19 May 2011
UNFPA Management Response
Item 10: Internal audit and oversight
Executive Board of UNDP, UNFPA and UNOPS
Annual session 2011
I. INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................4
II. RESPONSE TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS CONTAINED IN THE
REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION FOR OVERSIGHT
SERVICES ON UNFPA INTERNAL AUDIT AND OVERSIGHT
ACTIVITIES IN 2010 .............................................................................................4
III. CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................12
List of acronyms
AWPs Annual workplans
DOS Division for Oversight Services (UNFPA)
ICF Internal control framework
ICT Information and communications technology
INTOSAI International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions
IPSASs International Public Sector Accounting Standards
M&E Monitoring and evaluation
MIS Management Information Services
PAD Performance appraisal and development
1. In compliance with decision 2006/13, UNFPA is pleased to present its management
response to the report of the Director of the Division for Oversight Services on UNFPA internal
audit and oversight activities in 2010 (DP/FPA/2011/5). This response is supplementary to
DP/FPA/2011/5 and should be read in conjunction with that report, including its annex 5, which
contains the UNFPA management response to the annual report of the UNFPA Audit Advisory
2. UNFPA welcomes the report of the Director of the Division for Oversight Services on
UNFPA internal audit and oversight activities in 2010 and, more specifically, its new format,
which includes 15 specific recommendations. UNFPA management recognizes the value of these
recommendations which will provide guidance to the organization and inform management’s
decisions to strengthen overall oversight and accountability. The present management response
illustrates the key measures UNFPA has adopted or is adopting in response to the 15
recommendations contained in DP/FPA/2011/5.
II. RESPONSE TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS CONTAINED IN THE REPORT OF THE
DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION FOR OVERSIGHT SERVICES ON UNFPA
INTERNAL AUDIT AND OVERSIGHT ACTIVITIES IN 2010
Recommendation 1. Building on the midterm review of the UNFPA strategic plan, 2008-2013, the
Executive Director should elaborate a vision statement that would reorder the priorities and guide
UNFPA for the subsequent strategic plan and results framework. This vision statement should be
supported by a strategic communication approach targeted at the public and UNFPA employees.
3. The midterm review of the UNFPA strategic plan, 2008-2013, provides an opportunity
for the Executive Director to review UNFPA strategic priorities and define his vision for the
organization. The vision will prioritize the programme areas on which UNFPA will focus and
define the strategic positioning of the organization vis-à-vis other United Nations and non-United
Nations organizations. It will contain revised and prioritized development and management
results frameworks. This will pave the way towards preparation of the 2014-2018 strategic plan.
The launch of the vision statement will be supported, as recommended, by a comprehensive
communication plan aimed at addressing different internal and external stakeholders.
Recommendation 2. UNFPA should ensure that:
Vacant positions are filled without delays by competent staff.
Staff have the necessary UNFPA-related competencies and skills in management,
programming, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) and operations as required.
A programme is launched to ensure succession planning, develop young talent within the
organization, and develop and provide career paths and training. The recourse to temporary
personnel (retirees, officers-in-charge) should be discouraged.
4. UNFPA is committed to ensuring that posts are filled within the target time of four
months for internationally recruited staff as indicated in the strategic plan, and is pleased to
report that the average recruitment time for internationally recruited staff improved from 4.2
months in 2009 to 3.7 months in 2010. To further expedite recruitment, in 2010, UNFPA
enhanced the functionalities of its web-based job application system and has taken the lead in the
development of an online recruiter console.
5. As noted in DP/FPA/2011/5, various external and internal trends are impacting talent
management and staff mobility, not only in UNFPA but also in the United Nations system in
general. Cognizant of these trends, UNFPA has continued its efforts to attract human resources,
for example, by expanding sourcing venues, leveraging social networks, and participating in
targeted joint recruitment missions with the United Nations Secretariat and other United Nations
6. Recruitment for representational positions, and particularly for positions in complex duty
stations, is especially challenging. The reduction in entitlements in non-family duty stations
mandated by General Assembly resolution 65/248 will start in 2011 and is expected to have an
impact on the recruitment of staff in such locations. Obtaining government clearance for the
appointment of UNFPA Representatives sometimes takes longer than expected. When
unexpected delays occur, and in order to ensure that such key managerial positions do not remain
vacant for long periods of time, UNFPA has employed stop-gap measures, including interim
7. As recommended in the report (DP/FPA/2011/5), the Executive Director has put in place
strict measures to limit the use of temporary personnel, for example, by minimizing the use of
consultants and ensuring that consultancies are time-bound and related to specific deliverables.
