up to 6 months):

  • completion of installation of new Headquarters-wide Office Automation standard under Windows; initiate roll-out of this Windows standard to the Field;
  • valuation of the United States Government consultancy (DISA) report on appropriate technologies in the areas of telecommunications and logistics (see para. 74);
  • completion of installation and training of Headquarters staff on new Personal Productivity Software (Microsoft Office);
  • introduction of digital radio communications to the Field;
  • introduction of easy-to-use Windows-based interfaces to existing mainframe systems;
  • initiation of IMIS Human Resources gap analysis;
  • initiation of Internet-based projects and intranet development.

(b) Medium Term (completion within 6 to 12 months):

  • completion of IMIS Human Resource gap analysis;
  • initiation of IMIS Finance gap analysis;
  • development of technological infrastructure for future field-based systems;
  • enhancement of existing systems to allow field usage through Internet-based technology.

(c) Long Term (completion over more than 24 months):

  • full implementation of the IMIS system, subject to the results of the gap analysis for IMIS Finance.

The recommendations contained in the Final Report of the CMG make reference to new strategic information systems with functionality and scope well beyond those currently in use. The Report acknowledges the need for a definition of user requirements for these strategic systems. The long-term planning process will comprise:

  • a thorough analysis of the organization s global, strategic information requirements;
  • a definition of strategic systems requirements to meet these organizational needs;
  • detailed plans with cost and time frames for their implementation;
  • progressive implementation of new systems for Headquarters and the Field.


1. Strategic direction

77. In support of the Delphi process, UNHCR's approach to training will aim to:

  • Support team and organizational effectiveness;
  • Contribute to individual performance and development; and
  • Focus on renewal from an ongoing learning process.

Training activities will be directed at both UNHCR staff and staff of its implementing partners.

78. As regards UNHCR staff, with the introduction of the Career Management System, staff training will be directed at specific competencies required to meet objectives which support the organization's operations. For the devolution of responsibility and accountability to "point of delivery" to be successful, staff must be fully trained. Needs will be identified through individual competency development plans and results assessed through the new performance appraisal system.

79. Training provided to UNHCR's implementing partners will, on the one hand, support the more general competencies required to ensure respect of UNHCR's financial and programming standards and guidelines and, on the other, support the design of programmes that contribute to UNHCR's objectives.

2. Objectives

80. The training objectives during the next 18 months are to:

(i) Assist staff to develop necessary competencies to improve UNHCR's efficiency and effectiveness;

(ii) Support a smooth and cooperative transition to a decentralized environment;

(iii) Increase the capacity of managers to deal with their new responsibilities.

81. To meet these objectives, the following priorities have been identified from recommendations of: the Change Management Report; policy directions from senior management; the Training Advisory Board (TAB); competency-based needs as defined by staff, with special input from representatives; other bodies, including the Executive Committee, auditors and the Inspection and Evaluation service:

  • strengthening management competencies;
  • training in support of new processes and tools (including administration, human resource management, finance, and logistics);
  • expanded protection training as per paragraph 38 above;
  • induction and training upon reassignment;
  • Planning, including People-oriented-Planning (POP);
  • developing external relations competencies;
  • evaluation, testing and certification of training results.

3. Planning framework

82. The above training objectives and priorities will be met through a decentralized process, while assuring central oversight and coordination. Key to this combination are the concepts that:

(a) managers are responsible for developing and coaching their staff with the assistance of designated training implementation managers and coordinators;

(b) Headquarters units will play a proactive role in providing material, guidance and training-of-trainers so that staff and partners are, to the greatest extent possible, trained locally but consistently; and

(c) the Training Advisory Board (TAB) will provide strategic policy and resource allocation guidance, and its secretariat, the Staff Development Section in DHRM, will have a consultative, coordinating, and support role for all UNHCR related training activities.

