OCHA Functional Review

Final Report
29 July 2016

Conducted by The Boston Consulting Group and MANNET

Table of Contents
I. Executive Summary ......................................................................................................................... 3
II. Introduction .................................................................................................................................. 10
III. Role and operating model ............................................................................................................ 17
IV. Management Model ..................................................................................................................... 36
V. Organizational Design .................................................................................................................. 57
VI. People and Staffing ..................................................................................................................... 86
VII. Culture ...................................................................................................................................... 126

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I. Executive Summary
I.1. Introduction
The Functional Review was commissioned by Under-Secretary-General O’Brien (the USG) shortly
after he took office in July 2015. The overall purpose of the Functional Review is to improve OCHA’s
effectiveness and efficiency by ensuring that it has the optimal structure, resources and capacities to
deliver on its mandate and commitments, which emanate from GA Resolution 46/182 and OCHA’s
2014-2017 Strategic Framework as endorsed fully by donors through the ODSG.
The aim of the Functional Review is not to evaluate OCHA’s performance to date, but rather to
identify existing challenges and to specify opportunities for improving the organization’s long term
effectiveness. The specific objectives are as follows:
1. Clarify more explicitly OCHA’s role and operating model going forward, considering the
evolving humanitarian ecosystem and the diverse contexts in which OCHA operates;
2. Strengthen OCHA’s management model and decision-making systems to better identify and
manage OCHA’s priorities throughout the year;
3. Establish a highly effective organizational model, including a clearly defined organizational
structure;
4. Review OCHA’s people management strategy and processes in order to more effectively use
its people and to more efficiently support OCHA’s clarified role and operating model; and
5. Lay the foundation for a more productive and positive working culture.
Once these five objectives have been addressed, the next step would be to identify the key systems
and processes that need to be improved and streamlined in order to implement the improvements to
OCHA’s functioning as an organization. (Note: this final step was not covered in this phase of the
Functional Review.)
OCHA is uniquely positioned in the UN and in the international humanitarian ecosystem to be the
coordinator of humanitarian response for international players. OCHA has also been a key integration
point between the international NGOs and the local organizations, a role that becomes more important
as more response is driven in-country. Lastly, OCHA has a unique role with governments in various
scenarios, as coordinator of response in some instances, as advisor in response in others, and as a
connection point to bodies such as the African Union.
OCHA has key strengths in addressing a number of these needs in coordination in the current
environment. OCHA has unique value as a non-programmatic agency dedicated to coordination and
has earned a reputation as an honest broker with relevant tools and services. OCHA's ability to act as
an honest broker has in turn made it capable of providing neutral territory in order to pursue common
humanitarian goals, and has made OCHA capable of bridging a diverse set of humanitarian actors.
OCHA is also seen by many stakeholders outside of the UN as being inclusive and as extending
networks beyond the traditional UN agencies. Its focus on humanitarian rather than development
questions expands its ability to be a connection point in some of the most challenging situations.
OCHA's approach in response has also been highlighted as a strength. Stakeholders specifically
describe OCHA as entrepreneurial and responsive. OCHA staff are highly committed to the
organization and its mission, navigating what is often a challenging role with little formal authority.
Additionally, the ERC role is broadly seen as an indispensable voice on behalf of the humanitarian
community and the connections to the Security Council make OCHA uniquely positioned to influence
the international humanitarian system.
Consequently, OCHA is strategically very well positioned for the humanitarian system of the future.
The increasing diversity of responders beyond the traditional UN agencies calls for more collaboration
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and coordination across the humanitarian system. As responders diversify, OCHA may have a greater
role in providing bridges among the UN, NGOs and other responders.
While the Functional Review interviews reiterated that the fundamental strategic positioning of
OCHA is strong, the review was focused on opportunities for enhanced efficiency and effectiveness. It
is clear that OCHA has been hampered by internal issues for a number of years, which have led to
some of the challenges identified in the preliminary findings below. These are substantive issues, but
since many of the key adjustments apply to OCHA’s internal management and organizational model,
there is also a clear pathway to resolve many of these challenges within a relatively short timeframe
through a "back to basics" approach.
"Back to basics" is not intended to imply a return to a "Golden Age" – rather, it is meant to imply
getting the fundamentals right:
 Within role and operating model, this entails clarifying and providing transparency of
OCHA's role across the Core Functions.
 Within management model, this entails codifying and embedding into practice the set of
tools and approaches that the leadership uses in making decisions, and bringing
transparency to decision-making and information sharing to OCHA.
 Within organizational design, in large part this entails reducing complexity in the current
structure and clarifying roles and relationships among organizational groups, both at
headquarters and in the field.
 Within people and staffing, this entails developing a clear staffing strategy and
communicating that strategy and its implications to OCHA staff and partners.
 Within culture, this entails clarity and communication of OCHA's unifying identity and "esprit
de corps" and striving towards an organization with a more transparent, collaborative and
service-oriented culture.
The following sections present findings and recommendations in those five key areas of inquiry.

I.2. Role and Operating Model
OCHA is operating in a challenging context with increasing pressures. The changing humanitarian
landscape is driving more demand for humanitarian aid, but OCHA is increasingly facing resource
constraints. While in previous years OCHA was able to draw on reserves, at this point those reserves
are nearly drained.
Despite these inherent complexities, stakeholder interviews conducted during the Functional
Review highlighted that OCHA's global and local role is highly valued. Six key themes emerged from
the interviews:
1. OCHA is well positioned for the future. OCHA plays a unique role as a coordinator and
honest broker across players, and is well positioned as a bridge between the UN and beyond.
2. Demand for OCHA's services is increasing.
3. OCHA has an inherently complex portfolio that spans both emergency response
coordination in the field and global activities for the humanitarian system.
4. There are divergent views on OCHA’s role and identity internally and externally.
5. Available resources are struggling to keep up with humanitarian demand, adding pressure
to OCHA's model.
6. Stakeholders report different levels of efficiency and effectiveness within OCHA's core
functional areas.

OCHA's role in public and private advocacy is critical, well defined, and adequately
exercised;
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OCHA's policy activities are often well regarded, but not always seen as clearly articulated
or prioritized;
Stakeholders express confusion around the number and role of coordination staff on the
ground, and are unclear on OCHA's strategy for preparedness, protection and IDPs,
private sector engagement and cash programming;
Information management activities are viewed as the backbone of OCHA's response
coordination work, but there is a consistent view that an updated strategy is required to
keep up with the changing landscape; and
Humanitarian financing processes are viewed as cumbersome and slow.

The Functional Review recommends a set of general actions to clarify OCHA's role and to improve
the effectiveness of its operating model:
1. OCHA should affirm its identify as having both a global and local mandate, while flexing in
different circumstances, primarily take an 'Influencer' stance. It should also reaffirm that it is
not programmatic.
2. OCHA should undergo an activity baseline exercise to analyze activities and invested
resources, prioritize, and transparently communicate the results. OCHA should examine tools
and approaches to ensure transparent communication on an ongoing basis.
3. By functional area, OCHA should address specific strategic questions and opportunities for
improving efficiency and effectiveness.
In addition, the Functional Review makes the following specific recommendations by function:


Policy: There is a need to examine the portfolio of current policy activities and prioritize. The
activity baseline exercise will support this process.
Response coordination: In addition to the activity baseline exercise, we recommend a new
strategy around preparedness. We also recommend that OCHA answer key questions around
protection and coordination in regards to Internally Displaced People (IDPs), engagement with
private sector actors, and cash based programming.
Information management: We recommend that OCHA invest in upgrading its information
management strategy in response to a rapidly evolving ecosystem
Humanitarian financing: We recommend that OCHA identify the root causes of delays in
funding, identify ways to streamline applications for funding, and identify additional measures for
risk management.

I.3. Management Model
An organization's management model is the set of tools and approaches that its leadership uses to
make decisions and to promulgate them through the organization. A number of shortcomings in
OCHA's management model have led to widespread organizational dysfunction, as evidenced by the
results of the first organizational survey, which put OCHA in the bottom quartile on every dimension
relative to relevant benchmarks.
Currently, OCHA has six main committees that make and promulgate decisions. With a couple of
exceptions, these committees resemble those that we would expect to see; however, OCHA's
underlying management process prevents them from functioning as intended. Challenges with OCHA's
management model are as follows:
1. The management model is not codified in a clear way, and is lacking key components and
interconnections;
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2. Decisions made at the senior management level generally lack disciplined follow through; and
3. The leadership team does not work well together and perspectives on specific managers have
become an entrenched lens through which all actions are viewed.
To address these challenges, our approach was to consider the best-practice management model
seen in both public and private sector enterprises, and to suggest approaches to customizing the bestpractice model for OCHA. Developing, clarifying and reliably executing the management model will rely
on the following key elements:
1. Develop a management system that drives a clear agenda for the organization as a whole and
ensures that the proper topics are being discussed regularly for timely and relevant decisions.
The management system should:

Define the core areas for engagement of the leadership team;

Define the cadence and process for decision-making; and

Link strategy, operations, finance, budgeting, initiative decision-making, and people and
talent processes into a cohesive system.
2. Clarify the committee configuration and membership.
3. Clarify decision rights for each committee, branch, and organizational level.
4. Bring transparency to decisions and actions through standardized information sharing.
5. Develop and reinforce behavioral norms at the leadership level that tie together the mechanics
of a strong management model with disciplined follow-through and a cohesive culture.
The specifics within each element of the management model and the tactics behind enforcing
accountability must be customized to OCHA, periodically reviewed, and adjusted as needed.
Establishing a new management model will require a concerted effort led by the office of the USG. It
should also engage the talented and highly committed layer of leaders below the senior management
team.
Significant challenges were highlighted regarding administration, including gaps in basic HR and
financial data, and absence of service orientation. We propose that OCHA launch a work stream to
investigate administrative systems and service issues, evaluate options, and propose tactical
solutions. As administrative services issues are cross-functional, a work stream with representation
across OCHA would enable is required to address these issues.

I.4. Organizational Design
Organizational design defines the overall structure of an organization. OCHA's organizational
structure was assessed against best practices in public and private sector enterprises. While OCHA's
size is broadly consistent with expectations, there are a number of challenges with the current
structure:
1. Identifying New York and Geneva as two distinct headquarter offices leads to unnecessary
complexity and confusion.
2. The span-of-control of some top-level managers is very broad.
3. The fragmentation of functions across branches leads to confusion as to who does what, and is
a driver of duplication in the organization.
4. Some functions receive insufficient management attention due to (1) insufficient elevation, and
(2) blending of internally and externally facing work.
5. There is a disconnect between functional groups at headquarters and those in the field.
6. OCHA headquarters size remains heavy and has not achieved economies of scale.
7. The demands of the ERC role place stress on the USG's time to focus on internal OCHA
oversight.
8. There is an imbalance in resources between functional leads.

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Some of these challenges are easier to address than others through organizational design and they
can conflict with each other. In our recommended structure, we have also balanced organizational
design changes that will improve OCHA' efficiency and effectiveness with the cost of disruption and the
potential distraction from other core challenges. We recommend two senior roles supporting the USG,
over time two ASGs, one focused on the field and another on central support and global activities. We
also recommend that OCHA:
1. Use the first ASG post for greater internal management of non-field Core Functions and
Administrative Functions, almost creating an internally facing 'COO' role.
2. Elevate select communications functions to the Office of the USG and add an internal
communications focus.
3. Maintain the current informal relationship between the geographic Section Chiefs and Field
Offices but reinforce their role within OCHA.
4. Group the execution of preparedness, local and regional partnerships and emergency response.
5. Maintain separation of global support and partnerships from response coordination.
6. Create regional alignment in the supply of export support services, such as communications and
IM to the field.
7. Cluster Humanitarian Financing (HF) groups in headquarters, group together internally facing
administrative functions (over the longer-term), and move thematic advisors out of CRD.
8. Announce a single headquarters location, but maintain physical presence in New York and
Geneva.

I.5.People and Staffing
Many organizations in the public and private sector assert that people are their most important
asset and then behave in ways that contradict that statement. For OCHA, such statements have to be
true. People are really all that OCHA has to offer. It does not deliver goods directly to others, it is not a
donor organization1 and it does not have formal authority it can use to ‘command and control.’ Rather,
OCHA has people with the motivation, commitment and expertise to persuade a very diverse and
complex set of actors to cooperate, to carry out needs assessments, to share information, to mobilize
and to allocate resources together. We heard over and over again that 'People make the difference.'
And we heard over and over again that it was the quality of these people, and not their number, that
made the difference—whether they were in the field or in HQ.
Managing human resources is always important, but it is doubly important for OCHA because the
asset is so strategically valuable. Making this challenge even more daunting is the reality that OCHA’s
human resources functions must navigate an extremely complex environment. OCHA is a department
in the UN Secretariat and is therefore subject to Staff Rules and Staff Regulations of the United
Nations, which are largely geared to slow-moving, predictable operations and programs.
There are many players and many different roles and responsibilities in OCHA’s HRM processes.
Staff are responsible for such things as staying well informed and taking various administrative actions.
Line managers are involved through their leadership, managerial, supervisory and administrative roles.
The Human Resources Section (HRS) has its role to play, as does the Administrative Services Branch
(ASB). The UN’s administrative services are also involved, as they handle certain HRM processes, and
UNDP administers national field staff.
We examined six aspects of people and staffing at OCHA: staffing strategy, recruitment and onboarding, surge capacity and deployment, development and learning, performance management and
HRM services. The problems in HRM (HR and admin) at OCHA are systemic. We present our
reflections and conclusions as recommendations regarding the issues OCHA must address in the six
areas mentioned above; where relevant, concrete and immediate steps are also outlined. Our central
1

OCHA does, however, make and manage grants from the United Nations Central Emergency Response
Fund (CERF) and Country-based pooled funds (CBPFs).

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recommendations concern staffing strategy, development and learning, and HRM services and are as
follows:
 OCHA should develop a fit-for-purpose staffing strategy;
 OCHA should draw up a comprehensive workforce plan;
 OCHA should refine job design to capture the nuances of working for OCHA;
 OCHA should create a time-bound work stream to ensure the implementation of the people
and staffing issues OCHA is facing;
 OCHA should develop a fully integrated talent- and career-management strategy;
 OCHA should commit to playing a more strategic role with respect to HRM in the
Secretariat;
 OCHA should overhaul and significantly strengthen the internal HR function and consider
outsourcing transactional work; and
 OCHA should take immediate action in four key areas to be seen as responsive to the
Functional Review.
Additional recommendations on recruitment, surge capacity and deployment, development and
learning, and performance management may be found throughout the chapter.
We are not convinced that any of our recommendations are new. Most if not all of them have been
repeatedly discussed and documented. The challenge is for OCHA to move to action to make the
required systemic and culture changes.

I.6.Culture
Culture is both the cause and effect of the phenomena detailed in all chapters of the Functional
Review. Culture also plays a large part in the effectiveness of change management.
OCHA's current culture was assessed mainly through an organizational culture survey, with a ~50%
completion rate and even distribution of respondents across OCHA. The survey addressed behaviors
at work as well as staff engagement and sentiment in five areas: engagement, objectives and
aspirations, accountabilities and collaboration, performance management and recognition, and peoplemanager capabilities and interactions.
There were five primary findings highlighted through survey results:
1. On staff satisfaction and engagement, OCHA performed significantly worse than benchmark
organizations – in the bottom quartile on all dimensions.
2. OCHA's field staff engagement and satisfaction are higher than that of headquarters staff
(largely driven by national staff), but remain below benchmarks.
3. International staff in both field and headquarters report persistent issues across most
dimensions of culture.
4. OCHA has strengths that can be leveraged through the change management process.
5. OCHA lacks a strong unifying identity or esprit de corps.
To improve its culture, we recommend that:
1. OCHA should engage its leaders in the change –at all levels, not just senior management.
2. OCHA should create greater executional certainty.
3. OCHA should create a more engaged organization.
The review focused on areas of opportunity for OCHA. While some very significant challenges
were found across the areas of focus and the change process ahead of OCHA will not be easy, there is
a clear path forward. The review confirmed that OCHA is strategically well positioned for the future.
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Coordination is accepted as an essential function at the heart of the complex humanitarian ecosystem.
As we look forward, that coordination function will become all the more essential as that ecosystem
seeks to integrate diverse players. Especially in the face of complex protracted crises, that diversity
could make the difference between reaching affected people or not. OCHA has a tremendous asset in
its engaged and talented leaders and staff. It will require the concerted effort of OCHA's full team
working at the global and local levels to deliver. The recommendations in this review should be seen as
supportive to that delivery effort by outlining how OCHA's leaders and staff can clarify OCHA's role and
improve its efficiency and effectiveness.

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II. Introduction
II.1. Purpose and Objectives of the Functional Review
The Functional Review was commissioned by Under-Secretary-General O’Brien (the USG) shortly
after he took office in July 2015. The overall purpose of the Functional Review is to improve OCHA’s
effectiveness and efficiency by ensuring that it has the optimal structure, resources and capacities to
deliver on its mandate and commitments, which emanate from GA Resolution 46/182 and OCHA’s
2014-2017 Strategic Framework as endorsed fully by donors through the ODSG.
The aim of the Functional Review is not to evaluate OCHA’s performance to date, but rather to
identify existing challenges and to specify opportunities for improving the organization’s long term
effectiveness. The specific objectives are as follows:
1. Clarify more explicitly OCHA’s role and operating model going forward, considering the
evolving humanitarian ecosystem and the diverse contexts in which OCHA operates;
2. Strengthen OCHA’s management model and decision-making systems to better identify and
manage OCHA’s priorities throughout the year;
3. Establish a highly effective organizational model, including a clearly defined organizational
structure;
4. Review OCHA’s people management strategy and processes in order to more effectively use
its people and to more efficiently support OCHA’s clarified role and operating model; and
5. Lay the foundation for a more productive and positive working culture.
Once these five objectives have been addressed, the next step would be to identify the key systems
and processes that need to be improved and streamlined in order to implement the improvements to
OCHA’s functioning as an organization. (Note: this final step was not covered in this phase of the
Functional Review.)

II.2. Scope
The Functional Review has considered the above objectives within the context of OCHA's 20142017 Strategic Framework. The Functional Review has reviewed OCHA's current state, with some
review of historic data and documentation as required. The Functional Review has considered the
views of internal and external stakeholders in the areas listed in the objectives above, with a focus on
the internal workings of OCHA.
The Functional Review did not examine the following areas:
 OCHA’s standing within the Inter-Agency Standing Committee
 The cluster system and its workings
 The HC/RC/DSRSG role and reporting relationships
 OCHA’s funding model
 OCHA’s relationship with ISDR
 OCHA’s institutional setting within the UN Secretariat, including the use of UN operational
platforms such as Umoja

II.3. Context
II.3.A. OCHA Mandate and History

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The basis of OCHA’s mandate is General Assembly Resolution 46/182, which was adopted by the
General Assembly in 1991 with the objective of strengthening the coordination of humanitarian
emergency assistance of the United Nations. The resolution established guiding principles for
multilateral humanitarian emergency assistance and created a number of tools for its coordination.2 In
so doing, it provided a forward-looking and comprehensive framework for international humanitarian
assistance and coordination that still holds today.
The resolution has 12 guiding principles, which include the following:



Humanitarian assistance must be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity,
neutrality and impartiality;
The sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected in
accordance with the Charter of the United Nations; in this context, humanitarian assistance
should be provided with the consent of the affected country and in principle on the basis of an
appeal by the affected country;
Each State has the responsibility first and foremost to take care of the victims of natural
disasters and other emergencies occurring on its territory, and should facilitate the work of
organizations implementing humanitarian assistance;
Special attention should be given to disaster prevention and preparedness by both the
government concerned and the international community; and
The relationship between emergency, rehabilitation and development is highlighted.

The resolution also created the following coordination mechanisms:



The high-level position of Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), which combined into a single
United Nations focal point the functions carried out by the Secretary-General's
representatives for major and complex emergencies, as well as the United Nation's natural
disaster functions carried out by the United Nations Disaster Relief Organization (which was
created in 1971 by Resolution 2816);
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC);
The Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP); and
The Central Emergency Revolving Fund, which in 2005 became the Central Emergency
Response Fund (CERF).

II.3.B. Mission and Core Functions
OCHA's mission is to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in
partnership with national and international actors in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and
emergencies; advocate the rights of people in need; promote preparedness and prevention; and
facilitate sustainable solutions.3 It does this through five Core Functions that derive from its mandate,
as follows:




Coordination;
Policy;
Advocacy;
Information Management; and
Humanitarian Financing.

2

OCHA – Policy Development and Studies Branch, Reference Guide – Normative developments on the
coordination of humanitarian assistance in the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council since the
adoption of General Assembly resolution 46/182, 3rd edition, 2015
3
http://www.unocha.org/about-us/who-we-are

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II.3.C. OCHA's current strategy
While the investigation into OCHA's role is meant to review role within the context of various
stakeholder views and changing landscape, it is considered within the context of OCHA's 2014-2017
Strategic Plan and Management Plan.
OCHA’s Strategic Plan has two goals for 2014 to 2017 underpinned by 10 strategic objectives.
These define the focus of OCHA’s work in the field and at headquarters, as well as the overarching
priorities towards which all of its activities contribute. The two goals are:
 Field effectiveness: More effective and principled humanitarian action that meets the needs of
affected people.
 Fit for the future: A more diverse and adaptable humanitarian sector, spanning a variety of
existing and emerging responder and partner networks.
OCHA’s current Management Plan focuses on making OCHA fit for purpose. It is structured around
five management objectives covering (1) people management, (2) staff learning and performance, (3)
support services, systems and tools, (4) standards and innovation, and (5) resources, structure and
management.
The investigation of OCHA's role considers not only the context of OCHA's Strategic Plan of 20142017 and alignment with the Strategic Plan, but also various stakeholder views and the changing
landscape including considerations from the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS).

II.3.D. Humanitarian landscape
There are some major changes impacting the humanitarian landscape and potentially impacting the
underlying demand for crisis response and coordination. In addressing changes to the landscape, we
focus on the changes that most directly affect the delivery of humanitarian services to people.
Megatrends such as climate change4 which may increase the number of sudden on-set natural
disasters, growing risk of medical pandemics5 due to increased connectivity and globalization, growing
inequality within and among countries,6 increased political instability7 and the changing nature of
conflicts, growing urbanization8, and the increase in occurrences and severity of terrorist acts9 and
violent extremism as well as anti-terrorism measures all make crisis response more complex. There
are also trends in digitalization and mobile connectivity10, which change the nature of response and
interaction with affected people as more people have access to smart phones and social media.
Given these megatrends, there is an increased need for humanitarian response. On average
~200 million people were affected annually by conflict or natural disasters from 2005 to 2014, with a
growth in the proportion of conflict disasters. From 2011 to 2014, the number of people affected by
4

World Economic Forum: Global Risks 2014, Ninth Edition
WHO Disease Burden Data, November 2013; Unicef, WHO, World Bank, UN-DESA Population Division
"Levels and trends in child mortality 2013"; Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit, "One
Humanity: Shared Responsibility", 31 January 2016
6
European Council; UN (featured in Economist 2050 Megachange; Secretary-General for the World
Humanitarian Summit, "One Humanity: Shared Responsibility", 31 January 2016
7
2014 Marsh-Maplecroft Political Risk Map; UN Security Council Report February 2014; Secretary-General
for the World Humanitarian Summit, "One Humanity: Shared Responsibility", 31 January 2016
8
European Council; UN (featured in Economist 2050 Megachange; Secretary-General for the World
Humanitarian Summit, "One Humanity: Shared Responsibility", 31 January 2016
9
Global Terrorism Index: Measuring and Understanding the Impact of Terrorism, Institute for Economics and
Peace 2014 Report
10
International Telecommunications Union
5

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violent conflicts increased by a 12% average annual growth rate, reaching ~60M people affected in
2014. At the same time, the number of people targeted through inter-agency appeals increased to
~76M people in 2014, which represents ~38% of total affected people. The average percent of affected
people targeted over 2005 to 2010 was ~12% by comparison.11 In the case of terrorism, the breadth
and severity of occurrences has increased. Deaths from terrorist activity increased five-fold from 3,361
in 2000 to 17,958 in 2013. In one year, the number of countries experiencing more than 50 deaths rose
from 15 to 24, with majority of deaths from terrorism in 2013 occurring in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan,
Nigeria, and Syria –some of the largest recipients of humanitarian aid and coordination resources.12
Need is increasing, but humanitarian response funding is not keeping pace. The burden on
the countries that have historically been the highest contributors to humanitarian aid cannot be
expected to grow with the rising need. Diversification from this base is both essential and expected as
economies grow and more countries are in the position to be donors. As we write, we see change, but
those new sources of funding have not sufficiently materialized to address gaps in funding for today's
crises. The total humanitarian aid requested in 2015 was ~$20B, while at the same time the funding
gap is at an all time high, with only ~50% of requested aid funded.13
There are an increasing number of both local and international NGOs. The universe of
responders is also expanding and changing. There are more NGOs than ever before: estimates
suggest that globally there were more than 54,000 NGOs, both local and international, active in 2016.
More national authorities are playing a significant role in coordinating humanitarian response. The
number of international actors grew by ~65% from 1985 to 201314, from ~4,700 to ~7,700
organizations. There is also a sense that 'the future of response is local' and that local actors will play a
greater role in response over time. The increase in the number of responders greatly increases the
potential effectiveness of emergency response, but it also creates a greater need for coordination.
The increase in terrorism has complicated the rules for coordination. The rise in instances
and severity of terrorist acts creates concerns for the safety of humanitarian aid workers and
complicates the landscapes for delivering and coordinating aid. International norms adopted to combat
terrorism such as the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism and
UN Security Council Resolution 1373 on preventing the funding of terrorist activities can have a stifling
effect on humanitarian donors and response entities, adding a layer of complexity to OCHA’s work in
humanitarian financing.
Governments are increasingly able to coordinate their own responses and are increasingly
looking to external agencies for advice and expertise. Though many governments are becoming
better able to coordinate their own responses, they increasingly look to external agencies for advice
and expertise. This is particularly evident in middle-income countries in Latin America and Asia, but it
is also a rapidly growing trend in Africa. While this may reduce or change the amount of direct
response coordination required by OCHA, the differentiated responses by country increase complexity.
Other new developments from the WHS create substantial shifts in the availability and
demand of resources moving forward. The WHS is a major development in the humanitarian
landscape. The Summit took place in Istanbul, Turkey on May 23-24, 2016. The goal of the Summit
was to initiate a set of actions and commitments aimed at enabling countries and communities to better
prepare for, and respond to, crises. Three major commitments arising from the summit are highlighted
below to display the breadth and potential impact of changes in the humanitarian landscape. The

11

OCHA Humanitarian Data and Trends 2015 Report
Global Terrorism Index: Measuring and Understanding the Impact of Terrorism, Institute for Economics and
Peace 2014 Report
13
OCHA Global Humanitarian Overview 2016, OECD CRS
14
WANGO
12

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commitments below were supported by top donors, aid organizations, and large recipients of aid.
These commitments also outlined concrete steps for completion, deadlines, and processes.

The Grand Bargain: the Grand Bargain is an agreement to increase data transparency,
localization, use of pooled funding, cash-based programming and flexible funding in the
humanitarian system. Many key players in the system supported the agreement, including
governments, UN agencies, other inter-governmental organizations and NGOs. Over 100
NGOs and INGOs also supported the agreement. While the parties made multiple
commitments, some commitments of note include: transitioning to a global aggregate target of
25% of humanitarian financing to local and national responders (LNR) directly by 2020; applying
a localization marker to measure direct and indirect funding to LNR; using country-based pooled
funds, the IFRC Disaster Relief Emergency Fund, and NGO-led and other pooled funds;
building an evidence base to assess the costs, benefits, impacts, and risks of cash relative to inkind assistance, service delivery interventions and vouchers; creating transparent and
comparable cost structures by the end of 2017; and saving incrementally up to $1B from
efficiency savings to humanitarian action over five years. Ultimately, these commitments will
increase the efficiency and flexibility of funding.
Doubling the CERF: the target amount of the CERF, which currently stands at $450MM, has
been proposed by the SG to be doubled. Donors such as the Canadian and German
governments have made commitments to provide multi-year donations to CERF and to increase
contributions to the fund by 25%. Meeting this goal will require significant resources from
OCHA in terms of finding new donors and managing the fund.
Education Cannot Wait Fund: the fund, which has already raised approximately $90MM, aims to
reach $3.75B in size by 2021. Many of the donors for this fund are also major donors for the
entire humanitarian system. Unless the donors can increase their donation levels overall, it
should be assumed that the donations will come from the general humanitarian financing pool.
OCHA specifically made approximately 50 commitments at the Summit related to accountability,
gender, protection, resilience, humanitarian financing and other areas of impact. At this point, it
cannot be determined how or when each of these commitments will be translated into specific
actions or what they mean for OCHA's resource requirements.

Outside of crises where government is the primary coordinator, OCHA continues to be uniquely
positioned in the UN and in the international humanitarian ecosystem to be the coordinator of
humanitarian response. While other groups such as Care and International Committee of Red Cross,
and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have coordination components
within their own networks, no other organization is solely focused on coordination. Similarly, no other
organization has the same positional advantage in being able to bridge the UN system and non-UN
humanitarian actors. However, as the actors diversify, this could shift as groups emerge as better
positioned than OCHA for specific settings. With these new actors comes change for the UN and
OCHA. While we expect many to elect to work with the UN system, others will choose their own paths,
increasing diversity in the players and approaches to emergency response. This diversification will add
to the complexity of the landscape in which OCHA operates but hopefully also add to the world's ability
to respond effectively to different contexts.
Implications of where OCHA needs to clarify its role, given the outcomes of WHS, will be identified
in Section III of this report.
The above trends have implications for the long term role of OCHA and create a backdrop for our
approach in the Functional Review.

II.4. Methodology

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The Functional Review used a combination of resources including qualitative and quantitative data
and literature. Primary quantitative data was collected through two organizational surveys: one focused
on staff sentiment (which addressed current workings of the organization across different areas), and
the other focused on the current activities of OCHA staff. Qualitative primary data was collected
through confidential stakeholder interviews, group sessions, a review of confidential emails, two-way
interactive digital engagement forums, and qualitative comments received through surveys. Additional
information was gathered through field visits to Ethiopia, Kenya (including the Somalia office), the
Philippines, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This process was extraordinarily consultative. In total, the Functional Review included over 400
stakeholders through interviews, group discussions, emails, and interactive online posts. ~6% of the
organization was interviewed or engaged in small forums of less than five individuals, representative of
the entire organization, not just senior managers; this is an unusually large sample for a review of this
kind. In addition, the functional review captured approximately 5,000 comments made in surveys and
received ~1,800 responses to quantitative surveys. All survey responses were across a variety of
constituents representing ~50% of OCHA staff in the first survey, and ~30% in the second survey.
Interviews represented both internal stakeholders across the organization, but also key donors and
partners, including UN agencies as well as NGOs and other institutions.
The Functional Review team reviewed hundreds of documents, including past reviews, audits and
evaluations, governance documents, policies, organizational details for offices, annual reports, etc.
Additionally, the Functional Review team analyzed current and historic staffing and budget documents
across the organization.
Detailed methodology can be found in Annex B.

II.5. Functional Review Team
The Functional Review has been led and overseen by the USG and ERC. The day-to-day
management of the exercise was overseen by the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs
and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, with the direct support of members of the Strategic
Planning, Evaluation and Guidance Section (SPEGS).
The Functional Review was jointly carried out by two management consulting companies, The
Boston Consulting Group and MANNET. The Boston Consulting Group investigated the topics of role
and operating model, management model, organizational structure and culture. MANNET investigated
the topic of people and staffing.

II.6. About the authors
Dr. Sarah Cairns-Smith is a Senior Partner and Managing Director in the Boston office of The
Boston Consulting Group. Elizabeth Kaufman is a Partner and Managing Director also in the firm's
Boston office. Cristina Iftimie is a Project Leader in BCG's Washington D.C. office. Piers Campbell is
President of MANNET and Judith Hushagen is Managing Director and Partner of MANNET,
Switzerland.

II.7. Acknowledgements
Before commencing with the Functional Review Report, we would like to express our sincere
thanks to all stakeholders with whom we have collaborated during this review, giving special recognition
to the staff and management of OCHA offices worldwide. We wish especially to thank the staff and
management of OCHA, UN, NGO, civil society, donor and government partners worldwide who so
generously gave their time. We also would like to thank the staff of the Strategic Planning, Evaluation
and Guidance Section for rapidly mobilizing data, and for engaging a network of global partners in the
15

functional review. It is a direct result of this level of cooperation and enthusiasm that the realization of
this review has become possible.

II.8. Disclaimer
The contents and conclusions of this review report the opinion of the authors Boston Consulting
Group (BCG) and MANNET.
The Boston Consulting Group investigated the topics of role and operating model, management
model, organizational structure, and culture. MANNET investigated the topic of people and staffing.
BCG was also responsible for the remainder of the document, excluding the people and staffing
chapter 4 and other people and staffing topics embedded within the document, for instance in the
executive summary.

16

III. Role and operating model
III.1. Context
Experience has affirmed that there is a fundamental need for coordination in the humanitarian
system and has validated GA Resolution 46/182 that established the post of the ERC at the USG level,
as well as the IASC. The dual roles of the ERC as chair of the IASC community and the USG as head
of OCHA have some inherent tensions, but the two roles ultimately complement and support each
other, just as OCHA's global and field roles do. The ERC role supports and significantly contributes to
OCHA's ability to fulfill its mandate, in advocacy for example, and the USG role in managing OCHA
provides the underlying infrastructure for the ERC and humanitarian system. The need for coordination
can be expected to increase given the trends mentioned earlier in this document. At the same time, the
trends also indicate that there is growing financial constraint in the humanitarian system.
Available funds are not matching increased, and more complex, demand. So, along with the entire
humanitarian system, OCHA is facing resource constraints. While in previous years OCHA was able to
draw on reserves, at this point those reserves are nearly drained. The increasingly limited resource
situation places pressure on staff both in the field and at headquarters to focus on priorities and to
make some challenging choices.
Nonetheless, OCHA staff are extremely committed to the organization and its mission, navigating
what is often a challenging role with little formal authority.
Quote from a donor: "within this system, you have OCHA with a role to coordinate and chair the
IASC, but it's in a position without a toolbox and without any power…the mandate is essentially herding
cats, but with no sticks, no carrots."
Lack of formal authority has been raised by some OCHA staff as an impediment that they would like
to see overcome. While it is potentially possible for OCHA to gain formal authority as a coordinator
within the UN system, the mechanisms to do so would be difficult and may actually be counterproductive, hampering its efficiency and effectiveness as a coordinator. Particularly as OCHA
interfaces with NGOs and other actors who have constituencies beyond the UN, the lack of formal
authority will persist. OCHA's ability to navigate this environment effectively without formal authority is
an advantage in the face of a changing landscape. For the purpose of this report we have assumed
that the status of OCHA's formal authority will not change in the future.

III.2. Current state
OCHA serves different global and local stakeholders across each of its five Core Functions:
coordination, policy, advocacy, information management, and humanitarian financing. Some
stakeholders rely on OCHA to provide services across all functions, while others rely on OCHA to
provide a narrower set of services.
The focus of this chapter is on what OCHA does, we will discuss in a later chapter how OCHA is
organized to perform those activities. This chapter is also not focused on internal OCHA functions such
as administration or donor relations. Instead, we focused on key places in the Core Functions where
OCHA should consider opportunities for improving efficiency and effectiveness, and where OCHA
needs to clarify its role and sharpen its strategic focus.
Each of the Core Functions can be described in distinct ways, but they are not discrete work
streams and the inter-relatedness of the Core Functions makes it difficult at times to delineate when
one Core Function ends and another begins. Often functions within OCHA are not aware of the full
remit of others. For the purpose of clarity, this report provides a delineation of the main roles and
activities across each Core Function.
It is important to note that that the descriptions of the Core Functions do not equate to any specific
OCHA organizational section or branch. There may be significant overlap in certain Core Functions
with a specific branch or section and each branch or section is likely to have activities across multiple
Core Functions, and any given functional activity is not exclusive to a single group.
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Response coordination
The main roles of response coordination today are to 1) support the Humanitarian Coordinators and
other humanitarian actors to ensure effective coordination at the country level, including through
partnerships with humanitarian actors, donors, and affected governments, 2) facilitate needs
assessments, situation analysis, joint response planning, evaluation and monitoring of humanitarian
response, 3) work with national governments, regional bodies and other agencies to promote
preparedness through early warning, contingency planning, simulations and other preparedness
activities, and 4) manage the UNDAC and INSARAG or civil-military rapid-response mechanisms.
Example response coordination activities include developing strategically prioritized cluster response
plans, internal reporting, and liaising with relevant partners on the ground. As a key element of the
ERC/USG role, timely briefings on crises – ongoing, emerging and protracted – are continually
required.
Policy
The main roles of policy today are to 1) support the development of policies, guidance, agreements
and partnerships to improve humanitarian action and respect for humanitarian principles, 2) provide
advice and training on humanitarian policies, laws, norms and best practice, 3) develop policy in
response to and report on global trends, challenges and opportunities for effective humanitarian action,
and 4) engage with Member States to advance humanitarian policy and operational priorities through
inter-governmental fora. Policy activities include developing briefing materials on relevant policy areas
for the ERC, engaging with partners to develop joint policy work, providing advice to the field for
relevant topics. As the advisor to the Secretary General (SG) on humanitarian topics, the USG/ERC
must be prepared to brief the SG as well as Member States and intergovernmental bodies, most
notably the Security Council on every humanitarian topic of interest, including emerging trends or
potential policy topics.
Advocacy
The main roles of advocacy today are to 1) actively facilitate and advocate for improved
humanitarian access, 2) coordinate humanitarian advocacy strategies, partnerships, campaigns and
events, 3) identify and report on constraints to humanitarian action (e.g., access, underfunding,
violation of humanitarian principles), and 4) communicate humanitarian advocacy priorities, laws,
principles and objectives. Advocacy activities include coordinating messaging for the SG and the USG
for public engagement, including press releases and media encounters, and offering technical advice to
Member States and the Security Council. Advocacy is a key element of the externally facing ERC role
and fulfilling the accountability of the role takes a significant amount of the USG/ERC time. However,
the role the USG plays in coordination provides a powerful base for advocacy and adds an important
perspective to the international conversation.
Information management
The main roles of information management today are to 1) collect, manage, analyze and
disseminate data and information directly and / or through partnerships to support humanitarian
preparedness and response, 2) manage information tools and products such as datasets,
spreadsheets, reports, charts, infographics, maps, web platforms, mobile applications and social media,
and 3) provide information management support to OCHA colleagues, staff of UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations, government counterparts and local populations. Example information
management activities include developing information products from data on the ground, maintaining
global data infrastructure such as Humanitarian Data Exchange, and cleaning and standardizing data
for further analysis in the field.
Humanitarian financing
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The main roles of humanitarian financing today are to 1) coordinate development and revisions of
inter-agency humanitarian appeals, 2) facilitate system-wide resource mobilization (humanitarian
appeals launches, fundraising events, partnerships and joint strategies), 3) process and allocate
funding from OCHA-managed humanitarian pooled funds (CERF, CBPFs), and 4) track, analyze and
disseminate humanitarian funding data and trends. Financing activities include fund portfolio
management and investment analysis and tracking.

III.3. Findings
Finding 1: OCHA is well positioned for the future
Finding 1.1: OCHA is unique as a coordinator and is well positioned as a bridge between the UN and
beyond

While humanitarian actors have some coordination components, OCHA is the only organization
focused solely on humanitarian coordination both at the global level (for instance through advocacy and
policy, and at the local level (through the humanitarian response coordination). OCHA is uniquely
positioned in the UN and, in what is increasingly being called and accepted as the international
humanitarian 'ecosystem', as the coordinator of humanitarian response for international players
extending far beyond the UN entities. OCHA also serves as a unique integration point between
international NGOs and local organizations, a role that becomes increasingly important as responses
are increasingly driven in-country. Finally, OCHA plays an unparalleled role in its interface with
governments, as coordinator of response in some instances, as advisor in response in others, and as a
connection point between governments and regional response bodies such as the African Union.
OCHA has unique value as a non-programmatic agency dedicated to coordination and has earned
a reputation as an honest broker with relevant tools and services. OCHA's ability to act as this honest
broker has in turn made it capable of bridging across a diverse set of humanitarian actors to pursue
common humanitarian goals. OCHA is seen by many stakeholders outside of the UN as being
inclusive of networks beyond the traditional UN agencies. OCHA's approach towards humanitarian
response has also been highlighted as a strength. Stakeholders specifically describe OCHA as
entrepreneurial and responsive relative to other UN entities. Additionally, the ERC role is broadly seen
as an indispensable input for the humanitarian community in formulating its priorities and concerted
actions. The connections to the Security Council uniquely position OCHA to influence the international
humanitarian system.
Consequently, OCHA is strategically well positioned for the humanitarian system of the future. The
increasing diversity of responders beyond the traditional UN agencies calls for more collaboration and
coordination across the humanitarian system. As responders diversify, OCHA may have a greater role
in providing bridges across the UN, NGOs and other responders. As a central actor that does not itself
provide goods and services, OCHA is well suited to work with the humanitarian community on crosssector opportunities for long term efficiency and impact. OCHA has demonstrated its capacity to do
this. Within IM, OCHA-driven data standards are becoming more accepted and used by agencies, and
this can lead to standardization across the humanitarian system and consequently to more efficiency in
data sharing and analysis. Likewise, OCHA’s concerted advocacy vis-à-vis the Security Council led to
outcomes such as Resolution 2165, passed in July 2014, which authorized cross-border humanitarian
access for UN agencies and their implementing partners into Syria and established monitoring
mechanism under the SG’s authority to monitor aid deliveries across the designated borders into Syria.
Finding 1.2: Stakeholders value OCHA's role and services and typically demand more

External stakeholders largely view OCHA’s role as valuable and typically request more OCHA
support in the areas of response coordination, advocacy, and IM. Despite the challenges and inherent
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complexities involved in OCHA's role, the interviews conducted during the Functional Review
underlined that OCHA's role is highly valued by stakeholders across both global and local contexts.
Interviewees from organizations that depend on OCHA in the field were overwhelmingly supportive
of the need for OCHA. When asked if OCHA support in the field should be limited to a tighter upfront
role, interviewees typically proposed longer versus shorter OCHA engagement. Both UN players and
those outside the UN system underlined how crucial OCHA's role can be in ensuring the humanitarian
system delivers on its mission as effectively as possible. Those organizations outside the UN
underlined the importance of OCHA in including them, and in bridging beyond the UN with the ability to
ensure that the comprehensive response reflects the comparative advantage of different organizations.
Quote from a partner: "Coordination needs don't go away after the start of a crisis, even if they go
down"
Quote from a partner indicating the need for OCHA even if no large active crisis: "If there is
substantial UN presence, say D1s and D2s in several other agencies, then we need at least a small
core of OCHA support, perhaps supported out of the HC's office"
Quote from a partner: "OCHA works well to integrate us (one of the largest INGOs), they make sure
our voice is heard, OCHA is nimble and entrepreneurial relative to the rest of the UN system"
The majority of interviewees pointed to the increasing demand for this umbrella coordination role as
more diverse players, such as local NGOs and the private sector, become more engaged in response.
As mentioned above, the role that OCHA plays as a bridge between the UN and the other actors is
highly valuable and uniquely positions OCHA to meet this demand in the future. Additionally, as more
governments take leading roles in coordinating response, OCHA was cited as an important connection
point.
Stakeholders also underlined the importance of strong OCHA IM to its coordination role, both within
the crisis response and in conveying messages from the field to the global humanitarian community,
underlining its unique advocacy position and connection to the Security Council. The importance of the
policy work on key core topics as well as the integral role OCHA plays in intergovernmental and interagency processes was also highlighted as critical. The central need for OCHA coordination can be
summarized in the observation of one INGO stakeholder "if there wasn't an OCHA, we'd need to invent
it immediately."
While the Functional Review interviews reiterated that the fundamental strategic positioning of
OCHA is strong; stakeholders highlighted some of the challenges identified below.
Finding 2: Demand for OCHA's services is increasing
Finding 2.1: There are an increasing number of responders to crises, which increases the need for
coordination

There are an increasing number of responders in humanitarian crises, with different needs and
capabilities. More local NGOs are participating in responses, and in certain situations are the fastest to
respond and are the only groups able to access certain populations. Additionally, private sector
involvement is becoming more common especially in natural disaster settings, and while the companies
provide a valuable contribution to the overall response, they are also responders that require
coordination. Given that OCHA is typically not staffed with people with private sector backgrounds,
navigating this coordination role will be hard. Additionally, governments are playing a bigger role,
depending on their capacities, and are an increasingly active part of the response in many areas.
Finding 2.2: The emergencies requiring humanitarian response are increasingly complex and protracted

Along with the entire humanitarian system, OCHA is facing new challenges given increased and
more complex demand. There are more protracted and politically sensitive crises in increasingly
complex settings. For example, there are more crises triggered by political strife, compounded by weak
government and/or protracted natural disasters, and more conflict in urban settings, which increase
20

complexity of response. This shifting need calls for OCHA to consider the specific capabilities required
for these settings, such as access negotiation, and reflect on the configuration of OCHA response
needs for the future.
Quote from a partner "Now more complex protracted emergencies – need to account for political
and economic context. OCHA needs to be more strategic and smart in its response"
Quote from a partner "Today, things are more complex than they were in the cold war period"
Finding 2.3: OCHA has constituents who have different needs both globally and locally, which
concurrently drive different demands in OCHA

OCHA is tasked with the coordination for emergency response and must work with partners to
alleviate the suffering of people in need. Beyond the affected people and direct responders to
emergencies, there are other constituents that OCHA must work with in order to fulfill its mandate.
OCHA must continue to work with, and meet the needs of a wide range of constituents and
constituencies as they are all vital to a more efficient response.
The diverse stakeholder needs create a tension in addressing OCHA's role. All want OCHA to
focus on 'core' but each defines core differently.
Partners

Partners want OCHA to be an on-the-ground ally that identifies gaps and coordinates response in
the field. Some partners have also highlighted the desire for more strategic analysis that is better
informed by the context. At the same time, partners have highlighted that the coordination process,
while valuable, can at times be overly burdensome and may interfere with critical activities they must
undertake in the field. Partners have indicated that OCHA should continue to pursue opportunities to
increase efficiency and lighten the burden.
Quote from a partner "OCHA needs to ensure the entire coordination system is light and nimble,
rather than being heavy, time-consuming, bureaucratic and process-driven, as it often is today"
Donors

Donors are also looking for OCHA to coordinate, but they have different needs. Donors face
pressure from their specific governments to justify the budgets they allocate to the multiple UN
organizations for specific crisis responses. Consequently, donors are increasingly asking for more
details and deeper understanding of how money is allocated within and across responses, and are
increasingly looking to OCHA for a variety of tracking, reporting, and information products to provide the
consolidated view of the response. The challenge is that adopting a stronger 'monitoring' role may limit
OCHA's ability to get players to the table and openly share the reality of the on-the-ground situation,
which is at the core of successful response coordination. While monitoring is not equivalent to
evaluating, it may be perceived as such. Collective agreement to share common metrics on the
response would position OCHA to play a coordination role of that reporting, but it may be difficult if
OCHA is perceived to be enforcing that reporting on behalf of donors.
Quote from a donor "OCHA could play a critical role by conducting analysis on financing data and
increasing transparency of funding to humanitarian system (e.g., where is money flowing, how effective
and sustainable is it, where are administrative fees taken out?"
Quote from a donor "Products like the Global Humanitarian Report are valuable to donors who don't
have time to analyze this kind of data and rely on OCHA to provide this evidence-based overview."
Governments

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The affected countries themselves are also a critical constituent. In some situations, there is a fully
functioning government that is the overall coordinator in the response and OCHA acts as an external
advisor. In other situations, OCHA has stronger engagement and the governments are a responder
within a primarily international response, but do not have the capabilities to coordinate. In certain other
situations, the government is either weak, or perhaps even hostile to the UN and OCHA, in which case
the government body becomes a group for OCHA to include in coordination in order to enable the
response to the affected people. The complexity of the OCHA coordination increases further where the
governments are seen to be parties to ongoing conflict, e.g. conflicts in complex environments such as
Syria.
Finding 3: OCHA has an inherently diverse portfolio that spans both emergency response coordination
in the field and global activities for the humanitarian system
Finding 3.1: OCHA's mandate requires it to address both emergency response in the field, elements of
preparedness and the broader strategic needs of the global humanitarian community

