Checklist for Programme Office closure

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					XXX Programme Office Guideline                                      Updated: July 2004

                Checklist for Programme Office closure
1. This checklist sets out the things that need to be done before XXX withdraws from a
country and closes the Programme Office there. It is written in general terms and it will have
to be adapted before it can be used in a particular country. In each country there will also be
unique actions needed that cannot be included in a general guide like this one. The first step in
preparing to close a Programme Office should therefore be that the RPM and the Country
Director agree a tailored action list and timetable based on a suitably modified version of this
checklist. This should be done at least six months in advance of the likely date of closure.

2. Withdrawal from a country because of an emergency will obviously necessitate a lot of
short cuts in procedures. This paper may nevertheless provide a useful check-list of things to

The responsible person

3. One member of staff, usually the Country Director, should be appointed to oversee the
closure process, particularly in its final stages. This person is to be responsible for most of the
activities described in more detail below.

4. If this person incurs expenditure after the bank account is closed they will need to submit an
expense claim to the RPM in International Programmes Group (IPG) in the HQ. They may
need to draw a float before they close the account and will need to account for its use.

A HQ contact

5. There will almost certainly be some residue of activity after the Programme Office has
closed, no matter how careful the preparations. It is therefore important that a named
individual is designated in xxx who can deal with the resulting enquiries. In normal
circumstances this will be the RPM.

Early warning of closure

6. Many people and organisations need, or deserve to be told, that XXX is leaving the country.
This will allow them to plan accordingly and, where appropriate, to ensure that XXX’s
financial and other records are closed in good time. These people will include:
 Recent employers
 Government Ministries and officials
 The British Embassy or High Commission
 The local office of the British Council
 Donors
 Other NGOs
 Trades people

7. A list of these people and organisations should be drawn up and three months before
closure they should be written to and told of what is to happen. If it is already known that they
should be taking some specific action then this should be explained to them.

Consideration should be given to who is best placed to write to these various audiences: in the

XXX Programme Office Guideline                                    Updated: July 2004

case of staff, volunteers, and high level contacts, it may well be that a letter from SMT or the
Chief Executive (even if drafted by RPM or the PO) is best calculated to give the right sense of
XXX having taken the decision only after weighty consideration. Being as open as possible
about the reasons for closure reflects well on XXX and makes it more likely that the decision
will be generally accepted as reasonable.

Final notice of closure

8. The list of people drawn up at paragraph 5 should be written to again two weeks before
closure and told when the final date will be and, where appropriate, given the name of the HQ

Disposal of assets

9. The general principle is that all assets owned by XXX should be disposed of in ways that
maximise the return to XXX. It will need care to achieve this and it is likely to need some
judgement on the part of the Country Director.

10. The first step is to make an inventory of XXX’s assets. This will be easier if a Fixed Assets
Register has been maintained but even this will need extending to include all the items not
normally included on a Register. A plan should then be made as to how each item or group of
items is to be disposed of. The plan should then be agreed with the RPM.

11. Note that any assets bought with donor funds (e.g. project vehicles) may not be the legal
property of XXX – it is therefore important to check any donor contracts for rules on ownership
of capital items. The EC, for example, states explicitly that any capital items bought with EC
funds are not the property of XXX, and must be transferred to local partners at the end of the

12. Sale is not the only option - give due consideration to transporting items to neighbouring
POs, particularly items with low sale values which would cost the other PO a lot to acquire or
replace. Laptops less than 3 years old, also routers, and network hubs fall into this category. If
possible, they can be returned to HQ if someone is returning to the HQ at that time. Hubs
could be offered for sale to the owner of the building so that they have an intact network
infrastructure to pass to the next residents or a neighbouring PO could perhaps use these items.
If so, the costs of transport, including insurance, will need to be weighed up against sale value
locally. The IT Helpdesk in HQ will always offer advice and suggestions for good use of the
remaining items

13. More than one quote must be obtained for the purchase of the more valuable items, such as
vehicles. If any member of staff wishes to purchase the equipment at the highest rate quoted,
this is in order.

14. Computers must never be disposed of without first formatting the Hard Disk to ensure that
no confidential information goes outside XXX - see below para 28 “Records”. For further
guidance on Data Protection issues, contact the Data Protection Desk in the Chief Executive’s
office in HQ. For any further guidance on technical IT issues, contact the IT Helpdesk.

15. Judgement will have to used as to how to obtain the best price for items of lesser value.
Options include:
 Advertising them for sale at a stated price (preferably arrived at after some expert advice).

XXX Programme Office Guideline                                    Updated: July 2004

  Staff can be given first choice if they wish.
 Advertising them for sale and inviting sealed bids. Staff may join in on the same basis as
 Not advertising them publicly but allowing staff to submit bids. This method should only be
  used for smaller items where the costs and effort of advertising more widely are not going to
  be worth the effort.

16. If an item is unlikely to be worth much and would be disproportionately valuable to an
organisation with which XXX has been working then it may be donated to that organisation.
Note however that this applies only to small value items and is to be an exceptional action.