83. Training policy and design will be coordinated centrally, while for delivery, the emphasis will be on using field staff. When the OMS is fully implemented, it is envisaged that field training budgets would be included within the "envelope", for example based on a percentage of staff costs, and allocated to line managers on the basis of the numbers and types of staff supervised. Specific training which is mandated by the organization and some generic programmes would be funded centrally.

4. Action planned

84. The Action Plan for training activities is as follows:

(a) Short-term (to be completed in 6 months):

  • endorsement of overall Training Implementation Plan by TAB and SMC;
  • CMS introduction training implemented;
  • priority training programmes developed.

(b) Medium Term (to be completed in 6-12 months):

  • training programmes developed during previous 6 months delivered;
  • training evaluation system designed

(c) Long Term (to be completed in 12-18 months):

  • "electronic training support tools" (multi-media CD-ROM and use of UNHCR's "intranet") introduced to provide or reinforce "point of delivery" training;
  • training evaluation (including impact), testing, and certification tools and processes implemented for the purposes of individual career-related decisions and global reporting.


1. Strategic direction

85. In addition to the ongoing monitoring and control of operations which are an essential part of the Operations Management System, a further, comprehensive, more objective form of control exists in UNHCR's Internal Oversight Service. This Service currently exercises an internal oversight function through inspections and evaluations. It is recognized that the oversight function will need to be enhanced given the level of decentralization envisaged under Project Delphi.

86. As recommended by Project Delphi, it is proposed to bring together into an expanded Internal Oversight Service, the existing Inspection and Evaluation Service, and the UNHCR Section dealing with internal oversight in the Audit and Management Consulting Division of the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). UNHCR will consult with the Under-Secretary-General (OIOS) on the transfer of internal audit functions relating to (and currently resourced by) UNHCR.

87. The rationale for UNHCR having its own internal audit function is that it would improve the effectiveness of the internal auditing of UNHCR's activities, become a more responsive management tool, and through the synergies created by its close working relationship with the other functions in the Internal Oversight Service (Inspection and Evaluation), a more coordinated and effective overall oversight function in UNHCR would be created.

88. Reporting directly to the High Commissioner, the UNHCR Internal Oversight Service, headed by the Inspector, will consist of Inspection, Audit, and Evaluation Sections.

89. In addition, an Oversight Committee will be established, chaired by the Deputy High Commissioner, to ensure effective review and follow-up of all reports related to oversight (external audit, internal audit, inspection, evaluation, etc.). This Committee will subsume the present Audit Committee.

2. Objectives

90. The objectives of a consolidated and enhanced Internal Oversight Service dedicated exclusively to UNHCR are the following:

(i) to provide UNHCR with an objective examination of management processes and systems, with a view to corrective action, and thus promote effective management at all levels and ensure consistency in the application of standards;

(ii) to ensure that in a more decentralized organization with increased delegation to the field, commensurately high levels of accountability are maintained;

(iii) to monitor and report on the compliance by UNHCR's implementing partners with contractual and reporting arrangements;

(iv) to provide the necessary oversight reports on UNHCR's operations through the High Commissioner to the Executive Committee;

(v) to ensure effective liaison and coordination with the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, and with other oversight bodies, in particular the Board of External Auditors and, as appropriate, the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations;

(vi) to ensure the follow-up to the various oversight reports by, inter alia, its support and servicing of the Oversight Committee.

3. Planning Framework

91. UNHCR is committed to enhancing its internal oversight activities as a necessary corollary to the range of initiatives under Project Delphi that will see decision-making moved as close as possible to the point of delivery of operations, accompanied by delegated authority over related resources. The Internal Oversight Service is seen as one of the key mechanisms for engendering a culture of accountability throughout the organization.

92. A major concern for UNHCR is to improve project implementation by, and financial control over, its implementing partners. Another paper (EC/46/SC/CRP.45) before the Standing Committee sets out a number of proposed initiatives in regard to the audit of implementing partners. It is proposed that the Internal Audit Section will play a significant role in this area.