OCHA's mandate has been described as a "mandate to do everything". OCHA straddles a unique
role between the field and headquarters and consequently has a significant ability to influence the
highest political decision-makers through informing about and advocating on behalf of critical needs in
the field. Beyond coordinating a response in the field, OCHA has additional accountabilities to the
humanitarian community, including, for example, global advocacy campaigns and inter-governmental
policy dialogue. Coordination can take many forms, information management and policy can span wide
tracts, humanitarian financing roles are diverse, and advocacy can have many messages and
audiences.
Finding 3.2: The complex nature of today’s humanitarian emergencies requires a more customized
humanitarian response

There is no single model for OCHA’s field coordination role. As indicated above, crises have
become increasingly complex. Government capabilities and desire for support are highly diverse,
further adding complexity. Given that the efficiency and effectiveness of OCHA is highly contingent on
customizing its approach, it is difficult to perform typical management comparisons to judge
performance and to ensure consistent quality. The customization also calls for trade-offs among
elements of the mandate, which is difficult for an organization that lacks a cohesive management model
(see the next chapter).
While we see some evidence of OCHA customizing its footprint in-country, some internal and
external stakeholders believe that OCHA could still improve the adaptability of coordination
approaches. In Colombia, for example, while the majority of the staff is in Bogota, there are a number
of small sub-offices with as few as 1-2 people to ensure that the response considers the different needs
in the country. We see similar customization in DRC where the level of demand is challenging to
address. Colombia also has leveraged partnerships with local universities in order to build on its ability
to gather data to inform decision-making. Looking forward, with the expectation of more diverse
players and funders engaging in humanitarian response and with the desire to better integrate along
the humanitarian/development continuum, we expect this complexity to increase.
Finding 4: There are divergent views on OCHA’s role and identity internally and externally
Finding 4.1: External partners and donors do not share a common view of OCHA's raison d’être nor of
how it should relate to its partners

The fact that OCHA's mandate under GA Resolution 46/182 is broad and open to interpretation
means that its stakeholders do not all share the same view of what constitutes OCHA’s ‘core’ work,
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what its current priorities should be, or when OCHA is best-placed to provide certain services to the
humanitarian sector.
As mentioned in Finding 2.3, OCHA constituents have different needs and therefore differing views
on OCHA's role in serving those needs. Consequently, there are often competing views on OCHA's
raison d’être that make it difficult for OCHA to find common ground across constituents. Additionally,
constituents often do not know or do not take into account the differing pressures that OCHA faces from
different partners, which does not allow for a common view of OCHA's role.
Finding 4.2: OCHA’s leaders have different visions for the organization and have concurrently pursued
different activities aligned with their individual visions

The combination of a broad mandate, a diverse need base, a lack of cohesion across OCHA
leaders, and external stakeholders with very different incentives, creates room for different
interpretations of the OCHA role. While OCHA respondents to the organizational survey are
overwhelmingly proud to work for the organization and understand how their role contributes to the
goals of the organization, there is an overall view that managers do not communicate a common vision
for the organization. The organizational survey question with the lowest result relative to the
benchmark averages was "we can see senior management is committed to organization goals", where
only 56% of the organization agreed with the statement. These concerns about the lack of alignment
around a vision were also echoed throughout the qualitative data.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "There has been no unified and coherent 'senior management'
for quite a while. Therefore, there is no common vision and no joint 'selling' points rather a big flea
market from which to pick and chose or ignore."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "[Senior managers communicate and sell the vision] very
poorly. There is no clear vision so there is nothing much to sell. Unfortunately, this is very apparent to
external partners, making it difficult for staff to sell the organization, its values and fund what we are
already doing."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Difficult to understand senior management vision as there are
several visions from different members of the senior management team"
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Currently, OCHA lacks vision over all and even if there is a
vision, it has not been communicated effectively. The SMT is divided into conflicting and opposing
groups, infested with power struggle between branches and different headquarters."
While all of the issues discussed above point to challenges behind determining the OCHA role, lack
of senior management cohesiveness is driving the fragmented and at times duplicative activities we
see. Similarly, the siloed approach has allowed divergent views on OCHA's role to drive forward into
divergent positions and activities. This takes the form of different branches pursuing initiatives and
projects for functional topics that, while independently good ideas, do not concurrently march along the
same path. OCHA's value may increasingly be its ability to be flexible as humanitarian contexts evolve,
but that flexibility still needs a framework and currently different elements of OCHA are working with
different frames.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "The leadership team however does not have a vision as each
manager pursues his/her own (private) objectives. The individual vision is sold to their own staff and
communicated down. The problem is that there is no common vision, hence each Director
communicates only his/her vision creating a highly fragmented OCHA"
Finding 5: Available resources are struggling to keep up with humanitarian demand, adding pressure
to OCHA's model
Finding 5.1: The financial constraints faced by the humanitarian system create corresponding resource
constraints and the constant push to ‘do more with less’ in OCHA

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While the need for humanitarian response has increased over time, largely the same set of donors
is providing most of the aid. This is leading to a financial constraint in the current system and as of
2015 the gap between requested funding and received funding was at an all time high of ~50%. This
pressures the humanitarian system as a whole and leads to increasing challenges within OCHA, as its
remaining reserves are depleted. In addition to pressure on top-line budgets to other organizations,
stretches within donor organizations often come with more scrutiny of the donor's own activity and
fewer donor organizational resources to monitor or synthesize. OCHA may then be asked to provide
more details or fill gaps where donors historically had the capabilities to address them internally.
Quote from a donor: "OCHA needs to prioritize better (i.e., identify what is 'need to do' vs.'nice to
do'), consider cutting back and re-focusing on core activities since it's obvious that they are not making
ends meet today"
It should be noted that during our interviews as a part of the Functional Review, we repeatedly
asked interviewees to identify activities that were not valuable, or 'non-core'. While interviewees were
easily able to identify high-value activities for OCHA, they were typically hard-pressed to define lowvalue activities that OCHA should stop doing.
Finding 5.2: OCHA staff have responded by undertaking more activities in order to meet increasing
demand, and are feeling spread thin and stretched

The dynamics of increasing humanitarian need and pressure on donors are creating strong pull for
OCHA, with increasing demand across all functions. OCHA has responded by doing more. An
external stakeholder observed that OCHA is asked to do so many things that it becomes spread thin,
yet it attempts to do everything, (e.g. operational reporting), more and higher quality reports and
information products, response coordination, policy advice and briefings on emerging topics, intercluster coordination.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "As staff, we are stretched so thin, there is almost no room for
deeper thinking, training, down time, mentoring etc."
Finding 5.3: There is a risk of OCHA‘s performance being inconsistent in the field, with some external
stakeholders pointing to mixed results

The stretch felt by the staff in the field has led to inconsistency in delivery at times. As the staff try
to account for more work with the same number of people there are likely to be areas that suffer. The
external impression is that OCHA service quality is inconsistent at times.
Quote from a partner: "OCHA does many of these things well today in some scenarios, but there is
a high level of inconsistency with the quality of their delivery in the field"
Quote from a partner: "I work closely with OCHA, and normally find the quality is good, but not
always. So they should take a closer look at the internal accountability systems".
Quote from a donor: "Field coordination is something that is easy to pick at – something they
struggle with and have mixed results"
Finding 6: Stakeholders report different levels of efficiency and effectiveness within OCHA's core
functional areas
Advocacy: OCHA's role in public and private advocacy is critical, well defined, and adequately exercised

OCHA's role in advocacy is well defined and seen as being adequately exercised by both internal
and external stakeholders. External stakeholders were aligned around the high value of advocacy
activities, both at the local level in negotiating access, but also through speaking on behalf of the
system at Security Council briefings. Others also pointed out that in the field, OCHA should ensure it
maintains an independent view on the priority humanitarian needs.
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Quote from an external stakeholder: "OCHA should be a stronger public advocate if red lines are
crossed"
Quote from ann external stakeholder: "It is important that OCHA stands up for humanitarian values
in the field and does not get pulled too far away from advocating on the core needs."
Policy: OCHA’s policy activities are often well regarded, but not always clearly articulated or prioritized

OCHA’s policy function is often cited as highly valued at the global level, particularly OCHA's
intergovernmental and inter-agency processes, as well as briefings to various stakeholders. External
stakeholders generally believed that the global policy work that OCHA does is of high quality, but at
times questioned the focus of topic areas.
There is also an inconsistent understanding of the full scope of OCHA’s policy function, which in
reality extends beyond the strictly global role with which it tends to be associated. Providing clarity
around OCHA’s activities in Policy both at the global and local level would help. Some questions also
arose as to whether the breadth of policy questions covered and the documentation was sufficiently
focused, again calling for clarity around specific activities. It should be noted that some of the more
controversial areas, (e.g. environmental policy), are in fact independently funded or as a part of
partnerships. We did not address the value of such partnerships as part of the review.
Many have pointed to weak ties between global policy and the local field work. While the
importance of the link of policy to field coordination was widely agreed, the root cause of the weak ties
appears to be driven by organizational dysfunction which will be addressed in subsequent chapters.
Additionally, some questions arose regarding the breadth and type of OCHA’s policy studies and
whether OCHA was sufficiently leveraging external groups for the core analysis.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "[OCHA] Policy is about providing thought leadership,
establishing a thesis about where the humanitarian community should be headed and preparing
everyone to move in that direction"
Quote from an internal stakeholder (outside of the Policy section): "I don't think most of my
colleagues have any idea how labor intensive or critical the inter-governmental activities conducted by
the Policy branch are"
Quote from a donor: "OCHA's Policy Development and Studies Branch would benefit from more
exposure to operational realities on the ground, i.e. through closer collaboration with the Coordination
and Response Division and the Emergency Services Branch."
Quote from an external stakeholder: "They should really be doing shorter, more focused work on
policy implications of the research done by others"
Response Coordination: Stakeholders express confusion around the number and role of coordination
staff on the ground, and are unclear on OCHA's strategy for preparedness, protection and IDPs, private
sector engagement and cash programming

OCHA's response coordination is highly valued, and especially in protracted crises. Stakeholders
ask for more coordination services at the local level and the synthesized view of a crisis response is
highly valued at the global level.
Many donors expressed uncertainty about whether or not response coordination was always
sufficiently focused, often citing "the hundreds of coordinators flown in" to a given situation, while other
donors are concerned by the speed of getting more posts filled on the ground. Partners on the ground,
who acknowledged the strong support OCHA gives, also asked for clarity regarding what services they
should expect. There have been mixed comments on OCHA's ability to staff offices optimally with
some indications that resourcing is highly customized but other instances. For example in the
Philippines, there was a sense that the response wasn't sufficiently contextualized and was too heavy.
Response coordination is a very challenging role and there are clearly many contexts in which
OCHA navigates that role effectively. We do not find it surprising that it is hard to get alignment on the
'right' size or portfolio of response services. The nature of coordination does not lend itself to the more
25

tangible metrics of more operational UN bodies. Response coordination is highly contextual – in one
situation it might be possible to have a very light coordination structure and be highly effective, in
another that same configuration would fail.
In terms of efficiency, some have also pointed to the country coordination process as being overly
burdensome and to the number and frequency of data requests to the field partners as being potentially
unnecessary. There is a sense both internally and externally that there has been a shift towards
requests 'that service New York' versus servicing the field response. There could be some
communication to the field around why data is requested and how it is being used, potentially with a
look at whether there are ways to streamline requests and to lower the administrative burden on the
field. Some also point to the challenges of 'managing the UN cluster machine' and the need for OCHA
to resist reinforcing aid bureaucratization and keep the community's focus on priority humanitarian
needs and response.
Quote from an external stakeholder: "Without OCHA, there would be total chaos. We need OCHA
to be here and be effective"
Quote from an external stakeholder: "OCHA brought us together to do a risk assessment of
Burundi, and I used the OCHA documents to convince my management we needed to build presence
there"
Quote from an external stakeholder: "OCHA could be much clearer about what services the system
is delivering – I don't know what I can expect"
There are competing viewpoints about whether OCHA's current investment in preparedness
activities is sufficient. Preparedness activities are those that help strengthen infrastructure, systems,
processes, and human resources in advance of a crisis. There is an inherent tension between the
need to respond to an urgent and current crisis, and the decision to allocate resources to focus on
preparedness in advance of potential crises. In resource-challenged settings it is very difficult for that
balance to favor activities beyond short term crisis response and so resolution on this point is critical
because it is increasingly difficult to address preparedness activities in regions where there are
immediate crises. An internal stakeholder indicated that OCHA's core responsibility is to respond to a
crisis, and that "corporate credibility is defined by response"
Externally, the views also differ. Some donors indicated that "preparedness is important, but should
be left to development players rather than humanitarians." But other donors indicate that they "would
like to see a greater role for OCHA in preparedness and long term, institutional capacity building." For
donors in Asia Pacific and Latin America this can be especially true given where governments in the
region stand. It is increasingly also seen as an issue in Africa where governments will also express
strong interest in preparedness activity. The OCHA AU Liaison office has also highlighted the AU as a
potential leverage point for such activity, as it has a policy influencing role but also one that could have
a programmatic influence. The politically complex situations in Latin America also call for a
differentiated response and interactions with governments.
Preparedness is also linked to the expectation that OCHA plays its part in driving the entire
humanitarian system toward efficiency and effectiveness. External stakeholders point to the critical
need for readiness work, and for minimizing or optimizing high-cost response activities. Further,
governments can view it as natural for OCHA after working hand-in-hand with them on response, to
transition to embedding learnings. Given the existing relationships and OCHA’s knowledge of the
government capabilities, this could be a high leverage role for OCHA, but there is obviously a danger
that it bleeds into longer term development activities.
Quote from a government stakeholder "after we address severe drought this year, we see OCHA
working with us on ensuring we can be more prepared in the future"
Though, even those who support these activities would caution that "it is critical that the
governments also co-invest in things like trainings, that they show it to be a priority, otherwise we can
invest a lot but people participate half-heartedly"

26

Additional questions were raised through the Functional Review that were closely tied to OCHA's
role in the field but that were not in scope for the review. These include:
 Protection cluster and IDPs: What is OCHA's role in the protection cluster and IDPs?
 Private sector engagement: How should OCHA best engage with private sector and to what
end?
 How does OCHA distinguish its role from those of clusters?
 Cash programming: What is OCHA's role in coordinating cash programming?
Information Management: IM activities are viewed as the backbone of OCHA field coordination work, but
there is a consistent view that an updated strategy is required to keep up with the changing landscape

OCHA's information management function is highly valued both internally and externally, with the
vast majority seeing it as the central pillar of how OCHA successfully drives coordination. However
there is a consensus view that a new strategy is required as digital trends are changing this area rapidly
and OCHA coordination would be weakened if it does not upgrade capabilities through broader data
sources and stronger analytics. Elements of this strategy are already underway within OCHA. In terms
of efficiency, the proliferation of IM products has been identified as a burden, where efficiencies and
rationalization of the multitude of IM products could be achieved. A repeated theme was also how
challenging data collection from agencies can be at times, a key resource driver for OCHA.
Quote from a partner: "It takes a significant commitment to participate in coordination activities, the
reason we come is the information sharing"
Quote from a partner: "It would be nice to see OCHA do more synthesis and analysis"
Quote from a donor: "Sometimes OCHA just staples together reports from the agencies"
Quote from partner: "The work OCHA is doing is effective here, and important. They should not be
providing so many products, and especially working to ensure the same data isn't re-hashed several
times in different products (to reduce overlap in the work done)"
There are also questions about the degree to which OCHA should rely on its existing network of
information providers for new digital streams e.g. the major UN agencies, versus diversifying
information sources to tap into additional information areas. Many point to the convening power of
OCHA as the core information advantage – through developing materials that are vetted through the
community, OCHA creates critical value. There is recognition that much of the information needed for
decision-making is constantly in flux and the ability to synthesize it from those who have direct
situational context but also add analytic and interpretive layers is key. Therefore people raise the
potential for OCHA to add more advantage through deeper analytics and interpretation.
Quote from a donor: "But what we typically see is OCHA passively receiving info from other
agencies, and then putting that out into whatever format they can…OCHA needs to get the basics right
before they branch out. I don't feel like they're getting the basics right now."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "OCHA sits at the center and pulls information from other UN
agencies and other sources; OCHA can pull in expert analysis from cluster leads, government, media
etc. and be honest broker since agencies will analyze and report on their area of expertise – highlight
their area as greatest need, focus only on their sector"
Another question for OCHA to consider is the extent to which OCHA develop data standards for the
humanitarian community, and whether that focus is local or more global in nature. On a local level,
OCHA could standardize how data is collected, while another step requires broader standardization
towards a global consolidated data source in a central hub.
OCHA should consider these strategic questions by evaluating the supply and demand of those
services or products already available, the comparative advantage that OCHA has in providing those
services themselves, feasibility for OCHA to provide and continue to provide those services and
products, and any risks or implications of that strategic option.
It is important to reiterate here that relative to other strategic considerations, status quo is likely to
erode OCHA's advantage and it is imperative that OCHA examine its role in IM carefully and determine
27

where its advantage will rest going forward. The pivotal questions in IM are how to respond to the
digital trends and rapidly changing landscape and how to invest in expanding the network of existing
partners and data sources.
Humanitarian Financing: HF administrative processes are viewed as cumbersome and slow

OCHA's humanitarian financing is the function that has the least consensus across the various
stakeholders. Three key themes emerged from interviews. First, although stakeholders suggested that
resource mobilization works well, multiple stakeholders highlighted the need for OCHA to improve the
efficiency and effectiveness of disbursing funds.
Quote from a partner: "It takes so long to get funded that the emergency is finished"
Second, while all have pointed to the value of CERF and the value of OCHA’s role in mobilizing
resources for the appeals on behalf of the community, Country Based Pooled Funds are more
controversial. They are seen by many as central to engaging local NGOs in coordination and effective
early response, but some partners have also pointed to the increased overhead involved, specifically at
the local level. There have also been concerns raised about adequate risk management as funds
increased in size.
Quote from a partner: "OCHA has incentives to provide more financing to take a cut of the overhead
fee but NGOs are incentivized to go around OCHA since OCHA will not pay an overhead fee to them
(i.e., donors don't want to pay 2 overhead fees) so OCHA only funds programming and NGOs that
need overhead support prefer to go directly to donors"
Finally, some stakeholders expressed concern that OCHA's role in humanitarian financing might be
viewed as programmatic in the sense of managing programs in the field, which could cause conflict with
its response coordination role. Concrete examples to back up this concern were not found and, on
balance, comments from recipients were more focused on ensuring efficiency and effectiveness. For
many, while there could be a completely neutral party managing these funds which would avoid the
potential conflict, it would add to field bureaucracy and could reduce willingness to enter coordination
mechanisms – both of which would be negatives. Most see OCHA's involvement in CBPF as in
support of the HC, and the committees that weigh in on disbursement give sufficient separation for
OCHA not to be placed in a position of conflict.

III.4. Solutions
We have three primary recommendations for OCHA:
 OCHA should affirm its identify as having both a global and local mandate, while flexing in
different circumstances, primarily take an 'Influencer' stance. It should also reaffirm that it is
not programmatic.
 OCHA should undergo an activity baseline exercise to analyze activities and invested
resources, prioritize, and transparently communicate the results. OCHA should examine tools
and approaches to ensure transparent communication on an ongoing basis.
 By functional area, OCHA should address specific strategic questions and opportunities for
improving efficiency and effectiveness.
The rationale for each of these recommendations is set out below.
Recommendation 1: OCHA should affirm its identify as having both a global and local mandate, while
flexing in different circumstances, primarily take an 'Influencer' stance. It should also reaffirm that it is
not programmatic
OCHA's mandate covers both global and field roles that ultimately complement and support each
other. While there are inherent tensions between the two roles, particularly when resources are scarce
28

and priorities must be evaluated; neither aspect of OCHA's role can be shortchanged. The deep
understanding derived from field presence guides global policy, and OCHA's ability to influence the
global humanitarian system directly impacts field operations. OCHA must recognize and affirm that the
interdependence of its field and global presence is one of its key strengths, and must strive to find the
optimal balance between them.
Stance has repeatedly been identified as a key issue to be resolved. While many of the role
questions pertain to what OCHA should do, stance refers to how OCHA undertakes its role. More
specifically, stance has been defined as the approach that OCHA takes when it pursues activities.
OCHA needs to define its stance relative to other organizations, particularly for field activities
supporting the HC.
The spectrum of potential stances for OCHA includes the following:
 Minimalist: implies an OCHA that performs minimum core functions with light field presence;
 Secretariat: implies an OCHA that organizes the relevant conversations between partners and
provides more administrative support, but does not attempt to influence the outcome [of the HC]
in any particular way;
 Influencer: implies an OCHA that brings the relevant actors to the table, provides the
information and options to enable a decision, and facilitates the conversation to drive to a
decision for the group;
 Director: implies an OCHA that takes a stronger approach in directing some of the activities of
the overall response, rather than guiding actors who make their own strategic and programming
decisions; and
 Operator: implies an OCHA that provides goods and services to affected people.

OCHA stance could span from 'minimalist' to 'operator'
Minimalist

 Perform core
functions at
minimal level
defined in Resolution
46 / 182

Secretariat

 Support
collaboration
 Build partner
consensus as key
decisions are
collective

Influencer

 Develop common
strategy and plan
across partners

Director

 Define approach
and plan to drive
partner actions

Operator

 Define response
strategy, plan and
key objectives

 Have a point of view  Monitor partners to  Translate direction
grounded in expertise
ensure objectives are
into execution plans
 Lighter field
and shared through
met efficiently
 Monitor against plan
presence with
influence
 Report on partner
support centralized at  Position partners to
 Provide goods and
deliver most effective  Lead from behind
capacity / skills, to
HQ
services in response
aid
through trust, strong
HC & donors
relationships
Viable option sets of activities
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

Many partners expressed concern that OCHA is inconsistent in how it presents itself even in very
similar situations, with the most commonly described stances fluctuating among 'secretariat', 'influencer'
and 'director'. The more extreme positions of minimalist and operator stances were discussed, but
were immediately viewed as inconsistent with the OCHA mandate. The 'minimalist' stance would
provide insufficient value and support to partners and to the general HC function. The 'operator' stance
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would take OCHA beyond coordination into response action and this is seen as stepping beyond the
mandate.
The 'secretariat' stance as the default was not seen as a viable stance for OCHA as it also adds
insufficient value. However in some rare situations, it was described by partners as a necessary role in
order to progress in specific processes or more bureaucratic tasks. The more 'directive' approach to
leadership would imply that OCHA has the authority to determine what different groups on the ground
do, which is currently not part of the mandate and which would be extremely challenging with non-UN
organizations which operate under entirely distinct governance. In some situations this stance was
seen as necessary if there was extreme time pressure or no other way to reach consensus and it was
recognized that OCHA may be asked to be directive, but there is an important difference between being
asked and assuming the stance a priori.
The 'influencer' stance was seen as providing the most value and leadership in the response. As
mentioned in previous sections, OCHA does not have formal authority to direct response. With an
increasing number of partners outside of the UN system, there is no governance model that could
furnish OCHA with the formal authority to coordinate across such a diverse community. OCHA's
capability to navigate this environment effectively without formal authority is an advantage in the face of
a changing landscape. It is important to note that this 'influencer' role is very much a leadership role.
Stakeholders expect OCHA to provide value and guidance, but the approach and stance cannot be
directive.
We thus recommend that OCHA adopt an 'influencer' stance as a default - providing leadership in a
less direct way that fits with the networked nature of the humanitarian response community. This
stance strongly aligns with the indirect authority that OCHA has as a coordinator. We recommend that
OCHA align around the influencer stance and clearly communicate the implications to internal and
external stakeholders.
In some contexts, it may be appropriate for OCHA to deviate. For example, in instances where
government partners are strong and the primary coordinator of the international response, it is likely
that OCHA would fall into a Secretariat role. In other instances, where there is a significant time
pressure for action, OCHA may temporarily fall into a directive role. However, as a default position, and
likely in most situations with weakened governments, OCHA is widely viewed as most effective as an
'influencer'.
A matter of some discussion during the review has been the degree to which OCHA is 'operational'
within the context of response coordination, with some saying OCHA has become 'too operational'.
During our interviews on this topic it became starkly evident that this word is quite difficult to define,
leading to differentiated uses and interpretations of whether or not OCHA is indeed 'too operational'.
It is worth stepping back and sharing some of the definitions of operational that we have heard, and
where partners may feel OCHA is overstepping. On one end of the spectrum, we have heard the
interpretation that it simply means that there are operations on the ground, which there clearly are. For
some within OCHA, operational is about OCHA 'being instrumental to the in country humanitarian
response' and the combination of this and infrastructure on the ground leads them to feel that 'of
course, we are operational'. With this definition, OCHA activities would not be considered as too
operational, and are quite appropriate for OCHA's role as a coordinator.
The other end of the spectrum of operational is in the sense of delivery of goods and services. In
very rare situations, there were references to OCHA building latrines or delivering grain, with reports
suggesting that this most typically happens when the OCHA personnel involved have prior experience
in that operational area and 'fail to remove their old hat.' This is clearly operational and also clearly
outside OCHA's mandate.
Some definitions are more nuanced. For example, some raised the idea that OCHA was too
operational when it positions itself as an expert on the data or situation within a cluster. Again, we have
heard that this may occur when the OCHA person has a prior background with that agency or has
personal experience in that area. Since OCHA does communicate situational information for each
cluster this is a tougher line to walk, but the key may be to ensure that it is clear who is expert in the
30

source of data, and OCHA should be careful not to position itself as involved in programmatic
decisions. Further, if there are situations where OCHA has questions on the cluster data or situation,
that should be managed directly with the cluster and, if it issues are not resolved, how they are raised in
more public forums should be addressed as well.
Another example of a gray area where OCHA could be viewed as operational was raised in regards
to primary data collection. Within the cluster system, agencies and other organizations are the primary
source for data and we would affirm that they should be. One note as OCHA looks to its role in
information management and new digital information sources, OCHA may well be strongly positioned to
play a role in additional domains of information that cross traditional cluster data realms and so
navigating this going forward should be considered as part of the IM strategy work.
On balance, our sense is that the real sensitivity with OCHA as operational is when OCHA is
perceived as involved in the programmatic decisions of partners or the representation of those
programs. OCHA is not programmatic, which is the distinction that allows it to coordinate amongst
partners and act as a neutral broker. Some believe it is important for OCHA to reaffirm that it is not
programmatic in any of its activities, and therefore work that may appear operational is nevertheless for
the system and not related to any specific programs. The reaffirmation of non-programmatic in relation
to the term operational should alleviate partner agency concerns and clarify OCHA's role in some of the
above stated activities.
Recommendation 2: OCHA should undergo an activity baseline exercise to analyze activities and
invested resources, prioritize, and transparently communicate the results. OCHA should examine tools
and approaches to ensure transparent communication on an ongoing basis
Developing a baseline is critical for clarity and transparency with both internal and external
stakeholders. This involves conducting an activity baseline exercise – understanding the activities that
each part of the organization performs, the resources invested in those activities, and the value derived
from that investment. The exercise intends for OCHA to get the fundamentals right, laying out where
the organization is spending its resources and opening these priorities to debate and trade-off. In many
interviews, different stakeholders urged OCHA to focus on its 'core.' Concrete suggestions for change
are often lacking. Stakeholders may disagree on what is 'core.' Essential OCHA activities such as
intergovernmental processes can fall outside one view of core, with more discretionary activities taking
precedence.
Through the activity baseline exercise, OCHA will have a better view of what is essential versus
discretionary, and it should have a prioritization of its discretionary activities. It is likely that demand will
always be higher than supply and therefore OCHA does need to exert judgment in balancing demand,
mandate and global priorities. By more explicitly stating what OCHA's priorities are, and
communicating the resources required to undertake what can be a nebulous set of activities, we think
OCHA will better position itself for negotiating what it requires to cover a crisis country, to write
guidance or to deliver on a specific policy topic. Given its broad mandate, and the complex set of
activities that make up the major functions of OCHA, this will not be an easy task. However, as
increasing financial pressure creates harder resourcing trade-offs, the danger is that misunderstanding
of OCHA's portfolio of activities will prevent the system from fairly assessing OCHA’s contribution. This
increases the risk of arbitrary financing decisions. Further, there is an internal benefit. It is evident that
different parts of OCHA do not always have a strong understanding, at the activity level, of what OCHA
does. Given some of the organizational dynamics, this leads at times to undermining of one group by
another. This baseline could therefore be useful in building a better understanding of activities across
OCHA, as well as externally. We also see overlapping activities and this will help surface them and
force debate and alignment on who should cover what. Further, as a complement to this baseline
activity exercise, once OCHA focuses on implementing an effective management model, strategic
decisions and actions will rest on a stronger foundation.

31

Quote from a donor: "what's really core and doing it well, would rebuild some of OCHA's credibility
and show their value add"
Quote from an internal stakeholder "too much of doing other things instead of being always better at
the core deliverables of OCHA as a coordination agency"
The activity baseline exercise will create a clear starting point for OCHA in defining its activities and
investments. OCHA will then want to think about ongoing ways to communicate transparently about its
activities and resourcing. This has important field communication value, for instance in response to
those NGO partners that expressed a desire for more understanding of the services and support
footprint of OCHA. This also supports conversations among other actors, such as donors, and within
OCHA. Communication vehicles can be simple: introducing, for example, a monthly report that
describes the number and deployment (e.g. IM, inter-cluster coordination) of employees in each field
office would give constituents visibility into OCHA activities, which reduces concerns that such
resourcing is a 'black box'. Areas such as policy and other normative activities could have similar
communication vehicles. It is key that these vehicles describe not just the activities but also directional
resourcing against activities.
Recommendation 3: By functional area, OCHA should address specific strategic questions and
opportunities for improving efficiency and effectiveness
The recommendations below summarize our view on the highest priority issues to be addressed in
each of OCHA's functional areas.
Policy

While we have not identified a large number of policy activities that lack value, there is nonetheless
a need to examine the portfolio of current policy activities and carefully prioritize. A key prioritization
element should be to identify activities that are not strongly tied to an important issue tightly related to
core humanitarian issues, and to be wary of activities that are in service of the field but lacking strong
field-based demand. Given historic organizational dynamics, that demand has been hard to assess
and joint efforts between headquarters-based policy groups and the field have been limited. We think
this could be addressed through the "back to basics" approach described in the recommendation
above.
Response coordination

In addition to our recommendation that senior leaders better understand the activities currently
performed in coordination in order to identify opportunities for improved efficiency and effectiveness, we
have a set of specific recommendations regarding certain response coordination activities.
In the light of the WHS discussions, we recommend that OCHA carefully consider the implications
of increasing its focus on preparedness and adopting a more systematic approach to preparedness
activities. It is important to note that preparedness is defined as the activities that OCHA undertakes to
prepare itself for future responses, engagement with partners to improve and prepare for response in
countries, and preparedness activities with specific governments in preparing for future crises. OCHA
is already engaged in activities of this nature, but currently with an ad hoc approach. We would
underline that broader resilience building is typically a development function, but part of the exercise
that OCHA should undertake is to make the distinctions along the humanitarian-development
continuum more clear and articulate (through discussions with partners) where OCHA could focus
versus where others are better placed.
OCHA is well placed to play a highly strategic role in preparedness that would produce a high return
on investment for the community because the activities are tightly connected to OCHA's current
comparative advantage. Indeed, we see a commitment to deeper investment in preparedness as
32

fundamental to OCHA's 'resilience' commitments expressed at the WHS. OCHA could develop and
apply deep institutional knowledge in subjects such as in natural disaster response, it could apply its
positional advantage (built from government relations from a prior crisis), and it could leverage its
convening power and IM capability. In all these cases, OCHA engagement could pay a deep dividend
in reducing the impact of future emergencies.
A systematic approach to preparedness activities requires a compelling business case and a tight
articulation of how OCHA will prioritize its efforts and interface with others who will carry the weight of
programmatic delivery. Activities that require dedicated funds and resources to pursue a more
systematic approach to preparedness must be evaluated, and a business case for OCHA's role with a
clearly defined focus of activities must be articulated for donor funding. If OCHA cannot engage donors
in funding the preparedness activities for partners and governments, OCHA should make it clear that it
is not supplying this function. It would continue to engage in ad hoc preparedness activities, for
example, where governments request specific support, but clearly communicate when it does so, so
that it does not set unrealistic expectations of broader delivery.
We also recommend that OCHA engage in deeper examination of OCHA's role and path forward in
three areas:
Protection and coordination in regards to Internally Displaced People (IDPs): A number of
interviews expressed concern that OCHA's role in protection and how this translates to activities on the
ground was unclear. Currently, UNHCR serves as the protection cluster lead and OCHA participates in
the protection cluster. Our consultations raised a number of challenges with the division of
responsibilities, including:
 The lack of a clear protection mandate (which spans from protection of civilians, to gender
violence, to gender equity and even land tenure) and blurred distinction between humanitarian
and development activities
 The need for operational guidance from the IASC for the field
Some of these issues were considered by a recent 'whole-of-the system' review of protection in
humanitarian response, undertaken by the IASC and a 2014 agreement between UNHCR and OCHA.
It is our understanding that the results of those processes are yet to be fully implemented. As such, this
is an area deserving further exploration by CRD and PDSB.
Engagement with private sector actors: Engagement with private sector actors is a broader
question that OCHA should address. At the WHS, private sector partnership was one of the key topics
of discussion. Currently there is engagement with the private sector for different purposes, but OCHA
should develop a clearer engagement strategy with private sector across different contexts both at the
global level, and also at the local and regional level. Specifically, OCHA should ensure that the
responsibilities of the private sector partnership group at headquarters is clear, especially as other parts
of OCHA seek to engage the private sector. There is a rationale for local partnership as a distinct
function more tightly aligned with smaller local companies and local response, relative to the
management of global partners managed from headquarters, but this should be clarified. It is also
unclear how OCHA engagement would relate to cluster private sector engagement. For example,
where does OCHA connect with the private sector? Is OCHA engaged in country at the Chamber of
Commerce level? If so, with what aim? Alternatively, is there a cross-cluster coordination point with
individual private sector organizations or do such connection points occur at an individual cluster level
outside OCHA's responsibility?
In terms of private sector engagement on a local level through response, consideration needs to be
given to the fact that OCHA staff do not typically have private sector backgrounds. The regional
alignment structures could help by including some private sector expertise at the regional level but in
service of country offices.
33

Cash programming: This is another topic that was highlighted at the World Humanitarian Summit.
OCHA committed to 'ensuring that cash transfer programming is fully integrated into coordination
structures, building on existing systems wherever possible.' While OCHA has communicated a position
on cash, it is important to further clarify OCHA's role as this still appears to be a point of confusion. As
a starting point, we suggest stressing that OCHA is not programmatic and will not distribute cash.
However, OCHA needs to address its role in strategic versus more technical assistance in cash
coordination. On the strategic side, there is high value to OCHA coordinating discussions at cluster
level, as well as furnishing those discussions with information such as which organizations are
distributing cash, as well as strategic advice to the HC. Cash is another modality of humanitarian
assistance, and it is well within OCHA's role to coordinate the strategic conversations with partners, but
these positions need to be clarified.
Additionally, OCHA should be prepared to clearly define and communicate the guardrails around
OCHA's role when it comes to technical assistance and involvement in cash programming at a more
granular level. OCHA should clearly state its position on cash, and ensure a consistent message
across OCHA to avoid confusion with partners or other external stakeholders.
Information management

We understand that there are efforts underway to address the proliferation of IM products, and to
identify where efficiencies could be achieved. For example, the ongoing review established that over
100 different products (different product lines, not just different products) were deployed in Syria region
over a month. We support these efforts to rationalize IM.
In light of significant demand from key stakeholders, we recommend that OCHA invest in upgrading
its Information Management strategy to respond to a rapidly emerging ecosystem that can offer new
and better approaches to the services OCHA currently performs. OCHA should consider exploring its
role, activities (relative to others) and resourcing against three areas. First, can OCHA expand its
network for information in the light of rapid change in this field, e.g. where does OCHA intersect with
information flows to/from affected people? Second, can OCHA deepen its role in creating data
standards for information from existing partners, which over time would allow it to compile, real time,
higher quality data. As more partners accept these standards this data would come from a broader
group of local partners and sources. Finally, can OCHA enhance its analytic and consolidator skills so
it can provide deeper information products and data services?
To improve efficiency and effectiveness, HQ should also consider how it support field work through
infrastructure, strategic direction (e.g. on core information management questions and trends), and by
enhancing its regional support (see the Regional alignment recommendations in the Organizational
Design chapter). This regional support would also enable the IM group to learn from innovation on the
ground and ensure that centrally driven initiatives are fit-for-purpose.
Humanitarian Financing

We recommend that OCHA improve the efficiency and effectiveness of funding disbursements.
Delays in funding, and the administrative burden of receiving funding through OCHA, specifically
through Country Based Pooled Funds (CBPF), is a high-priority area that should be investigated.
Specifically, identifying the root causes of delays in funding, and potentially identifying ways to
streamline and reduce administrative burden of application for funding would greatly improve the
efficiency and effectiveness of the function. The issues with funding are not present in every situation,
but there is significant inconsistency across countries that demand attention. This is especially true
given moves to increase such funds.
In light of our proposal to consolidate humanitarian financing organizationally, there is an
opportunity to review all the underlying processes and to establish a go-forward vision that ensures
34

adequate responsiveness. Additional measures should be taken for risk management, as some
expressed concerns that the expansion of funds increases the need to adequately manage risk. To
address efficiency and concerns regarding both risk and being viewed as too programmatic, one of the
areas to consider carefully is whether or not there is opportunity to leverage other parties for elements
of fund management and governance.

35

IV. Management Model
IV.1. Context
An organization's management model is the set of tools and approaches that the leadership of an
organization uses to make decisions, to promulgate them through the organization, and to track and
manage their performance. A management model encompasses structural elements such as the
decision rights of management committees, and the level of authority vested in different layers of
management. It also includes the processes for supporting priorities, making decisions, allocating
resources, sharing information, evaluating managers, and upholding organizational values.
This chapter focuses less on the management of what OCHA does, and instead focuses on how
OCHA is managed. So, for instance, we focused not on what OCHA does to respond to crises, which
is discussed in Role and Operating Model, but instead on how OCHA manages day-to-day activities.
OCHA's day-to-day management systems will ultimately determine the strength of the organization in
responding to crises. While we saw evidence of strong strategic thinking in OCHA on what OCHA
should do, there was less evidence of strong implementation. We would like the new management
model to enable the organization to more quickly align on the what, and then move more reliably
through the how to predictable delivery.
It is useful to set out three contextual items before considering OCHA's management model. First,
because OCHA often operates in emergency environments, its management system must effectively
balance the relatively predictable cadence of issues any organization will face over time and the
unpredictable nature of much of its activity. Second, the USG position and Assistant Secretary-General
(ASG) posts are appointed by the SG, reducing the managerial stability of OCHA, especially in periods
close to new appointments. Finally, OCHA’s head – the USG – has a prominent and often
unpredictable outward-facing role as the ERC. Playing a dual role as OCHA USG and ERC divides the
USG's time between internal and external issues. OCHA is relatively small with ~2100 staff, and is
typically well within the managerial capabilities of individuals at this level even with the added ERC role.
However, the pull of the external-facing role is quite significant and should be considered in the design.
Indeed, all three contextual elements point to the need for a management model that acts to stabilize
ongoing OCHA functions as these other components flex.15
There is little doubt that OCHA's management model does not currently operate as a stabilizing
force, and therefore offers significant opportunity for improvement. OCHA's management model was
identified as a priority area of focus during the Inception phase of the Functional Review, and was
strongly emphasized as an area for improvement in the results of the first all-staff survey, which put
OCHA in the bottom quartile on every dimension relative to benchmarks.16 The importance of resolving
the management model issues prompted the USG/ERC to create the Executive Management
Committee (EMC) (supplanting the informal Senior Leadership Team) as early as possible in his
tenure, but the EMC is still embryonic and has no clearly defined decision rights. This chapter is
intended to build on current efforts by highlighting best practices and by creating a clear vision for the
long term changes OCHA should enact.

IV.2. Current State
15

It is important to note that in management model, our focus is on the internal management of OCHA, not
the ERC activities.
16
OCHA EFR employee survey, Overall n = 1,075; Proprietary BCG EFR database. Results compare OCHA
to set of 38 non-for-profit and intergovernmental benchmark organizations, including humanitarian organizations
and the UN.

36

There are three important components to OCHA's current management model:
First, there is the senior leadership focused on internal management in the headquarters of OCHA.
These are the top management positions in OCHA, comprising of the USG, one ASG17, three D2s in
New York, as well as the Head of OCHA's Geneva office.
Second, there is a strategic planning cycle that OCHA follows in order to set strategic direction from
the USG through the organization. Currently, OCHA has a four-year strategic planning cycle (that is, a
Strategic Plan and a Management Plan are created every 4 years). In addition to the Strategic Plan
and Management Plan, OCHA has a Strategic Results Framework and Management Results
Framework. These are revised every two years to set targets and to report on achievements. Work
plans by branch are developed annually. Additionally, OCHA has an annual process for budgeting and
development of cost plans.
Third, although the USG has ultimate decision-making authority, there are several committees that
advise him on decisions, including the newly established EMC, Senior Management Team (SMT),
Budget Review Committee (BRC), Governance Board for Information Technology, recently formed
Learning and Knowledge Management Board (LKMB) and the Emergency Response Task Force
(ERTF).18

IV.3. Findings
The current committee structure in OCHA's management model, including the presence of the
newly-formed EMC,19 is broadly in line with what we would expect to see in an organization. The main
committees and their corresponding responsibilities – specifically the Terms of Reference,
membership,20 and cadence – align with common committee structures in private and public sector
enterprises. However, our diagnostic uncovered some key gaps in OCHA's management model.
Specifically, we found that:
 The management model is not codified in a clear way, and is lacking key components and
interconnections:
o There is no integrated management system in place to drive a clear agenda for the
organization as a whole;
o Decision rights are not clearly delineated, and accountability is unclear; and
o There are gaps in information sharing, both 'vertically' and 'horizontally', resulting in a
lack of transparency across the organization.
 Decisions made at the senior management level lack disciplined follow through
 The leadership team does not work well together and perspectives on specific managers have
become an entrenched lens through which all actions are viewed:
o There is a lack of trust amongst the leadership team
o There is entrenched polarization across leadership and a sense that everything is a
'zero-sum' game

17

Rashid Khalikov of the Russian Federation was appointed as Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Partnerships with the Middle East and Central Asia, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) Geneva on 27 November 2015. In this role, he has limited engagement in the management of
OCHA.
18
There are other boards within OCHA that are not addressed here, for example the proposed OCHA Gender
Board
19
Given the importance of raising visibility of key administrative and programmatic functions at this juncture,
we support the decision to create the EMC.
20
We would, however, support increasing the representation of the field and, if consolidated as per our
organizational recommendation, Humanitarian Finance on the EMC.