8. Reassignment or rotation is a central feature of a field-based organization. At UNFPA,
staff rotation is systematic and carefully managed, seeking to ensure a balance of assignments
through duty stations of different hardship levels, and providing staff with opportunities for
professional and career growth. It is noteworthy that of the 72 encumbered UNFPA
Representative positions, as of 31 December 2010, an estimated 38 of the incumbents had on
average held four different field assignments with UNFPA. Moreover, the average length of
service with the organization for all serving Representatives in UNFPA is 13 years, and for
Deputy Representatives it is seven years.
9. UNFPA has developed a framework for planning succession, to ensure alignment of
UNFPA human capital with the Fund’s strategic objectives. The framework integrates a variety
of human resources initiatives, including recruitment strategies, leadership development,
corporate learning programmes and career development opportunities. Given the large number of
upcoming retirements, succession planning will be further prioritized.
10. Developing a clear career development process is critical for talent management.
Measures utilized to maximize UNFPA staffing resources, motivate younger staff and develop
well-rounded managers, include detail assignments of country office staff members to
headquarters, and vice versa; encouragement of lateral moves; continued promotion of
certification programmes; and delivering targeted training programmes. These areas of human
resources management will be further strengthened.
11. In view of the anticipated retirement of a significant number of professional staff over the
next few years, and of the need to ensure that qualified staff will be able to take over, UNFPA is
redesigning its induction programme. The expansion of the Fund’s management and leadership
development programme will incorporate mandatory courses for certain categories of staff to
strengthen staff capacities in key management areas such as the International Public Sector
Accounting Standards (IPSASs), results-based management, and the application of the internal
control framework (ICF).
12. The new UNFPA Learning Management System, which will act as a complete repository
of training undertaken by each staff member, will allow UNFPA to monitor what training staff
members have completed, assess compliance with learning that is mandatory for certain staff
groups, and strengthen linkages to the competency framework.
13. The UNFPA Executive Director is planning to launch an enhancement of UNFPA
learning and training activities in order to ensure a more effective alignment of skills and
competencies with the requirements emerging from the strategic plan. The Executive Director is
giving special priority to further strengthening key elements of human resources management at
Recommendation 3. UNFPA should comply with Executive Board decisions 2008/12, paragraph 2;
2009/18, paragraph 4; and 2010/26, paragraph 11. UNFPA should further elaborate an evidence-
based methodology to be applied at corporate level for making investment decisions and at country
level for designing the programme in 2011. UNFPA should also develop and implement a
comprehensive training in 2012 on evidence-based programming.
14. UNFPA management has given priority to the development of evidence-based
programming within the organization. In 2010, in addition to its ongoing efforts to strengthen
evaluation, UNFPA developed guidance on evidence-based programming, illustrating how
evidence should be generated and used in general. This guidance will be followed by more
specific guidance on how to apply evidence in the different substantive areas. A comprehensive
training programme will also be developed in conjunction with the existing results-based
15. The above-mentioned efforts will continue and will be further expanded, in line with the
UNFPA evaluation policy (DP/FPA/2009/4), in order to enhance a culture of evaluation and
improve coverage, quality and use of evaluations to strengthen programme design and delivery.
Recommendation 4. UNFPA should encourage country offices to focus their programme priorities,
thus developing no more than eight outputs and reducing the number of implementing partners and
annual workplans (AWPs) to a manageable size. In this way, immediate gains could be achieved in
programme monitoring and evaluation and programme financial management, including national
16. UNFPA management agrees that country programme development and the design of
AWPs benefit from increased strategic focus, and the Fund is taking the opportunity of the
midterm review of the strategic plan to address the issue of programme focus and, more
specifically, to ensure that UNFPA prioritizes its interventions based on the specific needs of
programme countries and allocates resources accordingly.