93. Auditors will be based both at Headquarters and in the Field, and will be attached, in an independent capacity, to major operations. Those attached to major operations will report to the Inspector.

94. While the Inspection Section is based at Headquarters, the inspection function extends to all UNHCR activities, and at all levels, down to point of delivery of operations in the Field. In the Field, inspections will provide a comprehensive, systematic and timely assessment of the management of UNHCR operations and a review of their impact, focusing on factors, internal and external, essential to the effective and efficient achievement of objectives. They will review, inter alia, implementation, resourcing, and control. Every UNHCR Field Office will be inspected over a three to four year period, and major operations more frequently. Headquarters units may also be subject to inspection.

95. The Evaluation Section of the UNHCR Internal Oversight Service will be responsible for the selective, comprehensive analysis of the impact, effectiveness, efficiency and relevance of operational activities in light of their objectives. The Section will also provide broad input on those components of the Operations Management System related to monitoring/self-evaluations (e.g. the establishment of performance indicators, operational benchmarks, impact assessment, etc.) which will be an integral part of project implementation under the Operations Management System. Evaluations falling under the Inspector would complement monitoring/self-evaluation activities that are part of the normal programme/project cycle.

96. The Inspector will also be responsible for initiating and overseeing investigations into any allegations of mismanagement, abuse, fraud or misconduct involving UNHCR staff, implementing partners or contractors, in order to establish the facts and recommend action as appropriate.

4. Action planned

97. The Action Plan in pursuit of the above objectives, to be implemented mainly by the respective Sections of the Internal Oversight Service, is as follows:

(a) Short-term (completion in up to 6 months):

  • draw up a comprehensive strategy for the Service in support of the implementation of Project Delphi;
  • commence the introduction of the newly structured Internal Oversight Service (IOS), including negotiations with the Office of Internal Oversight Services on the integration of the UNHCR Section dealing with internal audit in the Audit and Management Consulting Division into IOS;
  • determine the composition and terms of Reference of the new Oversight Committee;
  • subject to the approval of the new proposals relating to audit requirements of implementing partners, draw up the necessary work plans;
  • review inspection and evaluation work plans in the light of the implementation of the Project Delphi recommendations in the Field.

(b) Medium Term (completion in 6-12 months)

  • finalize the restructuring of the Internal Oversight Service;
  • support the relevant Divisions in the preparation of benchmarks, indicators etc., for ongoing monitoring/self-evaluation activities which will be part of the Operations Management System.



1. Strategic direction

98. The Ad hoc Working Group on Internal Communications sought to define a framework, including an identification of the appropriate structures and necessary mechanisms, to serve the internal communications and information management needs of an effective and efficient organization moving toward greater decentralization, delegation and accountability.

2. Objectives

99. The objectives of such an internal communications strategy would be the following:

(i) to make available tools to increase and enhance the flow of information within UNHCR - at Headquarters, between Headquarters and the field, and within the field;

(ii) to develop a communications management regime which permits full and quick access to relevant information, whilst at the same time reducing information overload;

(iii) to strengthen team spirit by fostering a culture of openness, dialogue, transparency and mutual respect.

3. Planning framework

100. The Ad hoc Working Group, taking into account the evolving management environment, underlined the need for the Office to shift to centrally-available electronic information, both for official business and for satisfying an individual's more general information needs related to his/her work. In August 1996, UNHCR issued email (electronic mail) Guidelines. These recognize email as the preferred medium of communication within and between offices for official communications and messages. The Guidelines set out UNHCR s policies, procedures and responsibilities for the use of electronic mail. In particular, they give instructions, inter alia, on the sending, copying or forwarding official email messages and for their filing; they also deal with the designation of Action Officers and the drawing up of distribution lists for all documents requiring follow-up. For the more general work-related information needs of staff, the onus will be on the individual to seek out relevant items from the electronic bulletin boards which are to be set up.