37

Each of these findings is addressed in turn.
Finding 1: The management model is not codified in a clear way, and is lacking key components and
interconnections
Finding 1.1: There is no integrated management system in place to drive a clear agenda for the
organization as a whole

OCHA lacks an integrated management system that can drive a clear agenda for the organization
as a whole, and ensure that the appropriate topics are subject to regular and relevant discussion and
decision-making. In organizations with a strong management model, organizational activity is guided
by a comprehensive set of strategic objectives with clear metrics that can be cascaded throughout the
organization. Strong management models inextricably link strategy, operations, finance and budget,
initiatives, and people and talent. The topics are regularly discussed at the appropriate level for senior
management of the organization and outcomes of discussions are accompanied by robust follow
through. For example, strategic decisions would be clearly tied to subsequent finance and budget
decisions, and vice versa. This is one of the drivers for proposing the baseline exercise in the last
section of this document.
In order to ensure regularity of discussion and decision-making on critical topics, a cohesive
management model would define the core organizational areas overseen by senior management and
would define an appropriate cadence for planning processes, for key outputs expected, and for regular
performance reviews of the managers accountable for each process. At OCHA, discussions on key
topics are ad hoc and disconnected from discussions on related topics. Accordingly, there is no
transparent and predictable agenda for the organization as a whole.
Gaps in the current management system create a lack of discipline in the assessment of whether
the organization meets its goals and targets, in the identification of gaps or major risks, and in the
alignment of senior leaders around course correction. When decisions are made, they are often made
in a silo without collective engagement from other senior leaders.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "We have to protect ourselves from being pulled left and right
because we're not disciplined internally. We don’t have that because our management structure is not
enforcing that."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "OCHA should have more flexible and strategic, planning and
budgeting. OCHA should give managers the opportunity to make plans and commitments in line with
strategic goals and hold them accountable for achieving the plans and goals. Cost planning and
budgeting is completely top down and not strategic. It is all very ad-hoc and not transparent."
Another way that the lack of integrated management system is also exhibited through a bias
towards short term decision-making. Survey results show that more than 60% of respondents believe
decision-making is biased toward the short term. A short term outlook can lead to poor decisionmaking in tight situations, which would fail to prepare the organization for longevity. While it is
understandable that an organization that responds to crises has to be able to focus on the short term,
the comments from stakeholders indicate that this may have led to an overly short term focus.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Decision-making is biased toward the short term. This is
evidenced by the complete disregard, hostility towards or giving less attention to corporate
strengthening initiatives such as implementation of strategic frameworks (past and present), policy and
guidance management system, performance management, and corporate learning systems."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Decision-making is too often biased toward the short term,
particularly with regard to human resources management, where we see numerous stop-gaps and
38

temporary strategies applied to try to 'fill' positions as quickly as possible by any means, rather than
identifying qualified people and cultivating the sort of environment that makes them want to stay."
Finding 1.2: Decision rights are not clearly delineated, and accountability is unclear

At the highest level, OCHA lacks a clear delineation in responsibility between its executive-level
committees. The EMC was announced as the "the main forum for the collective, strategic and
operational decision-making in OCHA to ensure delivery against our mandate and strategic plan."21
This overlaps with the stated responsibility of the SMT22, which is to be the main body for informationsharing and decision-making at the senior leadership level. Confusion over the relative authority of
different committees can result in committees not considering important issues, coming to different
outcomes on important issues, and undermining their own ability to hold other parts of the organization
accountable for decisions.
Decision rights across OCHA's core management areas are similarly unclear. Within OCHA
branches, there is no clear guidance regarding which decisions are made, and by whom.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "There is a need for more systematic internal processes to
ensure the right people/sections are consulted and involved in decision processes at the right time. We
also need strong checks and balances to be re-established. Some parts of the organization have
overwhelming power and take decisions that involve the whole OCHA without any proper consultation
or chance of being challenged."
In interviews, we heard mixed positions on responsibility for particular decisions. An example of
confusion over decision rights arises in the context of staffing. Within CRD, Section Chiefs (Section
Chiefs) are responsible for "advis[ing] on decisions made on staffing" but the final decisions on
candidate selection of even the most junior international staff are made by the Director of CRD and
signs off on positions. At the same time, ASB also reports having responsibility for staffing, stating:
"we have had [an] HR person with a role about who goes where in the field." Yet, when CRD has
regular calls regarding staffing and vacancies, "no one from the ASB is participating." Without clearly
delegated and delineated responsibility over critical managerial decisions, it is difficult for employees to
take ownership of their roles and to be held accountable for performance. It also undermines staff
confidence in the fairness of the staffing process, something that came up repeatedly in survey
comments. High performing organizations have checks and balances in their People systems to
manage this, while OCHA does not.
Similarly, decision rights are not always aligned with accountabilities. For example, the key finance
committee is chaired by an ASG, but the ASG does not have budget accountability. Failure to align
decisions rights with accountabilities prevents staff from taking ownership of issues and being held to
account for their performance.
The lack of clarity over decision rights has two significant results on OCHA's performance. First,
lack of clear decision rights contributes to a sense that certain decisions that should be collaborative
are instead made within silos. Examples of decisions that would benefit from cross-divisional
collaboration include significant shifts in organizational direction, commitments to plans that affect
multiple divisions' activities, and changes in organizational structure. At OCHA, single divisions are
currently able to make these types of decisions. This lack of collaborative decision-making is reflected

21

Source: All staff announcement from the USG sent on 8 February, 2016 as the announcement of the
Executive Management Committee (EMC)
22
Latest TOR for the Senior Management Team as of July 2013

39

in the organizational survey, with only 38% of staff finding it easy to work with branches or offices
beyond their own.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Divisions and branches operate in a silo and they are even
failing to communicate decisions that will affect the work of other branches. A good example is the
creation, downsizing and closure of field offices by CRD. It has reached a point that CRD management
is no longer informing other divisions and branches."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Because you don’t have coherence, you discover that this
entity has agreed with the donors that they will do ABC, then some other person in some other area
that they would do DEF."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "I would like to see a stronger, more cohesive, more aligned
leadership that is open, trusting and builds bridges across and throughout the organization. We have
very good teams and people but we are divided unnecessarily and unproductively by these
challenges."
Second, unclear decision rights also leads to insufficient and inconsistent delegation. Delegation is
important because it allows staff members to focus on decisions and activities that are appropriate for
their experience and skill level. It allows organizations to perform efficiently, while providing
opportunities for individuals to take greater ownership over their work. Clear delegation of authority
would allow for some decisions to be made lower within the organization without requiring formal
signoff from the head of the group, versus currently where more formal signoff would be required.
Multiple stakeholders expressed the view that this does not exist at OCHA.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Things get stuck and no one makes decisions. Then the
meeting closes but no one has made a decision. E-mails go back and forth and I wonder, 'who is
making these decisions'? The organization is looking to the managers to set up a decision framework
and then follow it. This is causing a lot of grief in the organization and it has to change".
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Senior managers must stop micro-managing and start
providing the overall vision and direction, leaving other decisions, such as staffing, small recurring
expenditure, and travel to middle managers."
Finding 1.3: There are gaps in information sharing, both 'vertically' and 'horizontally', resulting in a lack of
transparency across the organization

Gaps in information sharing occur at multiple levels in OCHA. For example, stakeholders
highlighted that OCHA has no internal communications function to ensure that even basic information
flows well across the organization. This means that after a decision has been made or when a new
initiative has been launched, relevant information is frequently not shared with colleagues across the
organization either horizontally or vertically. Without a strong internal communications function, it is all
too easy for individuals to leave a meeting with a different slant on a decision and for this immediately
lead to inconsistency in what is promulgated through the organization.
When it comes to "vertical" disconnects between headquarters and the field, there appear to be
communication gaps As reporting demands have accelerated, field staff are responding to an
increasing number of requests from headquarters. Yet, field staff report that they feel they neither
understand the purpose of the information request, nor receive feedback on the outcomes of the
exercise. Since some of these requests often also engage external partners through requests for data
or additional information, this can erode partner relations.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "When we produce local reports for the government and
NGOs, we get good feedback. When we produce internal reports for headquarters, we do not get any
feedback. I often get similar requests from multiple branches in headquarters; I have no idea what they
are doing. Why are there so many branches making our lives difficult?"
40

When it comes to horizontal sharing of information, there appears to be entrenched turf and active
retention of information within organizational silos. Initiatives that in a more collaborative organization
would be the subject of broad discussion seem to be developed to advanced stages before horizontal
information sharing.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "The result of all of this is turfs – I have never seen [an]
organization guard information internal to its silo like I have seen here."
It appears as though the lack of information sharing can also stem from insufficient or ineffective
use of existing forums. For instance, in CRD there appear to be multiple forums for information sharing
including daily operational update calls, weekly strategic updates, weekly operations management
meetings, and news briefings. However, stakeholders report that regular calls do not have regular
attendance from other branches and divisions, and other divisions report that they are not informed of
CRD's activities.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "We have weekly operations management meetings. It is
hosted by CRD about the operations on the ground. We ask for suggestions for agenda and none are
given. We brief on what is happening to get views around the table, and that is not very active. In
some branches you get Section Chiefs level. In some other branches you never have participation, and
they want to have bi-laterals."
Finally, the lack of strong internal communication results in widespread complaints around a
general lack of transparency and communication discipline. Staff have expressed that decisions come
from above with no explanation – both from the management team and from different groups at
headquarters. Even the new EMC has not set up a regular cadence of communication, and there
appears to be a culture where even day-to-day management information flows are de-prioritized.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "There was a situation where there was a person destined to go
to one country for a training, and I said that I would like to send them to another because of a more
pressing need for their skills. I explained it to my head of office in the first country, and explained it to
the team in Geneva, and I thought I covered all the bases. The team in Geneva decided they would
proceed with sending that person to the first country. The fact that they did not feel they had to
communicate to me was a bit concerning"
Creating a management model in which information sharing is not only expected, but demanded,
and forums are actively used, would help to undermine current silos in information gathering and use.
Finding 2: Decisions made at the senior management level lack disciplined follow through
Senior managers do not consistently execute the current documented management model.
Collective discussions and apparent alignment during a formal meeting amongst senior managers does
not translate into cohesive or sustained action among the members of the leadership team. There is a
sense, for instance, that several initiatives antecedent to this one have presented similar conclusions,
which have been accepted by senior management without any consequential implementation of
recommendations. There is skepticism that this one will be any different. Without disciplined followthrough, management is not able to execute against a unified vision for the organization and key pain
points do not get addressed. Divergent views amongst senior leaders drives independent decisionmaking.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "OCHA has a culture of impunity where managers think 'I will
do whatever I want.' Five years ago, a Director said we would not do X and this was agreed upon in the
work plan, but now we're doing it anyway. There is a governance method but it isn't working because
directors don’t follow it. They do what they want because they are allowed to."
41

Similarly, the Functional Review team frequently heard examples of different OCHA branches
producing independent position papers on the same topic, leaving the resolution of perspectives to
happen at the USG level. A better codified system would not be sufficient given the limited
accountability in the current system – there needs to be a concerted effort to improve overall decisionmaking and to increase discipline in follow-through.
The treatment of the administration services provides an important example of the impact of lack of
discipline and follow through by senior management. This is presented as a case study at the end of
this chapter.
Finding 3: The leadership team does not work well together and perspectives on specific managers
have become an entrenched lens through which all actions are viewed
Finding 3.1: There is a lack of trust amongst the leadership team

Staff at all levels of the organization pointed to a lack of trust between senior leaders as a critical
pain point. The lack of trust among members of the leadership team materializes in a number of ways.
First, as mentioned earlier in this report, lack of trust prevents the open flow of information between
divisions. One internal stakeholder commented, "Information sharing is very ad hoc; there is no
requirement of what you share and when; it's up to me. No one wants to put something out there that
you don't want questioned or don't want others meddling in for a certain period of time. So there's no
real formal process there. This goes back to culture; there is no culture of trust that supports free
information sharing at OCHA."
Second, the lack of trust prevents true thought-partnership on critical organizational questions and
on openness to feedback.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "[The] trust issue is one of the key challenges preventing
leaders from collaborating vertically and horizontally and reducing the discipline amongst the leadership
team"
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "There is zero cross-functional communication. We work in
silos, which are our units. We are afraid to reach out to other parts of OCHA, as it may infuriate some
managers."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Working with other teams is extremely tedious because of
internal personal relationships, and unnecessary rivalries. We do not leverage the strengths of other
teams. Everyone wants to do everything themselves because that's the only way they trust."
A number of people have pointed out that the lack of trust has now become so entrenched that
people overlay presumed actions by players and their organizations based on the expected behavior
rather than reality, something that will be challenging as OCHA moves toward implementation of the
Functional Review recommendations.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "People have attributed to current leaderships actions that were
put in place by prior leadership simply because they conveniently fit the current view on that leader"
Finding 3.2: There is entrenched polarization across leadership and a sense that everything is a 'zerosum' game

A consensus view within OCHA and amongst external stakeholders is that OCHA's senior
management is personality-driven with entrenched and polarized positions on what OCHA should be
doing and on how it should interpret its mandate. Senior management is also often perceived to be
self-interested and to care primarily for professional advancement.

42

Quote from a partner: "There is profoundly dysfunctional senior management at OCHA with strong
personalities and egos. Other UN institutions also struggle with that, but have been able to manage it
more effectively."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "OCHA has several senior committees for making decisions,
but they are not all capable of making decisions, often because of the personalities in the room and the
culture they are driving where questioning is not accepted."
The senior team dynamics are frequently described by stakeholders inside and outside the
organization as rife with "kingdom building", "turf warfare" and "internecine battles." Loyalty is
frequently cited as the key to advancement in some divisions.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "The way the organization works is it's full of really smart,
resourceful and dedicated people who try to work together to solve problems. But on top of that, you
have a leadership structure that is overly concerned with their own power in the organization, with
expanding their own empires, with their own profiles and not concerned with supporting the people at
the organization to get the work done."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "I was told by one division head that if I supported him, he
would make sure I got family-friendly assignments."

IV.4. Solutions
Approach
There is a clear pathway to resolving many of the challenges indicated above. Systematically
addressing the management model entails codifying and embedding in practice the set of tools and
approaches that the leadership of an organization uses to make decisions promulgate them through the
organization, and to track and manage performance of them. Enacting a better management model is
less likely to stem from making structural changes (as mentioned, structural elements of the
management model at OCHA are in place, with the main committees and their corresponding
responsibilities – specifically the Terms of Reference, membership, and cadence – broadly in line with
what is commonly seen in committee structures of private and public sector enterprises), than from
adopting new systems of work. Indeed, without focus on the function of the system, nothing will
change. Further that function depends not just on the management system but on the discipline and
behaviors required to enact it successfully.
Recommendations are focused on addressing three primary problems:
 Lack of a codified management system that drives an agenda, with clear decision rights, and a
strong information sharing and transparency;
 Lack of disciplined follow-through on decisions; and
 Lack of collaboration between senior leaders.
To address the lack of codified management system, we propose that OCHA:
1. Develop a management system that drives a clear agenda for the organization as a whole,
and ensures that the proper topics are being discussed regularly for timely and relevant
decisions;
2. Clarify the committee configuration and membership;
3. Clarify decision rights, starting with senior leaders and key committees; and
4. Bring transparency to decisions and actions through standardized information sharing.
43

These recommendations will also help to address the lack of disciplined follow-through on decisions
and the lack of collaboration because clarity of decision rights and transparency in decision-making will
place a greater onus on leaders to follow through and collaborate. However, in order to explicitly
address lack of discipline and collaboration, we also recommend that OCHA:
5. Develop and enforce behavioral norms at the leadership level that tie together the mechanics
of a strong management model with disciplined follow-through and a cohesive culture.
For each solution, we considered the best-practice management model tools and approaches seen in
both public and private sector enterprises and recommend applying these to OCHA.
Recommendations attaining to the structure of the management model are relatively straightforward,
but effective changes in the function will require the full commitment of the leadership team. Improving
the function of OCHA's management model will require changes in behavior and shifts in culture.
These recommendations represent the start of a process rather than silver bullet solutions.
Recommendation 1: OCHA should develop a management system that drives a clear agenda for the
organization as a whole, and ensures that the proper topics are being discussed regularly for timely and
relevant decisions.
A robust management system defines the core areas for engagement of the management team and
the cadence and process by which management will address different areas and make different
decisions. A robust system defines the decisions to be made both within the year, and across multiyear strategy and planning cycles. A defined cadence for reviews and planning processes ensures that
decisions are made in a timely manner and addresses interdependencies, enabling continuous
improvement.
Our first recommendation is that OCHA link decisions regarding strategy, finance and budget,
people and talent, key initiatives, and operations into a cohesive management system that drives the
EMC/management agenda and allows for the appropriate checks and balances. This will require
improving some aspects of OCHA's strategy, finance and budget, people and talent management, key
initiatives, and operations. We address the key recommended changes to each of these in turn.
Strategy. This is a set of organization-level strategic decisions that ultimately set or change the
direction of work for the organization and its component parts. A best practice sequence includes an
annual strategic planning cycle. The annual process forecasts changes in external and internal
conditions influencing a change in organizational approach. Following the development of the entity
strategic plan, the annual planning process takes place to allow organizational units to develop their
work plans for the coming year. In many organizations, senior leaders will present these plans for
leadership debate and discussion and for USG-equivalent guidance.
OCHA creates a Strategic Plan and a Management Plan every 4 years. The Strategic Results
Framework and Management Results Frameworks are revised every 2 years, and work plans are
developed by each branch annually. To ensure that OCHA's strategy drives all decisions made
throughout the organization, OCHA should (a) review the timing of its strategic cycle, and (b) ensure
that its strategy has clear and actionable metrics that cascade to all branches of the organization.
OCHA should shorten the timing of the strategic cycle to be on an annual basis to ensure that
topics for collective engagement are discussed on a regular cadence. The organization can manage
how deep each of these reviews is, and may elect to only do a deep review on its current four year
cycle. However, questions around OCHA's role in cash programming should be able to be addressed
in a prompt manner and the current four-year cadence runs the risk that many substantive issues need
managed on an ad hoc basis versus through the strategy process.
OCHA should create strategic plans with clear metrics. At the moment, OCHA's strategic plan lists
objectives without identifying how to measure them. As a specific example, one of the strategic
objectives in the 2014-2017 Strategic Plan is "Humanitarian decision-making is based on a common
44

situational awareness." In order for this to be actionable, it should be unpacked into a set of metrics
that would indicate whether there was a common situational awareness and whether decision-making
was sufficiently based on that awareness. The strategic plan does define specific outcomes, but they
are not tied to metrics. For example, one of the outcomes that follows is "Ensure access to high-quality
and timely data and information." In order for this to be actionable, this should be further unpacked into
a set of metrics that indicates the quality of the data, and improved access to data can be further
unpacked into sufficient access to data, and the timeliness of the access.

Linked metrics
Decisions tied to
data
Decisions based
on common
situation data

Improved data quality
Improved
situational
awareness

Timeliness of data

Improved data access
More people access
data

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

In this example, the objective is accompanied by measurable indicators of progress or success:
timeliness of data can be tracked through metrics such as number of days to publish a situation report,
and access to data can be tracked through number of people accessing website, or number of
responders receiving report in field office. The strategic plan does not specify any particular metrics at
this level, and therefore it is difficult in the current state to measure whether the objectives in the plan
have been achieved.
Strategic plans should be written so that they neatly cascade to branch activities and metrics. At
OCHA, individual work plans for branches and sections specify more tangible actions tied to the
objectives, but are not always linked to metrics. For example, under the example objective and
outcomes described above, CRD has listed a series of outputs and deliverables that are tied to "when"
and "where". However, there is no quantifiable or measurable metric. Consequently, it is difficult to
track whether those activities led to an improved outcome based on the strategic objective. Other
actions in the CRD plan are more measurable – for example, work with IM working group to strengthen
existing IPOR process and help improve quality scores. This is an example of a metric that can be
measured to track whether strides have been made towards meeting the strategic objective (assuming
quality scores are a good indicator). It is not our recommendation to merely have more metrics, but
instead to have measurable metrics within the work plans that link to the overall strategic plan. This
would enforce greater alignment to the OCHA Strategic Plan.
Finance and Budget. This is a set of decisions directly corresponding to the strategic plan, which
indicate the expected and actual financial resources required or available to pursue organizational
goals. Generally, the budgeting process and development of annual cost plans use unit-level work
plans as a foundation on which to build out projected expenses and revenue targets. Consequently,
45

business units may be required to adjust their work plans depending on the outcome of the entity
budget process.
OCHA has an annual budget process whereby the annual cost plans are reviewed and approved
for the following years. However, the budget process is not linked to the strategic planning process, in
part due to the longer planning cycle of the strategic plan. A clear link must be made between strategic
objectives and the financial resources allocated to those objectives. An interconnected budget would
clearly tie a strategic objective to invest in a particular area to the strategic objective metrics, the
outcome of the investment, and a corresponding increase in financial resources dedicated to the
programmatic areas supporting the objective (the total investment required to meet the objective),
which would then allow for tracking and measuring impact of that strategic decision.
People and Talent. This is a set of decisions related to the capabilities, or human resources,
required to achieve the organization's strategy. In best practice examples, an annual talent planning
process follows budget approval for the coming year. This allows the organization to develop its
strategy for recruiting to fill vacancies, succession planning, and other critical people and talent issues
with a clear view of resource allocation across the organization. Best practice examples also include
quarterly people and talent reviews to address staffing and other relevant topics such as progress with
learning and development initiatives, and ongoing tracking of staff engagement and satisfaction. Best
practice also dictates that while the bulk of the work of this process will happen within each division, the
process has checks and balances from outside of the division to ensure people feel it is as data-driven
and unbiased as possible.
Currently, OCHA has no annual process of reviewing people and talent and ensuring that human
resources are clearly tied to the strategic plan. This topic is extensively covered in the People and
Staffing chapter of this report. UN regulations pose some challenges to people and talent decisions;
nevertheless we recommend that OCHA develops a people and talent review cycle to ensure that
people strategy remains a priority throughout the year. This would need to be configured carefully to
ensure that decision rights regarding people are well articulated and kept sufficiently close to the
managers with the greatest visibility into performance, while ensuring effective linkages to overall
organizational needs. The link to the strategic plan should be clearly tracked and measured to ensure
that people decisions support organizational strategic objectives.
Initiatives. This set of decisions focuses on initiatives related to the functions of the organization,
tied to the underlying strategic goals of the organization. Initiative planning generally occurs in two
phases. In the first phase, plans are created at the beginning of the year, linking branch activity to the
organization's strategic objectives. There is also a mid-year review ahead of the strategic review that
assesses progress across all areas, including strategic, operational, financial, key initiative, as well as
people and talent area. The results of this mid-year review would allow for adjustments in initiative
focus the second half of the year to close gaps, mitigate risks and adapt to changing conditions, and
would ultimately feed into the creation of the annual strategic plan.
We recommend that OCHA introduce a regular cadence for reviewing programmatic initiatives.
Currently, OCHA has no regular cadence for discussing major organizational initiatives, and those
initiatives are discussed on an ad hoc basis. Not every initiative can be forecasted but there will be a
need to introduce new initiatives to a standing agenda and a need to ensure that major initiatives for the
organization (e.g. WHS, IASC-related initiatives) are tracked and measured. A clear link to the
strategic plan is also required, and new programmatic initiatives should be evaluated relative to the
strategic plan and objectives of the organization to ensure that the initiative should be pursued.
Recognizing the reality of emergency response, flexibility should be built into the deadlines for the
achievement of OCHA milestones for major initiatives, but establishing and regularly reviewing a
specific set of measurable outcomes is critical in clarifying and socializing the agenda of the
organization and getting better alignment behind priorities.
In the implementation phase of the functional review, we recommend that OCHA create a clear
baseline that links the strategic framework to the activities of the organization and key areas of focus for
the next periods in a transparent way that allows straightforward assessment of whether tangible
46

outcomes have been achieved. This will involve assessing how to create an interlinked cascade
vertically through the organization, ensuring both that the detail required to execute against outcomes is
maintained at the right levels of the organization, and that it is simple to assess the top level outcome
by tracing its roots deeper in the organization. It is equally important to determine whether routine or
function-specific performance measures fit within this approach. As the foundation for a new
management system, it will be important to ensure that the reporting system is sufficiently simple to
keep a focus on proposed activities and outcomes without overweighting the organization with
bureaucracy.
Operations. This is a set of decisions related to the alignment of resources with the needs of the
OCHA organization on a continuous basis throughout the year. A best practice system for operations
management involves monthly operational reviews, which can be structured to include priority topics on
the standing agenda. Such topics generally involve updates on resourcing and initiative changes.
OCHA does not have a regular cadence of discussing the former day-to-day management topics, and
OCHA no longer has a mid-year review. OCHA does however have regular and ad hoc methods of
discussing updates and critical decisions for major emergencies, and particularly L3 emergencies.
We recommend ensuring that the operations topics regarding the day-to-day management of
OCHA are adequately and regularly discussed at the appropriate levels, even if just for information
sharing. Specifically, OCHA should share major updates related to OCHA's internal activities that
enable the organization to operate across all its divisions, branches and offices worldwide. We
recommend a monthly operating review with a set agenda that cycles through topics across all OCHA
functions, including updates from major emergency responses.
To illustrate, one topic that has arisen in our interviews is how long offices stay open and whether
there could be an opportunity to exit more quickly at times. We did not include the specifics of
addressing this question in the functional review but the question itself suggests this might be a topic
that should have a regular review cadence that people could point to as the governance mechanism for
this decision. We suspect that there are other similar questions that would benefit from the same
mechanism.
OCHA could consider bringing back the mid-cycle review if deeper 6-monthly reviews combined
with lighter monthly reviews seem more feasible. There is a critical link between operations updates
and the measurable strategic objectives. Regular check-ins allow for effective tracking and adjustment
over the year, re-allocation of resources as needed, and a clear view as to what adjustments are
required for the subsequent strategic review.
In addition, the reviews can rotate among other topics on a quarterly basis, such as progress on key
strategic and management indicators across OCHA. This is a key area where management of the
organization closely interacts with what the business does, and is an active way to ensure that the
decisions made in the prior year align with the needs of the business units. The balance between
information sharing versus decision-making in these reviews will be determined through the decision
rights framework. Even if updates are simply information sharing, together with the programmatic
review cycle, this recommendation would keep the organization abreast of changes within different
divisions.
Taken together, this set of recommendations would strengthen the fundamental components of
OCHA's management model and make the activities and resourcing of the organization closely linked
to its overall strategy. They would also make progress against strategic goals easy to measure and
communicate. A holistic view of the proposed management model can be found below.

47

Management system
Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

Strategy and indicators
developed annually across
Corporate, Region and
Country levels

A
Strategy

May

Jun

Jul

Strategic Results
Framework

Aug

Sep

Dec

Annual
budget
approval

C
People and
talent

Quarterly reviews to assess needs, surge capacity and
deployments, plan for recruitment and filling gaps

M1

M4

Propose adding annual
talent planning following
budget approval

M7

M10

D
Updates annual plan in
the event of significant
market changes

Initiatives

Annual
planning
process

Mid-year
review

Annual
talent
planning
process

Workplans developed at unit
level, aggregated at Section,
Branch and Division level

Monthly operations reviews reporting progress against
plan & forecast, with action plan to close gaps

Propose each review includes reporting on L3 crises,
with rotation across core functions ensuring each is
addressed at least once per quarter

M1

M7

Operations

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

Nov

Strategic plan
also developed
every 4 years

B
Finance
and budget

E

Oct

M2

M3

M4

M5

M6

Output from core planning process

M8

M9

M10

M11

M12

Review process

Recommendation 2: Clarify the committee configuration and membership.
Best practice committee configurations align with and support the management system.
Specifically, the set of decisions for collective managerial engagement covering Strategy, Finance and
Budget, People and Talent, Programmatic, and Operations are typically aligned to a committee
structure in order to discuss and ultimately decide on a direction across the topics.
Across private and public sector enterprises, committee structures are set up to support decisionmaking across the key topic areas for the leaders of the organizations and are often centered on an
Executive Committee (EC). The EC is the primary decision-making body for the organization, and will
delegate decisions to other committees or directly to managers of organizational units as necessary.
Other committees will either be sub-sets of the EC, or led by key members of the EC and focused on
specific sub-topics. Across the benchmark organizations, the typical size of an EC is 10-12 members,
with a few having an EC as small as 3 members and a few with membership larger than 15. A review
of benchmark23 governance structures shows that in addition to the EC, the most common committees
(present in more than half of the benchmark organizations), include audit, investment (or fundraising),
finance and budget, and human resources (which includes people, benefits and compensation). In
addition, sub-committees – including Operations and IT – are typically present.
In benchmark examples, the makeup of the committees overlaps with the direct reports of the CEO
or equivalent leader, but the overlap is dependent on context and the organizational structure of the
enterprise. In the BCG benchmark sample, ~50% had EC membership that was equal to or a subset of
the direct reports to the leader, and ~50% had a membership that included representatives in other
parts of the organization.
The membership of the EC in terms of representation similarly depended on the context of the
organization, though some common elements exist. The large majority of benchmark enterprises
23

BCG proprietary benchmark data for private and public enterprises, which includes 23 private sector
organizations and 21 public sector organizations

48

included representatives for the operations of the organization, specifically a senior leader representing
finances, human resources, IT, risk/compliance. Other commonly included representation includes
Strategy, and Strategic Communications. In addition to that, there are senior leaders that represent the
programmatic elements of the organization, which are structured similarly to how the organization runs
its business. Some organizations structure by regions, or programmatic function, or some combination
of both. Organizations involved in emergency response, such as World Vision, have a committee that
is focused on crises.
We have three primary recommendations designed to bring OCHA in line with best practice.
First, OCHA should evaluate the role of the newly formed EMC in reference to the SMT. There is
currently a large degree of overlap in the stated purpose and membership of the EMC and the SMT,
causing confusion in the organization as to the function and decision-making authority of each
committee.
Second, We support the emphasis on collective responsibility that the EMC has had, but OCHA
should ensure that the EMC has the appropriate representation. An option we would support is to
represent the Core Functions in OCHA of policy, advocacy, coordination, IM and HF on the EMC, and
include ASB to represent HR and Finance (a very common benchmark practice). Such a functional
view is very common in benchmarks even though it will, as in OCHA, sometimes not proportionately
balance representation with the size of different functions in the organization.
Currently, HF as a function is represented solely through the Director of CPD, and the Geneva
Office is represented. OCHA should evaluate the merits of identifying a representative for
Humanitarian Financing as a function in the EMC or continuing to have representation through the
Director of CPD. Representation of Geneva as a geographic entity would not be consistent with our
proposed organizational models or this functional view. Any decision about representation on the EMC
must recognize the trade-off between expanding to include diverse perspectives and remaining small to
maximize the effectiveness of the committee’s decision-making.
We did consider having more field representation on the EMC, but instead recommend an
Operations Committee to ensure stronger representation of the field and other voices in OCHA's
management structures and address internal operational challenges that OCHA has faced in a
concerted way. This Operations Committee would be focused on internal operations of OCHA (e.g.,
organizational, core function, corporate support) chaired by the ASG overlooking program and support
functions (which is the case in most of our organizational options). We would propose that this acts as
the governance committee for service across OCHA. It would include all Geographic Section Chiefs of
CRD, and leaders of ESB, PSB, PRMB, IM, HF, ASB, and select invitees for specific topics. These
select invitees could include representatives for HR and Finance. The logic for this committee is to
ensure effective service delivery across the organization, from support functions to the field or the rest
of the organization. For example, a topic of discussion could be how to strengthen the partnership
strategy in delivery of the organization in IM. It would create a managerial structure which could
oversee implementation of the results of several of the efficiency and effectiveness work steams and a
forum in which to work on stronger cross-branch linkages between the field and central functions.
This delegation of responsibility to the Operations Committee further brings into consideration the
role of the SMT. Given the Operations Committee membership has overlap with the SMT, one option is
to create mechanisms for information sharing from EMC to the Operations Committee, which could
substitute for the SMT.
Third, we recommend an overhaul of OCHA's management approach to People & Talent. There is
currently no committee that has sufficient breadth to address all relevant areas in people and staffing.
The current Learning and Knowledge Management Board addresses only part of the scope that a
human resources committee typically addresses, and is not sufficient to fill the needs of the
organization. To fill this gap, we recommend creating a time-bound People & Talent Implementation
Team. The Implementation Team would be responsible for further evaluating the key issues and
challenges that OCHA is facing and support the implementation of these recommendations. At the end
49

of the 6 month horizon, this team would be asked to make a recommendation regarding a long term
solution for OCHA, including the potential need for a Human Resources Committee. OCHA could also
consider adding a permanent representative to the EMC representing Human Resources in order to
enable better People and Talent processes, although this would have to be evaluated against the size
of the EMC and other considerations.
We would reiterate the need for adequate support to these committees. Internal communications
is one layer, but it may require operational support as well.
Recommendation 3: Clarify decision rights for each committee, branch, and organizational level
It is critical to articulate decision rights so that it is clear which decisions are made by whom and
how decisions will be made. The management model is generally predicated on decision-making
authority being delegated to line managers closest to the actual delivery and on aligning the decisions
with the accountability of the role. The articulation of decision rights not only creates clarity between
the branches of an organization. It also clarifies when a decision can and should be delegated or
elevated to another level of the organization.
We focus this discussion on decision rights of committees. Beginning with the EMC, we
recommend that decisions meeting the following criteria be brought for EMC consideration:
1. Strategic importance: The issue is related to a strategic initiative such as a tradeoff, prioritization
or choice that positions OCHA to fulfill its mandate, or the question influences achievement of
divisional strategy
2. Cross-divisional: The topic affects more than one division
3. Escalated issues: The issues are escalated cross-divisional issues that haven't been resolved
lower in the organization.24
4. Need for USG engagement: The topic needs political or administrative support, or the initiative
is unpopular but necessary
5. Cannot be resolved within the current management model: The decision has no clear decisionmaking algorithm, the chain of agreement required is too complex, there is lack of authority with
required competence to make a decision, , or the USG is the single point of decision and
desires input from senior leaders.
OCHA should continue the progress it has made in clarifying the decision rights of the EMC and,
with the same rigor, clarify the authority and responsibilities of other high-level committees.
Through the Functional Review process, the EMC initiated a discussion about decision rights in the
five areas for collective managerial engagement set out in the diagram below (Strategy, Finance and
Budgeting, People and Talent, Initiatives, and Operations).25 The diagram below highlights illustrative
examples of the types of decisions proposed for collective decision-making at the EMC level.

24

Note organizations generally create rules around what need to happen before escalation to encourage
resolution further down the organization.
25

Through this process, several specific decisions were identified in each area which have been
particularly challenging at OCHA. For these decisions, we recommend that the EMC discuss the topics
as a group to provide input and guidance.
50

Five key areas proposed for collective decision making
Illustrative
A

B

Strategy
 Approve strategic plans and
workplans
 Launch new donor-supported
initiatives beyond current plans
 Re-structure organization (e.g.,
creation/closure/merger/renaming of
new branch, section, unit or office)

D

Finance and budgeting
 Approve annual division budget and
cost plans
 Allocate resources to optimize
programming
 Approve spending down cash reserve
below minimum threshold
 Approve substantial shift in assets
across divisions / branches
 Revise extra-budgetary cost plans
based on new contributions/crises
 Recommend approval of preapproved cost plan for L3 crises

Initiatives
 Evaluate current programme success
 Approve high-level advocacy and
policy strategy for L2/L3 crises
 Approve plan for high-profile initiatives
(e.g., WHS, Security Council- or
IASC-related)

E

C

People and Talent
 Set talent management strategy
 Provide input to USG on senior
selections when asked, e.g. D1 and
HoO
 Approve surge policy, e.g., type of
appointment to use – temporary vs.
fixed term vs. other, etc.
 Affirm talent committee decisions

Operations
 Approve major IT initiatives
 Mitigate risks with key partners
 Decide corporate approach to UNwide initiatives (e.g., mobility, UMOJA)

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

Within the context of the UN and other regulatory bodies, there are some limits to OCHA's control
over decisions. However, this is not unique to OCHA. There are often governance bodies that
supersede the decision-making authority of an Executive Committee. The complexities of the UN
system render it particularly critical to ensure that the EMC's decision rights are clear.
Once the set of decisions across each major category has been set, the decision criteria and
process for decision-making must be developed. It is critical to formalize which sets of inputs will be
provided, what the appropriate level of discussion is, and ultimately where and how the decision will be
made.
A set of eight principles can be used to guide decision-making for the EMC in particular. The first
three principles relate to the general approach for the EMC and the next five principles concern
delegation of authority and the approach to communication:
1. EMC will define decision path in advance for each initiative or decision;
2. Major decisions will have widespread support and collective accountability, but the USG will
have ultimate authority;
3. EMC members will respect and support decisions once they have been made;
4. Pre-work may be requested on specific topics to enable a robust and informed decision-making
process;
5. Initiatives or decisions will be delegated when EMC members deem it necessary and useful;
6. Every EMC member will have the right to provide input;
7. Every committee lead will inform their committee of EMC views; and
8. Initiatives or decisions will be presented to EMC before sharing a decision externally.
We recommend that OCHA develop a similar set of principles for decision-making at all levels of
the organization.
Recommendation 4: Bring transparency and disciplined follow-through to decisions and actions
through standardized information sharing

51

Information sharing provides organization-wide visibility to decisions that have been made and the
outcomes of those decisions. It can focus attention on identifying and scaling practices that are
working well and on reforming practices that are not.
Most organizations have mechanisms for communicating decisions and committee deliberations
and new organizational positions on key topics. Most organizations also communicate progress toward
outcomes of key initiatives, programs and operational moves. There is typically an internal
communication function that manages such communication. Benchmark organizations have different
structures for internal communications: combined with external communications or less commonly
separated into different organizational units. Regardless of structure, internal communications is
always present.26 We recommend that OCHA invest in greater communications capabilities to improve
the flow of information throughout the organization. OCHA should codify a standard format for
conducting meetings, taking minutes, and circulating them to the relevant parts of the organization.
This is particularly important where divergent views have been expressed. OCHA should also create
expectations around the number and content of staff announcements and the use of written memos.
Creating processes for capturing key decisions without adding bureaucracy will help to improve
transparency and follow through.
OCHA should begin by improving communication from the EMC to the broader organization.
Throughout our consultation, concerns were expressed that the EMC does not sufficiently communicate
its proceedings or share outcomes. It was encouraging to see that the EMC has already begun to
tackle several of the challenges in the management model, including introducing some level of clarity to
decision rights. It is important to share these reforms with the rest of OCHA to build confidence in the
strengthened management model.
We also recommend that OCHA consider whether or not it wants to share specific metrics or other
through an organizational dashboard. In an analysis of seven global organizations,27 information
commonly shared in this way was identified in four areas:



Financial viability: Includes budget and funding variances, fundraising ROI, and cost per
beneficiary;
Staff health: Includes staff retention / regrettable attrition, staff engagement, and staff
satisfaction;
Participant engagement: Includes attendance or participation at events; and
Participant impact: Includes mindset changes in line with mission.

Given the nature of OCHA's activities, this will be harder than for more programmatic organizations,
but some are still relevant (e.g. organizational health).
To truly drive performance it is necessary to not only share information about decisions and facts
but also to monitor and publicize progress on work streams and initiatives. OCHA should institute
strong follow-up mechanisms that track progress on the implementation of decisions and initiatives in
order to underline accountability. This could occur in a number of ways, including by revisiting
decisions made in a prior meeting at the beginning of the next one, by appointing a person or group to
be responsible for setting and monitoring progress against milestones, and by holding individuals
accountable for not following through on decisions in order to create personal incentives that are
aligned with organizational interests.

26

BCG proprietary benchmark organizational structures for private and public sector enterprises indicate that
internal communications is considered an HR function, but often is performed within other units. There is
consistently a HQ-level internal communication function, with additional staff within other organizational units.
27
Benchmark organizations include WFP, Save the Children, SOS Children's Villages, Girl Scouts, Yunus
Social Business, The Sutton Trust, and the Education Endowment Foundation

52

To improve informal information sharing, we recommend that each function be measured on their
collaboration with other branches. Taskforces and OUSG-led projects should be staffed thoughtfully to
improve relationship-building across the organization and the cross-fertilization of ideas between
branches.
Recommendation 5: Develop and enforce behavioral norms at the leadership level that tie together
the mechanics of a strong management model with disciplined follow through and a cohesive culture
The final element required to support a strong management model is a set of cohesive behavioral
norms modeled at the senior leadership level. Based on best practice, there are five behaviors that
contribute to trust, collaboration and open communication and can form the foundation of senior
leadership norms:




Integrity: Being honest, truthful and fair;
Competence: Having relevant knowledge and skills;
Reliability: Delivering on commitments;
Solidarity: Being willing to stand up for and support others, and presenting a united front; and
Openness: Sharing knowledge, ideas and information freely with others.

Based on these foundational behaviors and given the challenges identified at OCHA today, we
recommend six behavioral norms as a starting point for OCHA's senior management teams to adopt:





Present a united front: Decisions are made collectively and supported with a unified message
from senior leadership;
Disseminate information: Senior managers commit to ensuring relevant information is shared
with all staff so that colleagues are informed about key initiatives across OCHA;
Keep EMC colleagues informed: Senior leaders are informed and can speak knowledgeably
about new and evolving initiatives across OCHA;
Practice constructive honesty: Colleagues support one another as team players, encouraging
expression of divergent views without risk of attack;
Follow through on your commitments: All colleagues establish actionable and transparent
metrics for their areas and commitments, reliably execute against them, and share progress
transparently; and
Be a role model: All colleagues act as a role model for OCHA's values of integrity, competence,
reliability, solidarity and openness.

We recommend that OCHA take these as a starting point but develop an internal set of behavioral
norms, starting with the EMC. We recommend that the senior management collaboratively craft a set
of norms that everyone can agree to live by and promote throughout the organization. A critical role of
the USG will be to enforce the norms, thereby setting the tone at the very top of the organization.
Modeling clear values at the top level of OCHA's leadership will set the example to drive cultural
change throughout the entire organization. Given the points raised during our consultations about the
embedded perceptions about specific leaders, a public acknowledgement that OCHA is undergoing a
concerted effort to change behavioral norms will be required. As we will discuss in the culture section,
we recommend following up on implementation of these changes by re-taking the organizational survey
conducted as part of the Functional Review which will give a strong readout on whether or not the
management model is shifting.

Case study: Administrative Services
Administrative services were frequently highlighted as an area of weakness that needs to be
addressed. Indeed, when asked how satisfied people were with administrative services, 47% were
dissatisfied or strongly dissatisfied. While concern over weak service is not restricted to administrative
services, it serves as a useful case study for how the weak management model impacts OCHA's ability
53

to improve efficiency and effectiveness. The administrative challenges have persisted even though
many prior reviews have pointed to the same issues.
Administrative service issues were described at three levels:
1. Within administrative services: e.g. gaps in basic HR and financial data, absence of service
orientation;
2. At the OCHA management level: e.g. lack of a staffing and talent strategy (described in the
People and Staffing chapter); and
3. Between OCHA and external areas: e.g. challenges from the field implementation of Secretariat
programs such as Umoja.
These issues are difficult to tackle because they are often inter-related which makes them both
trickier to solve and extremely divisive as one group blames another for failure. It is exactly this type of
problem we would like to see addressed by improvements to the management model. It should be
possible to group problems into each of these three areas and systematically address them. We
recommend that implementation of the Functional Review does exactly that through two work streams:
one that addresses improving administrative support services in the field and one that addresses
staffing and related strategy.
Of particular importance is resolving issues with Umoja implementation. There are clearly important
benefits to the visibility Umoja can bring but the rollout has been extraordinarily painful in the field. It is
critical that a clear path to resolving issues is laid out. It requires a thorough assessment of whether it
is feasible, at least on an interim basis, to more widely use service options from other UN (or
potentially, non-UN) organizations such as UNOPS, WFP, UNICEF or UNDP which are tailored to field
reality. This assessment should differentiate between different Umoja modules, for example, the travel
components of the system seem to have particular issues relative to HR or Finance. If these alternative
options are not feasible or attractive, short term administrative support for staff while Umoja irons out its
implementation difficulties should be considered.
Given the administrative challenges, a number of interviewees raised the obvious hypothesis that
their HR and Finance colleagues were under-resourced. BCG benchmarks28 for support functions
indicate that, if anything, ASB appears to have more resources than equivalent units, so the underlying
issue is likely not lack of resources. Indeed, the median size of Finance across the benchmark
comparison set is 86 staff compared to OCHA's 109, which is split across field and headquarters - with
81 and 28 respectively. Similarly, the median size of the HR function across the benchmark
comparison set is 44 staff compared to OCHA's 52, which is split across field and headquarters with 14
and 38, respectively. This does not include Secretariat resources in headquarters that provide
additional services which are typically included in the benchmark figures. While it may be possible to
argue that the benchmarks are not perfect comparators for the unique UN situation, given that we do
not see some basic Finance and HR functions being routinely performed for OCHA which are
performed by the benchmark organizations29 (e.g. there is a lack of easily accessible financial and
organizational tracking information), the simplest conclusion to draw is that OCHA's HR and Finance
organizations do less than the benchmark organizations with more resources.
Staff commentary on issues within administrative services was heated and widespread, we include
representative quotes below. Out of the 1,075 respondents who provided comments, 105 comments
specifically discussed administrative services or ASB when asked: "Overall, what would you most like
to see changed for OCHA to be fit for purpose?"
28

BCG Executive Support Functions benchmark data across 13 public sector organizations.
Benchmark HR functions include HR Strategy & Planning, Resourcing/recruiting, Learning & Development,
Performance & Career Management, Compensation & Benefits, HR Administrative Services. Benchmark Finance
functions include: Planning/Budgeting, Monitoring & Reporting, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Fixed
Asset Accounting, Cost Accounting, Regulatory Reporting, Risk Management, Corporate Financing, Audit, Tax
and Insurance.
29

54

Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Get HR and admin working properly allowing programme staff
to focus on substance."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Processes (especially administrative & HR & other supporting)
to be significantly shortened and made much more transparent."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Field needs admin staff that understand the difficulties of Field
life - I have often the impression that process is more important than staff welfare."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Admin/HR [needs]: Effective, trained, quality professionals who
care about field staff, are immediately responsive to our needs, and remedy challenges (of which there
are many) as quickly as possible - with shared timelines and commitment to deliverables and
transparency."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "I would like to emphasize the importance and values of our
dedicated staff that do their best in often very difficult circumstances, even risking their lives, and
working around the clock. Many times staff members do this without even having insurance coverage
or being paid their salaries due to administrative hiccups. The dedication of staff stems from OCHA's
mandate and is despite the often lacking administrative support to facilitate not only benefits and
entitlements but even the reimbursement of work related costs paid out of their pockets such as travel
costs."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "Since I joined the organization I have been having many
issues with the HR in Geneva to give clarifications and process my entitlements. A good example is
the pending payment that I still have. My TA was recorded on UMOJA by HR colleagues locally,
however, it was not correctly recorded, and sadly, only one person can unlock the system to amend the
incorrect details. The HR team in locally, myself and other support staff in Geneva have been sending
emails to unlock the system and amend the itinerary details so I can submit my Expenses Report and
will get my entitlement with no response, and the case remains outstanding."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "My group has been trying to push through reimbursements for
several of its staff through ASB. Many of them have not been processed for over a year. One of the
longest-standing is a claim that I put through in 2014. Every month I received an email notifying me
that I would be paid in one month. This went on for over a year and still continues. I have on several
occasions considered abandoning the claim altogether. Never once did I receive an explanation or an
apology. I have never encountered such deep levels of incompetence and dysfunction in my
professional career. How can an organization EVER claim to be fit for purpose when it accepts and
allows such dysfunction? It is truly embarrassing. I believe that team and the process need to be
overhauled - seriously, it's unacceptable."
One of the core frustrations is that these issues have been raised repeatedly by the staff in the past.
Yet, for many years the management team has not held CPD and ASB sufficiently accountable for
those elements under their control, or addressed issues beyond ASB's control but influencing ASB's
poor performance. Clearly there are two sides to this story. On the CPD/ASB side, they would point to
the need for a protracted process to integrate a cumbersome parallel New York and Geneva Finance
and HR administration which has only just neared its end. They would also argue that lack of
fundamental inputs from management on topics, such as the staffing model, create profound knock-on
issues for ASB. More details on this are described in the chapter on People and Staffing. ASB would
also argue that while Umoja implementation has been painful, they already see the tremendous
potential for more transparency that will bring both individual and institutional benefits once
implementation hurdles are addressed and make service challenges much more visible and traceable.
We highlighted this case study both because the administrative issues need to be addressed and
also because the failure to tackle these issues and to have a strong plan in place is exactly what we are
highlighting as needing addressed in management model implementation
Recommendation: Launch a taskforce to investigate administrative systems and service issues,
evaluate options, and propose tactical solutions
55

We recommend that a taskforce be established to investigate OCHA's administrative services. We
would propose initially focusing on field services. The taskforce should begin with the highest priority:
improving service to the field. It should then consider longer-term questions about establishing a best
in class model for administrative services. Specifically, the taskforce should:
 Understand best practices in administrative services delivery;
 Articulate where ASB is currently under-, at-, over-expectations;
 Map, understand, and diagnose weaknesses in current business processes across all
areas, including Finance, HR, and travel
 Articulate pathways to create flexibility within Secretariat system, given 'emergency' nature of
business;
 Test feasibility of and then develop alternative models for delivering high quality admin services,
including:
 outsourcing function to another UN entity;
 outsourcing function to a private provider; and
 investing in improved capabilities and resourcing within OCHA
 Collect stakeholder input on the future of ASB; and
 Develop a set of recommendations for the USG to enable action.
In addition, given the challenges with Umoja implementation, it is very important to understand the
plan for improving the various modules of Umoja over time, assess whether or not these improvements
will address the fundamental field needs and what the interim plan is to help support staff as issues are
resolved. Alternatively, if outsourcing is not feasible, support for staff in using the system might be an
option.
We recommend a cross-functional taskforce with representatives across staff and branches. The
success of the taskforce should be measured with specific metrics, including:
 % of services delivered on time;
 % of customers highly satisfied; and
 Cost reduction (as appropriate).
We understand that a number of efforts are underway within ASB to improve the situation at hand.
Specifically, there appears to be more data transparency available in both HR and Finance, and the
backlog of entitlements is being addressed. Additionally, ASB is also developing some orientation
packages for ASB staff which aims to improve client service and communication. These efforts should
continue and be rolled into the overall taskforce that addresses administrative services.
While the above efforts address the issues within administrative services, the issues that need to be
tackled at OCHA management level and issues between OCHA administration and Secretariat will
similarly need to be addressed through the taskforce or in the related People and Staffing work steam.
Critically important and related to management model, the senior leadership must establish ways in
which to address the cross-organizational issues as a team. The work stream should also be crossfunctional.

56

V. Organizational Design
V.1. Context
In this chapter, our focus is on understanding which parts of the organization should live together,
how those parts should be connected to one another by way of reporting lines, and where roles should
fall within the organizational hierarchy. An organizational structure will function effectively when the
people filling key roles establish and adhere to a management model that allows for clarity,
collaboration, action, and accountability. While our diagnostic in this chapter focuses on structural
challenges, across almost all of these, the weakness of OCHA's management model exacerbates
structural shortcomings. There are always inherent trade-offs in an organizational structure and the
management of the organization needs to buffer these trade-offs. At OCHA the lack of management
cohesiveness removes that buffering function and so organizational tensions rein unchecked.
The Functional Review team received data from ASB on current staff data from February 2016.
This included data from Umoja on international staff that are based in both headquarters and the field
as well as data from UNDP on national staff that are based in the field. It should be noted that we were
not able to obtain reliable organizational structure and up-to-date reporting line information, or current
organizational charts at the staff level for each of the field offices since there is no single source of such
data. The data was validated with members of the SPEGS team but was not validated in detail with
each of the sections. Although we are confident that the data analysis and insights are largely right,
there may be some details that may not be fully accurate or current.
While it is understandable that staff moves would make it difficult to have 100% accuracy at any
given time, it is unusual for accurate staff data for the entire organization not to be available easily from
administration services and points to challenges both within that area and in its relations with the other
functions that would supply the information. This gap should be tackled as part of examining the ASB
function in implementation.

V.2. Current state
OCHA's organizational structure was evaluated using the available current and historic data on size
and the structure across headquarters and the field. We conducted analysis to allocate the current
organizational structure into Core Functions or Administrative Functions based on interviews and
consultations. Additionally we relied on an activity survey that tested issues, including the
fragmentation of functional work across branches and lack of functional connections from headquarters
to field.
The 2016 OCHA organizational structure in the figure below shows the branches and sections/units
within each division:

57

20160517_Final Report Figures v01.pptx

As depicted above, the current-state organizational structure as of February 2016 consists of the
Office of the Under-Secretary-General (OUSG), two divisions and the Geneva Office (for the purposes
of simplicity in this report, we will refer to the Geneva Office as a division). Within the three divisions
and OUSG, staff is spread across two headquarter locations in New York and Geneva, 28 country
offices (COs), 9 regional offices (ROs), three liaison offices (LOs) and 17 Humanitarian Advisor Teams
(HATs). The total staff is split among the Coordination group with 1650 (77%), of whom 92 are in
headquarters (the Coordination Response Division), the Corporate Programme Division with 271
(13%), the Geneva Office with 160 (8%), and the OUSG with 39 (2%).30 Geographically, staff is spread
over New York with ~286 staff, Geneva with ~257, and in field offices (the rest of the organization).31
The New York headquarters location is critical for OCHA because of its location in the Secretariat
and proximity to the Security Council, a proximity which allows it to support OCHA’s global role in the
humanitarian ecosystem more effectively. The USG is part of the SG's Senior Management Group,
whose objective is to ensure strategic coherence and direction in the work of the UN, the USG also has
a role as the Senior Advisor to the SG on Humanitarian Affairs. To play this critical role, the USG
requires a strong team to support rapid response. Advocacy is a critical element of OCHA's work and
proximity to the Security Council and SG allows for close access and ability to stay informed.