17. UNFPA intends to implement the recommendations of the report (DP/FPA/2011/5)
through updated programming guidance. This will also be further supported by the web-based
AWP management system that is being developed.
Recommendation 5. While complying with Executive Board decision 2000/19: Review of the system for
the allocation of UNFPA resources to country programmes, UNFPA should develop a flexible process
to better align programme resource allocation with beneficiaries’ needs.
18. UNFPA management recognizes the need to ensure that resources are allocated according
to the needs of country programmes and flexibly, in order to ensure alignment of resources
commensurate with programme and beneficiaries’ needs in a timely manner. UNFPA will
consider a review of the resource allocation system based on the results of the midterm review of
the strategic plan.
Recommendation 6. At the Board’s second regular session 2012, UNFPA should submit an assessment
report on the new structure after a review of the headquarters, regional offices and country offices.
This report would also inform the design of the new strategic plan, 2014-2018.
19. As part of the Executive Director’s annual report, UNFPA regularly reports to the
Executive Board on the progress and impact of the Fund’s reorganization. To this end, UNFPA
has also identified an initial set of indicators that capture the quality and support provided by the
regional offices to country offices.
20. UNFPA management looks forward to the evaluation of the reorganization
implementation that will be conducted by the Division for Oversight Services (DOS) in 2012, as
well as to the audit of governance (headquarters/regional offices) in support of programme
delivery in 2011. The outcomes of these assessments will be key in driving the future efforts of
UNFPA in strengthening its structure and ensuring alignment with its strategic goals.
Recommendation 7. UNFPA should take the opportunity of the midterm review of the strategic plan,
2008-2013, to streamline indicators, improve their relevance, specificity and measurability, and
simplify the results framework.
21. As recommended, and in line with the decisions of the Executive Board (2010/23 and
2011/10), UNFPA is taking the opportunity of the midterm review of the strategic plan, 2008-
2013, to streamline and improve indicators, and to simplify and sharpen the development results
framework and the management results framework.
Recommendation 8. UNFPA should:
Review job descriptions and identify skills and expertise required for key positions. This review
should start first at country level. The review should take into consideration the various types
of operations and depart from the old business model based on country office typology.
Define in a transparent manner lines of responsibilities, supervision and accountability, as well
as key performance indicators.
Use the performance appraisal and development (PAD) system to promote accountability of
performance as measured by key performance indicators.
Develop or outsource the development of standard training packages and organize annual
training sessions for newly appointed professionals. The use of e-learning may be developed as
a complement to these institutional trainings.
22. During the 2008 reorganization of UNFPA, new terms of reference for all organizational
units were defined, job descriptions were developed for headquarters units and
regional/subregional offices, and the generic job descriptions for representatives and deputy
representatives were updated to reflect the skills and expertise needed in the new aid
23. The old business model based on the 2003 country office typology has been phased out.
Regional offices and the Division for Human Resources conduct regular reviews of country
office capacity and staffing needs - especially in the context of new country programme cycles
and priorities. Some reviews have led to the development of revised and/or new job descriptions,
including for newly established decentralized offices.
24. UNFPA was one of the first organizations within the United Nations system to develop
and implement a competency framework, which provides the basis for human resources
planning, recruitment, rotation, career progression, performance management and staff
development and learning. Priority is being given to updating the current framework to reflect
the Fund’s structure and priorities, ensure that competency profiles and indicators are consistent
with those of other United Nations agencies, and verify linkages with the recently revised
competency framework for Resident Coordinators. Revised competency profiles will be reflected
in the corresponding job descriptions and in the PAD system.
25. In order to ensure an even closer alignment between human resources and the strategic
direction of the organization, UNFPA is revising the skills and competencies framework for staff
at headquarters, regional and country levels. An exercise is under way to revisit current
competency profiles and identify gaps. This will provide a basis for the further development of a
comprehensive human resources strengthening initiative for UNFPA with particular emphasis on
the country offices.