101. The Ad hoc Working Group recommended that the Executive Office should create a Communications Review Board (CRB), drawn from the Public Information System, the Archives and Records Centre and the Executive Office, with additional ad hoc participation as deemed appropriate, to promote initiatives related to internal communications, and to monitor their implementation.

4. Action planned

102. A summary of the Working Group's recommendations and related actions follows.

(a) Short-term (to be completed in the next six months):

  • act on the proposal to establish a Communications Review Board; -review the translation capacity of the Office, and make necessary resource recommendations to ensure that all official internal communications are issued in future in English and French. The Secretariat will draw up a proposal (by end-September);
  • set up Electronic Bulletin Boards (eventually to be organized on a thematic basis) which will be accessible to staff world-wide. Action will be taken by respective information providers in conjunction with ICSS, who will provide the technology;
  • promote, wherever and whenever appropriate, email as the preferred method of communication within the organization, and conformity with UNHCR's email Guidelines (August 1996); this means of communication, and the policies, procedures and responsibilities for its use, should also be applied to the rationalization and management of other official forms of communication; compliance with the Guidelines directives on the need for Units to identify focal points to screen all incoming documents and be responsible for designating Action Officers and for establishing distribution lists, will be closely monitored;
  • the Archives, Records and Communications Unit, in consultation with other relevant units, will devise a questionnaire to survey staff in all locations to assess the current usefulness of certain modes of communications and also to elicit suggestions from staff in order to increase their effectiveness;
  • the Public Information Section's Food for Thought series will be continued and developed; other similar fora, including in the field, will be promoted, including debriefings by Senior Managers on missions, etc.;
  • prior to the development of an in-house publication (see (c) below, a news bulletin will be disseminated on a frequent and regular basis covering Delphi and CMS developments.

(b) Medium Term (to be completed in 6-12 months):

  • Intranet access will be fully available to all staff in all locations; a decision will be taken regarding the extent of Internet access.(ICSS is preparing recommendations on time frame and required resources.);
  • Inter Office/Field Office Memoranda will be rationalized into two series of official pronouncements, those covering Policy (see Section III above) and those dealing with Management. Each series will be easily identifiable and subdivided as appropriate, and each document will clearly indicate whether it is for information or for action. The series will be disseminated in both English and French and by electronic means wherever possible; Electronic formats will be designed by ICSS on the basis of consultation with the responsible units, and taking into account the results of the above-mentioned questionnaire, to standardize Situation Reports, Monthly Field Reports, Mission Reports, Meeting Reports, Notes for the File, etc.;
  • further staff surveys will be conducted to evaluate inter alia perception of and attitudes towards the change processes and progress.

(c) Longer term: The following communications management tools will be developed:

  • A regular (hard copy) in-house publication containing, inter alia, official UNHCR information, debate on key issues, articles relating to staff welfare will be produced by the Public Information Section;
  • a variety of electronic means of communication will be developed and promoted to enable interaction among all locations. These could be used to facilitate (with controlled access) discussion group debate; to provide staff with easy access to useful general and more specific information, for example on the progress of operations and personnel administration information.


103. Records management and archival activities are support services to the whole organization and its activities. Though this section of the Action Plan looks at Records Management and Archives separately, the two services are closely linked and mutually dependent.

B.1 Records Management

1. Strategic direction

104. UNHCR's strategic plan for Records Management, which was developed in early 1996, is wholly consistent with and supportive of the objectives of Project Delphi. The Plan has the following goals:

  • maintain the institutional memory, and contribute to more efficient retrieval, use, and coordination of information for ongoing operations, UNHCR strategic planning, and for more effective response in emergencies;
  • support effective decentralization;
  • save paper, space, time, staff.

2. Objectives

105. More specifically, the objectives of the Records Management Plan, most of which, by now, have been attained, are to:

  • Institute management of email;
  • Improve management of paper master files;
  • Revise the file classification system;
  • Select and deploy new records management software.