30

There are an additional 10 staff identified as UNMMS which are not included in the above count.
Additionally, the USG position is not included in the OUSG.
31
There may be additional staff not accounted for in the OCHA staffing data beyond the data available
through Umoja on international staff and UNDP for national staff, for example, staff on secondment.

58

The Geneva headquarters location is also important and allows for close access to the ODSG and
member state perspectives. Many of the partners with whom OCHA works also have a strong Geneva
presence. The location helps build and reinforce global partnerships.
OCHA has a large proportion of its staff in the field in order to respond to crises or perform
preparedness or partnership work. Typically between 30-50% of the field staff are located in front-line
sub-country offices, allowing for a closer understanding of the situation on the ground.
There are moderate differences in the type of staff found across OCHA divisions. The table below
indicates the distribution of position types across the organization. Note that OCHA staff size data for
2016 is based on current HR databases aggregated across Umoja and UNDP and only include filled
posts. There are currently vacant posts filled beyond this below table, with some specifics noted.

Level (Grade)
ASG33
D2
D1
P4 -P5
P2-P3
NOA-NOD
G1-G7
GP
SB1-SB5
Total
Gender balance

Category
International
International
International
International
International
National officer
Local
Non-staff
Non-staff
% Female

CPD

CRD32

GVAO

1
5
76
92
0
97
0
0
271
54%

1
12
204
274
383
612
39
125
1650
33%

034
2
59
52
2
45
0
0
160
54%

OUSG
1
0
0
18
10
0
10
0
0
39
67%

Total
1
2
19
357
428
385
764
39
125
212035

% Female
100%
50%
32%
41%
48%
29%
35%
49%
50%
38%

Below there are detailed breakdowns of current staff in headquarters and the field, grouped across
Core and Administrative Functions. We conducted an analysis to allocate the current organizational
structure into Core Functions or Administrative Functions based on interviews and consultations, as
well as descriptions of staff positions. The methodology we used to attribute the staff to the Core
Functions and the Administrative Functions was based on interviews with section leaders and internal
consultations with members of the SPEGS.
Headquarters
Headquarters is generally separated across the three main divisions in OCHA, as well as the
OUSG. A description of the branches and sections/units follows by division.
Within Corporate Programmes Division (CPD), the main sections are the Administrative Services
Branch (ASB), Strategic Communications Branch (SCB), Information Services Branch (ISB), Policy
Development and Studies Branch (PDSB), CERF Secretariat, Funding Coordination Section (FCS),
and World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat (WHSS). WHS occurred in May and WHSS will no longer
exist as a permanent section. Staff from WHSS will likely be reassigned to other sections. Across the
32

Includes both headquarters and the field
Rashid Khalikov of the Russian Federation was appointed as Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian
Partnerships with the Middle East and Central Asia, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) Geneva on 27 November 2015. He has limited engagement in the management of OCHA, and is
not included in the organizational data.
34
D2 post currently vacant.
35
Total staff size is 2131.There are an additional 10 staff identified as UNMMS which are not included in the
above count. Additionally, the USG position is not included in the OUSG.
33

59

seven branches, CPD covers activities across four of the five Core Functions and Administrative
Function.
The Geneva office has three main branches, which are primarily involved in providing support to the
field and developing and maintaining partnerships. The branches are the Emergency Services Branch
(ESB), Partnership and Resource Mobilization Branch (PRMB), and Programme Support Branch
(PSB).
The Coordination and Response Division (CRD) represents the coordination function's
headquarters presence which is directly involved in supporting the field activities as well as global
coordination activities. Global activities include the Emergency Directors Group (EDG) Secretariat and
the Senior Transformative Agenda Implementation Team (STAIT).36 Field support includes the
Humanitarian Leadership Strengthening Unit (HLSU), Humanitarian Coordinators Support Unit (HCSU)
and Thematic and Technical Advisers.
Within the Office of the Director, CRD also houses a regional structure of support through its
geographic Section Chiefs. There are five geographic Section Chiefs for the main regions of Africa I,
Africa II, Asia Pacific, CAPALAC, and MENA. This structure supports close ties between the field
offices and CRD headquarters, both to provide a channel of communication, and to provide support as
needed to the field offices.
An organigram with a color-coded allocation analysis of divisions, branches, sections/units as
available in February 2016 follows below. The colors represent the Core Functions as discussed in
Section III.

Current State
KEY
CORE:
Field coordination
Policy
Advocacy
IM
HF

SUPPORT:
Finance
HR
IT
Communications
Donor relations

Under-Secretary-General
Logistics
Risk management
Strategic planning /
General management

Office of the Under-Secretary General (OUSG)
 Front office
 Office of the Assistant Secretary-General (OASG)
– Strategic Planning, Evaluation and Guidance Section (SPEGS)
– IASC / ECHA Secretariat

Corporate Programmes Division
(CPD)
Office of the Director

Strategic Communications Branch (SCB)
 Media Relations Section (MRS)
 Public Advocacy and Campaigns Section
(PACS)
 Reporting and Visual Information Section
(RVIS)
Administrative Services Branch (ASB)
 Finance Section
 Human Resources Section
 UMOJA / Corporate Support Unit
 Operations Support Unit
Funding Coordination Section (FCS)
World Humanitarian Summit Secretariat
(WHSS)

Geneva Office

Information Services Branch (ISB)




Corporate Info Services Section (CIS)
Global Info Services Section (GIS)
Field Info Services Section (FIS)
Data Services Section

Policy Development and Studies Branch
(PDSB)
 Inter-Governmental Policy Section (IGPS)
 Policy Advice and Planning Section (PAPS)
 Policy Analysis and Innovation Section
(PAIS)
CERF Secretariat
 Programme Section (PS)
 Resource Mobilization and Communications
Section (RMCS)
 Performance Monitoring and Policy Section
(PMPS)
 Finance and Administration Section (FAS)

Field offices are all under CRD but cover
advocacy, IM, and HF. roles

Programme Support Branch (PSB)
 Planning and Monitoring Section (PAMS)
 Coordinated Assessment Support Section
(CASS)
 Inter-Cluster Coordination Section (ICCS)
 HPC Information Services Unit
Emergency Services Branch (ESB)
 Civil-Military Coordination Section (CMCS)
 Emergency Preparedness and Environment
Section (EPES)
 Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS)
 Surge Capacity Section (SCS)
 Activation and Coordination Support Unit
(ACSU)

Coordination and Response
Division (CRD)





Office of the Director
Partnerships and Resource Mobilization
Branch (PRMB)
 Donor Relations Section (DRS)
 Partnerships Coordination Section (PCS)
 Private Sector Section (PSS)
 External Relations and Partnerships Section
(ERPS)
 Resource Mobilization Support Section
(RMSS)
Liaison Offices
 African Union Liaison Office (AULO)
 Brussels Liaison Office (BLO)
 Gulf Liaison Office (GLO)

Office of the Director
Humanitarian Leadership Strengthening Unit (HLSU)
Humanitarian Coordinators Support Unit (HCSU)
Thematic and Technical Advisors
CRD Geneva

 Emergency Directors Group (EDG Secretariat)
 Senior Transformative Agenda Implementation Team (STAIT)
Central Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Latin America &
the Caribbean (CAPALAC)
 Regional Office for the Caucasus and Central Asia (ROCCA)
 Regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC)
 Afghanistan
 Colombia
 Haiti
 Pakistan
 Ukraine

Middle East and North Africa (MENA)
 Regional Office for the Middle East
and North Africa (ROMENA)
 Regional Office for the Syria Crisis
 Iraq
 Jordan
 Lebanon
 Occupied Palestinian territory
 Syria
 Turkey
 Yemen

Africa I
 Regional Office for
Southern and Eastern Africa
(ROSEA)
 Burundi
 Eritrea
 Ethiopia
 Somalia
 South Sudan
 Sudan

Africa II
 Regional Office for West and
Central Africa (ROWCA)
 Central African Republic
 Chad
 Côte d'Ivoire
 Democratic Republic of the
Congo
 Mali
 Niger
 Nigeria

Asia and the Pacific (AP)
 Regional Office for Asia and
the Pacific (ROAP)
 Regional Office for the Pacific
(ROP)
 Myanmar
 Philippines

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

To see a detailed breakdown analysis of how sections and units map to Core and Administrative
Functions for headquarters, see the tables below. Core Functions refer to policy, advocacy, response
coordination, information management and humanitarian financing. Administrative and other staff
refers to non-core function work, and includes administrative services, as well as activities such as the
36

STAIT might also have been considered for transfer out but as of February 2016 it appeared to have zero

staff.

60

front office for the USG. It should be noted that these figures are based on analysis and intended to
give broad insights into how staff are dedicated to units across Core Functions and Administrative and
other Functions.

New York and Geneva HQ Core Function staff (I)
Activities

Humanitarian
Financing






Analysis

Section / Unit

Financial analysis and tracking (FTS)
Providing support to field
Fund portfolio mgmt and investments
Admin and oversight
Managing donors / PBF working group
Pledging conferences

CERF Secretariat

CBPF
Partnerships and Resource
Mobilization Branch

Staff

Program
Resource Mobilization and
Communications
Performance Monitoring & Policy
Other
Funding Coordination Section

Information
Management

 Coordinating messaging for USG, SG,
Security Council, UN, etc.
 Global media engagement

 Managing interagency IM working group
 Providing support to field
 Maintaining data infrastructure

Strategic Communications Branch

Information Services Branch

Program Support Branch

Policy

 Inter-governmental processes
 Briefings for ERC and senior mgmt on
policy topics
 Publications on policy topics
 Drafting / ratification of legal policies
 Analysis and guidance to the field on
humanitarian policy topics

Policy Development and Studies
Branch
Emergency Preparedness Branch

6
6
2
20

Resource Mobilization & Support
Sub-total

Advocacy

8

Media Relations
Public Advocacy and Campaigns
Reporting and Visual Information
Other
Sub-total
Global Information Services
Field Information Services
Data Services
ISB Geneva
Other
HPC Information Services
Sub-total
Intergovernmental Policy
Policy Advice and Planning
Policy Analysis and Innovation
Other
Environmental group (Emergency
Preparedness and Environment)

World Humanitarian Summit
Secretariat (incl. HLPHF)

5
47
5
11
9
4
29
6
11
3
5
4
29
7
9
9
3
5
16

Sub-total

49

Note: This does not include admin & support functions; classifications based on interviews with internal stakeholders Source: UNDP and UMOJA HR data from Feb 2016
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

New York and Geneva HQ Core Function staff (II)
Activities

Section / Unit

Coordination
Response Division

Coordination
(response,
preparedness,
partnerships)

 Briefings for ERC and
senior management on
situation
 Providing 24 x 7 field
support (desk officers,
joint assessments, surge)
 Fast issue resolution

Analysis

Emergency Services
Branch

Program Support
Branch

Partnerships and
Resource
Mobilization Branch

Office of the Director - Desk Officers
Humanitarian Leadership Strengthening
Humanitarian Coordinators Support
CRD Geneva
Emergency Directors Group (EDG) Secretariat
Senior Transformative Agenda Implementation
Team (STAIT)
Thematic and Technical Advisors
Other
Civil-Military coordination
Emergency Preparedness and Environment
Field Coordination Support
Activation and Coordination Support
Other
Planning and Monitoring
Coordinated Assessment Support
Inter-cluster Coordination
Appeals Coordination and Analysis
Other
Partnerships Coordination
Private Sector
External Relations and Partnership
Other
Sub-total
Grand Total

Staff
46
7
7
10

13
9
12
6
16
4
6
6
9
6
9
3
6
6
6
3
190
344

Note: This does not include admin & support functions; classifications based on interviews with internal stakeholders Source: UNDP and UMOJA HR data from Feb 2016
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

61

New York and Geneva HQ administrative
and other staff

Analysis
Section / Unit

Human Resources
Finance

Administrative Services Branch

Staff

Human Resources
Sub-total

Administrative Services Branch
CERF Secretariat

Finance and Budget
Finance and Administration

Information Services Branch

Corporate Information Support

Sub-total

IT

Sub-total
Administrative Services Branch

Admin & logistics
Emergency Services Branch

UMOJA / Corporate Support
Operations Support
Other
Surge Capacity
Sub-total

Donor relations

Partnerships and Resource
Mobilization Branch

Donor Relations

11
Sub-total

Strategic Planning,
Monitoring & Eval

Office of the ASG

Strategic Planning, Evaluation, and Guidance
Sub-total

Office of the USG

Front Office
IASC Secretariat
Other
Other

Other1

Other

Office of the ASG

Office of USG

Sub-total

Other

38
38
28
6
34
25
25
5
15
2
15
37

Grand Total

11
12
12
3
7
2
9
21
21
21
199

Source: UNDP and UMOJA HR data from Feb 2016 Note: Other in CPD (11), Office of the Director in Geneva (7), UNMSS (1), Unknown (1), ASG of HPMECA
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

Field presence
OCHA's field presence in 2016 split across Country offices (COs), Regional offices (ROs), Liaison
Offices (LOs), and Humanitarian Advisor Teams (HATs). There are 28 COs with a total staff of 1,279
and a corresponding average size of 45 staff per office. Of the 45 staff, on average ~12 are
International, ~18 are Local, ~12 are National, and ~5 are Non-Staff. There are 9 ROs with total staff of
261 and average size of 29 per office. Of the 29 staff, on average ~10 are International, ~11 are Local,
~15 are National, and ~3 are Non-Staff. There are 3 LOs with 15 total staff and average office size of
5. There are 17 HATs with an average size of 1 person.
It is important to note that while the descriptions of each office found below align to the typology
expected, there are additional hybrid typologies that do not perfectly match the official typology, e.g.
one of the 9 ROs is the hybrid office for Syria. Additionally, the office typology and figures presented
today may not match directly with the current state at any given moment, as there is movement of staff
and changes in the context in offices. Lastly, some HATs strictly cover preparedness; others are there
to help respond to a current emergency.
Each of the office types has a different purpose in the field:37
 Country Offices: To respond to current disasters, including coordination of local actors,
communication, information management, and fund management, and prepare for future
disasters.
 Regional offices: To prepare for future disasters, provide surge capacity to country offices to
respond to current disasters, and build partnerships with regional actors.
 Liaison Offices: To build partnerships with important regional bodies (e.g. European Union,
African Union, Gulf Countries).
 Humanitarian Advisor Teams: To monitor and prepare for future disasters in crisis-prone
countries that have low capacity or to provide continued support to the RC as response is
transitioning to recovery.
37

Memo to the OCHA Senior Management Team on "Decision on Office Typology and Coverage", 06
January 2012 draft

62

To see a detailed breakdown of Core and Administrative activities to section/unit for the field offices,
see tables below:

Total field office Core Function staff

Analysis

Activities

Humanitarian Financing

 Appeals – strategic plan & costing
 Fund management

Staff
8
8

Country offices
Sub total

2

Information Services Branch1

Advocacy &
Communication

 Negotiations for access
 Coordinate messaging for govt,
agencies, NGOs etc
 Local media engagement

PRMB Liaison Offices
HATs
Country offices
Regional offices
Sub total

Information
Management

 Info products for HQ and the field

HATs
Country offices
Regional offices
Sub total

Policy

Coordination

Sub total
 Needs assessments and appeals
 Convening partners and developing
cluster response plans
 Internal reporting and providing public
information
 Liaising with civil-military, govt. and
NGOs, etc.

Geneva Office of Director1
CRD Office of Director1
PRMB Liason Offices
UNMSS2
HATs
Country offices
Regional offices
Sub total
Grand total

1
1
59
25
88
1
83
34
118
0
0
1
1
12
9
20
553
88
684
898

Note: This does not include admin & support functions; classification based on job title Source: UNDP and UMOJA HR data from Feb 2016 1. Temporarily deployed from HQ 2. UN Monitoring
Mechanism Section
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

Total field office administrative and other staff

Analysis
Staff

Human Resources

Country Offices
Regional Offices
Sub total

Finance

HATs
Country offices
Regional offices
Sub total

IT

Country offices
Regional offices
Sub total

Admin & Logistics

UNMSS
PRMB Liaison Offices
HATs
Country Offices
Regional Offices
Sub total

Monitoring & Evaluation

Country offices
Regional offices
Sub total
Grand total

11
3
14
1
60
20
81
42
25
67
1
4
5
443
61
514
11
3
14
690

Note: This does not include admin & support functions; classification based on job title Source: UNDP and UMOJA HR data from Feb 2016 1. Temporarily deployed from HQ 2. UN Monitoring
Mechanism Section
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

63

COs vary in size and distribution of staff across roles depending on their context and location. The
average country office has ~45 staff, with ~60% of staff dedicated to the Core Function areas of
response coordination, advocacy & communication, and information management, and the other ~40%
to administrative functions. The bulk of the staff is dedicated to response coordination, both at the main
country office location, but also distributed amongst sub-offices further afield.
The amount of staff in the main office versus sub-offices depends heavily on the specific context of
the office and crisis situation. It is difficult to gather the exact number and allocation of sub-offices
because of the fluidity of the data. However our understanding is that ~30-50% of country office staff
may be in sub-office roles. There is flexibility within a country for people to relocate across sub-offices
and the main office given the needs in the field.

Country office

Analysis
Under-Secretary-General (USG)
CRD Director / Deputy Director
Head of Country Office

Advocacy &
Communication
Examples: Public info.
officer, communications
officer, media relations
officer

Information
Management
Examples: Info
management officer, data
analyst, GIS analyst

2
In small country offices,
Humanitarian Affairs Officers (HAOs)
typically focus on coordination but
also cover advocacy, and
communications, info mgmt,
financial tracking, and admin duties
Source: UNDP and UMOJA HR data from Feb 2016

Coordination
Examples: Humanitarian
affairs officer, field
coordination officer, civil
military officer

Administrative Support
Examples: Finance
officer, admin / finance
clerk, driver, cleaner,
security guard, logistics,
procurement assoc.

4
Typically, between
30-50% of
coordination and
logistics staff are
located in front
line sub-country
offices

20

19

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

64

ROs typically have accountability for crisis response, partnership activities and preparedness in the
region. Specifically in response coordination, the RO role is to staff surge, and to provide regional level
support when required. ROs are not focused on a single response, but cover response activities over
multiple areas. They provide remote support and expert advice, as well as providing trainings and
other preparedness-related activities. Some of the partnership work involves working closely with
government institutions as well as maintaining and developing relationships with partners and NGOs in
the region.

Regional office

Analysis
Under-Secretary-General (USG)
CRD Director / Deputy Director
Head of Regional Office

Advocacy &
Communication

Information
Management

3.5

4

Coordination

Administrative Support

10

11.5

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

V.3. Findings
Consultations revealed a number of 'pain points' in the current organizational structure. In
particular, stakeholders highlighted challenges with the misalignment between functions and divisions,
with weak connections between critical parts of the organization, a lack of elevation for critical
functions, and an inefficient allocation of spans of control. This part of the report documents these
findings.
Finding 1: Identifying New York and Geneva as two distinct headquarters offices leads to unnecessary
complexity and confusion
OCHA's organizational structure, as the result of a string of past adjustments, is not currently based
on a single discernible organizing principle but is instead configured partly according to function and
partly according to geography. A point of confusion and a source of organizational complexity is the
presence of two headquarters defined by location. The challenge of having a geographically defined
organizational rationale is that it introduces another management axis, further fragmenting similar
functions and muddying reporting and responsibility lines. While there are rationales for locating
headquarters in both New York and Geneva, the separation into two headquarters further fragments an
organization that is already struggling with ensuring good collaboration across branches.
Finding 2: The span-of-control of some top-level managers is very broad
65

The span-of-control of some top-level managers is very broad in Core Functions covered, in the
share of resources under their control, or in the number of direct reports. In terms of functional spans
of control, the Director of CPD has responsibility for seven sections / units covering a wide range of
topic areas and a mix of Core Functions and management areas, including communications,
administration, information services, policy, and advocacy functions. Conflation of externally focused
Core and internally focused Administrative Functions distorts prioritization and leads to dispersed
attention span. Particularly in situations where functions that are quite different in nature, for example
administrative services and policy, managing those jointly under one leader could lead to a lack of
balance in attention. If such scope is the preferred model, it suggests the need for a senior leader with
sufficient experience in managing such a diverse set of functions, as well as a robust succession plan.
Regarding resource spans of control, the heads of the 28 COs, 9 ROs, 5 Section Chiefs, multiple
thematic advisors, and front office staff report directly to the Director or the Deputy Director of CRD.
While much can be funneled through the Section Chiefs, there is no formal reporting relationship
whereby Heads of Office report directly to Section Chiefs. As mentioned previously, the coordination
function has ~77% of the staff in the organization.
Such spans of control are unusual and are in strong contrast to benchmarks in the private and
public sector. In the private sector, within a particular function, average spans of control range from 5
to 10, with wider spans of control of 20+ observed only in very transactional work such as telesales or
in partnership-based organizations like law or consulting firms. In benchmarks of comparable UN
agencies,38 median span of control across the top 3 layers of the organization was ~7, with a range of 3
to 12.
There are some advantages to a flat structure. The preeminence of performance in country for
CRD, and therefore OCHA, makes the direct link between the Director of CRD and the field an efficient
mechanism for communicating information. However, given the breadth and depth of OCHA's field
involvement, this structure creates high risk for the organization by concentrating so much institutional
knowledge and control into a single individual. It also reduces career path options for those within a
division who seek to progress long term.
It is worth noting that benchmark organizations utilize a regional reporting structure to avoid such
extensive spans of control over COs. Benchmark UN institutions, such as UN Women, UNHCR,
UNICEF, WFP, and UNDP, have a regional bureau (RB) structure.39 While coordination is best
organized state-by-state to ensure tight linkages with specific national governments, a regional
structure is often used to serve as a bridge between headquarters and the field, synthesizing
information and providing input into necessary regional customization. See below for benchmark
institution regional bureau structures.

38

Benchmark institutions include UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP, WFP, and UN Women.
Benchmarked organizations use both Regional Bureaus and Regional Offices. We have chosen the term
Regional Bureaus to refer to the role that Section Chiefs might play. This is not to be confused with the OCHA
Regional Offices, which could be maintained as is in a Regional Bureau structure.
39

66

Regional bureaus – select UN agencies
UNHCR
Regional Bureau

UNICEF
Regional Office

UNDP
Regional Bureau

>=2 offices

WFP
Regional Bureau

UN Women
Regional Office

Sits within HQ

Dakar
Nairobi

Addis Ababa

Dakar
Johannesburg
Nairobi

Dakar
Nairobi

Sits within HQ

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Panama City

Sits within HQ

Bangkok
Kathmandu

Bangkok

Bangkok

Bangkok

Sits within HQ

Geneva

Istanbul

Rome (HQ)

Istanbul

Sits within HQ

Amman

Amman

Cairo

Cairo

Africa

Americas

Asia & Pacific

Europe & CIS

MENA

Note that regional boundaries are drawn differently by organization – see following slides.
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

In all of the benchmarks listed above, the regional bureaus have direct managerial accountability
over the country offices, unlike the current OCHA configuration.
Finding 3: The fragmentation of functions across branches leads to confusion as to who does what,
and is a driver of potential duplication in the organization
Currently, OCHA has similar Core Functions split across multiple divisions and branches. Activity
survey participants who indicated that they spend more than 30% of their time on a Core Function do
not tend to be concentrated within single branches or divisions. For example, policy guidance is
provided by both CPD and CRD, and HF in the CERF Secretariat, Funding Coordination Section and
Resource Mobilization and Support Section from PRBM. Fragmentation is also seen across
administrative functions, for example, HR functions are divided across multiple branches and sections.
Similarly, IM activities are split across all three divisions in ~19 branches / sections, and Policy activities
are split across ~10 branches / sections. Fragmentation causes two negative consequences:
duplication of activity across different groups within the organization, reducing efficiency; and lack of
clarity for others within the organization leading to confusion over who is accountable for specific
activities. Given the nature of the OCHA work where the Core Functions are interconnected and not
easy to separate, for some lines this seems inevitable, but there is opportunity to simplify and
consolidate activities along functional lines.
In the current state, both COs and ROs appear to fill similar roles, interface with similar sets of
stakeholders, and report directly into CRD. The reported time allocation of respondents across
activities related to partnership, preparedness and response was similar across the two office types. In
COs, ~66% spent the majority of their time on response, relative to ~21% on partnership and ~12% on
preparedness. ROs on the other hand, had the relative time allocation of ~45% response, ~29%
partnerships and ~26% preparedness. Similarly, country and regional offices interface with similar
external organizations, including non-profits, UN agencies, and governments. While there may be no
need to differentiate between the two types of offices in terms of time allocation or reporting structure,
67

stakeholders raised concerns about a lack of clearly delineated stakeholder relationships between the
offices. Without clarity around the relationships each office within a region "owns", there is the potential
for duplication and inefficiencies in the activities each office performs. The activity baseline exercise
described in the Role and Operating Model chapter will be helpful in examining this.
Finding 4: Some functions receive insufficient management attention due to (1) insufficient elevation,
and (2) blending of internally and externally facing work
Stakeholders have complained that some critical functions receive insufficient attention from senior
management. Two root causes were identified. The first root cause is a lack of sufficient elevation for
some critical functions (such a communications), which results in a lack of ownership and
accountability. OCHA's organizational structure does not currently facilitate the elevation of functions
requiring especial attention, even for a short time period. The second root cause is the blending of
internally and externally facing work, which results in de-prioritization of critical internal investments due
to more immediate external stakeholder pressures. One example is IT and IM: while IM is focused
externally on producing products for partners and other stakeholders, IT is focused on providing
services to internal clients. Through our consultations, we received feedback that focus is on
immediate, external demands at the expense of responsiveness to internal IT needs. The synergy
achieved by keeping internal and external roles together needs to be scrutinized relative to the benefits
of what is likely to be a more service-orientated independent IT function. In all instances where
internally-facing and externally-facing roles are blended, it is incumbent upon management to balance
what may end up being dueling foci and client orientations.
Finding 5: There is a disconnect between functional groups at headquarters and those in the field
In the current structure there is a lack of clarity and collaboration between headquarters and the
field for most major functions.40 Of the activity survey participants based in the field who reported that
they had an indirect functional supervisor, only 3% indicated that that their indirect supervisor sits in
headquarters. In those circumstances, it is important to ensure that systems are in place to encourage
information sharing, collaboration, and cohesion. Our consultations suggest that such systems are
lacking at OCHA, resulting in a disconnect between functional representatives at headquarters and the
field, and confusion over responsibility. For example, we have heard that Humanitarian Program Cycle
(HPC) guidance produced by PSB, based in Geneva, does not always account for the field's context,
including resource and time limitations. Other functions, like Policy out of PDSB, also say that they do
not have easy access to the field despite the need for a close tie between global policy and guidance
on the ground. Confusion and insufficient sharing of information is particularly pronounced where a
similar or related function is performed in the field and at headquarters such as Finance.41 To resolve
this issue, IM has recently formed communities of practice in order to share norms and other practices
that could be systematized through indirect reporting or more formally defined connections. However,
these systems are reported not to work well.42
Our understanding is that historically excessive access to the field from headquarters functions led
to a burden and strain on the field, reducing its ability to focus on critical needs. Indeed, line reporting
40

From the perspective of CRD, there are multiple avenues for connection to the field, e.g. daily operational
updates, weekly operations management meetings, weekly strategic updates, etc.
41
Structural changes designed to solve for this disconnect would likely results in further negative
consequences, for example, by creating multiple, confused reporting lines between HQ and the field. Instead, a
range of less formal changes should be explored.
42
This should be addressed as a priority in implementation. It could be seen as an experimentation area that
should be supported by senior managers addressing the need for stronger collaboration that the culture section of
this report highlights.

68

that results in field staff not responding to the needs of the HoO is very challenging to effective field
delivery. To protect against overly burdensome headquarters requests of field offices, in the current
state, much of the contact with the field is funneled trough CRD headquarters, and specifically through
the desk officers. While this simplifies the messages that the field offices receive, and the desk officers
are able to respond to some requests directly, this structure may have contributed to the growing gap
between functional areas in headquarters and the field.
It should be noted that in organizations with stronger management models and performance
systems, dotted line reporting between a functional staff member in the field and one in headquarters
can be quite effective. Dotted line reporting in this context would involve a person in the field reporting
to the Head of the field office, but receiving technical guidance, advice, and support from someone
within the same functional role at headquarters. For example, an IM field officer in Kenya would report
to the Head of the Kenyan office, but would receive communications, join conference calls, share best
practices and develop expertise in partnership with ISB. With dotted line reporting, appropriate
behaviors can be reinforced to balance out structural forces. However, given OCHA's current
management model and performance management challenges, dotted line relationships may cause
more problems than they solve. Going forward it is important to balance the headquarters and field
needs to ensure a cohesive OCHA that accounts for both realities.
Finding 6: OCHA headquarters size remains heavy and has not achieved economies of scale
Since the early 2000s, OCHA has grown in size in response to the needs for coordination of the
humanitarian system. In 2002, the total OCHA staff size43 was 964, with 246 (26%) in headquarters
and 718 (74%) in the field. The frequent and large disasters in the late 2000s, including the massive
sudden onset natural disasters such as the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods led to a large
increase in total staff to 1965, with 441 in headquarters and 1542 in the field in 2010. In the most
recent five year period (2011 to 2015), OCHA staff grew by an average annual growth rate of 6%. This
growth over five years corresponded to 514 new staff, with 124 in headquarters and 390 in the field. In
2015 OCHA employed 2,360 staff divided between headquarters (with 567 staff, or 24% of the total)
and the field (with 1,793 staff, or 76% of the total).
Field staff grew in proportion to the total OCHA staff growth over the most recent five year period, at
an annual average growth of 6% per year. The bulk of the growth came from the country offices in the
Middle East (191 staff) and Africa (102 staff). The number of field offices grew from 31 in 2011 to 40 in
2016, with 21 and 28 COs respectively. While the total number of field offices grew, the number of staff
per office declined. Specifically in COs, average size declined from ~54 staff in 2009 to ~50 in 2013.
Over the same period, headquarters also grew in proportion to the total OCHA growth, at an annual
average growth of 6% and with a total increase of 124 post requirements, 50 of which were in the
Coordination Response Division (that is, growth in CRD accounts for 40% of total growth in
headquarters). Over the same period, some divisions shrank (e.g. PDSB from 45 to 35) and others had
moderate growth (e.g. executive management at 2%). Relative to the number of Country and Regional
offices, there was more significant growth in the number of CRD headquarters staff supporting each
office, growing from ~1.7 staff per office in 2009 to ~2.8 staff per office in 2013.
The fact that OCHA's headquarters grew at exactly the same rate as growth in the field begs the
question of economies of scale: should OCHA have expected to get scale benefits from headquarters
43

OCHA historic staff size, or post requirements, for the 2002-2015 time period are based on starting budgets
from OCHA and include both vacant and filled positions. It is not possible to disaggregate the filled posts from the
vacant posts in this data. Historic staff can be disaggregated into some major branches since 2009, controlling
for the reorganization in 2012 which makes some comparison difficult. Historic staff size in the field can be
disaggregated into field offices, but not into position type. OCHA staff size data for 2016 is based on current HR
databases aggregated across Umoja and UNDP and only include filled posts. Consequently, 2015 post
requirements and 2016 staff size cannot be directly compared.

69

as the field presence grew? OCHA currently has neither a clear view on branches that would be
expected to grow at scale and those that would not, nor a mechanism for accounting for growth that is
not in line with expectations. It is highly unusual for headquarters not to show scale economies with
growth and so in the activity baseline exercise, this should be addressed. (For example, the growing
reliance on OCHA to engage in advocacy, evidenced by the USG's growing involvement in the Security
Council, results in additional headcount at headquarters that would create an imbalance in the
expected headquarters-to-field ratio.) However, the majority of work in OCHA headquarters should be
related to the number of crises where OCHA is involved, with most core activities focused on
coordinating crisis response.
As indicated in the humanitarian landscape section of this document, several of the expected
underlying drivers of response coordination need have recently grown, suggesting that a growth in
response coordination functions is appropriate. The number of people affected annually by
emergencies was ~200M on average since 2005, with a faster average annual growth rate of ~12% of
people affected by conflict. The number of people targeted by inter-agency appeals similarly grew by
~15% annually since 2011, reaching ~76M in 2014.44 The amount requested through inter-agency
appeals grew by an average annual rate of ~32% since 2011, with an average annual growth rate of
~5% in appealing organizations.45 There are currently more than 54,000 NGOs, both local and
international, active in 2016. The number of international humanitarian actors grew by ~65% from 1985
to 2013, from ~4,700 to ~7,700 organizations.46 As the total size of OCHA is much smaller and WFP
and UNHCR have heavier operational loads, this is not an indication that OCHA's headquarters size
should be line with those organizations, but rather that the allocation of headquarters to field may
warrant further investigation, especially in the light of the lack of achievement of scale benefits. The
diagram below shows growth of different headquarters areas over time.

HQ staff also grew proportionally at an average annual rate
of 6% since 2011, with the largest increase in CRD
Staff
600

+6%

500

526
29
15

538
36
26

108

105

29

400

300

200

437

441

443

496
22
10

47

43

50

109

85

93

100

50

43

40

45

86

90

82
52

52

52

110

ASB

30

33

PDSB

87

98

106

CSB/ISB

98

94

102

Coordination Support

15
55

13
56

8
48

OD-GVA
ERSMB/PRMB
PSB

43

46

60

48

48

37

42

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

22%

24%

25%

26%

25%

24%

54
31

45

2009

HQ % of
24%
Total

58

ODCP

CPD

CRD

42

31
55

0

95

Executive Management

15
61

35

100

78

567
37
35

GVA

ESB

HQ size has remained
relatively constant
+x%

Avg. Annual
Growth Rate

Source: OCHA data
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

44

OCHA Humanitarian Data and Trends 2015 report.
OCHA Humanitarian Data and Trends 2015 report.
46
Global Humanitarian Assistance Report 2015, WANGO, Yearbook of International Organizations and its
precursors.
45

70

Our consultations raised similarly non-conclusive views on OCHA's optimal total size. OCHA's role
is broad and the nature of response coordination activities makes it difficult to develop reliable staffing
algorithms. The needs of the affected populations and the needs and capabilities of partners are all
highly variable. It is directionally informative to consider the growth of OCHA partners as the underlying
drivers of OCHA work. The OCHA growth rate from 2011 to 2015 is in line with partner agencies, the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
Over 2011 to 2015, UNHCR grew at an average annual rate of 7%, and increased in total staff from
~7,000 to ~9,300. Over the same time period, WFP had an annual growth rate of 6% from 2011 to
2015, and increased total staff from ~11,800 to ~14,700.47
While it is not straightforward to determine appropriate OCHA resource growth, resourcing trends
have not been out of step with the field or other UN agencies. As we discuss in Section III, we believe
that resourcing OCHA accurately has to be done through a thorough activity analysis. Transparent
sharing of resourcing needs against activities – both in headquarters and the field – would facilitate
open discussion about what OCHA can and cannot deliver in the current funding environment and the
net funding needed to invest in core areas. At present, OCHA has not invested in developing this
internal knowledge and it as difficult to get even basic resource-information.
Finding 7: The demands of the ERC role place stress on the USG's time to focus on internal OCHA
oversight
The USG must balance the significant demands of the externally-facing ERC role with internal
management of OCHA. Given that the USG cannot delegate his ERC responsibilities, OCHA needs an
organizational structure that allows the USG to delegate a considerable amount of internal
management. The current structure does not support this principle in two ways. First, OCHA lacks a
senior figure tasked with oversight of OCHA's internal operations. Second, the USG has three direct
reports with competing interests and priorities and a weak management model that doesn't navigate
decision-making across the three reports effectively.
Finding 8: There is an imbalance in resources between functional leads
OCHA's large field presence necessitates one functional area having a majority of staff. Currently
this translates into a heavy imbalance within the organizational structure, with the response
coordination function accounting for ~77% of the total staff. It is important to note that field-based
organizations often have more staff reporting to the senior manager that oversees the field offices, and
a resource imbalance does not necessarily translate into a resource imbalance. In this case, there is a
perception of power imbalance related to the resources, and as evidence of this, many have pointed to
CRD replicating structures already in existence in other divisions in order to serve the field. Given the
weakness of ASB, some administrative duplication may have been out of necessity; however it is not a
best practice. Where such duplication exists, it will tend to lead to even stronger silos and breed
organizational resentment and inefficiency. The imbalance of resources at the senior leadership level
may make prioritization and balancing of interests across the entire organization difficult. It also has
knock on effects on governance structures where there is often one voice representing the mass of the
organization and multiple voices representing much smaller elements. While it is in the nature of
OCHA to have several different voices given the breadth of the mandate, for some types of decisions,
this actually diminishes the field voice which may lead to distraction of leadership team attention away
from the bulk of the organizational activities.

V.4. Solutions
47

UNCHR and WFP Annual Reports

71

A set of principles were developed to evaluate whether different organizational options would
address OCHA's current challenges48. These were based on best practices observed across public
and private sector enterprises.





An appropriate span-of-control for senior managers reduces potential bottlenecks.
Minimal fragmentation (i.e., grouping similar activities) drives efficiency in an organization.
Functions that require attention should be closer to senior leaders.
Clearly defined relationships across groups and headquarters allow for greater efficiency,
predictability and collaboration.
Closer geographic proximity of functions to the field allows for customization to context.
Complexity should be avoided where possible in favor of a simple structure.

As mentioned before, organizational design is closely related to other topics of this report – such as
the management model and role and operating model – in that form follows function. These principles
assume that changes to the management model, role and operating model, and culture will be enacted.
Strategic Choices
Organizational design at OCHA can be broken down into a set of key choices, which drive the
top level design options:
1. The number and type of reports to the USG
2. Functions included in Office of the USG
3. Reporting structure of the coordination function in headquarters
4. The structure of the coordination function in the field
a. Clustering or separation of emergency response from preparedness and partnership
coordination activities
b. Reporting of central support to the field
c. Regional alignment coordination support
5. Clustering of like functions at corporate level
6. Headquarters location
These are addressed in turn.
As a part of this review we did not address the size and structure within COs, ROs, LOs, and HATs
beyond what is described in the strategic choices. We would affirm the basic roles of each of the office
types and their inter-relatedness. We address a few additional questions on ROs below. As described
in Section III, we recommend a detailed activity baseline exercise which would inform the specifics of
the size and services required for each office type.
Strategic choice 1: Number and type of reports to the USG
As stated above, the combined EMC/USG role means that the USG has limited, and often
unpredictable, amounts of time to focus on internal management. The current structure minimizes
direct reports to the USG to account for the ERC role. However, the current structure under-utilizes the
ASG position for internal management and potentially as a counter-balance to the response
coordination function. Options that improve checks and balances in the structure and allow better
prioritization across all OCHA priorities would help to align competing priorities across senior leaders
and enable a cohesive voice for all of OCHA.
48

We did not evaluate ISDR or the office of the ASG for Humanitarian Partnerships with the Middle East and
Central Asia.

72

Strategic choice 1: Number and type of reports to the USG

A

B

C

USG

USG

USG

Minimize direct reporting:
two senior leaders
manage different sides of
the organization

Direct reporting of core
functions but senior
leader covers subset.

Most balanced and direct
reporting: larger number
of direct reports to USG

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

One type of structure, Option A, would more carefully balance the portfolios of the direct reports of
the USG but the number of direct reports would increase relative to today, especially if one were to
create balance by having more field representation, through, for example, a regional bureau model.
Option B would take the opposite approach where the USG delegates larger proportions of the
portfolio to direct reports, as we see today, but we would propose considering a senior role for greater
internal management of programmatic and administrative functions, almost creating an internally facing
"COO" role.49 Assuming this senior role covers functions outside the field, there is a seniority
counterpoint to the organizational weight imbalance. In the short term, this may be useful while the
organization "resets itself" in terms of management model. There could be an argument over time for
seniority balance across the role through a two ASG structure. In all variants of Option B, at least one
of the leaders has a highly fragmented portfolio of activities as CPD has today and hence we have
assumed greater seniority will manage the fragmented portfolio more effectively relative to today.
Option B also requires that the areas that the USG wants to weigh in on are clearly delineated and
mechanisms to ensure USG inputs are managed effectively. There is the potential for this structure to
perpetuate some of the existing challenges between the top executives, just at more senior levels,
rather than creating the desired counterpoint across the USG's senior reports.
Option C is a hybrid of A and B with more direct USG reports who cover more specific functions
than in A but, like B, a senior figure covering what would likely be either the field or a broad base of
internal operations. There are many configurations possible in a hybrid model. For example, the USG
could create a strong COO role overseeing all of the major areas except functions directly related to the
ERC role. This configuration would allow the USG to focus externally, and would create an internally
focused deputy who could provide guidance and oversight. Alternative hybrid models elevate different
functions to the USG, either allowing the USG greater oversight over the field or alternatively closer
attention to specific Core Functions.
49

There is a challenge with this option in that an ASG role must be designated as the Deputy ERC, which is
an externally facing role which necessitates a significant external focus. This chapter does not analyze the
specifics of levels of roles and specific level choices and implications must be investigated further within the UN
and Secretariat rules.

73

Recommendation: In other contexts our preference is for a balanced group of direct reports closer
to the top, but due to the weight of the ERC role, it is not advisable in this context. Assuming
appropriate senior leaders for the two roles under this structure we recommend Option B, which creates
space for the USG to conduct his ERC duties while maintaining focus on two direct reports.
Strategic choice 2: Functions included in Office of the USG
Another strategic choice is which functions are in the OUSG, and consequently closest to the USG.
There are certain functions that are typically direct reports to an organizational leader, for example
Strategy, or special projects. In the OCHA context, because of the externally facing ERC role, groups
such as Strategic Communications or Global Policy may be elevated to support the ERC. Due to the
importance of managing global stakeholders, a group such as Donor Relations may also be appropriate
in the OUSG.
While the precise configuration of the OUSG could take several forms we would note that there is
currently a gap in OCHA internal communications. Adding this role, and positioning it in the OUSG,
could make a step-change improvement in managing organization-wide communications. It would
reduce the current confusion over role and positions on key topics, and would improve accountability by
making the specific decisions and the timelines for their implementation more visible. There is also an
argument for an internal manager or analyst focused on tracking internal measures. For example, he
or she would support the management committees to keep track of the agreed decisions, initiatives and
priorities and liaise with Finance on budget consequences. Additionally, he or she could manage and
track management accounts for different divisions or branches. Together with the internal
communications function this would help provide a clear accountability structure for the organization.
Recommendation: At a minimum, we would support elevating select communications functions
and adding internal communications to ensure that messages from the EMC and other governance
committees are sufficiently and clearly communicated. Beyond that, we could support a number of
different configurations of this office.
Strategic choice 3: Reporting structure of the coordination function in headquarters
Comparison with typical practices suggests that under the current structure the Director of CRD has
a very broad span of control. A more typical structure in this realm would have a regionally aligned
layer such as a bureau chief between the Director of CRD and the HoOs who lead CO or RO heads.
From a risk point of view, more clearly strengthening the decision layer below the CRD head would
reduce the current reliance on a single head and deputy potentially also allowing for more customized
response to different regional contexts. It also would provide more time for mentorship of HoOs,
improved succession planning and clearer career paths since it allows for staged leadership. However,
adding layers between COs and the CRD head would add a layer of bureaucracy and might blur
communication lines in the height of crisis response. The current structure manages the broad span
through a geographic section chief system but keeps direct line communication to the HoO. Changing
HoO reporting could also reduce the attractiveness of the HoO job, arguably the role in OCHA that
defines the ultimate success or failure of its field coordination mandate, and if this reduced OCHA's
ability to attract talent to these roles it would be serious drawback.
In the current structure, the Deputy CRD Head helps cover some of the broad span of HoO reports
and the CRD geographic Section Chiefs appear to play the role of managing the operational side of the
response: "[there] seems to be a large span of control under the CRD Director, but at the operations
level it is much more decentralized to Section Chiefs, and the deputy director." Based on interviews,
the accountabilities of the role are as a bridge between the Heads of Office and headquarters, where
geographic Section Chiefs provide advice, but also connect the field offices to resources. More
importantly, the geographic Section Chiefs help prioritize how resources are allocated across offices
within the geographic region. As an example relating to specific IM support, "I basically go through
every office and say this is what this one needs and this is what the other one needs. Then we plan out
74

who is going to support whom. I feed back to the HoOs to say you get this person". Based on this
description, it appears that de facto, CRD has structured response in a regional way in accordance to
the five geographic sections. As mentioned in 'Findings', this is not in line with equivalent
organizations, which have direct reporting lines from field offices to Regional Bureaus but these
organizations have heavier operational mandates.
Two major options were considered:

Strategic choice 3: Reporting structure of the coordination
function

A
Director CRD /
Deputy Director CRD

B
Director CRD /
Deputy Director CRD

Section
Chiefs

Section
Chiefs
HoOs

Informal regional reporting of COs: HoOs
report through section chiefs but direct
line to CRD

HoOs

Formal regional reporting of COs: HoOs
with direct line reporting to section chiefs

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

Option A would keep the informal nature of the regional structure and limit it to an advisory role to
HoOs. In this case, the geographic section chief role would be similar to today, in that they understand
the offices in the regions, advise the Heads of Office on particular issues, and are able to advise the
coordination head on resource allocation across offices within a region.
Option B would create formal reporting lines from the HoOs leading the field offices through the
geographic Section Chiefs, and providing formal managerial authority to the geographic Section Chiefs.
In this model the dynamics between the layer between the CRD head, the geographic Section Chiefs
and the HoOs need to be carefully considered, especially how the communication channels and
decision-making would operate in times of crisis.
Recommendation: We would recommend keeping the current informal regional structure under
Option A. This structure keeps closer communication between the HoO, the Director of CRD and the
USG/ERC. Further, based on feedback we have received in HoO discussions, it reduces the risk that
the intermediate reporting of Option B makes the HoO role less attractive and therefore limits the
quality of talent OCHA could attract to it. However, this structure has some elements of risk and there
are several opportunities that OCHA should take to address this through more and clearer delegation of
decision-making. Most importantly, OCHA should clarify and communicate the role of the geographic
Section Chiefs and look for ways to reinforce this role, for instance through delegation of authority on
topics such as staffing and potentially budgeting. For example, delegation of authority on staffing could
be that the last signature required for a P4 and below role would be from the geographic section chief.
75

The role should be reinforced that the geographic Section Chiefs are a key interface point for other
headquarters functions, for instance in the rollout of corporate initiatives to the field. Given our
recommendation to create regional alignment (described in the next Strategic Choice) this could further
strengthen teaming across the organization with a more strategic / operational planning linkage across
geographic Section Chiefs and line managers and a more operational linkage in the field through
regional alignment. Given their role across so many different country and regional offices, geographic
Section Chiefs are also able to represent a wide variety of issues on behalf of the field to the senior
leadership. Specifically, if the EMC membership is expanded with additional field representation, the
geographic Section Chiefs should be considered as the relevant additions to the committee. Potentially
though nominating one as a representative.
It is important to note again that benchmark organizations in the UN typically have a formal
Regional Bureau structure where the HoOs report through the bureaus (similar to OCHA's geographic
Section Chiefs) and the span of control that Option A still requires for the CRD head may over time be
better managed through a similar structure. However, as long as the span appears manageable, for
the reasons described above, we believe the benefits of the more direct reporting option are strong,
there is opportunity to further mitigate the risks, and, given the informational role of OCHA, the risks of
stretched span of control are less than for more operational organizations.
Strategic choice 4: The structure of the response coordination function in the field
Response coordination is the largest function of OCHA in terms of number of staff, and is the most
complex in terms of clustering branches. The function includes three main types of activities:
 response to an emergency,
 preparedness for potential emergencies, and
 developing partnerships for the purpose of coordination.
Additionally, there are support activities that enable the response coordination function. Within
each of these activities, there are elements that operate at the country, regional, and global levels. The
options below set out strategic choices for structuring the activities falling within the coordination
function:
Strategic choice 4a: Clustering or separation of emergency response from preparedness and
partnership coordination activities
There are two illustrative options in which coordination activities can be clustered. Emergency
response is urgent in nature and requires an 'all hands on deck' approach, while preparedness and
partnership activities require a long term and planned approach. At the same time, the coordination
activities have the same set of partners and 'clients' – generally the government served – despite the
nature of the work and relative urgency.
Option A is an integrated option, where all coordination activities occur together in order to reduce
redundancy and confusion for the client. A key benefit of this option is the repeated interaction that the
same individuals will have with the relevant actors in order to both respond to an emergency and to
build longer term relationships and include a balance of both sets of activities. The primary risk is that
given the nature of field work, there are constant emergencies and resources are consistently diverted
from the longer-term activities toward responding to urgent situations, resulting in persistent underinvestment in preparedness and partnerships.
Option B would separate the role of emergency response from partnerships and preparedness
activities, even if that activity happens physically in the same field location. The advantage of
separation would be to remove the tradeoff at the individual level of urgent activities versus longer-term
preparedness and partnerships and the organization could guarantee a certain level of investment in
these activities. The disadvantage is that often there is a large degree of overlap in the skills required
for these activities, and therefore there is potential confusion regarding where one would draw the line
76

of response versus preparedness or partnerships. There is also a potential to lose synergies derived
from housing the functions together. From the client perspective the separation may also cause
potential confusion.
Recommendation: We would support Option A, which groups the execution of preparedness,
local and regional partnerships and emergency response. We believe that over time these three
functions will become blended under the same government and humanitarian actor relationships, and
dividing the functions per Option B would create challenging reporting lines for preparedness and
partnerships that could dilute field effectiveness. We do think that the budgets for longer term activities
such as preparedness may need to be managed as separate funding streams or contributions because
unless those longer term funds are protected, the inevitable shortfalls in emergency response funding
will likely be bridged with funds allocated to longer term activities.
Strategic choice 4b: Reporting of central support to the field
Unsurprisingly, given the scale of response coordination, a large amount of support is required to
enable field activities. Support activities include operational and logistics support, management of
surge capacity for the field, and technical advice for coordination. For clarity, we define support
activities here as those that are available and required for more than one specific location. Immediate
support for a country team that is managed by a CO, for example, would not be separated in this
scenario.