26. The highly regarded PAD system of UNFPA builds on the competency framework and is
the instrument to assess results achieved, as well as staff competency and proficiency against
organizational values, and expected behaviour and skills conducive to organizational
performance. UNFPA is seeking to further leverage the use of the PAD by ensuring that it is
linked more closely to rewards and sanctions, within the limits of the United Nations staff
regulations and rules.
27. UNFPA is redesigning its induction programme to make it more tailored to the current
needs of staff and is supporting the creation of e-learning and webinars in key management and
operational matters, including programming, IPSASs, ethics, humanitarian response,
procurement, risk management, and the ICF. As indicated in paragraphs 13 and 14, in follow-up
to the midterm review of the strategic plan, UNFPA will align its overall training strategy to
meet emerging needs.
Recommendation 9. UNFPA should integrate the M&E function within country offices’ cycle of
operations. The effective recruitment of M&E officers has yet to be seized as an opportunity and
necessary step towards the creation of a more formalized results-oriented M&E system to support
evidence-based programming and evidence-based management of country offices’ programmes and
UNFPA should also pursue its efforts to develop a solid country programme evaluation methodology to
better contribute to the evidence required for making informed programming decisions, better respond
to evaluation questions that are of interest to stakeholders while enhancing the involvement of
28. In 2010, UNFPA management issued new evaluation guidelines to operationalize the
UNFPA evaluation policy (DP/FPA/2009/4) and is now focusing on improving the quality of
evaluations and programme monitoring systems. In this regard, management plans to update the
Programme Monitoring and Evaluation toolkit, as well as develop new programme and thematic
evaluation methodology guidelines and new programme monitoring guidelines that support
results-based management and evidence-based programming.
Recommendation 10. UNFPA should adopt a more rational, integrated and strategic approach to
management, following the logical approach recommended by the International Organization of
Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI)* to better articulate risk management, internal controls and
policies. This would help to assess priorities, timing and resources needed for these important internal
29. UNFPA management has pursued broad management reforms focused on accountability,
comprehensive oversight, results-based management, strategic human resources management,
and the application of ethical standards. These initiatives, including the one on risk management,
responded to and have been guided by external and internal audits, as well as by the Executive
Board, and are in line with industry standards. UNFPA management agrees that given the limited
resources available, the size of the organization, the increasing demands for further change, and
the overall increase of the environment risk, sequencing and rationalization of initiatives are
required. Aligning resources, both human and financial, with plans for organizational change is
* INTOSAI, Guidelines for Internal Control Standards for the Public Sector – Further Information on Entity Risk
Management, INTOSAI GOV 9130. Available from http://www.issai.org/composite-194.htm.
critical. The Executive Director’s business plan, currently under development, will address this
challenge in particular.
Recommendation 11. UNFPA should comply with Executive Board decisions 2006/8, paragraph 3;
2006/13, paragraph 6; 2007/10, paragraph 5; 2008/13, paragraph 14; 2009/15, paragraph 16; and
2010/22, paragraph 14; and ensure that risk management is a systematic approach embedded in the
culture of UNFPA which drives decision-making, the design of control activities including those in the
enterprise resource planning system.
30. The UNFPA Risk Management Adviser is coordinating the assessment of risk profiles at
country, regional and headquarters levels. A pilot programme will be conducted in 2011 to
identify and assess risks, with a view to developing appropriate risk-mitigation strategies.
Enterprise risk management will be integrated within the Fund’s policies, procedures and
processes. Any resultant impact for the control activities embedded in the ICF, as well as in the
Fund’s systems, will be identified and fully addressed.