3. Action planned

106. The principal elements of the Action Plan for Records Management are as follows:

(a) Short-term (for completion in 6 months):

  • further progress on each of the above objectives; including the deployment of the File Mailbox system and assumption of control of paper master files by Records Coordination Units at Headquarters.

(b) Medium Term (for completion in 6-12 months):

  • the expansion of the responsibilities of the Records Coordination Units to include the scanning of paper documents to permit the creation of integrated electronic master files;
  • the new software for Records Management will have been selected and deployed at Headquarters;
  • the File Classification System will have been completely revised at Headquarters to meet UNHCR needs and to reflect Project Delphi changes;
  • to contribute to the overall improvement of management by improving the coordination of communications and information retrieval, as well as the subsequent capture of communications and information generated for better follow-up analysis and long-term historical value.

(c) Long Term (to be completed in 24 months or longer):

  • the revision of the file classification system for the field and the deployment of the records management system to the field;
  • the records management system will be linked with incoming media information, Centre for Documentation and Research (CDR) databases, etc.

B.2 Archives

107. With the move of UNHCR to the new Headquarters building (Montbrillant), UNHCR, for the first time in its history, has sufficient and suitable space in the basement to concentrate its archival holdings in one location. The strategy is to develop a first-rate historical Archives as a tool for operations and strategic planning, and as a resource for scholarly research.

1. Objectives

108. In pursuit of this strategy, the following objectives have been formulated:

  • inventory the documents in the archives, determining what are duplicates;
  • resolve the problems with Records Management (which feeds the Archives);
  • develop the tools of an historical archive: procedures for cataloguing and reference, forms, macros, etc.;
  • develop a policy for external access.

2. Action plan

109. The Action Plan in pursuit of the above objectives is as follows:

(a) Short-term (completion in up to 6 months):

  • work will continue on making an inventory of the archives and the development of a policy of external access;

(b) Medium Term (completion in 6-12 months)

  • the inventory work will be completed;
  • cataloguing will begin;
  • a procedures manual will be developed, and finding aids, web page material, etc. will be created.

(c) Long Term (to be completed in 24 months or longer):

  • work will continue on the further development of Finding Aids, web page material, etc.;
  • the development of seminars based upon UNHCR Archives holdings.


1. Strategic direction

110. While the Project Delphi Change Management Group (CMG) did not have in its terms of reference a review of the organizational structure of UNHCR, a significant number of the proposals contained in its Report had implications for it. Throughout the CMG Report, there is reference to the need to change the nature and emphasis of Headquarters' role. The envisaged role for Headquarters also has obvious implications for the nature of UNHCR's field presence.

111. The CMG Report, and the subsequent deliberations of the Senior Management Committee on it, have focused on the functions to be performed at Headquarters. At its meeting on 4 and 5 July 1996, the Senior Management agreed on these functions, and also recognized that a key concept in determining the organizational structure of UNHCR would be that of the "situational approach".

112. It was decided that a new management structure should be adopted early in the course of the Project Delphi process, rather than at the end of it; it was understood, however, that in the course of the implementation of the Project Delphi recommendations, it would be necessary to keep under review the management structure. This approach would underline the fact that senior management, in close consultation with other levels of management and staff, must play a key role in implementing the changes necessary to achieve a streamlined, more effective and efficient organization. The senior managers and their teams would have the responsibility also to carry forward the change process and implement improvements in UNHCR's ways of working. In particular, they would have to address the challenge of the downsizing of Headquarters as a logical consequence of adopting the approach as set out in the Project Delphi recommendations.