Reporting of central support to the field

A
Response
Coordination
HQ
CRD

B

Central Support
HQ

ESB
+
PSB
+

Separates response from support, with
one leader responsible for response
coordination and one for central support

Response Coordination
and Central Support
HQ

CRD

ESB
+
PSB
+

Groups response coordination with
central support for coordination, aligning
support with needs for the field

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

Option A separates the activities under separate pillars, with one leader responsible for response
in the field and one (or more) responsible for central support. The rationale behind separation includes
the difference in underlying client, the longer term nature of expertise development and the global as
well as field focus.
Option B, on the other hand, groups those activities together under one leader. This option
ensures that the support activities conducted centrally are closely aligned with the needs of the field,
potentially resulting in more appropriate, customized support. However, this option also creates an
immense span of control for a single leader and may lead to undesirable tradeoffs between activities or
management attention. It would also create further divide from global and field activities.

77

Recommendation: We would recommend Option A, but would focus on developing functional
relationships that are clear across the pillars, at different levels of the organization. Establishing clear
points of contact would enable better collaboration and ease working relationships. Identifying and
reinforcing functional relationships at various levels in the organization will improve collaboration across
OCHA, and reduce silo effects. Different options to improve cross-functional collaboration are
discussed below in strategic choice 4c.
Further, we would advocate a cautious determination of the line between support services managed
directly by the field versus those managed by the support line(s) at this time. For instance, until ASB
has HR services that are able to deliver against needs, or the path to do so is extremely clear, we
would not recommend removing HR-like services that fulfill critical needs, for example, from CRD.
Once ASB performance improves to a satisfactory level, we would recommend that those lines of
support be evaluated to ensure optimal arrangement over the long term. However, as we discuss
earlier we would question whether Thematic and Technical advisors and potentially other expert groups
belong in CRD, versus central support functions.
Strategic choice 4c: Regional alignment for coordination support
A key finding that emerged from the Functional Review is that the field and central OCHA functions
should have closer linkages to the field in order to ensure development of more field-influenced
support, and improved service levels to the field. Clear connections between the headquarters support
functions and the relevant field offices would improve the two-way communication required to facilitate
this.
Option A is to locate central support functions in ROs. In the current state, ROs play a relatively
slim role in OCHA's current structure in terms of support. ROs focus on serving countries without a
CO, and our understanding is that they also manage HATs which do not have their own budget. They
focus on preparedness, surge, and partnership building. While they also offer technical support, such
as communications assistance, though our consultations revealed that this function is inconsistently
offered. ROs in the current state report directly to CRD, and would not be considered a primary source
of coordination support.
Option A would expand the role of ROs to include central support activities, including ESB, PSB, as
well as technical support from functions such as IM, strategic communications, etc. In this case, the
reporting lines of the central support would report into the RO. The advantage of this option is that the
central support would be closely aligned with the response coordination. However, as discussed in the
strategic choice 4b above, we support the separation of response coordination and central activities.
Option B aligns more individuals providing specific services, such as IM, to the offices in a specific
region by aligning them with the relevant regions. These individuals would continue to report to their
specific function in headquarters, but would be allocated to providing services to their region first.
However, the individuals could also have headquarters responsibilities. Details of how OCHA will
operationalize this are important, and will need to be evaluated for each function to ensure optimal
support for headquarters and for the regions. It should be noted that regional alignment would not
require a standardized number of resources assigned equally to a region, neither across regions or
function, and should depend on the needs in the region as well as a logical allocation of topics or
resources in headquarter functions. The options are illustrated in the figure below.
Another important clarification to make is that headquarter initiatives could not be imposed onto the
select office by a line through these individuals. Significant initiatives would require corporate approval,
and details of implementation would likely be agreed to by Section Chiefs and then be rolled out to field
offices.
In terms of physical location of the staff, while initially staff would likely remain in headquarters; over
time lines could consider whether closer geographic proximity to regions was advantageous.

78

Option B – aligned regional HQ teams to regional field
offices
HQ

Strat.
Comm

IM

Coord.
Support

CRD

Field Offices

...

CO

CO

CO

CO

Region 1

RO

CO

CO

RO

Region 2

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

RO

CO

CO

CO

RO

CO

CO

CO

CO

CO

Region 3
Region 4
Region 5

20160527_Final Report Figures v05.pptx

Option C is to keep the status quo of the headquarters functional alignment, but assign a node
within headquarters to liaise with the field offices and communicate the need within the group. The
node would not be the primary responder to the request nor be dedicated to the region, but would the
designated contact point which would improve communication. Customization and regional expertise
would be reduced, but the flexibility within headquarters would be maintained.
Recommendation: We would recommend Option B. Regional alignment of headquarters functions
allows for closer collaboration and customization to the needs of the offices in the region. Maintaining
the headquarters reporting lines will also allow for development of expertise at the function level, but
further develop the customization and responsiveness to the region which has been highlighted as a
gap. Additionally, the reporting lines to headquarters allows for consistency and focus on the functional
work.
Strategic choice 5: Clustering of like functions
We also pointed to the structural fragmentation of similar activities in OCHA. Grouping similar
activities into the relevant branches and sections will provide clarity internally and externally and limit
fragmentation and duplication across OCHA. Such grouping would subsequently allow the grouping of
similar work types with alignment around the 'client', whether internal or external. It would help bring
people with similar activity sets under the same unit and create a clearer focus point for related topics.
Correspondingly, dissimilar activities would be separated. For example, in the current state, HF is
distributed across two divisions and three separate branches, across CERF, CBPFs and field support,
and this function could be clustered. See page 61 for analysis of sections / units that could be included
in HF. These groups would be distinct from Donor Relations, where the purpose of raising funds is for
internal OCHA budget. In that case, grouping Donor Relations with Strategic Communications into
broader general "External Relations" would more closely align the work with the client.
The strategic choice is what activities would be grouped together or separated. In the OCHA
context, some choices are around aligning activities to a core programmatic or administrative function,
or clustering around a similar client.

79

Recommendation: As OCHA has multiple and distinct functions, we would recommend that
functions at the corporate level are best grouped around the Core Functions in OCHA's mandate,
namely advocacy, policy, information management, humanitarian financing and coordination, with
consideration of whether the 'client' is internal or externally facing. Specifically we would recommend
grouping together HF in headquarters. Similarly, we would group together internally facing
administrative functions. For example, HF would be separate and distinct from OCHA internal financing
and IT would be distinct from IM. However, as administration has had a number of issues in delivering
against needs in HR and Finance, we would recommend against separating IT from IM until the issues
are resolved with ASB and we would keep the current administrative functions within CRD until the
administration services are better established. By contrast, we would recommend strengthening policy
activity through clustering, and strengthening linkages with the field rather than maintaining the
Thematic and Technical Advisers in CRD.
Strategic choice 6: Headquarters location
As discussed in detail above, the parallel headquarters structure has created challenges. Option A
is to have a single headquarters in two locations. Option B is to declare the headquarters as being in
either New York or Geneva. Option C is status quo.
Recommendation: We recommend Option B and announcing a single headquarters location, but
maintaining physical presence in both locations. This would simplify the organization structure but keep
connections to the humanitarian community in Geneva and the UN headquarters in New York. This
recommendation assumes that reporting lines could then be to functional lines outside of Geneva,
assuming no functional head was located elsewhere.
High level organization design options
We illustrate below four representative options of high level organizational design that follow from
the principles described and the strategic choices outlined. No single option can resolve all of
challenges faced in the organizational options, and there inherent tradeoffs that have to be considered
for each separate option.
 Option1 minimizes the direct reports into two senior level roles reporting to the USG, and
specifically balances the resource-heavy field with a strong senior internal leader, the ASG, that
can manage the remaining functions;
 Option 2 pulls everything under field coordination together and considers the field almost as an
independent entity, with the rest of the structure covering the elements of OCHA's mandate that
focus on the global humanitarian community;
 Option 3 balances the reporting to the USG with the weight of resources across the
organization by creating regional bureau chiefs that report directly to the USG and having
internal operations under an ASG that operates as a COO-like figure; and
 Option 4 puts the USG closer to every function and this balances contact across each
functional area, but maintains the resource imbalance. This option could have an even more
balanced variant if the field reporting was through a more limited set of regional bureaus.
The options are depicted below with descriptions across each of the strategic choices.

80

Option 1: Two senior roles supporting USG – one focused on the field and another on central support
This option minimizes the direct reports into two senior level roles reporting to the USG, and
specifically balances the resource-heavy field with an ASG that acts as a strong internal senior leader
who manages the remaining functions. Considering the key choices discussed above:
1. The number of direct reports to the USG is limited to two senior roles and the front office;
2. Functions included in the OUSG are Strategy, the IASC secretariat, and strategic
communications;
3. There is an informal reporting relationship between HoOs, regional bureaus, and headquarters;
4. The structure of coordination function in the field is as follows:
a. Coordination is integrated in the field across response, preparedness and partnerships;
b. Coordination support and global partnerships are separate from response and
preparedness; and
c. Functional support aligned by region, but reports to headquarters;
5. Corporate level functions are clustered by Core Function;
6. There is a single headquarters location, with physical presence in New York and Geneva.
Initially there are benefits as this gets established to having the ASG over the internal functions as a
balance to the weight of the field. However, over time, assuming functional balance is achieved, there
is a strong argument for the field director also to be an ASG, so this ideally would become a two ASG
model.

Option 1: Two senior roles supporting USG – one focused
on the field and another on central support
Under-SecretaryGeneral

Field Coordination

ASG / Deputy ERC: Program
and Support Functions

HF



CERF
FCS
RMSS

IM


ISB
HPC

Region 1
Country Offices
Region 2

Policy


OUSG

Front Office

Region 3
HATs
Region 4

IASC Secretariat

ASB

Advocacy

Central support 
& global response 
Global
partnerships

Internal
communications

SPEGS

PDSB
WHSS

Regional Offices
Admin
Functions



SCB

PSB
ESB
PRBM
LOs
DRS

Region 5

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

81

Option 2: Single, integrated, Coordination division
This option pulls everything under response coordination together and considers the field almost as
an independent entity, with the rest of the structure globally facing. Considering the key choices
discussed above:
1. The number of direct reports to the USG limited to two plus the front office, with one USG direct
report commanding the vast majority of organizational resources;
2. Functions included in the OUSG are Strategy, the IASC secretariat ,and strategic
communications;
3. There is a formal reporting relationship between HoOs, regional bureaus, and headquarters.
Given the size of the reporting under coordination we think under this option, there would have
to be a more formal regional reporting structure;
4. The structure of coordination function in the field is as follows:
a. Coordination is integrated in the field across response, preparedness and partnerships;
b. Coordination support and global partnerships are integrated within the broader
coordination function; and
c. Functional support aligned by region, but reports to headquarters;
5. Corporate level functions are clustered by Core Function; and
6. There is a single headquarters location, with physical presence in New York and Geneva.

Option 2: Single, integrated Coordination team
Under-SecretaryGeneral

ASG:
Programmatic
Functions

Field
Coordination

Reg.
1

Reg.
2

Reg.
3

Reg.
4

Central
support &
global
response

Reg.
5

Regional Offices


PDSB
WHSS

IM


ISB
HPC

Global
response &
preparedness
partnerships
PRBM
LOs

Front Office

Internal
communications

SPEGS
IASC Secretariat
HF


HATs

Policy

PSB
ESB

Country Offices

OUSG



CERF
FCS
RMSS

Advocacy
Donor
relations


SCB

DRS
Brussels LO

Admin Function

ASB

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

82

Option 3: Highly balanced structure with USG closer to field
This option balances the reporting with the resources across the organization by elevating regional
bureau chiefs under the USG. Considering the key choices discussed above:
1. There are a higher number of direct reports to the USG, with five regional bureau chiefs, one
ASG, and the front office;
2. Functions included in the OUSG are Strategy, the IASC secretariat, and strategic
communications;
3. There is a formal reporting relationship between HoOs, regional bureaus, and the USG;
4. The structure of coordination function in the field is as follows:
a. Coordination is integrated in the field across response, preparedness and partnerships;
b. Coordination support and global partnerships are separate from response and
preparedness; and
c. Functional support aligned by region, but reports to headquarters;
5. Corporate level functions are clustered by Core Function; and
6. There is a single headquarters location, with physical presence in New York and Geneva.

Option 3: Highly balanced structure with USG closer to field
Under-SecretaryGeneral

Region
1

Region
2

Region
3

Region
4

Region
5

ASG: Program and
Support Functions

OUSG

Central support 
& global response

PSB
ESB

Front Office

Country Offices

Global
partnerships


DRS
Brussels LO

SPEGS

Regional Offices

IM


ISB
HPC

IASC Secretariat

Select Liaison
Offices

HF



CERF
FCS
RMSS

Advocacy

Policy


Internal communications

SCB

PDSB
WHSS

HATs
Admin Function

ASB

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

83

Option 4: Elevated programmatic and administrative functions
This option puts the USG closer to every function which balances contact across each functional
area despite the resource imbalance. Considering the key choices discussed above:
1. There are a higher number of direct reports to the USG, with five function heads, admin
functions, donor relations, and the front office;
2. Functions included in the OUSG are Strategy, the IASC secretariat, and strategic
communications;
3. There is a formal reporting relationship between HoOs, regional bureaus, and headquarters;
Given the size of the reporting under coordination we think under this option, there would have
to be a more formal regional reporting structure;
4. The structure of coordination function in the field is as follows:
a. Coordination is integrated in the field across response, preparedness and partnerships;
b. Coordination support and global partnerships are separate from response and
preparedness; and
c. Functional support aligned by region, but reports to headquarters;
5. Corporate level functions are clustered by Core Function; and
6. There is a single headquarters location, with physical presence in New York and Geneva.
A variant of this structure would have a response support function reporting into the USG and not to
Coordination.

Option 4: Elevated programmatic and administrative
functions
Under-SecretaryGeneral

Policy

Field
Coordination

Region 1

Region 2
Region 3
Region 4


IM

PDSB
WHSS


HF

ISB
HPC



Front 
Office

Central support &
global response

PSB
ESB

Global response
& preparedness
partnerships

PRBM
LOs

OUSG
CERF
FCS
RMSS
Internal
communications

SPEGS
Donor
relations

DRS
Brussels LO

Admin
Function

IASC
Secretariat

ASB

Advocacy

SCB

Region 5
Country Offices
Regional Offices
HATs
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

84

Recommendation: Option 1 - OCHA structures its organization around two senior roles – one focused
on the field and another on central support covered by ASG
Two senior roles with a senior leader, specifically an ASG, covering a complex span of functions –
while not solving all of OCHA's problems – produces the best outcomes of the organizational structures
we examined. Option 2, which groups all coordination functions, risks creating a significant disconnect
between field coordination and the rest of OCHA. It also magnifies the imbalance of control present in
the organization today. Options 3 and 4 are attractive because they create more balanced reporting to
the USG, but the high number of reports is challenging given the USG's ERC responsibilities. Both
options risk the USG being spread too thin, or functions and regions being denied the oversight and
support required to perform effectively. On the other hand, Option 1 involves a manageable number of
direct reports for the USG and creates greater organizational balance, allowing one senior leader to
specialize on field response while the ASG specializes in global and support functions and covers the
deputy ERC role. This organizational design provides the strongest foundation for OCHA's
performance across its broad mandate. Over time it might be an option to further balance across these
two senior leaders by having the field response role as an ASG.

85

VI.4. People and Staffing
VI.4.i. Introduction
People are OCHA’s strategic asset
Many organizations in the public and private sector assert that people are their most important
asset and then behave in ways that contradict that statement. For OCHA, such statements have to be
true. People are really all that OCHA has to offer. It does not deliver goods directly to others, it is not a
donor organization50 and it does not have formal authority it can use to ‘command and control.’ Rather,
OCHA has people with the motivation, commitment and expertise to persuade a very diverse and
complex set of actors to cooperate, to carry out needs assessments, to share information, to mobilize
and to allocate resources together. We heard over and over again that “People make the difference.”
And we heard over and over again that it was the quality of these people, and not their number, that
made the difference—whether they were in the field or in HQ.
Conceptual framework
The discussion of people and staffing in this chapter is underpinned by a conceptual framework that
has four key elements: staffing strategy, job design, workforce planning and human resources
management.
A staffing strategy is derived from the organization’s role, operating model and organizational
design (see earlier chapter). An effective strategy helps an organization describe the vision for its global
workforce, foresee needs, keep abreast of relevant changes in the labour market and establish internal
processes for obtaining talent as efficiently as possible. A staffing strategy also attempts to provide
predictability and stability. For instance, an organization that has a high percentage of staff retiring in a
similar time frame should be asking what the strategy for managing these individuals is, whether they
will be replaced or their jobs reoriented, or whether any funds released will be used for emerging, more
critical functions.
A staffing strategy is a strategic approach to managing a workforce—an integrated and proactive
system for addressing an organization’s staffing needs. Instead of reactively filling vacancies as they
come up with ‘more of the same,’ organizations with a staffing strategy continuously scan their
environment to assess the changing nature of the work they do, the work of others in the same sphere,
and of course the impact of technology on the work and the way it is done. OCHA’s Functional Review
provides a perfect opportunity to examine the staffing strategy OCHA needs.
The overarching goal of a staffing strategy is, as the often-quoted phrase puts it, to get “the right
people, with the right skills, to the right place, at the right time.” Concretely, this means defining who the
‘right people’ are, determining where to find them, clearly identifying the ‘right skills’ and deciding where
those skills need to be placed and for how long.
The staffing strategy provides the framework for job design: the key functional categories for staff
which are then, separately, developed into job profiles. The job profile defines the core purpose of the
job, the main roles (which are derived from the strategic roles and operating model in the preceding
chapter) and the core competencies. The job profile is eventually translated into the traditional and
more administrative job descriptions.
The staffing strategy and the job profiles together enable OCHA to carry out workforce planning
(which is also called staff or human resources planning). In essence, workforce planning is the process
whereby the organization decides on the numbers, categories, and grades of staff in each country
office, regional office, liaison office and HQ unit. The staffing strategy provides strategic and policy
guidance and is complemented by workforce planning on precisely what staff will be placed where and
50

OCHA does, however, make and manage grants from the United Nations Central Emergency Response
Fund (CERF) and Country-based pooled funds (CBPFs).

86

under what contract conditions. Workforce planning therefore results in staffing tables, which are an
intrinsic part of the budgeting process.
Implementing the workforce plan consists of identifying, selecting, recruiting and deploying staff in
accordance with the staffing strategy and the job profiles. These are classic human resources
management (HRM) functions.
Central to all HRM processes are the leadership, managerial, supervisory and administrative roles
of line managers. These managers are supported by what we have called HRM services, i.e., the
units that provide HRM services to managers and staff. HRM services provide essential support as
senior management takes decisions on the staffing strategy, job profiles and workforce plans. HRM
services carry out key management and administrative functions to support both staff and managers at
all levels.
OCHA’s human resources environment is extremely complex
Managing human resources is always important, but it is doubly important for OCHA because the
asset is so strategically valuable. Making this challenge even more daunting is the reality that OCHA’s
human resources functions must navigate an extremely complex environment. OCHA is a department
in the UN Secretariat and is therefore subject to Staff Rules and Staff Regulations of the United
Nations,51 which are largely geared to slow-moving, predictable operations and programs.
HRM services in OCHA are provided by the Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) in
New York, the UN Office in Geneva (UNOG), OCHA’s Human Resources Section in Geneva, a staffing
unit in the Coordination and Response Division (CRD) in New York and the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) for national staff. The financial component of many HRM processes
is handled by the Administrative Services Branch (ASB) in OCHA and the UN administrative services.
OCHA has also grown in recent years, largely in response to an unprecedented number of L3
emergencies. This growth, and the accompanying increase in complexity, has placed additional
pressure on the organizational design and on all the management systems, especially HRM.
Frustrating delays in vitally important HRM processes and related administrative procedures have led to
morale issues and resulted in some short term solutions that ignored or even exacerbated deeper
problems in the HRM systems.
The challenge is systemic
The problems in HRM at OCHA are systemic. And systemic causes need systemic solutions. One,
or a few, initiatives by themselves—for example, procedures, a new unit, training—can never shift a
complex system. There has to be a holistic and comprehensive effort to drive change in the HRM
system.
The key to this change is a cohesive and effective senior leadership team that is committed to
people management. By building such a team and ensuring that it works together, OCHA can resolve
many of its HRM problems and create a vital working environment that fosters high performance and
attracts, retains and develops the best staff.
Content of this chapter
In the pages that follow, we will describe and present observations on and recommendations about
OCHA’s management of human resources. We will discuss, among other things, its staffing strategy
and workforce planning, its recruitment and on-boarding, its performance management and the HRM
services themselves.
There have been many reviews of HRM and many unsuccessful attempts to reform and strengthen
HRM in OCHA.52 We do not necessarily have a lot of new analysis or new recommendations. Most
51

Staff Rules and Staff Regulations of the United Nations, ST/SGB/2014/1.
A number of assessments and audits have been critical of the way OCHA manages its people. For
example, the 2011 Enterprise Risk Assessment identified HRM as one of OCHA’s most prevalent and least
52

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things have already been said or written. The challenge is to bring about systemic and cultural change.
The recommendations that we present in this chapter will lead to such change.
Structure of this chapter
This chapter covers the following aspects of people and staffing at OCHA:
 Staffing Strategy and Workforce Planning;
 Recruitment and On-Boarding;
 Surge Capacity and Deployment;
 Development and Learning;
 Performance Management; and
 Human Resources Management Services.
The theme of line managers’ commitment to, and competency in, the management of their staff
occurs several times in this chapter. It also appears in the chapters on the management model and
organizational culture.

effectively controlled risks. Similarly, the more recent audit of the management of human resources in OCHA by
the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) noted that OCHA needed an adequate workforce planning
strategy led at the senior management level. The audit also pointed out that there was no data for OCHA as a
whole on post incumbencies and vacancies for the 2,200 budgeted posts in the 2014-2015 program budget; this
means the organization could not globally track recruitment timelines, staff movements, incumbencies and
vacancies.

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VI. 4. ii. Staffing Strategy and Workforce Planning
VI. 4. ii. A. Context
For OCHA, the staffing strategy must be about of “getting the right people, with the right skills, to
the right place, at the right time” to carry out OCHA’s strategic roles and priorities. The staffing strategy
must set out OCHA’s vision for its global workforce, lay out policy ratios to achieve the desired diversity
and range of expertise, look at career aspirations and paths, specify the conditions under which one
contract modality or another is used, outline policy on the “generalist versus specialist” debate, and
indicate how to address key staffing challenges, for example, how to handle “surge” demands in times
of crisis.
Workforce53 planning is, for OCHA, the process of deciding on the profiles, numbers, categories,
and grades of staff in each location—country offices, regional offices, liaison offices and HQ units—as
well as the appropriate contract modalities.

VI. 4. ii. B. Current State
OCHA does not have an explicit staffing strategy or a comprehensive workforce plan. OCHA also
does not have up-to-date, comprehensive baseline data on the current workforce.54
We have not therefore presented an overview of the current staff profile from a global perspective,
nor at the country, regional and HQ levels.
Many key OCHA documents contain strategic or policy statements that relate to staffing strategy.
For example, OCHA’s Management Plan for the years 2014 – 2017 has a strong focus on staffing
issues. Its first management objective is OCHA is staffed with the right people at the right time, and the
plan specifies three subordinate outcomes: Stabilize OCHA field capacity, Promote a diverse and
versatile workforce and Progress towards gender equality.
Similarly, the 2014 – 2017 Strategic Plan includes putting “the right leaders in the right places at the
right time” among its subordinate objectives for the period:
OCHA will ensure that highly experienced and qualified leaders are in place at the right time,
particularly in complex situations requiring effective leadership, expertise and coordination capacity. It
will identify, prepare, guide and help to mentor high-calibre future humanitarian leaders through interagency mechanisms such as the HC pool, while aiming for more balanced geographical, gender and
institutional representation.55

VI. 4. ii. C. Findings
Finding: OCHA does not, at present, have a staffing strategy
While there are several strategic and policy statements, there is no actual staffing strategy in place
at the present time. As the recent Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) audit of the management
of human resources at OCHA pointed out:
OCHA needed a workforce planning and human resources management strategy led at the senior
management level (page 4)
OCHA did not develop a workforce planning and human resources management strategy that
supported the Policy Instruction on Emergency Response together with other corporate policies for
rapid deployment of critical positions identified in the pre-approved cost plan modules. (para 18)

53

Staffing and workforce are often used interchangeably. We have chosen to differentiate the two by using
staffing for the strategic perspective and workforce for the planning perspective.
54
Considerable data on the workforce became available toward the end of the report-writing phase of the
Functional Review. Umoja was the main source for the data we received.
55
OCHA Strategic Plan 2014 – 2017, p. 16.

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OCHA should develop a workforce planning and human resources management strategy that
matches the Policy Instruction on Emergency Response and other corporate policies to effectively
deliver the OCHA mandate. (para 24)
Although efforts have been made to set staffing targets, for example, on diversity, policies on the
shape and evolution of the global workforce (HQ and field) in the broader sense are not yet reflected in
the workforce itself. In particular, we received considerable feedback about the lack of geographical
and gender diversity in HQ (for example, a common refrain was “too white and too male”). Even those
who noted some shift in geographical diversity in HQ stated they found OCHA driven by a monocultural, i.e., Western approach. Of particular concern to some staff is the configuration of the new
Executive Management Committee (EMC) with respect to gender and diversity.
There is also a strong sense among field staff that some parts of HQ are not sufficiently grounded in
field realities and that they are not willing to get field experience beyond the occasional short mission.
This results in a serious divide between the field and HQ, has a negative impact on organizational
culture, and reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of OCHA’s work.
Finding: OCHA has Policy Instructions for workforce planning at the country level but much remains to
be done globally
The Policy Instructions (PIs) for the field offices are comprehensive and appear to correlate broadly
with the organizational charts we have reviewed. The PI for regional offices (ROs) sets out the roles
and responsibilities of the offices, as well as the generic terms of reference for Humanitarian Advisor
Teams (HATs). The PI also makes clear that ROs are expected to have regional office results
frameworks, regional strategies, work plans and cost plans.
For their part, country offices (COs) are expected to complete a country strategy and a performance
framework, and there are standard organizational charts for small, medium and large offices in the PI
for COs. The charts are intended to fast-track establishing and organizing these offices, and most
interviewees felt that it was good to not reinvent the wheel every time. However, some told us that “a
cookie cutter” approach does not suit OCHA’s work, that the distinction by office size is not particularly
helpful and that the context varies so much and the needs evolve so rapidly that OCHA requires a more
flexible approach to staffing. We heard more than once that “context is everything.” This comment does
not undermine the need for policies but argues implicitly for policy frameworks rather than policy
blueprints.
We also understand that the management team of the Coordination and Response Division (CRD)
has regular meetings to review the workforce plans for ROs/COs and the situation of individual staff.
However, we have not seen such plans for other units in HQ and we are unclear about the extent to
which staffing needs and demands are coordinated across the organization. By and large, in HQ, it
appears that individual managers identify and seek to recruit their immediate staffing needs with little or
no consideration of the impact on the overall workforce plan or broader organizational priorities. This
results in, and may even be caused by, lack of confidence and collegial spirit, a silo mentality, a lack of
attention and care, as well as frustration for all the different actors involved in workforce planning and
recruitment. This in turn creates a negative spiral and increases the focus on individual solutions or
special conditions.
Finding: OCHA does not have comprehensive baseline data on the current workforce
OCHA’s current systems do not have the capacity to produce an accurate, comprehensive
snapshot of the workforce. The systemic weaknesses are exacerbated by a culture in which information
is not easily shared with, or available to, other parts of the organization.
This means that OCHA is missing baseline data about its workforce, an essential decision-making
tool for senior management.
For OCHA, a comprehensive snapshot of the workforce should include:
 Projected retirements;
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 Gender;
 Nationality;
 Length of service;
 Length of time in current post—for HQ and field;
 Length of time in sequential hardship duty stations;
 Type and length of contract;
 Turnover;
 Levels (USG/ASG, D2, D1, P5-P2, G7-G1) by organizational unit/section in both HQs;
 Levels by Liaison Office (LO), RO, CO, Humanitarian Advisory Team (HAT);
 Appointment type (fixed term, service contractor, continuing, UN volunteer, etc.);
 Staff on loan or secondment outside OCHA;
 OCHA staff seconded from elsewhere;
 Posts with liens and number of liens; and
 Span of control.
As mentioned above, not all the key baseline data is available at the present time, and what is
available is difficult to access and to verify. Consistent with this finding and similarly detrimental to
effective planning is the absence of a skills database. As one interviewee put it, “We don’t know what
skills we have; we don’t even know how many French speakers we have.”
Finding: OCHA’s approach to job titles and job design is neither coherent nor consistent
As part of the UN Secretariat, OCHA uses job families, job profiles, functional titles and posting
titles. OCHA bases its work on the UN Secretariat’s competency profiles and adapts them to its specific
context.
There is a dynamic tension between the organizational need to use the standard, broad staff
categories and the manager’s need to design jobs around specific roles and responsibilities and
therefore to have flexibility in defining post titles. The end result, however, is a plethora of job titles that
cannot easily be compared with one another.
Some posts in country offices, which appear to have similar functions, have different titles and
others, which appear to have different functions, are given the same titles. There are also issues
related to organizational design; for example, the conceptualization of the roles and titles of the deputy
function appears to vary considerably across OCHA.
Finding: There are mixed perceptions of staff competence and attitude
We heard from both internal and external stakeholders that OCHA has amazing, talented and
committed staff. The value of having good staff was repeated over and over again: “In OCHA, it is all
about the people.”
On the other hand, we heard a number of times from these same stakeholder groups that OCHA
staff were not of the caliber required. Such comments were not simply about recruitment. People talked
to us about the failure to identify the competencies, mindsets and attitudes needed, about not knowing
where to find people with the required qualities, and about not putting in place the support
mechanisms—induction and training, for example—to ensure success. This overall comment captures
it: “The USG’s biggest effort should be on talent.”
Finding: There is a perennial debate about “generalists” versus “specialists”
Many staff believe that OCHA is too small to have many specialists. Heads of Office (HoOs) argue
that they need generalists capable of carrying out all the actions in each step of the Humanitarian
Response Plan, with support from specialists in the RO or HQ or elsewhere. As one person put it, “We
need generalists who are specialists in all our key functions.” For those of this view, humanitarian
coordination “isn’t rocket science” and should not be overspecialized.
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There is, of course, an argument for some technical specialists, and more may be required in the
future—after all, work generally becomes more specialized. Many believe such resources should be
placed closer to the countries, in other words, in regional offices. By contrast, others argue that OCHA
should ask how it can access more specialized skills instead of simply hiring staff with those skills and
adding to their staff complement.

VI. 4. ii. D. Solutions
Recommendation: OCHA should develop a fit-for-purpose staffing strategy
Best practices advise that organizations have a fit-for-purpose, whole-of-organization staffing
strategy that supports the operating model and aspirations of the organization. This means situating the
staffing strategy in the larger context of the organization’s role and operating model. It also means the
staffing strategy should reflect the decisions about organizational design made as part of the Functional
Review.
Developing a fit-for-purpose staffing strategy is more challenging for OCHA than it is for many
organizations. The nature of the work requires expanding and contracting staff resources in a short
period of time, the environments that OCHA works in do not appeal to everyone (and given the
increasing danger, including the targeting of international organizations and staff, the appeal of such
jobs may be decreasing irrespective of what OCHA does), the budgeting process depends almost
entirely on voluntary contributions, which are “inherently unpredictable”56 and the organization must
search the globe for the talent and diversity required.
Simply put, OCHA needs a flexible staffing strategy that helps it deliver efficiently on its mandate,
work proactively in the humanitarian environment and reconfigure itself as conditions require.
Guiding principles

The staffing strategy should be based on these guiding principles:
 OCHA puts people first.
 OCHA builds a highly flexible, mobile and diverse workforce for the office as a whole in
which HQ and the field are integrated.
 OCHA commits to developing a highly qualified workforce.
 OCHA commits to creating a stimulating and healthy work environment.
 OCHA develops a whole-of-organization integrated staffing strategy. The staffing strategy of
individual divisions should be linked to a whole-of-office staffing strategy.
Questions and choices

The following questions and choices will help OCHA establish the staffing strategy—the vision for
its global workforce—and lay out policies, targets and ratios for that workforce. In formulating these
questions and choices, we have focused on the need to shape OCHA’s global workforce, design key
jobs, establish parameters for the allocation of resources across offices and units, build the managerial
culture and manage the regulatory framework and budgetary constraints.
The process has to start with a reflection on the implications of the decisions that will be taken on
the role, operating model and organizational design OCHA opts for as a result of the Functional
Review. OCHA simply must answer these questions: What OCHA services will be most needed in the
coming years? What capacities will therefore be required? What variations should be expected in the
different contexts that OCHA will be working in? What is the impact for the field and HQ staff profiles?

56

OIOS, Detailed results of an audit of management of human resources in the Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs, para. 4.

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OCHA needs to decide which staff categories should be core and which should—or could—be
discretionary. The implication is that discretionary functions can be hired in when needed and that
OCHA should maintain a solid capacity in the core jobs. We would like to reinforce the earlier
recommendation that OCHA should strive to find partners to supply certain skills and be highly selective
where it builds resources internally.
Closely linked to this is the decision about the extent to which the global workforce (i) should be
OCHA staff, (ii) should be seconded or on loan from other agencies and (iii) should be short term
contractors, consultants or other personnel. This is a very critical decision for OCHA. It has an impact
for the compact OCHA will have with staff, how it will communicate to staff about careers and contracts,
and has an impact on the culture that will evolve.
What is OCHA’s strategic intention with respect to the diversity of its global workforce? What
should the policy targets be? This includes the obvious ones of gender and nationality but goes beyond
that. Where does OCHA need to recruit from to be effective in meeting its mandate? Does OCHA want
people coming straight out of university, from the NGO world, from national political affairs/foreign
affairs departments, only from the UN, only with private sector experience, only with field experience? A
mix of all of the above? And what about age? What should the distribution of people with these
backgrounds be for optimal performance?
A fundamental question relates to whether OCHA should be a career organization. Many staff will
argue strongly that the answer has to be in the affirmative—and that OCHA is in reality a career
organization since many staff in HQ have spent most of their careers in OCHA. We believe that the
answer has to be more nuanced. OCHA needs a career track for its Core Functions, in which staff have
a reasonable expectation of being able to grow and develop in their careers, subject to performing well.
Defining such a career track would enable the organization to maintain vital institutional knowledge, and
ensure that it grooms people for difficult and critical jobs and Core Functions.
It is important that the old debate on generalists versus specialists be clarified and resolved as
part of this discussion. We would argue that there is a case for many staff becoming competent
generalists in OCHA’s core work of humanitarian coordination. This should be required of most staff,
irrespective of whether they have been hired as a generalist, specialist or manager. If this is accepted
in principle, the next strategic question would be about the areas of specialization OCHA needs (e.g.,
information management, civil-military coordination, donor relations, and pooled funds management)
and the degree to which each area should consist of core staff. For example, if, as noted earlier, there
are changes in the dynamics of data collection, OCHA will need to determine if these changes require
reskilling the generalist or recruiting specialists. Another example is cash programming. As was
mentioned in an earlier chapter, the Functional Review team believes that OCHA may need to establish
expertise in this area from the perspective of strategy and analytics as opposed to operational
programming. If this is the case, OCHA will need to decide whether this is a specialist function and if it
is where it would sit in the structure. In other words, specialists will always be needed, but they should
be the exception and a good case must be made for them.
There are many strategic questions about national staff. One key question relates to the relative
priority OCHA would give to having National Officers (NOs) in country offices. A number of UN
agencies are moving towards adopting a policy of giving preference to NOs and using international staff
only when there is a well-established need. Another question is whether OCHA should be doing more
than it is currently doing to encourage and help NOs become international staff. If the answer is Yes, to
what extent should this happen, and what avenues and practices can be enhanced through the career
and talent management strategy?
The approach to staff being available and participating in surge must also be assessed, confirmed,
and reflected in the staffing strategy. If surge is truly a corporate function (see this discussion later in
the chapter), its role in staffing strategy must be considered.
An approach to the development of a talent-management strategy is outlined later in this chapter.
Here the question concerns the strategic intent of OCHA’s talent-management strategy in light of the
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Functional Review. The impact of the staff selection and mobility policy on OCHA’s capacity to manage
talent must be taken into consideration.
Another question about shaping the global workforce relates to the target ratios in such areas as
the following:
 HQ and field and, at another level of granularity, HQ, LO, RO and CO;
 Director, professional and general service levels in HQ; and
 International and national staff at the field level.
Policy decisions

In parallel, some policy decisions could be set out on the managerial culture that OCHA would
like to strengthen. As part of this, OCHA should reaffirm the principle of delegation of authority with
accountability. It should also reaffirm the principle that there should be only one line of authority from
HQ to all field units.
OCHA could also consider making the identification of national talent an objective for HoOs. This
could be a ‘soft’ target, but setting the target would “send the message.” Other policies for consideration
could include keeping the number of international staff in country offices to a minimum, thus giving
priority to national staff. Policy ratios limiting the number of international staff could be developed for
each different emergency context.
OCHA could establish a policy that requires all staff to acquire the basic expertise and experience
in humanitarian coordination that would allow them 1) to be well grounded in the working reality of
country and regional activities and 2) to be able to implement short- and long term assignments on the
full range of jobs in the field and many in HQ.
Alignment with other systems

Once the staffing strategy is in place, OCHA needs to align all the other systems to support the
strategy. There are the obvious alignments like contractual arrangements, but the recruitment strategy
might change, the induction programs and other development and learning programs might change,
talent- and career-management initiatives would certainly be adapted, and even the culture of the
organization will need adapting. Most important, OCHA has to realize that alignment is not the sole
responsibility of the internal human resources function—the most perfect staffing strategy in the world
will not succeed if it does not have the corporate support of the senior managers. It goes without saying
that the strategy must be in line with the UN Secretariat policies and have the support of the
Department of Management.
OCHA also needs to decide how to manage the regulatory framework. Many interviewees
suggested that OCHA seek an alternative to the Secretariat as the home base for HRM/administrative
services, and some included procurement processes, by exploring the possibility of using alternatives,
for example, a global services centre or UNDP. In any case, to optimize the OHRM regulatory
framework, OCHA should request the special measures that peacekeeping and other departments with
field-based presences have negotiated.
Finally, OCHA should continue its efforts to negotiate financing mechanisms with its donors that
would allow for more stable workforce planning and management than exists today.
Recommendation: OCHA should draw up a comprehensive workforce plan
OCHA should make high-level policy decisions about the allocation of resources across offices
and units. This is often done in terms of ratios. This would enable proper workforce planning.
OCHA’s workforce would be underpinned by robust, up-to-date baseline data on OCHA staff and
other personnel (short term staff, contractors, consultants, volunteers and so on); be linked to resource
allocation and budgeting processes; and accurately reflect the roles of the key actors and their
delegated decision-making authority.
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The baseline data should include information on each target or ratio associated with the staffing
strategy or workforce plan in addition to that specified in our finding on baseline data (page 90). This
information should be available to all managers, staff and human resources specialists.57
Additional data may be needed to track any decisions taken on the organizational design, for
example, the size of units under one manager or the number of direct reports.
The workforce plan should be built from the field upward. The current PIs should be reviewed and
strengthened as needed to ensure that there is a coherent and rational policy on setting up, expanding,
reducing and phasing out country offices, sub-offices and other country presences. This review of the
PIs must be guided by the knowledge that each situation is different; in other words, the policies should
not be “tightened” so much that there is no room for adapting to the country or emergency specific
context. As we heard many times in interviews, “context is everything.”
As is the case in the current situation, the policy and budgetary framework will need to be translated
into organizational charts and staffing tables for each CO that specify posts, job titles, numbers,
contract modalities and grades.
A similar approach should be adopted for regional offices and other regional entities. The policy
framework should take decisions on organizational design, translate them into policies that govern the
staffing of ROs, and then produce organizational charts and staffing tables.
We believe that whatever function is best done at the regional level should be done at the regional
level unless there is a well-established rationale for carrying it out at HQ. OCHA should reaffirm the
principle of delegation of authority with accountability. It should also reaffirm the principle that there
should be only one line of authority from HQ to all field units.
Once the field staffing policies and tables have been drawn up, a similar approach should be
applied to each unit in the HQ design and to other entities such as liaison offices.
All of these steps would enable OCHA to compile a draft global workforce plan that can then be
scrutinized and adapted to reflect the desired policy targets or ratios.
OCHA will also need to develop a plan for adapting its staffing to changes in demand for its
services or changes in its financial resources, particularly budget reductions. Forecasting shifts in
supply and demand is challenging for any organization, much less one that responds largely to the
unplanned. For OCHA, the development and use of scenario-planning could provide the conceptual
rigor needed to enable senior management to take rapid decisions at the global, regional and country
levels. Decisions regarding core staff and contracting modalities will also support this effort.
Recommendation: OCHA should refine job design to capture the nuances of working for OCHA
To support the first two recommendations and to bring coherence and consistency to its job titles
and job design, OCHA should refine its job design to capture the nuances of working for OCHA, as well
as the competencies associated with those nuances. This is especially important when both the roles of
staff in the field and the demands on them are evolving. For example, this kind of information, which we
picked up in our interviews, should be captured in job design:
 “The profile of people working at OCHA has changed—people are less skilled at field-based,
hard-core coordination (e.g., negotiating in the bush with rebel groups for access to remote
areas) and more skilled at IM, writing clearly and running meetings in a boardroom.”
 “Complex emergencies: people used to working in these have experience working without,
or in parallel with, or against, governments and find it difficult when deployed to suddenonset (usually natural disasters), where working with governments is required. Growth in
OCHA has been mainly in complex emergencies.”
The importance of nuanced job design becomes very clear when the different contexts in which
OCHA operates are considered. The demands of working in a country office, writing papers for the
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It is clear that Umoja cannot serve as the sole source of data since OCHA has staff on UNDP (United
Nations Development Program) contracts, UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services) contracts,
secondments and loans.

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Humanitarian Country Team and drafting minutes are very different from the tasks associated with
being in a sub-office, tackling nitty-gritty coordination challenges or helping agencies negotiate access
to areas of conflict. In many countries, governments assume or try to assume a significant coordination
role—and OCHA staff need to be prepared for that and be ready to let go. In other situations, the ability
to work with non-State actors in conflicts may be critically important.
The required flexibility can take the form of expanding on the UN’s generic profiles. This would
involve determining the competencies, mindsets and attitudes that make the difference in the jobs that
OCHA staff must do. We provide the following as an example of how to begin to capture these nuances
for challenging jobs in the field:
 The concept of the leadership stance in the chapter on role and operating model has vitally
important implications for the competencies, mindsets and attitudes of the Heads of Office
and many country office staff, especially in relation to the role of the country office in
supporting the Humanitarian Coordinator and the Humanitarian Country Team.
 The influencer stance, which has been identified as providing the most leadership and value
in the response, requires a different approach, skills and attitude than the stance of director
or operator, for example. The alignment around this stance has important implications for
the staffing strategy and its associated policies and approaches.
 The increasing emphasis on the humanitarian-development nexus has implications for both
the roles and the substantive competencies of staff.
 The evolving nature of the emergencies that OCHA is engaging in, for example, natural
disasters versus complex emergencies, also influences the skill set being sought.
 These all emphasize the importance of the catalytic, facilitating, networking role of OCHA
staff. This role focuses on the strategic and operational picture and that can quickly zoom in
to resolve problems, encourage the agencies to act and then equally quickly zoom back into
a different role.
There are challenges in designing the jobs for the HQ posts as well. The outcomes of the
Functional Review and the World Humanitarian Summit may all have an impact here.
The refined job designs could then be used to recruit58 for the more targeted competencies,
mindsets and attitudes and to enhance learning and development opportunities to ensure that OCHA
staff are among the most capable people on the ground.
OCHA also needs to communicate the organization-specific nuances to staff. Much can be done in
writing, but not all. Much can be integrated into job profiles, but not all. The heart of the challenge is to
ensure that staff are well briefed (induction), coached and trained; that expectations are clarified in
performance management; and that the recruitment process reflects the updated requirements.
Recommendation: OCHA should create a time-bound work stream to ensure the implementation
of the people and staffing issues OCHA is facing
The mandate of the work stream we are recommending would be organization-wide, extending well
beyond the role of the Human Resources Section. We therefore repeat the recommendation from an
earlier chapter that OCHA should create a time-bound People and Staffing workstream. This team
would be responsible for reviewing and ensuring the implementation of the recommendations that
OCHA selects from the Functional Review.

VI. 4. iii. Recruitment and On-Boarding
VI. 4. iii. A. Context
58

See more on this in the following sections.

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Recruitment and on-boarding are two of the core HRM processes. Like other key processes, the
framework is set by the UN Rules and Regulations. Within that framework there are many actions and
many players, including line managers, staff in the HR unit, staff in ASB, and staff in OHRM/UNOG.
Recruitment can be seen as being recruited into OCHA from elsewhere, or as being recruited into a
new position within OCHA through a promotion or a lateral move. Onboarding is typically understood to
be the administrative side of getting a staff member ‘on board,’ i.e., providing identification, completing
paperwork, receiving tools such as phones or computers. By contrast; induction is typically understood
to be the act of inducting someone into the processes, approaches, specificity of the organization, and
the particular organizational unit and setting to which the staff member is deployed (HQ or field). In this
section, we cover recruitment, promotions and on-boarding. Induction is covered under learning and
development.