Recommendation 12. UNFPA should comply with Executive Board decisions 2007/10, paragraph 4;
2007/29, paragraph 3; 2008/13, paragraph 16; 2009/15, paragraph 16; and 2010/22, paragraph 14;
and should continue to develop an internal control framework following international guidance and
standards. UNFPA should also ensure that staff are fully trained in using and monitoring internal
31. UNFPA conducted a comprehensive review of its ICF guided by the internationally
recognized Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission standards for
effectiveness of internal controls along six critical business processes. The revised ICF was
launched through a user-friendly web application with links to applicable policies and
procedures. The strict separation of duties prescribed by the ICF is enforced and the completion
of monthly and quarterly financial accountability checklists is mandatory. Field offices are
provided support and additional guidance on procedures for emergency situations and
decentralized offices. Certification in the area of procurement is mandatory and a certification
course on the ICF will be launched in 2011. Furthermore, ICF expansion to processes in
programme-related areas has been planned.
Recommendation 13. Given the rapid changes in technology, UNFPA should undertake a complete
reassessment of its information and communications technology (ICT) architecture, including the
organization, management and staffing of the Management Information Services (MIS) Branch.
Failure to invest in information and communications technology will prevent UNFPA from
implementing an organization-wide solution to its systemic operations and controls issues. More
importantly, the assessment will also support UNFPA in identifying strategic opportunities in
enhancing and aligning the ICT strategy, organization and governance arrangements.
32. UNFPA agrees with this recommendation and has developed a plan to implement the
recommendations made during the ICT risk assessment mission in November 2010. UNFPA
management also welcomes the ICT management and procurement oversight mission and will
ensure that the recommendations provided by this assessment and the previous one guide future
decisions in the area of ICT.
Recommendation 14. UNFPA should address the root causes of deficiencies pertaining to programme
implementation and execution modalities while continuing to follow up on the recommendations of the
external auditors. (See also recommendations 3 and 4).
33. The Audit Monitoring Committee, chaired by the Executive Director, has been
established to closely follow up on both external and internal audit recommendations, escalating
issues as needed and ensuring that recommendations are implemented in a timely manner. The
Committee will also address the root causes of programme and operational weaknesses,
including those related to programme implementation and execution modalities.
34. In this context, in 2011, specific instructions were issued by the Executive Director to
offices regarding cash-transfer modalities. In addition, an AWP management system is being
developed, key policies will be updated and additional guidance will be provided.
35. Issues such as ensuring adequate resources based on country needs, avoiding spreading
resources thinly and strengthening quality assurance and oversight by regional offices will be
reviewed in the context of the midterm review of the strategic plan.
Recommendation 15. UNFPA should clearly identify the implications of the adoption of IPSASs for
the Fund’s programme and operations; review the project implementation plan; assign sufficient
resources; and enhance project governance and oversight to minimize the risks that could prevent an
effective IPSASs implementation by the established deadline of 1 January 2012.
36. UNFPA management has welcomed the assessment of the UNFPA strategy and approach
for implementing IPSASs conducted by DOS in 2010. The recommendations have been
reviewed and are being implemented, including as noted below.
37. Project governance has been strengthened, ensuring more direct involvement of senior
management. Capacity shortages have been addressed, and the implementation of IPSASs has
been confirmed as a priority area for resource allocation. A new project reporting tool has been
developed and will be used to closely follow up on the key areas of work - accounting policies,
information systems, business process change, communication and training. Also, project risks
have been reassessed along the lines and format indicated in the DOS assessment, and the
training strategy has been revised. An IPSASs readiness checklist was developed to assist the
country offices in preparing for the implementation of IPSASs.
38. UNFPA is fully committed to addressing the issues and risks raised in the report of the
Director of the Division for Oversight Services on UNFPA internal audit and oversight activities
in 2010 (DP/FPA/2011/5), as well as other issues raised by the United Nations Board of Auditors
and the UNFPA Audit Advisory Committee. UNFPA has taken significant steps to continue to
improve and strengthen accountability; hold all staff members responsible for complying with
operational guidelines; and ensure that high-quality results are achieved and resources are
efficiently utilized. The UNFPA Executive Director and senior management have made
strengthening accountability the number one priority for the organization. The ongoing midterm
review of the strategic plan is addressing issues identified by the report (DP/FPA/2011/5) and
will provide guidance for further strengthening of the Fund’s response. With the Executive
Board’s continuous guidance, UNFPA will continue to work diligently on becoming more
efficient and effective in fulfilling its mandate and supporting countries in their efforts to
implement the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and