2. Objectives

113. The objectives of the new management structure can be summarized as follows:

(i) to support and control the activities of UNHCR, a field-oriented organization in search of durable solutions for refugees;

(ii) to highlight the distinctive functions that are peculiar to a Headquarters role, or which, for a range of reasons, are best performed at the centre; these functions have been identified broadly as follows: formulation and dissemination of global policy and overall strategy; global operations management; establishing, promoting/advocating and monitoring standards and norms of international protection; operational/technical standard setting for UNHCR activities; overall control and monitoring; internal oversight; fund raising; allocation of resources; external relations; human resource management; ensuring emergency preparedness and response; and other forms of operations support;

(ii) to move, consistent with the field-oriented nature of UNHCR s work, decision making and management of resources as close as possible to the point of delivery of services to UNHCR s beneficiaries;

(iv) to reflect the concept of the "situational approach" in structuring the management of operations, and in the support for them.

3. Planning framework

114. The Senior Management, at a meeting in early August 1996, adopted the broad outlines of a new management structure (see Annex 3). The new organizational structure has five key components: Executive Office; International Protection; Oversight; Operations; Operations Support Services. It should be noted that this management structure embraces both Headquarters and Field. The various components of this organizational structure are outlined below.

(a) Executive Office

115. The Executive Office consists of the High Commissioner, assisted by the Deputy High Commissioner and the Assistant High Commissioner. Supporting the High Commissioner in her work is the Senior Management Committee, the principal advisory and decision-making management committee. Grouped around the Executive Office are services which fall outside the areas of direct operations management and operations support, such as the Secretariat, Public Information, Centre for Documentation and Research, as well as a temporary Change Management Support and Coordination Unit (see para. 123). An Executive Directive will set out the respective responsibilities within the Executive Office.

(b) Division of International Protection

116. The Division will have as its primary focus standards, norms, consistency of approach, promotion and advocacy, as well as an important advisory role in the formulation of strategic and operations policy. The Division will provide support for protection activities in operations.

(c) Internal Oversight Service

117. The Internal Oversight Service will be responsible for inspections, evaluations and investigations and, subject to the outcome of discussions with the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services, also for internal audit.

(d) Operations

118. Current operations have been reviewed to determine the groupings and management arrangements that would best support the aims of the Action Plan at this stage. There will be eight operations or groups of operations/situations. Two are large "stand alone" operations, the Great Lakes and the Former Yugoslavia. Six are groups of operations/situations: Europe: the Americas; Central, East and West Africa; Southern Africa; Asia and the Pacific; South West and Central Asia, Middle East and North Africa. Each of the eight will be headed by a Director of Operations. Initially, three of these Directors will be field-based: those responsible for the Great Lakes; former Yugoslavia; and Southern Africa.

(e) Support services

119. Support Services comprise three divisions: Operations Support; Financial and Information Services; Human Resources Management.

(i) Division of Operational Support

120. In the reorganized structure, support for field operations will be consolidated into an Operations Support Division. Its mission will be to provide integrated support for field operations in the following main areas: fund raising and donor relations; operations management system/standards/guidance/training; technical support and standard setting; supplies/logistics; emergency preparedness and response; NGO liaison; durable solutions support; programme coordination and reporting.

(ii) Division of Financial and Information Services

121. A Division of Financial and Information Services will replace the Division of Controller and Management Services. Its responsibilities will include financial policy, central accounts, treasury, budgetary control, financial analysis, financial and management reporting and assets control. Information and communications systems will also be in this Division, as well as records and archives management.

(iii) Division of Human Resources Management

122. This Division's overall responsibilities remain unchanged, but it is expected that significant rationalization and decentralization will take place within the next two years as tasks and functions, including administration of national staff members, are moved closer the country and point of delivery levels. The function of the Division will include strategic human resource planning and analysis, human resource policy and development, recruitment and management of international (professional) staff members, staff welfare, field staff security, post classification, staff development and management training, career management system, staff relations, and functional guidance for field personnel officers.