VI. 4. iii. B. Current State
Recruitment
Staff are recruited under regular budget (RB) or extrabudgetary (XB) resources. The organizational
structure and post distribution for the biennium 2016-201759 indicate 71 posts in RB and 2,277 in XB
(includes 2 under the World Humanitarian Summit). Recruitment for regular/established posts in OCHA
is a lengthy process: recruitment for regular/established posts typically takes 6 to 9 months from the
placement of the advertisement to the letter of offer (and an additional two months before reporting to
duty). The HRM framework within which OCHA operates is determined by the policies of the UN
Secretariat. By their nature, these policies are well suited to human resources management in the static
setting of UN headquarters but are a poor fit for an entity set up to respond to emergencies and crises.
Although almost all OCHA posts (95% since July 2015) benefit from the discretionary reduced
advertisement period of either 15 or 30 days (rather than 60), the regular recruitment process simply
takes too long to be useful for emergency deployments.
In early 2014, the General Assembly introduced a mobility framework that applies throughout the
Secretariat. The framework is being introduced in phases and is being rolled out to OCHA this year.
The new system for staff selection and managed mobility60 is seen by some managers within OCHA61
as a threat to operational capacity, as they believe it reduces managers’ influence on final decisions.
However, this fear does not seem to be well grounded, as it is our understanding that managers will
have a place on the hiring committee. A problem for OCHA is that more people in the field will want to
be “mobile” towards HQ than the reverse. The impact of the field versus headquarters dynamic with
respect to the length of time people stay put in HQ positions—with the accompanying irritation of the
perception of ‘9-5’ and ‘no weekend work’ for some HQ units versus the intensity of some field work—
should not be underestimated. It should be noted that one of the drivers for the mobility policy was
exactly this issue: “…serve to confirm the need to improve opportunities for sharing the burden of
service in difficult duty stations, which is one of the main objectives of the mobility and career
development framework.62 (bold emphasis added).
59

Organizational structure and post distribution for the biennium 2016-2017, Part VI, Human Rights and
Humanitarian Affairs, Annex I. These figures exclude the 155 posts under Secretariat of the International Strategy
for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) (1 RB and 154 XB).
60
United Nations Secretariat, Administrative instruction Staff selection and managed mobility system
(ST/AI/2016/1).
61
In the new staff selection system, OHRM will handle all POLNET vacancies, or 80% of the OCHA
workforce.
62
From page 8 A/70/254 31 July 2015: The duty station move data contained in the first annual report
illustrated that duty station movement tended to occur within the same duty station category (A/69/190/Add.1,
paras. 7-8). An analysis of the updated data shows that that trend continues: 44 per cent of the Professional,
Director and Field Service staff at H duty stations who made a duty station move between 2009 and 2013 moved
to another H duty station; only 9 per cent moved from an H to an E duty station. In addition, 55 per cent of staff

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On-boarding63
On-boarding helps prepare new staff to get up and running as soon as possible.
On-boarding typically includes getting essentials such as security badges, computers, a place to sit
and access to intranet sites; learning how to get information; and completing any remaining paperwork.
Sometimes on-boarding and induction are combined, and sometimes the basics are offered to
everyone and an augmented induction is offered by the HQ unit or the office in-country.
The average duration of on-boarding is 60 days.64 In a 2014 survey, staff expressed rather mixed
views of their on-boarding experience. While 70% reported that they had either a good or very good
experience during the pre-deployment phase, 26% said their experience was poor or very poor. Of
particular concern were delays in administrative processes such as responses to queries and the
circulation of documentation.65
Since about 20% of OCHA’s international staff move every year, the corresponding administrative
workload is substantial. The HQ Deployment Group consists of OCHA staff who were moved into
OHRM to deal with all aspects of NY-based staff administration from selection to separation (other UN
departments/offices have also assigned people to this group which, now that Umoja is live, will be
completely absorbed into OHRM). HR in OCHA Geneva administers all field-based internationals from
selection to separation (currently about 400 people).

VI. 4. iii. C. Findings
Finding: The recruitment process is not fit-for-purpose, is subject to lengthy delays and is still not
necessarily getting the right people into the right positions
During the interviews, many concerns were raised about the ability of the recruitment process to get
the right people into the right positions. It was also mentioned that the processes have improved in the
past few years.
Even though there are several stages in the current recruitment process (screening candidates,
setting interview questions and written tests, making final recommendations for appointment, etc.),
many doubt OCHA’s ability to get “the right people.” Despite this, there appears to be little formal
analysis of what is wrong with the people they do hire and how the recruitment process went wrong.
We did, however, hear informal statements about problems with the process:
 “OCHA recruits without knowing enough about candidates except on paper: compare this
with, e.g., MSF, which has rigorous assessments before recruitment.”
 “We need better screening and assessment of managerial competency for anyone in the
organization who has high-level managerial responsibility.”
 “Recruitment is horrendous. No will to improve.”
Finding: Multiple recruitment modalities are being used, which results in mixed perceptions of fairness
and transparency regarding recruitment and promotions

moving from an E duty station moved to another E duty station. Those figures, combined with the data in table 2
on the number of staff who have been “stuck” in hardship locations for more than five years, serve to confirm the
need to improve opportunities for sharing the burden of service in difficult duty stations, which is one of the main
objectives of the mobility and career development framework. 
63
On-boarding refers to the administrative and logistics steps of getting security badges, computers,
passwords and phones and completing paperwork. This is different from an induction process, which is more a
process for learning about OCHA programmes and ways of working.
64
From Vacancy to Deployment, Recruitment and onboarding of field staff through Inspira.
65
OCHA On Boarding & Induction Package: Stocktaking Report on Lessons Learned, p. 2.

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A perception that the regular recruitment process is too long causes many in OCHA to use
alternative mechanisms (for instance, temporary job offerings (TJOs) to expedite the process. This
perception appears in statements such as the following:
 “What I need most is qualified staff in a timely manner and I don’t get it.”
 “There is a complete and utter lack of interest in HQ for what is needed in the field and the
speed needed.”
It is important to note that the use of temporary appointments is not confined to field staff; for
example, about one-third of CRD staff are on temporary appointments, about two-thirds on regular
appointments. This suggests that accessing a range of options is not uncommon. Defenders of such
procedures see them as useful not just because they are faster but because they prevent OCHA from
making budgetary commitments beyond its one-year budget cycle.
Others have a more jaundiced view of the use of recruitment options. Many inside and outside
OCHA see their use as a quasi-legal means of circumventing established rules. For instance, we heard
comments about recruitment taking place outside normal Secretariat channels (“off the books”), as well
as an over-reliance on consultants to do core jobs.
Related to this are perceptions of bias, favoritism, etc., in the recruitment process; for example,
interviewees complained that they did not know how decisions were made about workflow,
reassignment, recruitment and promotion of staff, and even abolition of posts. Some mentioned that in
spite of the processes, “who you knew was still more important than what you know.”
Some feel that having different recruitment options and different benefit regimes may be affecting
morale. For example, temporary posts do not confer the same benefits as “regular” posts, but “regular”
staff who accept a TJO retain their regular entitlements.
OCHA seems to make little use of OHRM rosters66 to expedite recruitment, preferring instead to
initiate a new recruitment action. While this suggests that recruitment actions are not unduly slow, it
does lead to recurring needs for new recruitments or extensions of contracts, with the associated
administrative burden. It also raises the question of why the rosters are not more widely used. If it is
because the gap between the requirements and the candidates who were not selected is so large that
rosters ‘don’t work,’ then the issue clearly goes beyond the issue of rosters.
Finding: Loans and secondments are not viewed as an attractive option by staff in outside agencies
Closely linked to recruitment is the issue of loans and secondments. While there is general
agreement that loans and secondments, especially from high-profile operational agencies, would make
OCHA stronger, it isn’t happening. We heard this and similar observations during interviews:
 “If interagency loans and secondment procedures were more effective, people might be
more willing to come on loan.”
 “Secondments in the UN system are considered ‘career suicide’ as one is not credited with
the experience and too often it is not seen as relevant to the incumbent’s current role.”
Loans and secondments have never been popular, but they offer people on the Resident
Coordinator (RC) track a way of getting the humanitarian credentials they need. And while they offer
more junior people valuable sharp-end emergency experience, many may see the likely lack of benefits
as a drawback.
Although it is not specific to secondments but to the larger issue of whether OCHA is genuinely
open to others, the number of comments we heard that OCHA does not readily welcome “outsiders” is
a concern. One interviewee remarked that OCHA “is totally averse to bringing in people from the
outside.” Although this didn’t come up in every interview, this is a critical and timely moment, in light of
66

Candidates who are on the OHRM roster are those who qualified for posts but were not in the end selected.
Rosters can also be used to set up a series of 'multiple duty station' job announcements, with a view to building
reliable rosters and also for the purpose of 'regularizing' staff serving in the field who are contracted under
temporary appointments. Using rosters can be up to four times faster than using individual job openings.

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OCHA potentially deciding as part of its staffing strategy to look for people outside OCHA and the UN,
to determine how to ensure OCHA is welcoming to those who come from outside.
Finding: There is a widespread belief within OCHA that certain posts, especially managerial ones, are
under-graded in comparison with other parts of the Secretariat and Inter-Agency Standing Committee
(IASC) members
Although there is no consensus about its effect on performance, many believe that OCHA’s
positions are graded lower than equivalent roles in the Secretariat and that this negatively affects the
effectiveness and sphere of influence of OCHA staff. Others raised the same concern in relation to the
larger agencies, including IASC members.
We believe the perception should be addressed. The feeling that OCHA’s gradings are out of synch
is widespread. This raises the issue of fairness within the Secretariat, and it may, according to some,
limit the influence and impact of OCHA staff.
Finding: There are many unacceptable delays in entitlements payments linked to on-boarding and
other deployment issues
There seem to be unacceptable delays in receiving entitlements. There are systems issues for
example, in the past the UNOG and OHRM systems didn’t communicate easily with each other, and
Umoja, as mentioned earlier, has not experienced a smooth introduction. And there may well be human
issues at play—staff seeking reimbursement may fill in the wrong forms, or someone in administration
may not take the necessary action in a timely manner. Whatever the reason, there can be very long
delays in the payment of salaries and entitlements, settlement of travel claims, medical
reimbursements, etc. These delays are a major source of staff dissatisfaction, and almost everyone in
the organization seems to have experienced them. These delays are not exclusively linked to
deployment issues.

VI. 4. iii. D. Solutions
OCHA must make recruitment and on-boarding as effective and efficient as possible. To do this, it
must:
 Fully commit to better targeting potential candidates;
 Address the perceptions of unfairness and lack of transparency in the recruitment process;
 Engage with IASC members in a discussion of loans and secondments;
 Commission a study on the grading of certain posts, especially managerial ones; and
 Ensure the timely payment of entitlements.
Recommendation: OCHA should fully commit to better targeting potential candidates
OCHA must improve the effectiveness of its recruitment process, and it must start by taking action
in these areas:
 Advertisements. OCHA should revisit its job vacancy announcements. They appear far too
generic to attract a reasonable number of ideal candidates. The intent of this change is to
reduce the number of applicants while increasing the quality. This could take considerable
work, as some assert that reducing quantity is currently done by using easy-to-screen but
sometimes irrelevant criteria, for example, number of degrees or languages spoken. As
used, the current competency profiles do not provide the additional screening required; this
suggests a review and refinement is in order. We also recommend that OCHA’s advertising
clearly state that it has a critical field-based operation and that staff are expected to travel to,
work in and surge to the field. The exact wording will, of course, depend on OCHA’s
decisions regarding staffing strategy and surge policy, but OCHA’s position should in all
cases be explicit.
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Assessments. OCHA should use psychometric assessments for key jobs, especially, but not
limited to, Head of Office positions. Given what we have heard about the importance of
adaptability and flexibility67 (especially in the field) and advanced interpersonal skills, we are
convinced that written tests cannot adequately screen for these qualities. The exact
assessments will be determined when OCHA decides the key competencies it is looking for
and which key positions it will assess.
Exit interviews. To better understand what attracts candidates to OCHA and why they leave,
OCHA should immediately start to conduct exit interviews. These interviews should be
conducted for staff at all levels irrespective of position or contract type when they announce
they are leaving OCHA. OCHA can explore using online tools to keep the workload to a
minimum and augment this with selected interviews.

Recommendation: OCHA should address the perceptions of unfairness and lack of
transparency in the recruitment process
OCHA should decide how to resolve the perception that the use of different recruitment options is
making the recruitment process unfair and unaccountable. Clearly these perceptions are detrimental to
the organization’s performance and morale. Moreover, if the charge occurs frequently and more than a
handful of people believe it is not just a perception, it is even more serious. Therefore, OCHA needs to
do the following, all of which are within its remit:
 Streamline. There are numerous processes available. It is not surprising that staff are
confused and believe that processes are unfair. For example, the use of rosters could be
improved, as could clarity on how decisions about contracting modalities (fixed term, service
contractor, continuing, etc.) are made and what benefits are available under which
modalities. We cover all these items in this report.
 Ensure coherence and consistency. All of OCHA should agree on the conditions under
which one contract modality or another is used.
 Monitor. The Human Resources Section (HRS) should have a role in ensuring consistent
application of the above agreement regarding coherence and consistency.
Acting on the perceptions of bias and unfairness in recruitment would involve doing the following:
 Accountability. To combat the perceptions of bias and favoritism, OCHA should look into a
mechanism for holding hiring managers more accountable for final decisions and building
into the decision-making process additional controls to ensure that policy is being complied
with.
 Benefits. If OCHA decides to keep using temporary contracts, as we assume it will, it could
look for innovative ways of augmenting the benefits for staff. This would make the contracts
more attractive while retaining the flexibility that is so important to OCHA. (We would like to
67

One approach to promoting flexibility is to select individuals who are themselves flexible or adaptable
(Boudreau & Ramstad, 1997; Cascio & Aguinas, 2008; Snow & Snell, 1993; Wright & Snell, 1998). To this end,
Pulakos, Arad, Donovan, and Plamondon (2000) developed a taxonomy of adaptive performance (distinct from
job performance) based on analysis of thousands of critical incidents from a wide variety of jobs. Results
supported an eight-factor taxonomy of adaptive performance: (1) dealing with uncertain and unpredictable work
situations, (2) learning new work tasks, technologies, and procedures, (3) handling emergencies or crisis
situations, (4) handling work stress, (5) solving problems creatively, (6) demonstrating interpersonal adaptability,
(7) demonstrating cultural adaptability, and (8) demonstrating physically oriented adaptability. As the authors
described, an important implication for selection is that the individual attributes that are important for adaptive
performance (and the predictors used to assess them) may differ from the attributes that are most closely
associated with effective task performance. Indeed, further research by Pulakos and colleagues has shown that
adaptability-focused measures provide incremental validity beyond cognitive ability and personality in predicting
supervisor ratings of adaptive performance (Pulakos et al., 2002, quoted in Organizational Strategy and Staffing,
J. P. Hausknecht and P. M. Wright, 2012).

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see data on the benefits and entitlements that people on different types of arrangements
get. We heard many complaints about this unfairness and believe it to be true, but until we
see data on entitlements, we can neither corroborate nor challenge this perception.)
Everyone, but line managers in particular, has a role to play to ensure that disappointment and
regret about not getting a desired position does not turn into an attack on the systems in place.
Recommendation: OCHA should engage with the IASC in a discussion of loans and
secondments
OCHA needs to deal with the issue of loans and secondments as an interagency issue. This will
work only if the IASC agencies get involved and make it appealing and effective in both directions. We
recommend that OCHA bring this issue to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC). As part of its
staffing strategy, OCHA would determine the right proportion and best placement of such secondments.
Too few secondments would reduce OCHA’s legitimacy; too many would reduce its unity and reliability.
Recommendation: OCHA should commission a study on the grading of certain posts, especially
managerial ones
OCHA should commission a study on the grading of certain posts, especially managerial ones,
compared to similar posts in the UN Secretariat and among IASC members. This study should be
carried out by classification specialists.
Recommendation: OCHA should ensure the timely payment of entitlements
OCHA must decide how to address the widespread dissatisfaction about delays in entitlements.
Given that OCHA is part of the Secretariat, it needs to learn how to optimize Umoja to ensure the timely
payment of entitlements, and it must ensure that there are enough staff to run Umoja and that they are
properly trained. Managers who are not doing their part in the workflow process should be held
accountable for doing so. This issue clearly extends beyond deployment.

VI. 3. iv. Surge Capacity and Deployment
VI. 3. iv. A. Context
In OCHA, surge refers to internal and external staffing mechanisms that “can be deployed
individually or in combination to address critical, new or unforeseen humanitarian needs in the field.”68

VI. 4. iv. B. Current State
Surge has a very high profile, absorbs significant amounts of energy, and is sometimes described
as the “flagship” of OCHA. In its 2014 - 2017 Management Plan, the subordinate outcome Stabilize
OCHA field capacity summarizes OCHA’s aspirations about the management of surge (and, more
generally, field staff):
OCHA will build on the progress made by its field staff to reduce its field-vacancy rate, which
decreased from 16 per cent in December 2011 to 8 per cent in April 2013. To ensure a rapid and
predictable response to sudden-onset and deteriorating crises, OCHA will make it standard practice to
activate pre-approved cost plans within the first days of an emergency response. OCHA will seek to
recruit the right people at the right time through targeted vacancy announcements calling for specific
competencies and experience, language skills, and willingness to deploy to hardship and non-family
duty stations. Regional offices, supported by UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination teams as
appropriate, will be the first port of call for OCHA’s surge capacity personnel, using regional expertise,
68

Easy Guide to Surge, p. 1.

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pre-existing networks and physical proximity to the crisis. They will be succeeded by surge
deployments from headquarters and OCHA’s standby partners. OCHA will sustain its efforts to secure a
standing roster of senior headquarters-based staff available for immediate deployment through the
Emergency Response Roster, and it will bolster its capacity to ensure deployment of timely
administrative support in emergency situations. OCHA will also track coverage of field posts from surge
deployments through regular recruitment for a more consistent and predictable succession, ensuring
only a single handover for critical job functions. In addition, OCHA will ensure that its teams are
deployed with the necessary assets, equipment and logistical support.69
In 2015, the Surge Capacity Section (SCS) of the Emergency Services Branch deployed 200
personnel to 35 countries. The number of SCS-managed surge days to field operations in 2015 totaled
22,406 days, the equivalent of 86 staff for the year.70 In 2015, CRD sent 21 staff to 18 countries on
surge missions.
Surge is by definition a response to unexpected events, and the demand for surge resources has
risen over the years. OCHA has therefore developed and refined a range of mechanisms to deal with
barriers to swift response, including slow access to needed staff and gaps in the skills and levels
available.
The recent audit of human resources management at OCHA had this to say about OCHA’s
approach to filling surge and regular positions:
OCHA also used roster mechanisms to fill surge and regular positions as its approach to deploying
staff. While the roster mechanisms served as an important emergency staff deployment tool, they alone
were inadequate to effectively: (i) align OCHA human resources capacity to meet the organizational
demands, keeping pace with the growing need for humanitarian services around the globe; (ii) attract,
deploy, develop, and retain highly motivated staff critical to the delivery of the OCHA mandate through
recruitment, training, knowledge sharing, and retention programs; (iii) clarify roles and responsibilities
for administering human resources management processes between New York, Geneva, and the field
offices to ensure efficiency and accountability; and (iv) develop and maintain an adequate human
resources management infrastructure through policy and system development.71
In recent years, OCHA has not been able to keep pace with the ever-increasing demand for its
surge resources, and it has found itself with imbalances in levels/profiles, more and more ad hoc
additions to and calls for volunteers to the Emergency Response Roster (ERR), and growing reliance
on the Stand-By Partner Programme (SBPP) for surge deployments.
The use of these surge mechanisms has created controversy and attracted considerable criticism.
Surge deployments can also have chain reactions; in the words of one interviewee, “We sometimes
need surge to replace the staff we sent on surge.” The use of surge for other than humanitarian needs
also runs the risk of putting additional pressure on resources already in short supply.
In January of this year, OCHA adopted a revised surge concept designed to address these and
other weaknesses in the current approach. The key recommendation is as follows:
In line with the October 2014 SMT decision, OCHA should expand the current volunteer surge
roster, moving to a system of organization-wide quotas. The proposed adjusted approach aims to
improve the predictability of surge resources and embed first-line emergency response as a corporate
responsibility that is spread equitably across the organization.72
The revised approach focuses on filling gap areas with extended rosters, training and support and
using better and more inter-operable tools to support tracking and managing surge. We do not know
what happened between the 2014 SMT decision and 2016 and can only speculate that there was not

69

OCHA Management Plan 2014 – 2017, p. 8.
Emergency Services Branch Surge Capacity Section 2015 Overview.
71
Office of Internal Oversight Services, Detailed results of an audit of management of human resources in
OCHA (AN2015-590-01), para 22.
72
Optimising Surge Mechanisms, Revised Surge Concept, January 2016, p. 4.
70

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enough corporate commitment to enable or enforce the 2014 decision and so it made its way back on
to the agenda of senior management.

VI. 4. iv. C. Findings
Finding: OCHA has to date lacked an integrated, end-to-end approach to surge; this has led to the
uneven and inefficient use of resources
We conducted our document review and many of our interviews as the revised surge concept was
in the final stages of being approved by the Senior Management Team (SMT). While the revised
concept as a document seems to address many of the criticisms we heard in our interviews, we
nevertheless present our findings for the perspective they provide on the lead-up to this new approach.
Several recurring themes about surge emerged from our interviews:
 Complexity. The surge processes are complex and involve players from numerous divisions;
for example, responsibility for managing surge capacity is shared between the Emergency
Services Branch (ESB) and CRD, and other units may be actively involved. As a result,
workflow processes are cumbersome, and significant cross-OCHA cooperation is required.
There are concerns about how demands for surge are assessed and whether the request is
always based on accurate assessments of need, in spite of the fact that there is an
Integrated Surge Request Form. There are also reports of disagreements over roles and
processes in general, over quantity versus quality in particular.
 Disincentives. As occurs in several agencies operating similar initiatives, surge is currently
plagued by disincentives. For instance, the handover mechanisms are still unclear and
baton-passing does not always go as it should: “Inefficient handover mechanisms are a
disincentive. They are one of the main reasons people are unwilling to offer themselves or to
release others for surge since a few weeks rapidly becomes a few months.” Managers are
rightly concerned that the performance of their own units will suffer if staff stay longer than
anticipated or key positions are not filled rapidly.
 Sharing the burden. Many feel that HQ does not contribute its fair share to surge, i.e., the
share that would be expected if surge was a corporate priority. As one interviewee put it,
“GVA and NY don’t contribute to surge deployment.” We also heard that “some people from
HQ are now unwilling to go to the field on deployment as they feel that so much has
changed that they no longer know how things such as the new processes and deliverables
work.”
 Poor preparation. Many staff who might want to go on surge do not feel adequately
prepared for it. And some who feel they are prepared are not accepted for surge
assignments. Considerable feedback suggests that the profiles and competencies of many
surged staff do not always meet the needs of the situation: “Surge works more or less but
there is a problem in matching the profile to the need,” “As a manager of an emergency, the
emergency is my priority, not training staff,” and “Too often the NOs are not prepared and so
do not perform well, and instead of this becoming a positive step in their career development
it becomes a negative one.”
 Cost. Surge is costly. Several surge mechanisms are available, and using each mechanism
appropriately is critical for OCHA to be able to say its approach and investment were
correct. The various mechanisms are meant to support effectiveness and to be cost
effective. However, the surge mechanism doesn’t function in a vacuum, and other HR and
management decisions can affect how effective and how costly it is. For example:
o Surge can result in expensive chain reactions, since “we sometimes need surge to
replace the staff we sent on surge.” This is a particular concern for ROs: since they
are the first port of call for surge, they feel that their other priorities must take second

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o

o
o

place, and this leads to offices, HQ and the field requiring surge to replace their staff
on surge.
In rapidly evolving humanitarian crises, OCHA staffs its country and regional offices
very rapidly under a “no regrets” policy. OCHA has accordingly acquired a reputation
with some agencies for “throwing staff at the problem” without careful planning. We
received feedback from staff and external stakeholders that some surge capacity
arrive without clear roles or expectations and sometimes “sit around and do very
little.”
Better planning, more recruitment of longer term staff, and cost recovery
mechanisms are possibilities that would reduce the overall costs.
The issue is not always about scarce resources but rather about their misuse. Some
key roles such as Roaming Emergency Surge Officer (RESO) are not being
performed as planned; they are supposed to be deployed for only a short time and
then return to base but often stay on longer than planned. This is very expensive and
means that there is no transfer of the knowledge they acquired on their deployments.

Finding: The revised surge concept appears to address most of the weaknesses in surge
As a planning document, the revised surge concept presented in Optimising Surge Mechanisms,
Revised Surge Concept, January 2016 addresses the weaknesses that OCHA and other organizations
have documented. We believe that the document also offers solutions to many of the criticisms we
heard in our interviews. The challenge is whether the revised concept will work in practice.
Finding: The revised surge concept will work only if there is full corporate commitment
The revised surge concept was approved in early 2016. Less than six months later, we understand
that there is no unified approach to the concept and that it is already not being implemented as outlined
in Optimising Surge Mechanisms. The success of the concept is clearly in danger; the concept simply
cannot succeed without full, meaningful commitment throughout the organization. This requires strong
messaging and strong action from senior management.

VI. 4. iv. D. Solutions
SMT has approved a revised surge concept for OCHA. The key question is how to make the new
strategy work in practice.
Success will require commitment and buy-in from all OCHA staff and management, as well as from
stakeholders and partners in the surge mechanisms. Success will also require greater attention to the
effectiveness of all aspects of surge. Little is now being done to systematically assess the effectiveness
of surge deployments. Current assessment seems to consist of conducting Operational Peer Reviews73
(OPRs) and reporting against the limited surge-related targets in the Management Plan.
In short, success depends on making a choice:
 Embrace the new strategy and make it work as a corporate strategy. This will require
rigorously monitoring and evaluating its implementation and effectiveness. It may even
require the newly formed EMC to clearly endorse the process.
OR
 Stop the process and reinvent it as a new corporate strategy. OCHA and specifically the
EMC will lose credibility if they ignore this revised concept and let it die on the vine.

73

The Senior Transformative Agenda Implementation Team (STAIT) conducts Operational Peer Reviews (OPRs).
OPRs are ideally undertaken within 90 days of the declaration of a Level 3 emergency by the Emergency Relief
Coordinator (ERC). An inter-agency team of senior humanitarian leaders works with the relevant HCs/HCTs to
identify corrective actions that could help strengthen both response and implementation.

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Recommendation: OCHA should embrace the new strategy and make it work as a corporate
strategy or stop the process and reinvent it
The requirements of the revised surge concept must be treated by all parties as a compact; of
particular importance is that managers get their staff back in the period initially agreed to.
OCHA needs to implement and carefully monitor the revised surge concept. In particular, OCHA
needs to answer these and other questions about the surge mechanisms and related rosters as they
function under the new concept:
 Do OCHA’s surge mechanisms ensure the rapid deployment of appropriate staff?
 Do OCHA’s procedures provide the right structures for high-quality response to emergencies
and eventual handover to development partners?
 Does OCHA have the right tools for assessing the effectiveness of its surge mechanisms?
For instance, how much information do the surge dashboards provide, and how is that
information used? Are they capturing issues of quality? Are the performance reviews of
surge personnel used at all? Does anyone do exit interviews with surge personnel?
 How effective is succession planning for post-surge situations, including consolidation,
downsizing and re-surging?74
Given our findings, it is urgent that action be taken immediately to ensure that the new concept is
being implemented as planned. Monitoring should include taking into account, as appropriate, the
findings of the recent Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS) evaluation of emergency services;
among other things, this evaluation examined emergency deployments and their effectiveness and the
satisfaction rate of UNDAC partners following these activities.75
If it is determined that the major weakness in surge is that it requires too much cross-organization
coordination, OCHA could consider a structural change to manage this challenge, for example, putting
all decision-making under the same manager.
OCHA must decide when to pursue the operational considerations,76 areas of work,77 and
improvements in processing tools78 suggested in Optimising Surge Mechanisms, Revised Surge
Concept.79
If the EMC believes the revised concept will not work, despite being approved recently by the SMT,
it should immediately halt the process and reinvent an OCHA-wide approach to surge. Carefully
considering the right home for this mechanism is central to this reinvention, given all the other decisions
taken on organizational design and structure as a result of the Functional Review. Different parts of
OCHA have strongly held views on surge capacity. It is clear that until there is in-depth discussion in
the EMC involving all the other key actors, it will not be possible to produce an accurate picture of the
74

Decision-making on succession planning theoretically involves a number of entities (CRD, HR, surge field
office, tech sections): they should get together to make decisions but this doesn’t happen. For example, the OPR
on CAR observed (para 58) that “the issue of sufficient capacity and the lack of planning for the
transition/departure of surge capacity, once their three month deployment period is up, were highlighted as
concerns in all the self-assessments conducted. The HC should ensure all organizations put in place a surge
transition plan, and take the necessary steps to recruit staff at an appropriate level and with the right skill set. The
HCT should discuss the transition plans to identify gaps and to determine areas of focus as a collective.”
75
We understand the evaluation has taken place but a report is not yet available.
76
For example, staggered deployments, a team/pairing approach for key functions, new training and learning
initiatives, and the use of RESO deployments to mentor and cross-fertilize key functions. Optimising Surge
Mechanisms, Revised Surge Concept, p. 6.
77
For instance, increased emphasis on joint training covering all surge mechanisms, mapping of RO
resources to clarify first-line response capacity, and identification of functions that can be performed remotely.
Optimising Surge Mechanisms, Revised Surge Concept, p. 7.
78
For instance, examining workflow processes and cross-OCHA cooperation in emergencies and reviewing
the relevant Policy Instructions. Optimising Surge Mechanisms, Revised Surge Concept, p. 7.
79
Optimising Surge Mechanisms, Revised Surge Concept, pp. 6-7.

106

current situation and, through this, to determine the roles and processes that must be embedded in the
agreed way forward.

VI. 4. v. Development and Learning
VI. 4. v. A. Context
As OCHA is part of the UN Secretariat, OCHA staff must take part in the mandatory programs that
the UN Secretariat sets out for its staff at various levels. For some time, OCHA has worked to establish
a learning framework and within that framework to offer coordinated development and learning
opportunities that make a difference at both the individual and organizational level. The drive in this
direction began in 2012, with OCHA’s Organizational Learning Strategy (OLS). The Strategy had four
pillars—institutional learning, individual learning, knowledge management and learning governance—
and was a catalyst for the coordination of training in OCHA. Objectives related to the OLS are now
being implemented through the organization’s 2014-2017 Management Plan.80
The USG’s February 2016 announcement of the launch of the Learning Management System
(LMS) is a recent reminder of OCHA’s commitment to becoming a learning organization (bold emphasis
added):
I am pleased to announce the Go Live of the new OCHA Learning Management System, "Learning
for Humanity." This occasion marks another step towards our aim to realize OCHA as a learning
organization to better meet the needs of people who are affected by crisis.
OCHA aims to implement a 70:20:10 learning framework, where 70% of learning takes place
through practice and on-the-job experience, 20% takes place through interaction with others (coaching,
feedback, networking, etc.) and 10% takes place through formal training. Formal training includes
online, face-to-face classroom and blended programs.
OCHA has budget commitments and learning entitlements in line with the UN system. For example,
OCHA’s budget planning guidance states that funds for training should be calculated at 0.5% of
international staff costs under all office branch cost plans (decentralized fund), and OCHA staff are
entitled to 10 days of learning a year.

VI. 4. v. B. Current State
In addition to the mandatory programs from the UN Secretariat, learning and training opportunities
are offered by numerous units in OCHA. The Staff Development and Learning (SDL) unit considers
itself the “business owner” of training but works in partnership with internal and external partners.
Considerable progress has been made in the development of the learning framework’s cornerstone—its
policies, tools and guidelines. These include Staff Learning Policy and Guidelines, a Learning Planning
and Reporting Tool (piloted in 2014) and OCHA’s Guidelines on Training (launched in 2015). Of critical
importance is the development of the Core Curriculum and Functional Learning Paths. In addition,
materials for courses ranging from OCHA’s core induction module through the mandatory UN courses
to function-specific information and tools are available online, and several portals and systems have
been launched, including a Learning Focal Points System and the OCHAnet Learning Platform and
Learning Management System (LMS).
A Learning, Knowledge and Management Board (LKMB) was established “to realize a more
corporate approach to learning – both at the individual staff-member level and institution level, as well
as knowledge management for improved performance and innovation.”81 This Board:82
80

Draft Baseline Study on OCHA Training, p. 1.
Guidelines on Training, p. 27.
82
Idem.
81

107

… is a cross branch mechanism that ensures alignment with the goals of the Organizational
Learning Strategy and compliance with standards across all learning and knowledge management
related programmes in OCHA. It strives to make sure that such programmes are coherent, meet
standards, maximize synergies across the organization, avoid duplication, are cost effective and ensure
return on investment. Where relevant, the Board promotes the uptake of best practices identified
through reviews or other evidence-based analyses.
Through the LKMB, OCHA establishes targeted learning priorities on an annual basis: 83
The identification of annualized learning priorities ensures a strategic and targeted approach to
learning in alignment with the 2014-2017 Management Plan and other emerging needs based on
organizational demands. Current identified priority areas include performance management targeting all
levels, results based management training in support of planning and reporting under the 2014-2017
Strategic Framework,84 humanitarian programme cycle, situational awareness with emphasis on data
analysis and integration of gender, conflict, other; and leadership and management development.
A new induction package was endorsed by the SMT in 2014 and subsequently rolled out with
briefings to managers, all-staff broadcasts and regular reminders in SDL newsletters. The package has
been expanded with the addition of the OCHA Foundational E Modules, which are available on the
OCHA LMS.
Regarding talent management and career development, SDL has explored or started a number of
initiatives. For instance:
 Two career support pilots have recently been successfully implemented: the National Staff
Rotation Scheme, in partnership with Information Services Branch (ISB) and the Strategic
Communications Branch (SCB), and an initiative in support of gender parity targets of the
2014 - 2017 Management Plan.85
 The Humanitarian Leadership Support Unit (HLSU) and SDL have been working to develop
a more strategic and systematic approach to nominating and grooming staff for the Resident
Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) track.86
 The Draft proposal on OCHA Humanitarian Leadership and Management Development
Programme identifies a mechanism for developing a talent pool of senior and junior women
(P4, P5, D1 and NO/P3-2) and proposes an initial pilot group.
 Partnerships to bring a mentoring program to senior women field managers with DFS in
2016 have been identified.87
OCHA cannot truly become a learning organization or know whether it is succeeding in its goal to
offer coordinated development and learning opportunities if it does not have relevant, accurate and
timely information on learning uptake. In the past, there has been no way to track staff uptake of
learning opportunities. If used as designed, the recently introduced LMS will make it possible to track
this and other key indicators in the future. In addition, the LMS features a robust monitoring and
evaluation facility that will be implemented through the latter half of 2016; this is expected to provide a
consolidated overview of training activities and analysis that will provide perspective on performance.88

VI. 4. v. C. Findings
83

Background note for LKMB_21.
In support of enhanced effectiveness in planning and reporting under the 2014 - 2017 Strategic Framework,
RBM training is being implemented by SPEGS (draft concept note is available).
85
See Review on National Staff Rotation, January 2015, with key recommendations for measures to scale up
from the pilot (draft is available).
86
Learning and Knowledge Management Board, DRAFT Background Note with Proposed Advance Agenda
Items, p. 2.
87
Draft Humanitarian Leadership and Management Development Programme, p. 4.
88
Draft Accelerating the Coordination of OCHA Training: Background Note and Proposed Recommendations,
July 2016.
84

108

While OCHA has developed a sound framework for development and learning, the organization’s
practices are only beginning to align with its training guidelines. As a result, the training on offer is still
not meeting users’ needs, and staff continue to perceive it in a negative light. For example, in the allstaff survey, responses to questions about learning and development opportunities scored low both in
absolute terms and compared to benchmarks.89
Finding: OCHA’s approach to training does not align with its own guidelines
OCHA’s Guidelines on Training “provide a set of minimum standards and practices for the
development and implementation of training programs as well as coordination practice such as
information sharing, a shared resource repository, a common training roster, etc.”90 In 2015, OCHA
conducted a baseline study to capture the current training situation and develop a benchmark for
assessing the alignment of practices to the Guidelines. Key findings include the following:
 “Not all trainings delivered are based on a needs assessment and those conducted vary in
approach and methodology.”91
 “Design and delivery of training employs a variety of methods.”92
 “The majority of training programs reported that participants applied the knowledge gained
from training to their jobs, but it was not clear how this was measured.”93
 “Participant satisfaction and achievement of learning objectives is high yet there is lack of
clarity on how the data was gathered and findings determined.”94
While the findings are generally positive, a number of those we interviewed expressed more
negative views. We heard that units all across OCHA offer ‘training’ every time a new guideline comes
out, that the units with curriculum design and learning expertise are not consulted on approaches and
methodology, and that the resulting delivery is less than effective. We also heard numerous times that
training was simply not targeting staff needs.
Our observations confirm those of OCHA’s own baseline study that not enough training is based on
needs assessments, and interviewees have commented that training is not demand driven. We believe
that this may at least partially explain the current low uptake. Work is ongoing to strengthen staff
awareness and uptake of the resources available under the Core Curriculum and Induction Package
through increased outreach and communications.95
The needs assessment carried out by SDL in 2014 further confirmed the importance of asking staff
to identify the knowledge and skills required for their jobs. The information from the survey has been
used to further refine the Core Curriculum.96 Although respondents represented all job functions and
there was a good balance of male/female, international/national and HQ/Field staff, the response rate
was, at about 10%, very low. If this response rate is a true reflection of staff’s interest in stating their
learning needs, it could be difficult to reach the goal of demand-driven offerings that the USG invoked in
his message about the LMS launch.97
Finding: There are some deeply negative perceptions of OCHA‘s staff development offerings

89

For more on this, see the chapter on culture and the annex.
Draft Baseline Study on OCHA Training, p. 1, undated.
91
Draft Baseline Study on OCHA Training, p. 3, undated.
92
Draft Baseline Study on OCHA Training, p. 4, undated.
93
Draft Baseline Study on OCHA Training, p. 5, undated.
94
Draft Baseline Study on OCHA Training, p. 5, undated.
95
OCHA On boarding & Induction Package: Stocktaking Report on Lessons Learned shows an adoption rate
of just under 50%, which demonstrates progress but also that more work needs to be done.
96
Staff Learning Needs Assessment Report, July 2014, p. 4.
97
“Your feedback is critical to ensure the OCHA LMS offerings are demand driven and responsive to your
learning needs.”
90

109

Despite continuing efforts to improve training offerings, there seems to be a gap between what
OCHA is trying to do and what staff experience, and we heard some deeply negative views during our
interviews. However, interviewees don’t always make the distinction between who is offering the
program. For example, we have heard both negative and positive comments about “OCHA’s training”,
when in fact the interviewee is referring to a program offered by the Secretariat. The difference is
important only in that OCHA can take responsibility for improving its own offers but can, at best, only
influence the programs offered by other providers, such as the Secretariat. Interviewees’ negative
views centred largely on access issues, online programs, poor targeting, quality and commitment, and
waste and inefficiency:
 Access issues. Several access issues emerged during our interviews. The feedback from
National Officers about access to training is inconsistent; some told us they have had
considerable difficulty accessing training. We were also told that in some cases, training
offered by other units in OCHA is not available to OCHA’s own staff, and so they are not upto-date in essential areas.
 Online programs. In an attempt to increase accessibility and decrease costs, all
organizations are looking at online and/or blended programs, and OCHA is no different. This
trend will continue. Complaints about these offerings included the lack of face-to-face
opportunities for networking, poor design of the programs themselves or —more
frequently—a system that is not user-friendly. One interviewee said it took only two hours to
do the training but up to 10 to upload it and get the certificate. Another mentioned that the
program designers just didn’t seem to appreciate that Internet connectivity in some countries
is not what it is in NY or Geneva. However, providing a daily subsistence allowance (DSA) to
those attending classroom programs creates a perverse incentive when the DSA is
substantial enough to be considered a source of income: staff value classroom over online
training but for the wrong reasons.
 Poor targeting. Statements like these emerged during our interviews: “OCHA is not
interested enough in training and preparing people for these jobs” and “Training lets us
down; it is not linked to the job people are doing or a career path.”
o Those who mentioned poor or no targeting often noted the consequences for the
quality of management. In most international organizations, technical people are
promoted to managerial jobs whether or not they are interested in managing people
and demonstrate any skills or willingness to learn them. Organizations are then often
slow to offer the training, mentoring and coaching required to support success in this
fundamentally different role. For instance, “I didn't receive any preparation to be
Head of Office, I just became one” and “Technicians become managers, and too
often they don’t like it and are not good at it.”
 Quality and commitment. “The last training that was offered was an embarrassment.
Training seems to be on someone’s work plan but has nothing to do with the needs of the
field.”
 Waste and inefficiency. We heard that training is sometimes offered even though the
number of participants is very low, resulting in high per-person costs. We also believe that
the LKMB has not yet been able to support OCHA in addressing the inconsistent and
perhaps wasteful approaches to learning. The LKMB has yet to meet the basic description
of learning governance set out in the OLS, i.e., to “tighten accountabilities around the
implementation of endorsed recommendations, and identify OCHA’s most urgent
priorities for change based on continuous strategic analysis.”98
OCHA itself is concerned that its own approach is triggering some of the negative feedback. When
managers fail to implement onsite orientation in accordance with the Onsite Orientation Guide, staff can
98

OCHA Organizational Learning Strategy 2012-2013, p. 6.

110

come on board in "sink or swim" mode; the result is an unpleasant experience that should not have
happened in the first place and is wasteful for everyone involved.
Finding: Uptake of the induction package is still not organization-wide
OCHA’s mandate and way of working are unique, and an induction program (see page 97) that
ensures that all staff, whether internally promoted or coming from the outside, are fully familiar with
OCHA’s ways is essential. Unfortunately, the program has long been viewed as inadequate. The 2014
report on on-boarding and induction suggested that the induction process was neither systematic nor
comprehensive and made a number of recommendations to address the observed deficiencies:99
 There is room for more work to ensure that induction is instituted in a standard and
comprehensive way across the organization.
 There is a need to ensure that the onsite orientation is fully adopted and takes place as a
standard procedure with all new staff.
 Specific elements of the onsite orientation require attention to ensure that they are
comprehensive and effectively carried out.
Despite all the efforts noted above to improve the induction package, uptake is inadequate.
According to the 2014 OCHA On Boarding & Induction Package: Stocktaking Report on Lessons
Learned, the uptake was under 50%, and statements in our interviews indicate that this is still the case.
For example: “When I came to the office six out of the ten staff had never worked for OCHA and as
there was no induction, they were all working on assumptions that what they did in their previous jobs in
other organizations applied here.”
SDL has indicated to us that this weakness relates to lack of implementation and a need for an
organization-wide uptake of the induction package, with particular emphasis on ensuring that the
information is systematically shared as part of the on-boarding processes. The gaps identified in OCHA
On Boarding & Induction Package: Stocktaking Report on Lessons Learned thus seem to persist:
Furthermore, significant numbers of staff reported that many elements of the onsite orientation did
not happen, indicating that there are gaps in implementation of this new element of the induction
process.100
Finding: OCHA does not have an explicit and integrated talent- or career-management strategy
While OCHA has certainly taken steps and supported initiatives to develop the organization’s talent,
we do not yet see a fully integrated talent- or career-management strategy. Such a strategy, embedded
in a well-defined staffing strategy, would strengthen the cohesiveness of all development and learning.
The demand for career support is strong, as various staff surveys and other consultations have shown.
Regarding NOs, OCHA faces the same dilemma as all UN organizations: how can the potential of
this cadre—which is highly variable among nationalities and individuals, as it is with the international
staff pool—be developed for the benefit of the organization? Without a more conscious and structured
approach to career development for NOs (which may depend on whether OCHA is, or is not, a “career
organization”), the passage of NOs into the P category will continue to be largely a matter of chance.
Finding: OCHA currently does not have a functioning knowledge management system
According to the Management Plan for 2014 - 2017, OCHA must be able to continually use
feedback and experience to improve its practices if it is to provide consistent, predictable and highquality coordination services. As a learning organization, OCHA must also make it easy for staff to
share and acquire knowledge and assimilate best practices in their work.

99

OCHA On Boarding & Induction Package: Stocktaking Report on Lessons Learned, p. 5.
OCHA On Boarding & Induction Package: Stocktaking Report on Lessons Learned, p. 4.

100

111

OCHA’s most recent internal review on progress on the management plan confirms that the
organization is still a long way from having an integrated knowledge management strategy. The desired
results in the areas related to knowledge management have simply not been fully achieved.
OCHA has also reviewed its Communities of Practice (CoPs), one of the key elements of its OLS.101
CoPs have long been used to accomplish knowledge management goals, and OCHA has several wellestablished CoPs.102 Its first CoP emerged from the global Information Management workshop in 2005.
The information management CoP has evolved to include over 200 OCHA staff, and since then many
new CoPs have emerged. While CoPs provide a space for staff to exchange ideas and know-how and
to collectively resolve/troubleshoot common challenges,103 the innovations and information arising from
these communities are not consistently documented, shared widely or used to inform policies.
As the Communities of Practice Review, conducted in April 2016, concludes:
There is no clear channel for innovations arising from CoPs to inform organizational policy
or guidance. Currently there is no leadership structure or governance over communities of practice as
a knowledge management programme. There is no corporate analysis of how the communities are
functioning or identification of noteworthy trends and issues arising; nor is there a process for CoP
facilitators to bring innovations to the attention of policy makers, guidance, or programming. Similarly,
there is no mechanism to share any innovations across the organization.104
While the CoPs are a good step, they cannot be considered an organization-wide knowledge
management strategy. We heard conflicting comments about how systematically and effectively
lessons learned are captured in OCHA.
Two non-OCHA initiatives have a bearing on knowledge management at OCHA. First, the Senior
Transformative Agenda Implementation Team (STAIT), which is hosted in OCHA, has an initiative to
capture learnings and good practices from the field. STAIT shares its findings primarily through a
webinar series that OCHA staff should be able to access and benefit from.
Second, the Joint Inspection Unit of the UN is undertaking a review of knowledge management in
the United Nations system. The intent is to identify the most useful elements and to promote them
system-wide in a coherent and results-oriented framework. The exercise began in January 2016, and
the report is expected to be completed at the end of 2016. OCHA should certainly stay apprised of this
report.