17. A note should be made on the disposal plan agreed between the Country Director and the
RPM of the action finally taken and the result.

18. Income from the sale of assets should be coded to the specific income codes (SA01 and 02)
for the Sale of Assets.

19. If items disposed of have been imported duty-free there may be some residual liability to
pay duty and the relevant government department should be consulted for advice.


20. Most XXX property is leased rather than owned. If any property in the country is owned
then the RPM should immediately bring this to the attention of the Director of Resources in HQ
because special steps will have to be taken for its disposal.

21. For leased property the lease should be checked for:
 surrender terms
 penalty clauses for early termination
 the condition in which the property has to be left (there may, for example be clauses about
 any inventory of furniture, fixtures and fittings that have to be returned at the end of the

22. It is likely that a local lawyer will need to be engaged by XXX to oversee the conclusion of
the lease.

23. Any necessary decoration and repairs should be put in hand. The inventory should be
checked against what is present and a decision made about any discrepancies.

24. Due notice should be given to cancel, from the end of the lease, any rates paid on the

Cancellation of service contracts

25. It is likely that the Programme Office has a number of service contracts that will need to be
terminated. These may include:
 Electricity
 Gas
 Heating fuel

XXX Programme Office Guideline                                    Updated: July 2004

 Fuel for generators
 Water
 Security
 Maintenance of:
      Grounds and gardens
 Insurance policies

26. This list will probably not be exhaustive and a full list of these contracts should be made.
Each will need to be looked at to determine what notice needs to be given and any penalties
that may be incurred. Some negotiation may be necessary to minimise these penalties. Where
money is paid in advance (for insurance for example) there may be money owing to XXX and
this should be collected.


27. If there are any contracts with external donors, either for programmes or placements, it is
important to check the contract terms and conditions and ensure compliance with these. If a
placement or programme is to be terminated prematurely, it is essential that the donor is
informed and consulted on this.

28. Final reports to donors must be prepared and submitted well in advance of closure, and it is
also important to check with the donor that the reports have been accepted and that they
consider the contract to be closed. Country Directors should also ensure any final payments
have been claimed and received from the donor. [IPFT have prepared guidelines on closing
grants, which can be obtained from PDFU in HQ or from your RPDFA].

29. PDFU should be informed of all outstanding issues with any existing or recently completed
donor contracts, and all donor and grant files should be sent back to PDFU in the HQ.

Bank accounts

30. The local bank should be kept informed of your plans. If there is the possibility of
outstanding bills still needing to be paid after the Programme Office is formally closed,
minimal funds should be left in the bank account to cover these items and a local staff member
given the responsibility for paying these and finally closing the bank account and forwarding
the final funds on a draft payment to the Overseas Management Accountant in the Accounts
Dept in HQ (coded to CV01). At whatever stage the bank account is closed complete and final
bank statements should be sent to the same person, showing nil balances, and details of any
payments made. The bank should know in writing the name and address of the contact person
in HQ.


31. Full Programme Office Accounts should be completed up until the final day of closure
(treating it as a normal month end) and submitted as normal to the Accounts Dept in HQ.

XXX Programme Office Guideline                                      Updated: July 2004


32. As long as all volunteer reports and references have been sent to the HQ in the normal way,
you will only have to send the Country Agreement, plus HR files for all current staff and those
who ended their employment within the last 2 years. In addition, all documentation relating to
donor grant contracts should also be returned to PDFU in the HQ. Finally all primary accounts
documentation for the last 6 years must be sent - this means all the payment and receipt
vouchers of which you have the original and only copies, but not Dynamics or SunAccounts
reports, nor your budget preparation documentation (all of which are already stored in the HQ).

The actions required are to:
 review all the office files and determine which need to be returned to HQ (checking with the
  RPM as necessary). Since archiving space in HQ is limited, give Head of Facilities
  Management in the HQ as much warning as possible: number of boxes, approximate date of
 make a list of all files being returned, using the categories “Volunteers”, “Accounts”,
  “Human Resources”, “Grants” and “Other”. Separate each category into year order and then
  box them up by category and year(s) (e.g. “Accounts 1997” or “Volunteers 1996, 1997,
  1998”). Write the category and year(s) clearly on the outside of each box.
 ship the files, with the category contents lists, back to the RSO in XXX HQ.

33. Note that for some donor contracts we are required to keep financial records for longer than
6 years – the current EC regulations state that they may audit any funded projects ‘up-to 7 years
after the end of the project period’ – this means that for a 5-year project, we need to keep
financial records for a total of 12 years.

34. XXX Accounts Dept in the HQ will also need the last SunAccounts or Dynamics back up

35. Under the terms of the HQ Data Protection Act, it is essential that all confidential records
are either destroyed or passed back to XXX in the HQ for proper storage. For this reason,
computer hard disks must be formatted (wiped totally clean) before they are disposed of,
whether by sale or otherwise.

Terminating the services of staff

36. The HR Department in XXX HQ should be consulted at an early stage. It may be wise to
consult a local labour lawyer - national law will generally take precedence over XXX policies,
particularly where statutory provisions are more generous than XXX’s.