(f) Change Management Support and Coordination Unit (CMSCU)

123. This temporary Unit will be created to assist with phase III of the Delphi Project, the Implementation Phase. In the first instance, it will facilitate the preparation of a detailed implementation plan, and coordinate and monitor progress against the overall change process and ensure consistency of approach and action in line with the agreed action and implementation plans. The Unit (consisting of four Professional staff and one General Service staff member) will utilize the resources formerly dedicated to the Organization and Methods Section, which will be disbanded. The need for the CMSCU itself will be reviewed in two years, in the light of progress on the implementation of the Delphi Project Plan of Action.

4. Action planned

124. The short-term Action Plan for introducing the new organizational structure follows. Further actions relating to structure in the medium and longer term have been listed in the action plans already summarized herein. The management structure will be kept under close review by the Executive Office.

(a) Short-term (to be completed in 6 months):

  • incumbents to the Senior Management positions to be confirmed/ appointed by mid-September 1996; Senior Management team assumes leadership/ownership for change implementation;
  • each entity to define its new structure in the light of the new responsibilities, agreed objectives and actions planned;
  • each entity to develop its part of the detailed implementation plan indicating, inter alia, time frame, resource requirements (including staffing implications), linkages, assumptions and constraints;
  • the three field-based Directors of Operations (the Former Yugoslavia, the Great Lakes Region and Southern Africa) each will conduct a detailed review of the implications of, and plan for, the application of the field situation management concept to their responsibilities . The analysis and development of a plan for these three situations will be facilitated by three multi-functional project teams. The analysis will largely be field-based and will concentrate on defining needs, roles, responsibilities, systems and procedures within each operation; it is anticipated that the output of these three reviews will be crucial to advancing implementation; they will provide a model for the management of other operations.
  • finalize and incorporate into the detailed implementation plan the recommendations arising from the regional strategic planning exercise (see para. 17), taking into account new groupings of operations;
  • Change Management Support and Coordination Unit to consolidate the various individual implementation plans into one overall plan for approval by Senior Management.


125. It is obvious that the Delphi Process is going to bring about a shift in focus from Headquarters to the Field, particularly as effect is given to all the implications of the "situational" approach. This will result in a significant reduction in the size of the Headquarters establishment, as functions are relocated to the field, are out-sourced, or become redundant. It is envisaged that the number of posts at Headquarters will be reduced by some 200-250 posts before the end of 1998. Thereafter, the size of Headquarters should be less affected by the volume of field activities. The impact of the implementation of the Action Plan on staffing in the field is harder to estimate at this stage. The size of UNHCR's field establishment depends on a range of factors, but largely on the volume and complexity of its operations. As stated by the High Commissioner at the time of launching the Delphi Process, she is committed to building the capacity in UNHCR to contract and expand in response to operational demands.

126. Work has commenced on developing a human resources transition strategy, to minimize the impact of these changes on staff. Careful attention will be given to the needs, aspirations and situation of staff. There will be appropriate consultations with Staff Representatives to ensure a fair and transparent process. As a first step towards safeguarding the interests of current staff, Senior Management has adopted the following measures:

(i) As of 1 September 1996, a freeze on the recruitment of GS staff at Headquarters and professional staff (D/P/L) world-wide will be introduced. As of 1 September 1996, short-term staff serving in these categories may be extended for a maximum of six months (no later than 28 February 1997). Any exceptions to these limitations will be subject to review by the appropriate Appointments and Postings Body.

(ii) Individual consultancies will only be contracted upon written confirmation from the Division of Human Resource Management that none of the staff in need of placement could undertake the duties involved.

127. The staff reductions which are foreseen as flowing from the implementation of the Plan of Action should eventually enable all UNHCR staff at Headquarters to be accommodated in one building. While this was not an objective in itself, it would have important positive implications for effectiveness of communications and operations, as well as significant savings on rentals.