VI. 4. v. D. Solutions
OCHA now has the guidelines, policies and frameworks105 to ensure a coordinated and effective
approach to learning. The Core Curriculum and Functional Learning Paths specify the ‘must dos’ and
provide much-needed information for staff. However, there is clearly a gap between the plans and the
implementation. We therefore make five recommendations aimed at helping OCHA to both narrow this
gap and better align its training with its own training priorities and guidelines. To some extent, success

101

OCHA, Organizational Learning Strategy 2012 – 2013, p. 5.
This information is drawn from Draft Communities of Practice Review, April 2016.
103
One example provided involved an Information Management CoP member who needed to make maps for
eight countries with a very tight deadline and limited local GIS capacity. He asked for support from the CoP and
within one day had responses from IMOs located in Pakistan, Fiji, CAR, CDI and Liberia. Within two days, they
were able to create seven of the eight requested maps—much faster than one individual IMO would have been
able to do it.
104
Draft Communities of Practice Review 10 April 2016, p.4
105
Roadmap to Learning, Core Curriculum Learning Path, Onboarding Workflow, Core Induction Module,
LMS Briefing Note for Managers, Onsite Orientation Guide, OCHA Guidelines on Training, Staff Learning Policy
and Guidelines, Learning Planning and Reporting Tool, Draft proposal on OCHA Humanitarian Leadership and
Management Development Programme, Expanded Terms of Reference, Learning and Knowledge Management
Board.
102

112

will depend on the level of investment that OCHA decides to make in the learning and development of
its staff.
Recommendation: OCHA should implement induction throughout the office
OCHA must make absolutely sure that its induction package is implemented as specified in the
Onsite Orientation Guide. Otherwise, staff cannot understand the basics required to be a humanitarian
actor or the OCHA mandate. Induction is critical for all staff.
Token gestures are simply not enough. This solution will require discussions with HRS, meaningful
decisions about how to proceed, and strong support from senior management.
Recommendation: OCHA should target performance in key roles
OCHA must target performance in its key roles. We suggest that OCHA fast-track development and
learning opportunities based on key roles, the priority being Heads of Office (HoOs).
In our interviews, we were repeatedly told that HoOs could have been better prepared for their job;
but we heard just as often that when OCHA offices were successful, it had to do with the HoO. And
when we asked what made an individual HoO successful, the resounding response was a version of
interpersonal skills. These skills cannot be tested in paper-and-pencil exercises, and OCHA needs
advanced skills here, acquired through cutting-edge training and coaching approaches:
 Coaching should be introduced and supported as soon as possible to HoOs and to
managers managing people.
 We fully support the learning priority of strengthening performance in the humanitarian
program cycle. The training should be preceded by an assessment of skill gaps, with the
focus on the humanitarian program cycle, before this training priority is implemented with the
appropriate level of Humanitarian Affairs Officers (HAOs).
 We encourage OCHA to explore the need to strengthen and attract ‘analysis’ skills among
field staff. While the need for this skill set has been identified for years within the
organization, people found it hard to define exactly what they meant when we asked them.
Some described it as a capacity to think, and others referred to having a political awareness
of the situation. We see no evidence that this has been translated into a hiring or training
practice and believe OCHA needs to do more work here. We do note that a “situational
awareness with emphasis on data analysis and integration of gender, conflict, other” is a
training priority.106
Recommendation: OCHA should continue to strengthen the 70% component of the 70:20:10
framework
We believe the 70:20:10 framework (see page 107) is ideal for OCHA, given the nature of its work.
It is therefore essential that OCHA continue to strengthen and refine the 70% component (practice and
on-the-job experience) of its development and learning opportunities. Only 40% of respondents to the
all-staff survey believe they receive the help they need to learn and grow professionally; this is one of
the lowest scoring questions for OCHA. Given the importance of context in the work of OCHA, we
strongly believe that job swaps, job shadowing, mentoring and other on-the-job learning experiences
should be exploited more in OCHA—for both international and national staff.
Recommendation: OCHA should develop a fully integrated talent- and career-management
strategy
Whether or not it decides to become a full-fledged “career organization,” OCHA must, for the sake
of its own performance as an organization, develop and implement a fully integrated talent- and career106

Learning and Knowledge Management Board, DRAFT Background Note with Proposed Advance Agenda
Items, p. 1.

113

management strategy. This strategy would build on work already done on the pathways to learning and
set out explicit career options for all staff on selected career tracks. Suggested pathways for becoming
a HoO and preparing for HC/RC roles should be priorities.
We note that the draft proposal on OCHA’s Humanitarian Leadership and Management
Development Programme is supportive of this position, stating “leadership and management
development interventions should begin earlier [rather] than later in the career trajectory, preferably at
NO/P2 levels and be structured as a longer term plan to achieve maximum results.”107
The key to effective talent management is spotting and recruiting talent. To increase its talent pool,
OCHA should consider making the identification of national talent an objective for HoOs. This could be
a ‘soft’ target, but setting the target would “send the message.”
Strengthening and refining the 70% component of OCHA’s development and learning opportunities
is particularly important in talent and career management. We further believe that early secondments
and greater use of competencies in day-to-day work should be part of the talent-management strategy.
Moreover, these elements of the strategy must be rigorously and regularly assessed through the
performance management system.
Finally, we think that there is an important communication aspect to this. Staff continue to lament
the lack of training and career opportunities. OCHA needs to more explicitly manage these
expectations, clarify what it is doing to support career development for staff and, as stated earlier,
support staff in managing their own careers as well.
Recommendation: OCHA should develop and implement an office-wide knowledge management
strategy
OCHA will not become a learning organization until it develops and implements an office-wide
knowledge management strategy. In addition to fostering CoPs, this requires facilitating access to
colleagues, facilitating access to basic information and know-how, and exploiting OCHA platforms and
support.108
Given the significant shortcomings of the CoPs (see page 112)—the one component of a
knowledge management strategy where initial steps have been taken—we recommend that OCHA
revisit the action plan for its Organizational Learning Strategy.109 Several actions are identified, most of
which were scheduled to be completed by 2014; however, we cannot confirm whether these actions
have been completed. OCHA should review what has been done and what is still relevant, redraft the
action plan and fully commit to its implementation. This will require coordination, at minimum, between
the Corporate Programmes Division (CPD) and the Administrative Services Branch (ASB) and strong
support from both the LKMB and senior management.

VI. 4. vi. Performance Management
VI. 4. vi. A. Context
Like other UN agencies, OCHA must follow certain policies and procedures related to performance
management.
OCHA has shown its commitment in this regard by, among other things, adhering to the
Secretariat’s policy on performance management110 and making the improvement of performance

107

Draft Proposal: OCHA Humanitarian Leadership and Management Development Programme, p. 1.
OCHA, Organizational Learning Strategy 2012 – 2013, pp. 5 and 6.
109
Final OLS and Action Plan Nov 2012, pp. 7-12.
110
Administrative instruction Performance Management and Development System, ST/AI/2010/5, 2010.
108

114

management a subordinate outcome of one of the management objectives in the 2014 – 2017
Management Framework.111

VI. 4. vi. B. Current State
Performance appraisals are OCHA’s key performance management tool. The appraisals are done
in e-performance, the performance management tool of the UN system. The relevant Policy Instruction
applies only to those “who hold appointments of at least one year except for staff at the levels of
Assistant Secretary-General who report to the Under-Secretary-General in their respective area of work
and staff at the level of Under-Secretary-General who report directly to the Secretary-General. This
cohort would rarely include all staff in a given unit.”112 In other words, not everyone is subject to eperformance.

VI. 4. vi. C. Findings
Finding: Staff and managers are skeptical about the value of performance management
Staff and managers have expressed skepticism about the value of performance management in
OCHA. The recent organization survey, which about 50% of all OCHA staff responded to, found that
only 27% of respondents fully agreed that poor individual performance is not tolerated; even fewer—
23%—felt that promotion is clearly tied to performance.113
In addition, according to the 2014 stocktaking on on-boarding and induction, “Just under 40% of
staff reported that briefings on e-performance were poor or very poor. This trend dips lower at the field
level with 75% of staff, who rated it as poor or very poor, and a number of staff commented that they
received no information at all.”114 This seems to confirm that OCHA is not sending consistent messages
about the importance of performance management.
Finding: The performance management system is not robust
For a performance management system to be robust, participation must be “full and timely,”115 staff
must know how to access and use the required tools, the ratings must be meaningful (e.g., neither too
high nor too low) and have consequences, and staff and managers must be accountable for both noncompliance with established deadlines within the performance cycle and for sub-par performance.
Unfortunately, many staff do not receive performance appraisals at all or in a timely manner. For
instance, the e-performance report for the period ended December 30, 2015, shows that 75% of staff
received their appraisals for 2014-2015 on time.116 In other words, 25% did not receive their appraisals
on time.

111

OCHA Management Plan 2014 – 2017, p. 11.
Update on Performance Management, SMT Background Document, 11 January 2016, p. 1.
113
BCG PowerPoint presentation, March 2016.
114
OCHA On Boarding & Induction Package: Stocktaking Report on Lessons Learned, p. 5.
115
Update on Performance Management, SMT Background Document, 11 January 2016, p. 1.
116
Update on Performance Management, SMT Background Document, 11 January 2016, p. 1.
112

115

Performance Appraisal Ratings and Compliance, 2013-2014 and 2014-2015117

Total OCHA
HQ
Regional offices
Field Offices
Total field (RO + FO)

2013-2014
69%
74%
51%
66%
63%

2014-2015
75%
69%
78%
84%
83%

Ratings (totals)
1: exceeds expectations
2: successfully met expectations
3: partially met expectations

544
180
360
4

592
217
372
3

While performance management has been identified as a priority training area for the current period
(see page 108), we did not see the implementation plans.
The performance ratings seem uniformly high (see above), and we could find no evidence of
anyone being separated from OCHA in recent years. Staff have told us, among other things, that
“performance evaluation is only ticking the box” and “managers don’t use appraisal to document a
problem that has been going on for years.” While some non-renewals of contracts may have occurred
for performance reasons, these findings cast considerable doubt on how performance management is
currently being used.
Accountability is also an issue on the management side, as it is not clear “what corrective action is
taken if a section or unit does not complete the performance appraisal within the required timeframe or
not complete them at all.”118
Finding: The system does not apply to all staff, and OCHA cannot easily access the appraisals of all its
staff
OCHA is currently unable to access almost half of the performance appraisals that are carried out.
Referring to e-performance reports:
The reports do not include the national staff participation in eperformance because the data is not
available in HRinsight (which covers all but locally recruited staff). OHRM handles data for locally
recruited staff separately and does not include it in the HRinsight, maintaining that they are managed
by UNDP. Use of the eperformance has increased so we are following up with OHRM to see how we
may get access to this data.119
In addition, we were concerned to learn that the performance appraisals of local staff completed by
an OCHA manager can be overruled by UNDP, as UNDP is the contract administrator.
Finding: The root causes are complex and systemic
Performance management in the UN is a challenge, and this is not unique to OCHA or even to the
UN. For example, the process and discussion are often dreaded by staff member and manager alike,
and the ratings are burdensome, time-consuming, and without impact or consequence. And being
‘rated’ is rarely pleasant, as no one wants to be average or to ‘meet expectations.’ Frequently neither
the manager nor the staff member knows how to hold healthy conversations about performance. The

117

These data are from OCHA e-performance reports as of September 24, 2014, and December 30, 2015,
and refer only to the appraisals OCHA can access.
118
OCHA Management Framework 2014-2017, Annual Internal Review of OCHA’S Progress in Implementing
the Management Plan (Draft), pp. 9-10.
119
Communication with MANNET from OCHA staff member, 7 April 2016.

116

risk then becomes that the only outcome of the conversation is a damaged relationship between two
colleagues who need to continue to work together.
The systems themselves don’t seem to be in alignment. For instance, one senior manager said he
had not been alerted to the need to evaluate staff, while another told us of trying to complete the
assessments by the 30 June deadline only to find that the IT system was shut down for maintenance at
that time.
Finally, many managers feel that if they try to take the process seriously by noting areas requiring
‘needs improvement’ or areas of underperformance, it will take a lot time to deal with the staff member’s
response and the associated administrative processes. Further, many believe that their manager, HRS,
and the system in general will not support them if they try to truly manage performance. In sum, there
are many disincentives to doing anything other than “checking the boxes.”

VI. 4. vi. D. Solutions
Withdrawing from the performance management system is not an option as long as OCHA is part of
the UN Secretariat. Our overall recommendation is, therefore, to encourage OCHA to see the UN
Secretariat process as the foundation and to reinforce the importance of performance management by
adding guidelines or training to make the process more useful and healthy. OCHA can do this as long
as it complies with the baseline requirements of the Secretariat.
Recommendation: OCHA should reinforce the importance of performance management and
augment the baseline requirements of the Secretariat
To reinforce the importance of performance management throughout OCHA, the organization
needs to augment the Secretariat’s baseline requirements by introducing the following best-practice
initiatives:
 Evaluate performance management training and messaging. To be effective, performance
management systems must include training that participants find useful, as well as
messaging that supports performance management as an essential corporate function. In
other words, offering training and distributing information is not enough. Effective training
must be a true priority, and training and messaging must separately target both staff and
managers.
 Test and find ways to increase compliance. Some organizations have used a “name and
shame” tactic to increase compliance. If OCHA prefers a softer approach, the EMC might
reconsider “public recognition of units that accomplish full compliance. Recognition can
communicate the importance of performance management; raise motivation and encourage
desired actions; reinforce organizational values and culture; and ultimately improve full and
timely participation in performance management.”120 And if it has not already done so,
OCHA should make completing e-performance assessments on time a management
objective for all managers.
 Focus on dialogue. Dialogue is the only thing that makes a difference, and most people
need training in this area. We therefore recommend training for staff and managers alike,
and we suggest that the performance appraisals of mature managers who have had such
training include an objective regarding dialogue with staff. We note that this is a learning
priority and that SDL plans to offer Constructive Performance Dialogues for Senior Field
Managers in its Humanitarian Leadership and Management Development Programme.121
Perhaps this offer could be expanded. We heard of one senior manager who has
120

1.

Update on Performance Management, SMT Background Document for period April 2014 –March 2015, p.

121

OCHA Staff Development and Learning, Draft Proposal: OCHA Humanitarian Leadership and
Management Development Programme, p. 3.

117


meaningful hour-long conversations with each staff member twice a year. OCHA should aim
to make this the norm, not the exception.
Improve and use the ratings. If OCHA is really going to put the performance of people at the
centre, its ratings must better identify high performance and deal with underperformance.
OCHA should consider hiring a consultant to examine the work plans section of selected
OCHA e-performance documents and determine whether the formulation of the objectives is
helpful to managing and evaluating performance. (This is usually the starting point for any
initiative to improve performance management. In our experience, despite staff and
managers being trained on the SMART approach to defining objectives, the objectives
developed are seldom SMART and therefore do not support a robust evaluation.) OCHA
should also set up its own management review board with a two-year mandate to review
and revise ratings. One of the key functions of these boards is to control over-ratings and
increase the consistency with which ratings are used throughout an organization.
Include input from key stakeholders in performance evaluations. A precedent for this
initiative exists in the larger OCHA context, as Humanitarian Coordinators have input into
the evaluation of HoOs.
Implement voluntary 360 degree feedback assessments as soon as possible. This form of
assessment is widely considered a best practice, as it sheds light on management skills and
broadens the scope of feedback on individual development and performance. We suspect
that OCHA may need to make such evaluations voluntary and developmental, i.e., not part
of formal performance appraisals.

VI. 4. vii. Human Resources Management Services
VI. 4. vii. A. Context
As we noted earlier, OCHA is part of the UN Secretariat and the management of its human
resources is subject to Staff Rules and Staff Regulations of the United Nations.122 OCHA’s human
resources environment is therefore extremely complex and process heavy.
Staff and managers are supported by what we have called HRM services, namely, those units
responsible for supporting managers and staff with their human resources activities. HRM services
carry out key management and administrative functions and provide essential support as senior
management takes decisions on the staffing strategy, job profiles and workforce plans.
There are many players and many different roles and responsibilities in HRM processes. Staff are
responsible for such things as staying well informed, accessing and completing the correct forms, filing
them on time, and ensuring their part of HRM processes is completed. Line managers are involved
through their leadership, managerial, supervisory and administrative roles. For example, for some
actions, the Human Resources Section (HRS) alerts managers to what needs to be done and supports
them in their decisions and actions. In the case of administrative processes, especially financial ones,
administrative staff are responsible for taking the appropriate action. The UN’s administrative services
are also involved, as they handle certain HRM processes.
Note: In the remainder of this section, we use HRM to refer to human resources management in
general, including line managers, HRS, OHRM, UNOG and ASB. We use HRS to refer to the unit within
OCHA responsible for the delivery of specific HR services.

VI. 4. vii. B. Current State

122

Staff Rules and Staff Regulations of the United Nations, ST/SGB/2014/1.

118

OCHA’s HQ and international staff are administered by OHRM in New York and in Geneva
(UNOG), and national field staff are administered by UNDP.
In the current OCHA structure, the Human Resources Section (HRS) is within the Administrative
Services Branch (ASB), which is itself in the Corporate Programmes Division (CPD). There are
currently 14 staff at the professional level (including two in the Staff Development and Learning section
and two staff welfare officers) and 24 at the general service level. Of these 38 staff, three are in New
York and the remainder are in Geneva. In addition, the Staffing Support Unit in the Coordination and
Response Division (CRD) has four professionals and four general service staff. Each OCHA country
office also has administrative officers who handle some HR matters. UNDP manages HR functions
related to national staff, and other units in OCHA manage surge capacity.
The processes associated with HRM services are situated within, and are largely dependent on, the
broader administrative support systems.

VI. 4. vii. C. Findings
Finding: There are many negative perceptions of HRM services in OCHA
There is a resounding negative perception around HRM services in OCHA. This perception is often
linked to issues that are close to people’s hearts like the payment of salaries and entitlements, which
are the responsibility of administration. However, administration needs staff and line managers to do
their part in a timely manner. And none of this is new, as numerous reports and studies have already
shown.
Unfortunately, the Functional Review took place around the same time that staff, particularly in the
field, were feeling the pains of the implementation of Umoja. While Umoja and its implementation are
beyond the scope of this review, it came up so often and has exhausted so much corporate energy, we
are compelled to comment. There are very strong camps around this issue. Some believe that Umoja is
a mistake and OCHA should do everything to rid itself of this burden, and others believe that Umoja,
difficult as it now is, will be useful and that OCHA needs to commit to making it work because there is
no choice. Both camps have ‘evidence’ to support their view. And, as would be expected, both camps
are seen by the other as intransigent and trying to garner support for their point of view. It is our
understanding that a review of implementation was scheduled for the end of June, but we have not
heard whether this review has been completed and if so, whether it is having any influence on the
debate.
The new staff selection and mobility policy was also coming into play as we conducted our review,
and it too raised a number of concerns. As it currently stands, the implementation of the staff selection
and mobility policy is both complex and dynamic. Furthermore, this policy is a critical piece of future
HRM in OCHA.
These two initiatives are Secretariat, not OCHA, driven and are examples of the influence of larger
HRM services on OCHA. They are also good examples of how OCHA works—there is no corporate
position on the Umoja decision, and there are very different perspectives on the staff mobility policy that
continue to strengthen on separate paths. It is therefore essential to determine what in OCHA’s
management model prevents it from coming to a shared understanding of matters and then collectively
influencing policy while doing so is still possible.
During the diagnostic phase of the Functional Review, we heard many concerns about HRS and its
treatment of staff: HRS staff were “rude,” “non-responsive” or “incompetent” or “have the wrong
attitude.” We acknowledge that HR staff have their own perspective on who is to ‘blame’ for things
happening at the last minute. But where the “blame” sits in these situations is irrelevant. Rather, the
issue is the sheer consistency of the negative perceptions. No HR or administration unit can function
effectively when many of the staff it is trying to serve have this view.
Finding: Many reviews that touch on the HR and administrative functions have concluded that HRM
services are not performing optimally
119

It became quite clear when we examined matters closely that most complaints were far from new.
The perception that staff and managers alike are not adequately served and supported is,
unfortunately, a view that does not seem to have significantly changed over time. For example:
 The 2007 Review of OCHA Field Offices report, para. 8.1 OCHA Administrative Support
begins with “Every Field Office visited presented long lists of legitimate and longstanding
complaints related to personnel administration.” It also observed that “…HQ support tends to
be bureaucratic and not solution oriented....” and made several recommendations related to
these statements:
o Recommendation 7: OCHA should also reorganize the Admin office in Geneva and
make it more service and solution oriented.
o Recommendation 60: One of the priority tasks of the Head of OCHA EO…should be
to promote a cultural change within OCHA administrative services to a more service
and solution-oriented approach.
 The 2011 Enterprise Risk Assessment identified HRM as one of OCHA’s most prevalent and
least effectively controlled risks: “OCHA staff identified Human Resources issues,
encompassing: (1) Human Resources Strategy, (2) Recruiting, Hiring and Retention, (3)
Development and Performance, and (4) Training, as described in detail in the full Enterprise
Risk Assessment Report, as OCHA’s most prevalent, and least effectively controlled
risks.”123
 The 2012 CPD functional review report notes: “There is significant and near unanimous
support among ASB staff and clients for ‘change’ to improve administrative services. In light
of failures to implement previous reviews of the administrative functions in OCHA, and the
expectations developed during this review, a decision not to change is not seen as a viable
option.”124
 In 2015, OCHA commissioned a study on work, health and well-being.125 Factors that
negatively affect staff health and well-being include inappropriate managerial behaviour;
slow, non-responsive administrative support; critical incidents in the field; and workload.
Interviewees in the field noted that OCHA staff work in dangerous situations without
adequate equipment. The issue of equipment—or lack thereof—was frequently noted and is
presented as an example of HR and administration systems not supporting staff or fulfilling
their duty of care. A senior interviewee lamented the difficulty of getting “the right people to
the right place at the right time with the right equipment.” Given OCHA’s mandate, the
organization is more likely than most UN organizations to deploy a high proportion of its staff
in dangerous or difficult places. There is some concern that the humanitarian community in
general and OCHA in particular do not take security management as seriously as it should.
Our interviews and the literature also suggest that rotation from one hard duty station to
another is one of the key factors negatively affecting staff health and well-being. Addressing
this concern is another example of where line managers and HRS need to work together.
 In 2016, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) conducted an audit of the
management of human resources in OCHA. “The audit was conducted to assess the
adequacy and effectiveness of OCHA governance, risk management and control processes
in providing reasonable assurance regarding effective workforce planning and
management of its human resources.”126 The overall assessment was that OCHA was

123

Enterprise Risk Assessment Report, Executive Brief, p. 4.
CPD Functional Review Administrative Services Branch Component, p. 3.
125
At the time of writing, this report had not been made public.
126
OIOS, Detailed results of an audit of management of human resources in OCHA, para 7. And from para 9:
The key controls tested for the audit were: (a) strategic human resources planning; and (b) human resources
management. For the purpose of this audit, OIOS defined these key controls as follows:
124

120

only partially satisfactory in providing effective workforce planning and management of
human resources.127
Finding: Recommendations from these reviews have not been implemented successfully
As far as we know, there has not been any organization-level review of the implementation of the
recommendations associated with previous reviews and studies. Our overall impression is that the
symptoms, root causes and solutions have been comprehensively documented but inadequately
addressed. We have been asked why this might be the case. We cannot investigate or reinterpret the
past and can simply offer suggestions going forward based on our experience of where these things
sometimes go wrong, which we outline below.
Finding: The root causes are deeply embedded in the systems and culture
Our document review and interviews all confirm that HRM services, including related administrative
services, are not performing effectively and have not done so for many years.128 However, the
performance weaknesses are, in themselves, caused by deeper problems in the systems and culture.
To take five examples of root causes:
 There is widespread agreement that being a part of the UN Secretariat is not an ideal home
for OCHA, given that it needs fast-moving recruitment procedures and numerous
deployments (which entail entitlement changes) to meet ever-changing demands to expand
and contract field operations. There is a strong cry to explore separating OCHA’s
administrative services from those of the Secretariat.
 Despite repeated and longstanding complaints, we see no commitment to having a
coordinated, integrated human resources strategy led by senior management. Without
robust EMC-level discussions of staffing issues, of the potential impact of initiatives and of
decisions coming out of the Secretariat, it is a challenge for any OCHA representative (ASB
or HRS, for example) to exercise the required influence in the Secretariat.
 We are concerned that these years of perceived inertia have reduced HRS’s credibility with
the staff it is meant to serve. As a result, the unit may now be facing an uphill battle in any
efforts to be listened to, much less turn things around.
 The complex structure of HRM services, including OHRM and UNOG, HRS in Geneva,
CRD’s staffing unit in New York, the units managing surge and UNDP creates its own
dynamics and inefficiencies.
 Line managers are reportedly giving priority to substantive work rather than to people, and
some openly express disdain129 for administrative processes and functions, not giving them
the timely attention required for an HRM system to work effectively. Some are not
(a) Strategic human resources planning - controls that provide reasonable assurance that: (i) a human
resources strategy is established based on OCHA corporate policies that defines the phases and timelines of a
humanitarian emergency; (ii) critical posts are identified for each phase to fulfil OCHA emergency response
coordination mandate and justify the use of all available mechanisms, including special measures under General
Assembly resolution 46/182, to mobilize rapid deployment of staff; and (iii) OCHA has a suitable workforce
planning and human resources management strategy to deploy the right people at right time to high security risk
and hardship environments.
(b) Human resources management - controls that provide reasonable assurance that OCHA has: (i)
established human resources management processes to manage vacancies, deploy staff and adequately
maintain an up to date roster of suitable candidates in compliance with United Nations Staff Regulations and
Rules; and (ii) an organizational structure that appropriately supports efficient and effective human resources
management functions and processes at headquarters and in the field.
127
Ibid., para 13.
128
As indicated in a discussion of benchmarking in an earlier chapter, understaffing does not appear to be
causing the HRM/administrative issues.
129
Dismay and disdain are not the same and do not have the same negative impact on culture.

121

knowledgeable about their role in keeping the HRM system functioning efficiently from an
administrative perspective, some are not willing to learn, and others reportedly simply ignore
the rules and processes.
These and other factors combine to create, and constantly reinforce, a negative spiral that
undermines the HRM systems.
Finding: HRS does not have an articulated, coherent or contemporary statement of purpose and role
As was mentioned above, the EMC has not articulated the role it wants HRS to play in the
organization. For its part, HRS has not had the gravitas or the opportunity to define and position itself in
the role it feels it should be playing.
As far as we can see, HRS plays primarily a transactional role; in other words, it does mostly
personnel administration even though the unit is called Human Resources Section. This is not
uncommon; many HRM units have changed their names from personnel to human resources
management but continue to do primarily transactional work. We see hints at a different aspiration in
the documents, and certainly in conversations with HRS staff.
A common typology for capturing the evolution of HR services in recent years is the following:
 Administration expert. As an administration expert, HR services is most concerned about
compliance, compensation, benefits and the effective administration of personnel
processes, usually including data gathering.
 Staff relations. As a staff relations expert, HR services is concerned about staff welfare
policies, relations with staff associations and diversity issues.
 Strategic partner. As a strategic partner, HR services shifts to a very different role,
influencing the HRM strategy for the organization, moving to a business partner model. HR
services fundamentally become a trusted peer (not police) in the organizational design.
 Change management. In this stage of its evolution, HR services augments its role as
strategic partner and becomes concerned about organizational design, talent management,
development and learning, and workflow issues. It gathers information for a different
purpose and uses it to a different end; in other words, it assists in strategic shifts as
opposed to enforcing compliance measures.
As BCG reported in a recent study,130 public sector HRM leaders have identified three areas as
requiring urgent action if a distinct “people advantage” is to be created:
1. Engagement, behaviour and culture management;
2. Talent management and leadership; and
3. HR strategy, planning and analytics.
Combining as they do the strategic partner/business partner role with the change management role,
these three areas are consistent with the direction we believe OCHA’s HRS unit should be taking.

VI. 4. vii. D. Solutions
In this section, we present two recommendations for change over the long term regarding OCHA’s
HRM services, as well as the implications of these changes for roles, functions, structure, design, etc.
within OCHA. We also present a third recommendation with a set of four actions we believe OCHA
should take immediately to show good faith in the Functional Review process as it decides how to
implement our other, more long term recommendations.
Recommendation: OCHA should commit to playing a more strategic role with respect to HRM in
the Secretariat

130

BCG, Creating People Advantage 2014-2015.

122

Given that OCHA is part of the UN Secretariat, it is critical that it be invited to the meetings where
decisions that affect OCHA staffing and staff well-being are made. The importance of this strategic role
cannot be over-emphasized.131
Achieving this influence means having the grade to be invited, as well as the credibility and
competence to contribute to the discussion. It means that those attending must understand OCHA’s
corporate position—which assumes, of course, that one has been articulated—so they know what they
need to influence and are meant to influence; they must also have the full backing of the EMC when
decisions are taken.
The OCHA Strategic Framework for the years 2014 – 2017 states that “OCHA will invest in more
strategic relationships with the UN Secretariat to ensure that OCHA’s operational needs and priorities
are fully recognized in Secretariat policies and practices, and that OCHA is afforded the flexibility
required for emergency response. OCHA will build partnerships with administrative counterparts in
other UN organizations to draw on their experiences and expertise, and to better understand existing
successful practices that may be adapted.” We fully endorse this objective.
Recommendation: OCHA should overhaul and significantly strengthen the internal HR function
and consider outsourcing transactional work
For OCHA to have an effective internal HR function, HRS needs to move toward the role of
strategic partner and change agent. This involves outsourcing the transactional work that HRS is
currently doing and retooling HRS to ensure it can perform effectively in the three “people advantage”
areas noted above:
Outsourcing transactional work

The transactional work that HRS now does is a distraction and should be outsourced. While the
recent audit of the management of human resources at OCHA does not go this far, it did call for the
segregation of administrative and substantive duties to better support HRM. The Department of Field
Services, Global Field Support Strategy, is one outsourcing option that should be looked at. UNDP has
also been mentioned as an option for outsourcing; however, the OCHA experience with UNDP seems
to be quite mixed. Many have said UNDP is like the Secretariat, designed for slow-moving entities, not
geared for the responsiveness that OCHA is seeking in both quality and time. There may well be other
options available, including options that have been explored, outlined and documented in the past. It
goes without saying that this exploration of outsourcing is linked to the decisions OCHA makes about
staffing strategy, core staff count, and contracting modalities (fixed term, service contractor, continuing,
etc.).
Retooling HRS

HRS should be retooled to ensure it can perform effectively in the three “people advantage” areas
noted above:
1. Engagement, behaviour and culture management;
2. Talent management and leadership; and
3. HR strategy, planning and analytics.
Engagement, behaviour and culture management

131

DPKO (which is perceived to operate as if it was HQ, not just a department within it) does better than
OCHA in terms of getting exemptions, special measurers, etc. It is noteworthy that OCHA does not seem to be
mentioned by name in ST/AIs and similar directives but is instead presumably covered by the catch-all “field
presences not administered by the Department of Field Support” as in the new draft AI.

123

HRS would become a major player in ensuring that the organizational culture shifts. (The results of
the engagement section of the organization survey place OCHA in the 4th quartile relative to other
public sector organizations across every domain.) HRS would create strategies and initiatives to
support changes in behaviour and culture and would do so with the support of the EMC to ensure these
initiatives get traction.
HRS would work with senior management to ensure that behaviours throughout the organization
align with desired actions and that the evolution of the culture aligns with the aspirations of OCHA as an
organization. There are some aspects of OCHA culture that are certainly worth retaining and building
on, and there are others that need to shift.
HRS would work closely with staff representatives to ensure that OCHA becomes and remains a
healthy work environment in both the field and HQ.
HRS would ensure that OCHA, whose work in the field can by its very nature be stressful, is a
leader in treating its people well with respect to health and mental health support.
Talent management and leadership

HRS would become part of the talent-spotting system by ensuring that OCHA is “branded” in a way
that makes it an interesting option for employment. It would build on the “fantastic mandate” refrain we
have heard from many and target recruitment in a much more strategic way.
HRS would work with other UN agencies to ensure that the talent-management strategy, especially
the use of secondments, works effectively for everyone.
HR strategy, planning and analytics

HRS would assume responsibility for the implementation of OCHA’s staffing strategy and would
work closely with line managers on all aspects of planning, including forecasting and succession
planning. In particular, HRS would work more closely with CRD (which currently accounts for 80% of
staff resources) to ensure that OCHA gets the right people to the right place at the right time.
Analytics are an essential aspect of this shift. It has been a challenge throughout the Functional
Review to get accurate data—or sometimes any data at all. The audit also mentions this challenge. We
understand that once it is fully functioning, Umoja should provide the data HRS needs for any point in
time, and recent communication with ASB on this topic is encouraging. If Umoja cannot fulfil this role,
HRS needs to decide what data it needs and determine how to obtain it. Other issues that have been
raised in this report such as metrics for the learning and development initiatives should also be tracked.
Implications of implementing the recommendations
There is no question that making these changes would require changes in roles, functions and
attitude among current staff in HRS. It will undoubtedly require changes in structure and design.
For example, a streamlining of the roles of the various actors involved in HRM systems (Geneva,
New York, CRD, UNDP, etc.) certainly needs to be addressed. We note a similar recommendation in
the audit of the management of human resources at OCHA:
OCHA should clarify the roles and responsibilities of staff performing human resources
management functions in the Administrative Services Branch in New York, Geneva and field locations
as well as those staff performing similar functions at the substantive divisions to ensure they
complement each other and avoid any duplication of efforts.132
There is also the question of where HRS should be positioned if it is to influence senior
management. Currently, most managers and most senior managers are in New York. We note another
recommendation from the same audit that addresses the position of ASB but not explicitly HRS in the
structure:
132

Ibid., para 50.

124

OCHA should appropriately position the Administrative Services Branch in its organizational
structure with a direct reporting line to the Assistant Secretary-General to enable the Branch to
effectively perform corporate level human resources management functions with fiduciary responsibility
to the Department of Management as stipulated under ST/SGB/2015/3 on the Organization of the
Secretariat of the United Nations.133
The review of structure should also take into consideration the units that are involved in surge
capacity and draw on the experiences of HRM functions in the major IASC agencies. It should also be
linked with any broader discussions of outsourcing options.
The broader issue of how HRM sits within administrative services is discussed in an earlier chapter,
as is the revitalization of administration services.
Recommendation: OCHA should take immediate action in four key areas to be seen as
responsive to the Functional Review
As our first two recommendations will take time to explore, decide on and implement, OCHA should
take immediate action in four key areas to indicate responsiveness to the Functional Review. More
specifically:
1. OCHA should identify and resolve process bottlenecks and workflow issues and assist in the
creation of service level agreements. This would help HRS improve its image, bring about quick
wins, and engage with staff on practical solutions. OCHA will of course face many obstacles as
it pursues a major re-engineering of HRM processes. We believe however that much is within
OCHA’s control and that much can therefore be done to streamline workflows and improve
services. Special attention should be paid to reducing the amount of time it takes to complete
standard, routine processes.
2. As part of the process, HRS staff should be provided with client service orientation and training,
and the e-performance of HRS staff should include assessments of both the quantity and quality
of their work; this signals the importance of being a service and being seen as a service.
3. Key stakeholders should contribute to the performance assessment of HRS staff; this could be
done at the section or unit level.
4. Until Umoja is fully functioning, HRS needs to identify what data it needs for its new role, what
data Umoja will provide, and how to obtain data Umoja cannot provide.

133

Ibid., para 45.

125

VII. Culture
VII.1. Context
So far, the Functional Review has addressed a number of questions about OCHA's structure and
function. Specifically, the report has focused on:
 Role and operating model: What should OCHA do?
 Management model: How should OCHA be managed?
 Organizational design: How should OCHA be structured?
 People management: How should OCHA manage its staff?
This chapter focuses on culture, asking: Does OCHA's culture support its future aspirations?
An organization's culture – the system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs that govern how
people behave in an organization – significantly influences what an organization can accomplish.
Organizational culture underpins the decisions about an organization’s role and how the role is
implemented. Culture is in turn influenced by the design and execution of a management model, and
by the selection, cultivation, productivity and satisfaction of talent. The interdependences between
culture and the role, operating model, management model, organizational structure, and people
management create a self-reinforcing and deeply
interconnected ecosystem. As such, the absence of a
trusting, cohesive culture made evident through the
Role and
Culture
operating model
Functional Review, is both the symptom and cause of many
of the sub-optimal outcomes this report has detailed:
 Lack of clarity around role;
 An operating model that lacks discipline and
Reinforcing
People and
consistency;
cycle
staffing
 An opaque and inefficient management model;
Management
 A siloed organizational structure; and
model
 An unproductive and disengaging staffing model.
In addition to shaping the day-to-day experience and
Organizational
effectiveness of an organization, culture underpins the
structure
success of change management programs. The cultural
shifts required for effective change management must be
set by senior management working cohensively to build a better organization. As many interviewees
have pointed out, this will be difficult given the history of poor relations among senior management. If
senior management is not willing to work together cohesively, the change will fail.
While culture can be difficult to measure, in this chapter we use staff sentiment about the
organization, as measured by the organizational survey, as an indicator of culture. We then provide
some recommendations for transforming culture throughout OCHA. While recommendations
throughout this report will contribute to a stronger culture, the recommendations included in this chapter
isolate specific initiatives driving at cultural change.

VII.2. Current state
To assess the current state of OCHA's culture we sought to evaluate initiatives or tools currently in
place to improve and measure important dimensions of culture, such as staff motivation, empowerment,
and morale. We did not find any culture-specific initiatives operating within OCHA.

126

Thus, in order to establish a baseline view, we introduced an organizational survey designed to
understand and measure OCHA's culture. We compared the sentiments that staff expressed in the
survey with those of benchmark organizations, asking: how do OCHA's staff engagement scores
compare against that of peer institutions?
The organizational survey is described in the methodology of this report. In our view, the survey
results accurately represent staff sentiment and perceptions throughout the organization, as there were
1,075 respondents (~50% of the organization) proportionately distributed across locations and levels.
We analyzed responses to 47 quantitative-response questions from each respondent and
approximately 5,000 responses to the open-ended questions included in the survey. Quantitativeresponse questions were broken into two sections: workplace behavior and staff engagement and
satisfaction.
The behaviors at work section of the survey comprised 12 questions that were used to assess
OCHA's culture along three spectrums: 1) cautious vs. risk-permitting, 2) diplomatic vs. transparent,
and 3) internally-focused vs. service-oriented. These specific areas emerged as topics of interest early
in the review. On all three spectrums, the aggregate scores were close to the center, and so there
were no unequivocal results; OCHA is seen as slightly diplomatic and service-oriented, but neutral for
‘risk-permitting vs. cautious.’
The staff engagement and satisfaction section of the survey comprised 35 questions phrased to
allow comparison with non-for-profit benchmarks. The organizational survey captured perspectives and
perceptions within five areas:
1. Engagement: Does OCHA have engaged staff who care about the future of OCHA and are
willing to invest the discretionary effort?
2. Objectives and aspirations: Is there a shared vision and mission that inspires individuals and
clarifies their objectives?
3. Accountabilities and collaboration: Are there accountability systems and working
environments that foster strong performance and collaboration?
4. Performance management and recognition: Are there highly visible performance
management and recognition systems?
5. People manager capabilities and interactions: Does OCHA have strong people skills and
leadership behaviors?
Survey questions were written as statements to which respondents replied with a number between
one and five. Answers (1) and (2) – Strongly disagree and Disagree – are categorized as unfavorable
responses. (3) is Neutral. (4) and (5) – Agree and Strongly Agree – are favorable responses.
Preliminarily, staff engagement and satisfaction responses were benchmarked against 508
public sector organizations. The public sector benchmark group includes primarily governmental
institutions divided amongst three regions worldwide, with 70% from Europe, 26% from North America
and 4% from Asia Pacific. Analysis detailed in this review focuses on the comparison of OCHA staff
engagement and satisfaction responses against responses from a narrower group of 38 not-for-profit
organizations that were considered most analogous to OCHA. The smaller benchmark group included
other humanitarian and UN organizations and was distributed across seven sectors and six regions.

VII.3. Findings
The data and analysis in this chapter is based primarily on the organizational survey but before we
list the main findings, we would like to start with three general observations that are derived from the
interviews we did with external and internal stakeholders. All essentially represent dynamic tensions in
the culture.

127

First, OCHA is driven by a strong commitment to action and by immediate results in the field. This
is due primarily to the nature of the humanitarian work and of the organization—a coordination body
has to continually prove itself. The downsides of this strong cultural characteristic are a tendency
toward what some people call “short-termism”, ad-hoc problem-solving, lack of attention to systemic
problems and solutions, and a neglect of important, but less urgent, long term work in preparedness
and contingency planning.
Second, OCHA is a department in the UN Secretariat which is a large, diverse organization with
hierarchical and bureaucratic cultural traits. At the same time, OCHA works with, and for, UN agencies
and many other actors, in a fast-moving, highly complex and spontaneous environment. This sets up
frustration with bureaucracy especially for those dealing with field reality.
The nature of the work and the frustration with bureaucracy sets up an inherent tension between
OCHA groups which is often hard to navigate and difficult to resolve. It sets the ground for some of the
tensions we have seen.
The third observation is that while senior management dynamics have exacerbated divisions
between different groups, there is often an underlying identity question which is the source of many
issues. It relates to the depth of field presence and the relative importance of field versus the global
action focus. It is important that both sides recognize the value each brings. We saw this clearly from
our interviews with OCHA stakeholders. Yes, OCHA needs to get more efficient and effective, but its
work in the field and on a global basis should be a source of common pride.
With these overarching themes in mind, let us look at the results from the culture survey.
Responses to the organizational survey highlight five primary findings about OCHA's current culture:




OCHA's staff engagement and satisfaction are lower than that of benchmark organizations;
OCHA's field staff engagement and satisfaction are higher than that of headquarters staff
(largely driven by national staff), but remain below benchmarks;
International staff in both field and headquarters report persistent issues across most
dimensions of culture;
OCHA has strengths that can be leveraged through the change management process; and
OCHA lacks a strong unifying identity or esprit de corps.

These findings not only highlight the current state of OCHA's culture, but also indicate some
potential hurdles and advantages for OCHA in future change management initiatives.
Finding 1: OCHA's staff engagement and satisfaction are lower than that of benchmark organizations
Across all of the major dimensions of healthy culture tested by the organizational culture survey,
while average scores were neutral to slightly positive, OCHA scored in the bottom quartile relative to
the benchmark set of 38 peer organizations. This is highly unusual. Though it is not uncommon for
organizations to have some dimensions in the bottom quartile, it is an anomaly to have all areas well
below benchmarks. When compared against a comparator set of 508 public sector institutions, the
results were similar, although OCHA did experience slight improvements in the areas of engagement
and objectives and aspirations (the dimensions more closely related to the mission of the organization
rather than the management quality). The stark benchmark result is a strong indicator that the
challenges in the other areas of the review have had a negative impact on OCHA staff engagement and
satisfaction. The data highlights a need to address the underlying challenges across the organization
in order to reinforce a positive cycle of behaviors in day-to-day operations and for the change
management process.

128

OCHA staff engagement and satisfaction relative to
benchmarks
Top quartile
Second quartile
Third quartile
Bottom quartile

Engagement
3.7

Objectives and
aspirations
3.5

Performance
management
and recognition

Accountabilities and
collaboration
3.6

3.0

People manager capabilities and interactions
3.5

--- Quartiles unique to selection from EFR database
Note: Results compare OCHA to set of 38 not-for-profit benchmark organizations. These benchmarks are broken out across Asia Pacific (40%), North America (29%), Global (17%), Europe
(9%) and South America (6%)
Source: OCHA EFR employee survey, Overall n = 1,075; Proprietary BCG EFR database
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

Finding 2: OCHA's field staff engagement and satisfaction are higher than that of headquarters staff
(largely driven by national staff), but remain below benchmarks
Staff reflections on OCHA differed across the organization. Most notably, the field responses were
more positive than headquarter responses, but even these areas were generally in the third or bottom
quartile versus benchmark organizations.

Mean scores by location

Headquarters

Regional office

Country office

No. responses

390

155

410

Objectives & aspirations

3.1

3.7

3.7

Accountabilities &
collaboration

3.4

3.8

3.7

Performance management
& recognition

2.6

3.3

People manager
capabilities & interactions

3.2

Overall engagement

3.3

Liaison office

Other

OCHA total

32

88

1,075

3.8

3.9

3.5

3.8

3.9

3.6

3.2

3.3

3.4

3.0

3.7

3.6

3.7

3.7

3.5

3.9

3.9

4.0

4.0

3.7

Bottom quartile
Third quartile
Second quartile
Top quartile --- Quartiles unique to selection from EFR database
Source: OCHA EFR employee survey, Overall n = 1,075; Proprietary BCG EFR database
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

129

Upon further review, it becomes apparent that there are differences in grade breakdowns between
field and headquarters respondents, which could be driving the differences between field and
headquarters responses.

Specifically, P2 to P5 grades, or international staff, make up 44% of field respondents but 73% of
headquarters respondents. Although approximately 20% of both field and headquarters respondents
come from general service roles, these roles vary by location. In field offices, general service includes
drivers and similar positions whereas in headquarters these roles are administrative.134 All other group
sizes were too negligible in sample size or did not have a similar comparison set in field or
headquarters to analyze differences in staff sentiment across locations. Overall, across grades,
responses of P2 to P5 staff were below average compared to the remaining grades. National staff,
such as general service and national officers, who make up a larger portion of field respondents than
headquarters respondents, had more positive survey responses.

Average responses by grade
Average survey response

favorable

5

4

3.8

unfavorable

neutral

3.5
3.3

3.2

3.2

P2-P3

P4

P5

3.7
3.5

3.5

D1+

Consultant

Average
score: 3.47

3

2

1

General
Service

National
Officer

Other

grade

Note: P2 to P5 positions are international staff with managerial roles; General Service grades includes drivers and similar roles in field offices and include administrative roles in HQ; National
Officer roles include Humanitarian Affairs Officers hired locally; D1+ are international director roles; Other grades grouped due to low number of respondents and includes service contractors,
UN Volunteers, and interns.
Source: OCHA EFR employee survey, Overall n = 1,075
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

Finding 3: International staff in both field and headquarters report persistent issues across most
dimensions of culture
While the field, on average, had more favorable results to the organizational survey than
headquarters, after isolating for only comparable grades the difference between average field and
headquarters responses shrinks. This is because international staff who are deployed in the field
responded with lower average scores on the survey than the remainder of the field.
134

A common interpretation of the more positive sentiment of these field staff has been that the relative
attractiveness of holding a job with OCHA, given employment alternatives, creates a different dynamic in the
survey responses.

130

The chart below compares differences in sentiment between headquarters and the field for each
question for all respondents by location. It also shows the responses by question for only international
staff broken out by location,

Field and HQ average responses for all grades and for P2 to
P5 grades only
The only large differences
remaining are in the "objectives
& aspirations" section

Average score

All differences in these sections
Allare
differences
inaverage
this section
are
minimal or
when
minimal
or average
isolating
for P2 towhen
P5
isolating
for P2 to P5
respondents

unfavorable

neutral

favorable

5

Objectives &
aspirations

Performance
management &
recognition

Accountabilities
& collaboration

People manager capabilities
& interactions
Engagement

4

3.62
3.44
3.13 0.35
3.09

3

Field - P2 to P5

2

HQ - P2 to P5
Field - all
HQ - all

1

5

10

15

20

25

30

35 Question #

Source: OCHA EFR employee survey, Overall n = 1,075
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

There are three main insights to be drawn from the data: average response per question (level of
responses), the difference between field and headquarters average responses, and the change in the
difference between field and headquarters average responses when taking grade into consideration.
Level of responses
It is notable that some responses are neutral to unfavorable regardless of location or grade. Those
questions are "there are clear consequences for people who act against OCHA's values," "senior
management live the organization's values," "our processes make it easy to work well with other
branches or offices," "poor individual performance is not tolerated in this organization," and "at this
organization promotion is clearly tied to performance." The broad nature of the questions eliciting
negative responses across the board suggests the need for a comprehensive approach to change.
Conversely, some responses are neutral to favorable on average across the board, such as "I
believe in what this organization is trying to achieve," "I understand our organization's values," "I know
what is expected of me in my job," "I understand how my work contributes to the success of the
organization," and " I am proud to work for this organization." This suggests that staff feel connected to
OCHA's mission and are proud of OCHA's work regardless of location or grade.
Difference in responses
Seven questions elicited the strongest differences in responses between headquarters and the
field:135

We can see senior management is committed to organization goals;
There are clear consequences for people who act against OCHA's values;

135

Large differences are one standard deviation above the average of the differences between field and HQ
responses for all grades combined.

131





Senior management live the organization's values;
Our processes make it easy to work well with other branches / offices;
Poor individual performance is not tolerated in this organization;
Teams who perform well are recognized for it; and
I would recommend this organization to friends as a great place to work.

Again, the breadth of topics covered by these questions suggests that there is no single driver in
the difference in results between headquarters and the field and the differences in sentiment need
further exploration by management.
Change in difference in responses
It is helpful to isolate responses by grade to determine how much of the negative headquarters
result was driven by the disproportionate representation of international staff (P2 to 5) at headquarters.
When isolating for grade, we saw the gap between headquarters and field responses reduce on
fourteen questions. In some instances, the change in difference of response was particularly
significant.136 These questions are highlighted in the below table. The reduction in the difference
between field and headquarter average responses when staff grade classifications are considered
indicates that the differences in sentiment are attributable to differences across job types rather than to
differences in location.