37. In some circumstances, particularly when closure comes suddenly, staff will inevitably go
through varying degrees of emotional stress - including feelings of anger/frustration if they
don’t agree with the decision. The RPM needs to consider how to support staff in dealing with
this, including possibly bringing in external facilitation for some sessions.

38. Taking into account all the work entailed in closing down the programme, a workplan
should be drawn up by the person overseeing closure (see para 3 above), and staff redundancies
planned on this basis. It is better to retain someone’s services for an extra month than to let
them go and then find there is insufficient capacity to do all the things laid down above.

39. If they are redundant as a result of the office closure, national staff are entitled to 12 weeks
XXX Programme Office Guideline                                   Updated: July 2004

notice of termination of employment. They are also entitled to a redundancy payment
equivalent to two weeks’ pay for each complete year of service with XXX. These are the
entitlements recommended in XXX’s master contract, but individual contracts should be
checked in case alternative redundancy provisions have been agreed. For internationally and
nationally appointed Country Directors and Programme Officers XXX will make every effort
to re-deploy these staff in suitable alternative jobs (for the remaining duration of their
contracts). Where no suitable job is available staff are entitled to 12 weeks notice of
termination of employment and two weeks pay for each complete year of service with XXX.
Leave arrangements should be discussed with each member of staff so that all their leave is
taken by the time the Office is closed. Only exceptionally – where the presence of the member
of staff is essential for the closure of the office for example – should pay be given in lieu of

40. The extent of any money owed by a member of staff to XXX through a loan should be
discussed with the member of staff and arrangements made for the loan to be repaid by the time
the Office closes. This is with the exception of any loan relating to the OU/GPDM course,
which XXX will not seek to recover. Final salary payments must be made net of any
outstanding loans and advances.

41. As with any other employee who leaves XXX employment, any money owing due to
overtaken annual leave should be deducted from the employee’s final salary. Similarly any
XXX property in the employee’s possession should be returned by the closure date.
Arrangements will also be made with the Country Director to provide individual staff with a
contact name for future prospective employer references. This will normally be the RPM.

42. Agreement must be reached with the equivalents of the Inland Revenue (income tax
department) and Department of Social Security on how to pay any balances owed, where


43. In some circumstances, particularly when closure comes suddenly i.e. mainly in security
situations, volunteers will inevitably go through varying degrees of emotional stress - including
feelings of anger/frustration if they don’t agree with the decision. The RPM and CD need to
consider how to support volunteers in dealing with this, including the possibility of externally-
facilitated session(s). Debriefs have happened in the HQ following emergency evacuations, but
where the lead-in time is longer, it is highly desirable to conduct such debriefs in country.

XXX Programme Office Guideline                                   Updated: July 2004

           Checklist of administrative actions when closing a Programme Office

                                  Action                                      Weeks before
Notify Director of Resources in the HQ if any property owned                            asap
RPM to appoint person responsible for closure                                             24
Check leases for conditions                                                               24
Check all donor contracts for conditions and project end dates                            24
Engage lawyer if surrender of leases may be difficult                                     24
Keep bank informed of closure plans                                                       24
Consult HR Department in the HQ about terminating the services of staff                   24
Discuss repayment of loans with staff                                                     24
Prepare a full list of service contracts and check for termination clauses                20
Discuss leave arrangements with staff                                                     16
Give notice of termination of contracts where necessary and collect refunds          from 16
where appropriate
Provide interested people early warning of closure                                       12
Make an inventory of XXX’s assets                                                        12
Determine whether any disposable assets were acquired duty free and                      12
whether duty is payable on their disposal
Check condition of property against lease requirements and repair or                     12
redecorate if necessary
Review files to see what will need to be sent back to the HQ                             12
Prepare a plan to dispose of assets and get agreement of RPM                             10
Start to implement disposal plan for assets                                               8
Check donor contracts for rules on closure of grants                                      8
Complete reports to donors                                                                8
Liase with PDFU in the HQ about any donor contracts which are being, or                   8
have recently been completed
Designate someone in the HQ to handle residual matters after closure                      6
Check inventory against lease and replace as necessary                                    6
Give notice of cancelling rates if necessary                                              6
Check with donors that reports have been accepted and grant files can be                  4
considered closed. Inform PDFU of response, plus any outstanding issues
Agree with Inland Revenue and Department of Social Security how to pay                    4
any balances owed
Prepare and mark up files that need to be sent to the HQ                                   4
Send records to XXX in the HQ                                                         from 4
Give final notice to interested people of closure                                          2
Pay duty as necessary on relevant assets disposed of                                       2
Complete record of disposals                                                               0
Close bank accounts and transfer balances to XXX HQ                                        0
Send final bank statements to the HQ                                                       0
Complete full accounts procedures as at month end on final day of closure                  0
Calculate final salaries net of leave owed and outstanding loans                           0
Ensure XXX property returned by staff                                                      0
Provide staff with contact name of RPM in HQ                                               0
Despatch files to XXX HQ                                                                   0


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