128. In terms of expenditure attributable to the implementation of the Project Delphi Action Plan, the principal financial considerations will relate to the improvements to UNHCR's information and communications systems (including IMIS, VSAT), logistics and supply systems (SIMS), and from the implementation of the Career Management System (CMS), especially training. It should be noted that important elements of these initiatives were already in the pipeline; under Project Delphi, they have been brought into a broader change management framework so as to ensure their consistency with the directions as proposed by the Delphi Project. As regards DISA (para.74), the proposals contained in its report have not yet been costed. UNHCR's assessment of the DISA report (and the resource implications) will be presented to the Standing Committee at its meeting in January 1997. With regard to IMIS, and judging from the experience of sister agencies, it is expected that its customization may amount to several million dollars. It is not yet possible to estimate these costs nor, in particular, to what extent these could be shared with other agencies.

129. UNHCR feels that the likely net additional resources (which would take into account the expected savings under Project Delphi) required to give effect to the Project Delphi recommendations will be such that they can be addressed and accommodated in the course of UNHCR's normal budgetary review mechanisms. A breakdown of the estimated costs of the components of the Action Plan will be presented to the Executive Committee at the January 1997 session of the Standing Committee.


130. The greater part of the implementation of this high-level action plan is expected to be completed within two years. While initial steps toward implementation have already commenced, the next phase (III) of the Delphi Project will have its immediate focus on the preparation of a detailed implementation plan. New processes and systems will be developed, to the extent necessary and possible, with a focus on needs in the field: implementation, by necessity, will be phased and require careful coordination. While implementation and vertical coordination will be the responsibility of each functional entity and the various management levels, horizontal coordination and support of the overall change programme will be assured by the Senior Management team assisted by the CMSCU (para.123).

131. The High Commissioner, recalling her commitment made at the last session of the Executive Committee to work towards a more efficient, adaptable and streamlined UNHCR, is pleased to present this Action Plan to the Executive Committee for the endorsement of its broad directions. She looks to the Executive Committee for its support in this important initiative, on the progress of which she will keep the Executive Committee fully informed.


The Change Management Group, guided by the mandate of UNHCR and the brief given it by the High Commissioner, established a number of objectives for its work. These were endorsed by the Senior Management Committee at the time of its review of the Group's Report. These objectives were:

1. To devise clearer policy formulation and decision-making processes

2. To move operational decision-making closer to the point of delivery

3. To design means to contract and expand according to operational needs

4. To maximize interoperability with major partners, particularly within the United Nations

5. To eliminate duplication and overlaps

6. To become more effective and efficient

7. To put the right resources in the right place at the right time

8. To enable staff to use their full potential and empower managers to manage

9. To reward on merit and sanction where necessary

10. To exploit technological potential and allow wide and timely access to information


The CMG Report made the following overall recommendations:

  • The approach to any particular operation will be based on a refugee problem, existing or potential (a "situation" approach). Any operation, in this sense, will encompass at least two countries - the country of origin and country/ies of asylum. This comprehensive approach will apply to programme formulation, prioritization and allocation of resources.
  • Authority will be delegated to the appropriate level, and as close as possible to the point of delivery. This change will apply to the full cycle of programme management as well as to the management of human and financial resources. Delegation of authority will be accompanied by full accountability and integrated control and evaluation mechanisms.
  • Accountability of operation managers will be supported by clear policy making and dissemination processes. Policy will be fully informed and well communicated, to be understood and capable of enforcement. Mechanisms will be put in place, or strengthened, whereby issues may be raised from the field to higher policy-making levels, and policy guidance will be disseminated back to the field
  • Recruitment, posting and separation policies will be guided by the needs of the organization and its beneficiaries, and determined by performance. This proposal endorses the objectives and philosophy of Career Management Strategy, particularly with regard to performance appraisal and staff development.

(Note: Tabular Annexes 1-3 not included in this online version. See your nearest UN Depository Library.)


The Standing Committee,

Welcomes the Action Plan for Project Delphi (EC/46/SC/CRP.48) and endorses its broad directions;

Requests the High Commissioner to present to the January 1997 meeting of the Standing Committee a more detailed assessment of the financial implications of the Plan;

Asks to be kept regularly informed on progress in relation to Project Delphi.