Some differences in sentiment between field and HQ shrink
when isolating for P2 to P5 grades

Category
Objectives &
aspirations
Accountabilities &
collaboration

Performance
management &
recognition

People manager
capabilities &
interactions

Engagement

Questions with large reductions in differences
3

There are clear consequences for people who act against OCHA's values

7

Difference
Size
(All OCHA)1

Difference
Size
(P2 to P5)2

0.81

0.58

I know what is expected of me in my job

0.34

0.26

10

Our processes make it easy to work well with other branches / offices

0.80

0.54

15

I have strong friendships at work

0.31

0.20

17

Management acts fast if our branch / office's performance slips

0.57

0.30

18

Poor individual performance is not tolerated in this organization

0.81

0.47

19

At this organization promotion is clearly tied to performance

0.69

0.41

22

Teams who perform well are recognized for it

0.74

0.53

23

My manager clearly communicates the goals for my branch / office

0.47

0.24

24

I receive useful and timely feedback on my performance

0.41

0.21

27

Decisions that affect me are explained to me

0.49

0.21

28

My manager cares about my well-being

0.32

0.14

30

My manager recognizes and comments when I do good work

0.34

0.12

35

I would recommend this organization to friends as a great place to work

0.80

0.59

1. Difference size for all OCHA refers to the difference between average survey responses for all field and all HQ
2. Difference size for P2 to P5 refers to the difference between average survey responses for P2 to P5 field and P2 to P5 HQ
NOTE: questions include those for which responses went from large differences to average differences, average differences to minimal differences or for which a large reduction in the size of
the difference was indicated when insolating for P2 to P5 respondents. The average difference in the analysis with all respondents was 0.49 with a standard deviation of 0.23. Large differences
are 1 σ above the mean (>0.72) and minimal differences are 1 σ below the mean. The average change in differences when isolating for P2 to P5 was 0.14 with a σ of 0.10; large differences
are 1 σ above the mean (>0.24)
Source: OCHA EFR employee survey, Overall n = 1,075
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

For two questions, the divergent views between field and headquarters persisted, even when
isolating for comparable grades. Those questions are "we can see senior management is committed to
organization goals" and "senior management live the organization's values." The questions relate to
objectives and aspirations of the organization and suggest that field respondents feel more positively
than headquarters respondents about management's commitment to the goals and values of the
organization.

136

"Particularly significant" changes in difference are one standard deviation above the average change in
difference between field and HQ responses and when moving from all grades to only P2 to P5 grades.

132

Despite differences in results between international and national staff, across almost all
employment categories, OCHA performs well below benchmarks. The following chart, which combines
responses across all locations, illustrates that the only groups performing in the top quartile are service
contractors and interns – a diverse and small population that may be presumed to have had less
exposures to OCHA's culture than longer-term staff.

Mean scores by grade (overall)

D1 and
above

P5

P4

P2 to P3

National
Officer

General
Service

Consultant

Service
Contractor

UN
Volunteer

Intern

Other

OCHA
total

No. responses

29

67

216

277

179

224

27

17

16

5

18

1,075

Objectives &
aspirations

3.6

3.2

3.2

3.4

3.9

3.7

3.8

4.2

3.9

3.9

3.5

3.5

Accountabilities
& collaboration

3.8

3.5

3.4

3.5

3.9

3.7

3.8

4.1

3.7

4.0

3.9

3.6

Performance
management &
recognition

3.1

2.6

2.6

2.8

3.5

3.1

3.3

3.8

3.4

3.4

3.4

3.0

People
manager
capabilities &
interactions

3.4

3.2

3.2

3.3

3.8

3.5

3.9

4.1

3.6

4.2

3.7

3.5

Overall
engagement

3.7

3.4

3.4

3.5

4.1

3.8

3.9

4.5

3.8

3.7

3.9.

3.7

Bottom quartile
Third quartile
Second quartile
Top quartile --- Quartiles unique to selection from EFR database
Source: OCHA EFR employee survey, Overall n = 1,075; Proprietary BCG EFR database
20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

Finding 4: OCHA has strengths that can be leveraged through the change management process
OCHA performed relatively well on a few areas of the culture survey. Notably, OCHA staff
expressed strong belief in the organization's values, with 87% of survey respondents indicating that
they believe in what OCHA is trying to achieve. Within the ‘accountabilities and collaboration’ section of
the survey, 'clear expectations' was a strength, with 84% of respondents indicating that they understand
how their work contributes to the success of the organization. Within ‘engagement’, 80% of
respondents indicated that they are proud to work for OCHA. These strengths can be harnessed
through the change management process.
OCHA also demonstrates strength in its concern for external partnerships. 61% of respondents
believe that OCHA cares a lot about how the organization is viewed by the press/outside world.
However, only 19% of respondents feel that people at OCHA spend a high percentage of their time
focused on external environments like beneficiaries and partners, and only 24% of respondents feel
that new solutions are generated by including beneficiaries and partners in the discussion. There is the
potential to leverage concern for external perceptions in transforming OCHA's lack of 'partnership
culture' towards a service-oriented culture.
These areas of relative strength are supported by the qualitative data gathered both in the
comments section of the organizational survey and during interviews and group discussions. OCHA
staff are perceived to be dedicated and passionate about OCHA's mandate and its potential
contributions to the humanitarian landscape. This passion should be used as a starting point for uniting
OCHA behind a shared vision of the future of the organization.

133

Quote from an internal stakeholder: "There is a lot of commitment in the organization to the cause
and the mission. There is or has been a very strong feeling of almost family among the middle
managers. My cadre of middle managers has a huge amount of camaraderie."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "We have people who truly believe in what we're trying to do,
and want to stick with it"
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "OCHA is an interesting and cool place to work and is packed
with dynamic, thoughtful, intelligent people."
Even still, benchmarks suggest there is room to improve upon these strengths. While the scores
are the highest among OCHA responses, they are still low relative to benchmarks, where at best,
OCHA on average was in the third quartile on individual questions.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "It's a great mandate, it's relevant and motivating. But we're
missing on the positive spirit that could be, and there's a lot that needs to be tackled at a leadership
level to be more than the sum of our parts and that's what everyone wants with a passion."
Finding 5: OCHA lacks a strong unifying identity or esprit de corps
The neutral responses to the "behaviors at work" portion of the survey point to OCHA lacking a
strong, unifying identity. Most organizations have clear identifying attributes that unify staff and create
a clear esprit de corps. This is not to suggest OCHA should adopt a strong externally visible "branded"
identity. This would be contrary to the One UN approach and it could conflict with the "neutral
coordinator" role. It is more that there should be a strong, commonly held, internal sense of the
attributes that OCHA selects for and builds in its staff and the institutional values it represents.
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "There is a need to articulate a unifying corporate identity and
to ensure that priorities are made across divisions in a manner that is aligned with impact/the
contribution a particular area of work is making towards OCHA’s core goal, i.e. more effective
humanitarian action."
Quote from an internal stakeholder: "I would like to see a radical cultural change, which requires …
a shared understanding of who we are and what we stand for. OCHA needs a shared identity."

VII.4. Solutions
All of the solutions included in this report will affect culture, and changes to culture will likewise
improve OCHA's ability to execute the recommendations in this report. Indeed, there is no doubt that
culture at OCHA will not change without changes to OCHA's role and operating model, management
model, organizational structure, and people and staffing model. Specifically, it is crucial for OCHA to
clarify the vision, fix the management model, and make improvements to the service orientation of
OCHA functions. Embedded in those dimensions are key pieces that will improve culture. This section
will not reiterate the solutions outlined in other sections, but will instead focus on the specific actions
OCHA can take to improve the fundamental behaviors causing such negative results on the culture
survey.
While the solutions throughout this report are major levers that will impact culture, it is also critical
for OCHA to outline and develop its own unique identity. As described in the findings, OCHA currently
lacks a clear, distinct internal "brand" –one that defines the way that OCHA operates. This is a key
element of what differentiates working for one organization from another that performs similar functions.
Specifically, management should focus on what it means to be OCHA.
If specific cultural concerns had emerged from the survey, then specific cultural initiatives might
have been germane. However, given that the results suggest a need for holistic transformation, the
solutions below are designed to enact comprehensive change in behaviors at all levels of the
134

organization. The entire organization needs to rally behind change – even while skeptical that the
senior management issues are solvable.
The recommendations included in this section are informed by successful change management
efforts in the private and public sectors. When asked why change efforts fail, leaders in those sectors
report a lack of clearly defined milestones and objectives to measure progress (in 36% of cases), a lack
of commitment by senior management (in 17% of cases), and employee resistance (in 15% of cases).
Embedded within these recommendations is the "Change Delta." Depicted below, the "Change Delta"
sets out the three cultural components that are critical for managing change in an organization. These
components are engaged leaders, executional certainty, and an engaged organization.

"The Change Delta": A comprehensive approach to
delivering transformational change

Executional Certainty

Engaged Leaders
 OCHA leaders leading from the top
 Leaders deeply accountable for success
 Leaders able to effectively sponsor and
manage the change
 Alignment of leaders is palpable, visible
and maintained – 'One Voice'

 Portfolio approach to change effort
 Transparency across milestones and
outcomes
 Rigorous methodologies and tools,
testing of initiatives
 Forward-looking view into emerging
issues and funding

Engaged Organization

Engaged Organization
 Employees at every level understand the
change and are equipped to manage it
 Critical stakeholders are deeply engaged
 Essential behaviors are reinforced
 Accountability is hard-wired in line
management metrics, performance
management and recognition systems

20160527_Final Report Figures v7.pptx

In order to implement the Functional Review recommendations, we recommend that:
OCHA should engage leaders at all levels in the change




Develop and communicate a compelling vision of the OCHA of the future;
Define and reinforce a clear internal OCHA identity - the staff attributes that shape who OCHA
selects and what it seeks to reinforce;
Ensure leaders are aligned on values and priorities and are empowered to pursue them;
Train leaders to hold people to account in a way that creates positive organizational culture; and
Measure progress in changing culture and hold leaders accountable for driving the change.

OCHA should create greater executional certainty
 Implement more transparent and consistent communication on OCHA priorities, positions and
activities;
 Build strong internal cooperation and collaboration to better support groups that serve the field
and global functions; and
 Transform the support and administrative functions so that OCHA staff in the field and
headquarters have support, resources and administrative actions when they need them.

135

OCHA should create an engaged organization
 Encourage feedback at all levels;
 Celebrate both the activities that OCHA performs on behalf of the humanitarian community and
those related to field response; and
 Build a more strategic, nimble and collaborative mindset with the stakeholders OCHA serves
within and beyond the UN.
Recommendation 1: OCHA should engage its leaders in the change – at all levels not just senior
management
Engaging leaders involves creating greater ownership and accountability at the leadership level.
The starting point for engaging leaders is to create a shared, unifying vision of the OCHA of the future –
including strategic roles, values, organizational design, management model, and staffing model – so
that all leaders make decisions and take actions that move the organization towards commonly agreed
objectives. We recommend that the USG define a vision for OCHA, expressing a strong corporate
identity (or esprit de corps, as stakeholders often put it) for the organization. OCHA leaders should
then create and communicate a new set of values to complement the UN Secretariat values. Leaders
should feel passionately about the vision of OCHA and demonstrate a strong alignment with that vision
so that staff of all levels will follow their lead. These actions will help to remedy the lack of shared
vision and the lack of adherence to organization values demonstrated by the organizational survey.
With a clear vision and codified set of values for OCHA, it is critical to empower leaders to set
priorities and pursue them relentlessly. Within the UN system, there are necessarily a set of checks
and balances that guardrail decision-making. However, necessary bureaucracy need not be the
antithesis of empowered leaders. Within branches, OCHA's leadership should emphasize the
importance of people taking ownership of their work, being free to think creatively and to suggest
innovative approaches. Critically, staff at all levels of the organization should be encouraged to
contribute to discussions, debate, and decision-making. Not only will this produce better outcomes, but
it will also help all staff to feel empowered to contribute to the organization's future and to have a real
sense that their work matters. This also builds on a strength that was cited in partner discussions
which was that OCHA is relatively nimble and entrepreneurial in finding solutions to problems.
With empowerment comes responsibility, and managers at OCHA should be trained to hold people
accountable in a way that creates a positive organizational culture. Management should be equipped
with training on how to provide effective, honest, and actionable feedback. Training on communication
and delivering difficult messages directly such as negative feedback could also improve transparency
and performance management by giving staff a clearer pathway toward improving performance and
aligning with management on skills needed for development. Engaging leaders to not only perform
their own jobs but also to support staff to whom they have delegated responsibility will contribute to a
stronger organizational culture.
An important element of engaging leaders is the measurement of progress. OCHA should track
progress on culture improvement efforts. For example, OCHA could measure progress toward serviceorientation through the capture and tracking of feedback on OCHA's performance from external
stakeholders, and through assessing staff on external relationship-building to build on current strengths
in OCHA's focus on external partners. One important way to track progress on the execution of cultural
change is to run an organizational survey annually if possible, or at least biennially during the change
process to gauge progress on key cultural facets. The original survey results should be used as a
baseline. Scores should be tracked to check not only improvement compared to baseline but also
convergence of field and headquarters responses. This will reflect progress toward improving in the
areas of findings 2 and 3. Some goals in benchmarks would include taking the weakest areas
compared to benchmarks, such as "people in my area do their best for the organization" and creating
136

actionable plans for improvement. One such plan would reward people for making decisions with the
best interest of the organization in mind. For instance, if employees are needed to meet surge
demands, managers should be rewarded for providing strong talent to meet needs.
Recommendation 2: OCHA should create greater executional certainty
Executional certainty is about communicating what goals the organization is trying to achieve,
defining the role each individual plays in accomplishing them, and contributing resources to support
progress. As described in the Management Model chapter above, OCHA should implement more
transparent and consistent communication on OCHA priorities, positions and activities.
OCHA should build internal cooperation to ensure strong collaboration across the organization and
groups that serve the field and global functions. Indeed, for the field, executional certainty depends
upon strong collaboration between branches at headquarters and with partner organizations. OCHA
can improve culture by encouraging reliability, dependability, and cooperation between branches.
We recommend that OCHA transform the support and administrative functions so that OCHA staff
in the field and headquarters have support, resources and administrative actions when they need them.
While the previous chapters have approached this from a structural perspective, we also recommend
that OCHA include service-orientation – both externally though work with partners, and internally
through functions – as a fundamental part of its codified values. Culture shifts towards serviceorientation require a change in leadership behaviors and language. This focus on service will tie all
positions at OCHA to the ultimate goal of serving the humanitarian system. It will also help staff in
headquarters and the field to be more conscious of how they can be in service of each other.
Specifically, those in the field will support OCHA's global role by sharing information and adopting
consistent systems. Those at headquarters who support the field will be more conscious of field
context in their interactions and requests. Senior management should update staff regularly on news
and trends across the humanitarian landscape, with a specific focus on implications for OCHA field
operations and partners. This will help OCHA to build on two of its cultural strengths: a strong belief in
the organization's humanitarian mission and an inclusiveness of entities beyond the UN system in
humanitarian affairs and response.
Recommendation 3: OCHA should create a more engaged organization
OCHA employees must feel empowered to share their ideas and feedback with management. The
staff of OCHA are inspired by a passion for what OCHA is trying to achieve. While the UN system is
typically viewed as hierarchical, this does not have to dictate the way in which management engages
with staff. Leaders who signal that they are open to feedback and grateful for the input of all staff
create an environment where staff feel trusted, valued, and appreciated. Implementing anonymous
feedback mechanisms like post-meeting surveys to teams, would allow staff to feel more comfortable
sharing ideas. It would also provide a gauge for whether or not management is open to receiving
feedback from teammates. By providing staff with a mechanism to voice opinions, OCHA will improve
many of the cultural issues surfaced in the survey.
Celebrating OCHA's importance and success can serve as positive reinforcement for the efforts of
dedicated staff. OCHA should share stories that reinforce values such as collaboration, ethical
behavior, or service-orientation. Linking what staff are working on to the overall mission of OCHA will
help people to feel engaged with the organization's mission. Management should share the outcomes
of decisions or work streams with the staff who contributed. Such communication will ensure that all
staff have a clear and unified drive toward the same overall goal and improve a sense of individual
accomplishment.
OCHA should build a more strategic, nimble and collaborative mindset with the stakeholders OCHA
serves both within and outside the UN, constantly building partnerships, letting go of what need not be
done, and identifying the gaps where OCHA can add the most value. OCHA should leverage staff
concern for external perceptions to engage in a conscious shift in orientation towards consistent service
– service to partners, and service to one another, in service to affected people.
137

Annex A: Resolution 46 / 182
A/RES/46/182
78th plenary meeting
19 December 1991
Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations
The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolution 2816 (XXVI) of 14 December 1971 and its subsequent resolutions and
decisions on humanitarian assistance, including its resolution 45 / 100 of 14 December 1990,
Recalling also its resolution 44/236 of 22 December 1989, the annex to which contains the
International Framework of Action for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction,
Deeply concerned about the suffering of the victims of disasters and emergency situations, the loss
in human lives, the flow of refugees, the mass displacement of people and the material destruction,
Mindful of the need to strengthen further and make more effective the collective efforts of the
international community, in particular the United Nations system, in providing humanitarian assistance,
Taking note with satisfaction of the report of the Secretary-General on the review of the capacity,
experience and coordination arrangements in the United Nations system for humanitarian assistance,
1. Adopts the text contained in the annex to the present resolution for the strengthening of the
coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations system;
2. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly at its forty-seventh session
on the implementation of the present resolution.
ANNEX
I. GUIDING PRINCIPLES
1. Humanitarian assistance is of cardinal importance for the victims of natural disasters and other
emergencies.
2. Humanitarian assistance must be provided in accordance with the principles of humanity,
neutrality and impartiality.
3. The sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States must be fully respected in
accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. In this context, humanitarian assistance should be

138

provided with the consent of the affected country and in principle on the basis of an appeal by the
affected country.
4. Each State has the responsibility first and foremost to take care of the victims of natural
disasters and other emergencies occurring on its territory. Hence, the affected State has the primary
role in the initiation, organization, coordination, and implementation of humanitarian assistance within
its territory.
5. The magnitude and duration of many emergencies may be beyond the response capacity of
many affected countries. International cooperation to address emergency situations and to strengthen
the response capacity of affected countries is thus of great importance. Such cooperation should be
provided in accordance with international law and national laws. Intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations working impartially and with strictly humanitarian motives should continue
to make a significant contribution in supplementing national efforts.
6. States whose populations are in need of humanitarian assistance are called upon to facilitate the
work of these organizations in implementing humanitarian assistance, in particular the supply of food,
medicines, shelter and health care, for which access to victims is essential.
7. States in proximity to emergencies are urged to participate closely with the affected countries in
international efforts, with a view to facilitating, to the extent possible, the transit of humanitarian
assistance.
8. Special attention should be given to disaster prevention and preparedness by the Governments
concerned, as well as by the international community.
9. There is a clear relationship between emergency, rehabilitation and development. In order to
ensure a smooth transition from relief to rehabilitation and development, emergency assistance should
be provided in ways that will be supportive of recovery and long term development. Thus, emergency
measures should be seen as a step towards long term development.
10. Economic growth and sustainable development are essential for prevention of and
preparedness against natural disasters and other emergencies. Many emergencies reflect the
underlying crisis in development facing developing countries. Humanitarian assistance should
therefore be accompanied by a renewal of commitment to economic growth and sustainable
development of developing countries. In this context, adequate resources must be made available to
address their development problems.
11. Contributions for humanitarian assistance should be provided in a way which is not to the
detriment of resources made available for international cooperation for development.
12. The United Nations has a central and unique role to play in providing leadership and
coordinating the efforts of the international community to support the affected countries. The United
Nations should ensure the prompt and smooth delivery of relief assistance in full respect of the abovementioned principles, bearing in mind also relevant General Assembly resolutions, including resolutions
2816 (XXVI) of 14 December 1971 and 45/100 of 14 December 1990. The United Nations system
needs to be adapted and strengthened to meet present and future challenges in an effective and
coherent manner. It should be provided with resources commensurate with future requirements. The
inadequacy of such resources has been one of the major constraints in the effective response of the
United Nations to emergencies.
II. PREVENTION
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13. The international community should adequately assist developing countries in strengthening
their capacity in disaster prevention and mitigation, both at the national and regional levels, for
example, in establishing and enhancing integrated programmes in this regard.
14. In order to reduce the impact of disasters there should be increased awareness of the need for
establishing disaster mitigation strategies, particularly in disaster-prone countries. There should be
greater exchange and dissemination of existing and new technical information related to the
assessment, prediction and mitigation of disasters. As called for in the International Decade for Natural
Disaster Reduction, efforts should be intensified to develop measures for prevention and mitigation of
natural disasters and similar emergencies through programmes of technical assistance and modalities
for favourable access to, and transfer of, relevant technology.
15. The disaster management training programme recently initiated by the Office of the United
Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator and the United Nations Development Programme should be
strengthened and broadened.
16. Organizations of the United Nations system involved in the funding and the provision of
assistance relevant to the prevention of emergencies should be provided with sufficient and readily
available resources.
17. The international community is urged to provide the necessary support and resources to
programmes and activities undertaken to further the goals and objectives of the Decade.
III. PREPAREDNESS
18. International relief assistance should supplement national efforts to improve the capacities of
developing countries to mitigate the effects of natural disasters expeditiously and effectively and to
cope efficiently with all emergencies. The United Nations should enhance its efforts to assist
developing countries to strengthen their capacity to respond to disasters, at the national and regional
levels, as appropriate.
Early warning
19. On the basis of existing mandates and drawing upon monitoring arrangements available within
the system, the United Nations should intensify efforts, building upon the existing capacities of relevant
organizations and entities of the United Nations, for the systematic pooling, analysis and dissemination
of early-warning information on natural disasters and other emergencies. In this context, the United
Nations should consider making use as appropriate of the early-warning capacities of Governments
and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
20. Early-warning information should be made available in an unrestricted and timely manner to all
interested Governments and concerned authorities, in particular of affected or disaster-prone countries.
The capacity of disaster-prone countries to receive, use and disseminate this information should be
strengthened. In this connection, the international community is urged to assist these countries upon
request with the establishment and enhancement of national early-warning systems.
IV. STAND-BY CAPACITY
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(a)

Contingency funding arrangements

21. Organizations and entities of the United Nations system should continue to respond to requests
for emergency assistance within their respective mandates. Reserve and other contingency funding
arrangements of these organizations and entities should be examined by their respective governing
bodies to strengthen further their operational capacities for rapid and coordinated response to
emergencies.
22. In addition, there is a need for a complementary central funding mechanism to ensure the
provision of adequate resources for use in the initial phase of emergencies that require a system-wide
response.
23. To that end, the Secretary-General should establish under his authority a central emergency
revolving fund as a cash-flow mechanism to ensure the rapid and coordinated response of the
organizations of the system.
24. This fund should be put into operation with an amount of 50 million United States dollars. The
fund should be financed by voluntary contributions. Consultations among potential donors should be
held to this end. To achieve this target, the Secretary-General should launch an appeal to potential
donors and convene a meeting of those donors in the first quarter of 1992 to secure contributions to the
fund on an assured, broad-based and additional basis.
25. Resources should be advanced to the operational organizations of the system on the
understanding that they would reimburse the fund in the first instance from the voluntary contributions
received in response to consolidated appeals.
26. The operation of the fund should be reviewed after two years.
(b)

Additional measures for rapid response

27. The United Nations should, building upon the existing capacities of relevant organizations,
establish a central register of all specialized personnel and teams of technical specialists, as well as
relief supplies, equipment and services available within the United Nations system and from
Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, that can be called upon at
short notice by the United Nations.
28. The United Nations should continue to make appropriate arrangements with interested
Governments and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to enable it to have more
expeditious access, when necessary, to their emergency relief capacities, including food reserves,
emergency stockpiles and personnel, as well as logistic support. In the context of the annual report to
the General Assembly mentioned in paragraph 35 (i) below, the Secretary-General is requested to
report on progress in this regard.
29. Special emergency rules and procedures should be developed by the United Nations to enable
all organizations to disburse quickly emergency funds, and to procure emergency supplies and
equipment, as well as to recruit emergency staff.
30. Disaster-prone countries should develop special emergency procedures to expedite the rapid
procurement and deployment of equipment and relief supplies.
141

V. CONSOLIDATED APPEALS
31. For emergencies requiring a coordinated response, the Secretary-General should ensure that
an initial consolidated appeal covering all concerned organizations of the system, prepared in
consultation with the affected State, is issued within the shortest possible time and in any event not
longer than one week. In the case of prolonged emergencies, this initial appeal should be updated and
elaborated within four weeks, as more information becomes available.
32. Potential donors should adopt necessary measures to increase and expedite their
contributions, including setting aside, on a stand-by basis, financial and other resources that can be
disbursed quickly to the United Nations system in response to the consolidated appeals of the
Secretary-General.
VI. COORDINATION, COOPERATION AND LEADERSHIP
(a)

Leadership of the Secretary-General

33. The leadership role of the Secretary-General is critical and must be strengthened to ensure
better preparation for, as well as rapid and coherent response to, natural disasters and other
emergencies. This should be achieved through coordinated support for prevention and preparedness
measures and the optimal utilization of, inter alia, an inter-agency standing committee, consolidated
appeals, a central emergency revolving fund and a register of stand- by capacities.
34. To this end, and on the understanding that the requisite resources envisaged in paragraph 24
above would be provided, a high-level official (emergency relief coordinator) would be designated by
the Secretary-General to work closely with and with direct access to him, in cooperation with the
relevant organizations and entities of the system dealing with humanitarian
assistance and in full respect of their mandates, without prejudice to any decisions to be taken by
the General Assembly on the overall restructuring of the Secretariat of the United Nations. This highlevel official should combine the functions at present carried out in the coordination of United Nations
response by representatives of the Secretary-General for major and complex emergencies, as well as
by the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator.
35. Under the aegis of the General Assembly and working under the direction of the SecretaryGeneral, the high-level official would have the following responsibilities:
(a) Processing requests from affected Member States for emergency assistance requiring a
coordinated response;
(b) Maintaining an overview of all emergencies through, inter alia, the systematic pooling and
analysis of early-warning information as envisaged in paragraph 19 above, with a view to coordinating
and facilitating the humanitarian assistance of the United Nations system to those emergencies that
require a coordinated response;
(c) Organizing, in consultation with the Government of the affected country, a joint inter-agency
needs-assessment mission and preparing a consolidated appeal to be issued by the SecretaryGeneral, to be followed by periodic situation reports including information on all sources of external
assistance;

142

(d) Actively facilitating, including through negotiation if needed, the access by the operational
organizations to emergency areas for the rapid provision of emergency assistance by obtaining the
consent of all parties concerned, through modalities such as the establishment of temporary relief
corridors where needed, days and zones of tranquility and other forms;
(e) Managing, in consultation with the operational organizations concerned, the central
emergency revolving fund and assisting in the mobilization of resources;
(f) Serving as a central focal point with Governments and intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations concerning United Nations emergency relief operations and, when
appropriate and necessary, mobilizing their emergency relief capacities, including through consultations
in his capacity as Chairman of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee;
(g) Providing consolidated information, including early warning on emergencies, to all interested
Governments and concerned authorities, particularly affected and disaster-prone countries, drawing on
the capacities of the organizations of the system and other available sources;
(h) Actively promoting, in close collaboration with concerned organizations, the smooth transition
from relief to rehabilitation and reconstruction as relief operations under his aegis are phased out;
(i) Preparing an annual report for the Secretary-General on the coordination of humanitarian
emergency assistance, including information on the central emergency revolving fund, to be submitted
to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council.
36. The high-level official should be supported by a secretariat based on a strengthened Office of
the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator and the consolidation of existing offices that deal with
complex emergencies. This secretariat could be supplemented by staff seconded from concerned
organizations of the system. The high-level official should work closely with organizations and entities
of the United Nations system, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the League of
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Organization for Migration and relevant nongovernmental organizations. At the country level, the high-level official would maintain close contact
with and provide leadership to the resident coordinators on matters relating to humanitarian assistance.
37. The Secretary-General should ensure that arrangements between the high-level official and all
relevant organizations are set in place, establishing responsibilities for prompt and coordinated action in
the event of emergency.
(b)

Inter-Agency Standing Committee

38. An Inter-Agency Standing Committee serviced by a strengthened Office of the United Nations
Disaster Relief Coordinator should be established under the chairmanship of the high-level official with
the participation of all operational organizations and with a standing invitation to the International
Committee of the Red Cross, the League of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies, and the International Organization for Migration. Relevant non-governmental
organizations can be invited to participate on an ad hoc basis. The Committee should meet as soon as
possible in response to emergencies.
(c)

Country-level coordination

39. Within the overall framework described above and in support of the efforts of the affected
countries, the resident coordinator should normally coordinate the humanitarian assistance of the
143

United Nations system at the country level. He/She should facilitate the preparedness of the United
Nations system and assist in a speedy transition from relief to development. He/She should promote
the use of all locally or regionally available relief capacities. The resident coordinator should chair an
emergency operations group of field representatives and experts from the system.
VII. CONTINUUM FROM RELIEF TO REHABILITATION AND DEVELOPMENT
40. Emergency assistance must be provided in ways that will be supportive of recovery and long
term development. Development assistance organizations of the United Nations system should be
involved at an early stage and should collaborate closely with those responsible for emergency relief
and recovery, within their existing mandates.
41. International cooperation and support for rehabilitation and reconstruction should continue with
sustained intensity after the initial relief stage. The rehabilitation phase should be used as an
opportunity to restructure and improve facilities and services destroyed by emergencies in order to
enable them to withstand the impact of future emergencies.
42. International cooperation should be accelerated for the development of developing countries,
thereby contributing to reducing the occurrence and impact of future disasters and emergencies.

144

Annex B: Detailed Methodology
Interviews and group discussion guide
To elicit general perspectives across the different question areas, interviewees and groups were
asked what OCHA should keep, stop and start doing. Within each area of inquiry, the primary
questions addressed included:
Role and operating model





What are the greatest areas of need in the humanitarian ecosystem today? What will they be in
the future?
Which stakeholders are best positioned to address the areas of greatest need today and in the
future?
In areas expected to have the greatest future needs, what capabilities does OCHA have today
that makes them uniquely positioned to address those needs? What new capabilities should
they be building?
How do you see OCHA's role changing today and what is driving that change?
To what extent is OCHA an operational agency today? To what extent should OCHA be
operational in the future?
What do you see as the highest value creating activities OCHA performs today? What are the
lowest?

Management model




How does decision-making work at OCHA today? What are the current challenges?
What are the critical decisions OCHA makes throughout each year or every few years?
How are the critical decisions made at OCHA?
How does information sharing work at OCHA today? What are the current challenges?
What is the difference between OCHA’s success and failure in a given emergency setting?

Organizational model



How does OCHA's structure support its operations today? How should it change to be more
effective?
What elements of OCHA's current structure are most / least effective today?
To what extent are responsibilities clearly defined and/or overlapping between groups?
Given your view on how the role of OCHA should change going forward, what are the most
critical elements of OCHA's current structure would need to change to assure success?

People and staffing



Does OCHA get the right people to the right place at the right time?
What competencies are required to really make a difference?
How has OCHA prepared staff to be successful in implementing the mandate?
Going forward what shifts are needed?

Culture

What are some of the best parts of OCHA's culture? What makes you most proud to work at
OCHA?
What aspects of our culture create the most challenge for our staff in executing their work and
our mission today (e.g. accountability)? What elements will be most critical to change going
forward?
145

Organizational survey
The first survey conducted to gather quantitative data for the Functional Review was the
organizational survey. This anonymous survey was administered to all staff at OCHA during a threeweek time horizon.
Approximately 50% of OCHA staff responded to the survey, with 1,075 individuals sharing their
perspectives through this forum. Respondents are representative across all of OCHA's office types,
with 478 respondents from country offices, 390 from headquarters, 162 from regional offices including
those in Humanitarian Advisory Teams (HATs), 33 from liaison offices, and 12 indicating other locations
(e.g., UN Monitoring Mechanism, temporarily on leave, etc.). Out of the total OCHA staff population in
each office type, this response rate represents about 38% of country office staff, 70% of headquarters
staff, 57% of regional office staff, and nearly 100% of liaison office staff. In addition, respondents were
allocated across grades with 277 P2-P3, 244 General Service, 216 P4, 179 National Officers, 67 P5, 29
D1 and above, 27 Consultants, 17 Service Contractors, 16 UN Volunteers, 5 Interns and 18 indicating
other. There were 100-300 respondents in each level of tenure including working at OCHA for less
than 1 year, 1-2 years, 3-5 years, 6-10 years, or more than 10 years. The same is true for tenure in
duty station.
The organizational survey included three primary sections:
1. Engagement: 35 questions covering five organizational domains
2. Behaviors at work: 12 questions that illustrate where OCHA falls along a spectrum for three
different dimensions of culture
3. Share your feedback: 5 open-ended questions allowing respondents to share written
perspectives
The complete set of questions within each section of the organizational survey can be found in the
figures below.

146

BCG proprietary data

Engagement section included 35 questions
Responses provided on a five-point scale, from strongly agree to strongly disagree
KEY

1
2
3
Strongly Disagree Neutral
disagree

Engagement
Objectives
and aspirations

4
5
Agree Strongly
agree

7• We can see senior management
is committed to organization goals
8• I know what's going on at this
organization
9• There are clear consequences for
people who act against our
organization's values

• I believe in what this organization
10
is trying to achieve
11
• I understand our organization's
values
12
• Senior management lives the
organization's values

Accountabilities
and collaboration

• I know what is expected of
13
me in my job
• I understand how my work
14
contributes to the success
of the organization
• I have what I need to do
15
my job properly
• Our processes make it
16
easy to work well with
other branches/offices
• Some of the things that I
17
am held accountable for
are shared responsibilities

39• I am proud to work for this organization
40• Overall, I am satisfied working here
41• I would recommend this organization to
friends as a great place to work

• I get the chance to use
18
my skills and abilities in
my job
• At work, my opinions
19
seem to count
20
• People in my branch/
office trust and support
each other
• I have strong friendships
21
at work
22
• People in my area do
their best for the
organization

Performance management
and recognition
23• Management acts fast if
our branch/office's
performance slips
24• Poor individual
performance is not
tolerated in this
organization
25• At this organization
promotion is clearly tied
to performance

26
• The career
opportunities here are
attractive to me
• The compensation at
27
this organization
encourages people to
do their best
• Teams who perform
28
well are recognized
for it

People manager capabilities and interactions
29


30

31

32

33

My manager clearly communicates the goals for my branch/office
I receive useful and timely feedback on my performance
I receive the help I need to learn and grow professionally
My manager is a good teacher/mentor to me
Decisions that affect me are explained to me

34•
35•
36•
37•
38•

My manager cares about my well-being
My manager is honest when dealing with others
My manager recognizes and comments when I do good work
My manager is open to receiving feedback from me
My manager encourages us to work with other
branches/offices

20160518_Annex B (methodology) backup_v1.pptx

Behaviors at work assessed culture on three dimensions
Responses on a 5-point scale reflect the extent to which dimension A or B reflects OCHA culture

Category

Dimension A

Cautious vs.
risk
permitting

Diplomatic
vs.
transparent

3

Our primary focus is on adding new skills outside
current skill-set
People persevere, even if others challenge them
Mistakes are forgiven, if learned from

4

People work to maintain current relevance and value

People work to build new relevance and value

5

People succeed by following directions without
pushing back
When giving/receiving feedback we practice
moderation even if it means not telling the whole truth

2

6

7

People are only comfortable sharing polished ideas

8

In meetings, if people have an objection to something,
they will NOT openly raise it during the meeting
The organization does not respond to new customer
needs or competitive threats
People spend a high percentage of time focused on
the internal environment (e.g. internal meetings,
planning, management)
New solutions are generated by brainstorming with
people internal to the company
We do not care about how our company is viewed by
others

9

Internallyfocused vs.
externallyfocused

Dimension B

Our primary focus is on refining existing skills and
competences
People concede if others challenge them
Mistakes are not forgiven, even if learned from

1

10

11
12

People succeed by challenging those senior to them
When giving/receiving feedback we practice complete
honesty
People are comfortable sharing rough drafts of their
ideas
In meetings, if people have an objection to something,
they will openly raise it during the meeting
The organization responds to new customer needs or
competitive threats
People spend a high percentage of time focused on
the external environment (e.g. customers, partners,
competitors)
New solutions are generated by including customers
and partners in the discussion
We care a lot about how our company is viewed by
the press/outside world

20160518_Annex B (methodology) backup_v1.pptx

147

Share your feedback section included 5 open-ended
questions

1

Is decision making biased toward the short or long term?

2

To what extent does your manager honor his/her commitments?

3

How well does senior management communicate the vision? How
authentically do they "sell" the vision?

4

To what extent is cross-functional communication a part of standard
procedures at this organization?

5

Overall, what would you most like to see changed for OCHA to be fit for
purpose?

20160518_Annex B (methodology) backup_v1.pptx

Engagement section
This section of the survey captured perspectives regarding the degree of OCHA staff engagement
within five organizational domains:
6. Engagement: Does OCHA have engaged employees that care about the future of the company
and are willing to invest the discretionary effort?
7. Objectives and aspirations: Is there a shared vision and sense of mission that inspires
individuals and clarify their objectives?
8. Accountabilities and collaboration: Is there an accountability system and working
environment which fosters strong performance and collaboration?
9. Performance management and recognition: Are there highly visible performance
management and recognition systems?
10. People manager capabilities and interactions: Does OCHA have strong people skills and
leadership behaviors?
Each question was scored on a 5-point scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree
(5). These results were then analyzed using two complementary approaches. The first approach was
to calculate mean scores for OCHA overall and identify the five highest and lowest scoring questions.
This analysis helped to identify areas of relative strength or weakness for OCHA as an organization.
The second approach for analyzing data from the engagement section involved comparing OCHA's
mean scores to a group of benchmark organizations. The objective of completing this benchmark
analysis is to highlight where OCHA is performing well or where it is underperforming relative to what
we would expect based on results from comparable organizations. The benchmark set includes 38 notfor-profit organizations that are distributed across a variety of sub-sectors, including the largest
proportion within the human services sub-sector which includes humanitarian organizations, and
geographical regions. OCHA's mean score was then categorized based on whether it fell into the
bottom quartile (i.e., below the 25th percentile), third quartile (i.e., between the 25th and 49th
148

percentile), second quartile (i.e., between the 50th and 74th percentile), or top quartile (i.e., equal to or
above the 75th percentile). Finally, a more detailed analysis was conducted on the lowest scoring
questions for OCHA overall and relative to benchmarks. This analysis first broke down the mean score
for OCHA into mean scores by grade. For the four grades with the lowest mean scores, each was then
broken down further by office type (e.g., country office, headquarters, etc.). The objective of this deep
dive was to identify which groups of internal stakeholders were most concerned about these
challenges. In so doing, we could highlight the groups that will require the greatest support and will
also benefit most from the interventions proposed as part of the Functional Review and resulting
organizational change.
Behaviors at work section
This section of the survey involved 12 questions that were used to diagnose where OCHA's culture
falls along a spectrum for three dimensions:


Cautious vs. risk-permitting
Diplomatic vs. transparent
Internally-focused vs. externally-focused

Survey respondents were asked to rank OCHA's culture on a 5-point scale by considering whether
it reflected the description of one end of the spectrum or the other. While there is no universally good
or bad culture, OCHA has an opportunity to shift its culture along these dimensions to ensure it is best
suited to meet stakeholders' needs.
Share your feedback section
This section of the survey contained five open-ended questions that allowed respondents to provide
a more detailed perspective on select, key topics that were addressed in the engagement section of the
survey. The first four questions addressed decision-making, people management, vision and
collaboration. The final question asked staff to propose changes that would make OCHA more fit for
purpose. The five questions asked follow below:
1. Is decision-making biased toward the short or long term?
2. To what extent does your manager honor his/her commitments?
3. How well does senior management communicate the vision? How authentically do they "sell"
the vision?
4. To what extent is cross-functional communication a part of standard procedures at this
organization?
5. Overall, what would you most like to see changed for OCHA to be fit for purpose?
As a part of our analysis of the organizational survey, we reviewed the responses across the five
questions and identified key themes and recurring points.

Activity survey
The second survey conducted to gather quantitative data for the Functional Review was the activity
survey. Similar to the organizational survey, this survey was also anonymous and administered to all
staff at OCHA during a three-week time horizon.
Approximately 35% of OCHA staff responded to the survey, with 723 individuals responding to this
survey. Respondents based in the field are represented across all of OCHA's office types, with 316
respondents from country offices, 95 from ROs including those in Humanitarian Advisory Teams
(HATs), 20 from LOs, and 8 who did not specify a location. This response rate represents 28% of total
OCHA staff population based in field offices. Respondents based in the Geneva or New York
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headquarters are presented across all of OCHA's divisions, with 121 respondents in Corporate
Programmes Division (CPD), 41 in Coordination and Response Division (CRD), 102 in Geneva, and 19
in the Office of the USG or ASG. This response rates represents 52% of total OCHA staff population
based in a headquarters.
The activity survey included four primary sections:
1. General Information: Asks respondent where they are based in the organizational structure,
where his / her direct supervisor is based, and where his / her indirect supervisor is based;
2. Allocating Time Across Functions: Asks respondents to allocate their time across the 5 core
programmatic functions and 8 administrative and support functions;
3. Allocating Time Across Partnerships, Response, and Preparedness: Asks respondents to
allocate their time across the 3 coordination activities and admin / other activities; and
4. Share your feedback: 3 open-ended questions allowing respondents to share written
perspectives on OCHA's highest and lowest value activities and the highest value activities in
their specific work area.
General information section
This section of the survey captured information on organizational structure and reporting
relationships within OCHA
1. Where the respondent is based: Where are you currently based – headquarters or the field
(country, regional, and liaison offices)? If headquarters, what is the name of your section / unit?
If the field, in which office are you currently working? What is your current duty station? Is your
employment administered by UNDP?
2. Where is the respondent's direct supervisor based: Where is your direct supervisor based –
headquarters or the field (country, regional, and liaison offices)? If headquarters, what is the
name of his / her section / unit? If the field, in which office is he / she currently working? What
is his / her current duty station?
a. Direct supervisors were defined as: the person who oversees your activities on a daily
basis and is responsible for writing and submitting your annual performance review.
This is typically your first reporting officer in INSPIRA
3. Where is the respondent's indirect supervisor based: Do you have another supervisor who
is based in a different office / section? If yes, where is your indirect supervisor based –
headquarters or the field (country, regional, and liaison offices)? If headquarters, what is the
name of his / her section / unit? If the field, in which office is he / she currently working? What
is his / her current duty station?
a. Indirect supervisors were defined as: not your Second Reporting Officer in INSPRIA,
and not necessarily responsible for writing and submitting your annual performance
review. This person may be the manager who oversees part of your activities on a daily
basis, the person you consult on key decisions or for approval on important elements of
your work
For respondents in the field, the results calculated the percentage with direct supervisors in the
same office, a different office, and headquarters. For respondents in headquarters, the results
calculated the percentage with direct supervisors in the same section, a different section, and in the
field. For both respondents in the field and in headquarters, the results also calculated the percentage
with indirect supervisors. For respondents in the field who have an indirect supervisor in headquarters,
the results indicate this indirect supervisor's section. This analysis tested the hypothesis that there are
limited secondary reporting relationships between the field and headquarters and the results indicate
this to be true.
Allocating time across functions
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This section of the survey captured how staff at OCHA splits their time across core programmatic
functions and administrative and support functions.
1. Core functions (externally facing): Advocacy, Policy, Information Management (IM),
Coordination, and Humanitarian Financing (HF).
2. Administrative and support functions (internally facing): Human resources, Finance and
accounting, Information technology support, Communications, Donor relations, Admin and
logistics, Strategic and operational planning and monitoring, Evaluation, Compliance, and risk
management, and Other.
The results were analyzed using two complementary approaches. For each of the core activities,
the results calculate the number of respondents in headquarters who indicated that they spend more
than 30% of their time on this activity and the breakdown of which branch they are in. Conversely, for
each of the branches that are supposed to be dedicated to one of the core activities, the results
calculate the number of respondents in that branch who said that they spend more than 50% of their
time on this activity. This analysis tested the hypothesis that there is significant fragmentation in OCHA
and the results strongly indicate this is to be true.
Allocating time across partnerships, response, and preparedness
This section of the survey captured how staff at OCHA splits their time across partnerships,
response, preparedness, and admin / other activities.
For each of these activities, the results calculate the number of respondents in the field who
indicated they spend more than 30% of their time on this activity and the breakdown by office type.
Furthermore, the results calculate the average percentage of time spent on each activity by office type.
Share your feedback section
This section of the survey contained three open-ended questions that allowed respondents to
provide a more detailed perspective on high and low value activities. These three questions asked the
below:
1. Please list the 3 activities in OCHA that provide the highest value to the humanitarian
community and / or affected people
2. Please list the 3 activities in OCHA that provide the lowest value to the humanitarian
community and / or affected people
3. In your specific area of work, please list 3 highest value activities or services
As a part of our analysis of the activity survey, we reviewed the responses across the three
questions and identified key themes and recurring points.
Humanitarian trend, financial and staff analysis
The Functional Review team pieced together basic HR and financial data (which was not readily
available) from multiple sources and across multiple time periods. The data was validated with the
Strategic Planning, Evaluation, and Guidance Section (SPEGS) team but given we needed only
directional estimates for our analysis it was not validated in detail with each of the other sections.
Although we are confident that the data analysis and insights are largely right, there may be some
details that may not be fully accurate or current.
OCHA historical growth
The Functional Review team collated OCHA's historical staff growth from the post requirements
based on starting budgets in the OCHA Annual Reports from 2002 to 2015. Only for 2009 to 2015,

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data is available on the breakdown of post requirements for field staff by office type and region and for
headquarters staff by division and branch.
Humanitarian trends
For comparison to OCHA's historical growth, the Functional Review team also collated historical
staff growth for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) from 2001 to 2015 in five
year intervals and for the World Food Program (WFP) from 2011 to 2015 from historic annual reports.
For analysis on drivers of historical growth, we compiled historical data on the number of people
affected by conflict and natural disasters from 2005 to 2014 from OCHA's Humanitarian Data and
Trends Reports. The number of people affected by conflict includes a breakdown by displaced asylum
seekers, displaced refugees, and internally displaced people. For further analysis on drivers of
historical growth, we also compiled historical data on appeals from 2005 to 2014 also from OCHA's
Humanitarian Data and Trends Reports. The appeals data includes the number of people targeted
through inter-agency appeals, amount requested and received through inter-agency appeals, appealing
organizations, and appeals projects.
Current crisis data
The Functional Review team received data from the Office of the Director in Coordination and
Response Division (CRD) liaison to SPEGS on the current country offices and HATs and the primary
crisis type (slow onset natural disaster, sudden onset natural disaster, and political conflict) each office
is responding to. The data specified whether or not the crisis is contained in one country or if it is a
cross border crisis that spans multiple countries, whether there is an integrated mission with or without
peacekeeping. The data also specified the year the office was established, and whether the office is
currently scaling up or down. This data did not fully correspond to the OCHA in 2016 Annual Report in
terms of the location and classification of offices and some corrections were made by the SPEGS team.
Current staff data
The Functional Review team received data from the Administrative Services Branch (ASB) on
current staff data from February 2016. This included data from UMOJA on international staff who are
based in headquarters or the field as well as data from UNDP on national staff who are based in the
field. OCHA does not have one consolidated database of staff or current organizational charts at the
staff level for each of the field offices.
The UMOJA data specified the organizational unit so it was easy to identify the division, branch,
and section. However the UNDP data did not specify the organizational unit so we had to assign office
type. To do this, we assumed that all national staff are based in the field and used the duty station city
and country and the OCHA in 2016 Annual Report's classification of offices to assign office type. Most
duty station countries only have one office so it is easy to assign office type. However some duty
stations such as Addis Ababa, Ethiopia have multiple offices. In those instances, it was more difficult to
assign an office type to staff and we assigned staff to the larger office with more national staff. Again
the data did not fully correspond to the OCHA in 2016 Annual Report in terms of location and
classification of offices and some corrections were made by the SPEGS team. The Functional Review
team was eventually able to piece together a staff database that includes:



Employee general information: position ID, employee ID, name, job title, employee level /
grade;
Organizational unit information: duty station city and country, organization unit name,
division, branch, and section;
Tenure in OCHA and in role; and
Demographic information: gender, age, nationality, appointment type.
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Job categories (Core and Administrative Functions) were assigned based on job title and employee
categories (international, national, local, or non-staff) were assigned based on employee level / grade.
This staff database did not have any vacant positions. It also does not have direct reporting
relationships but for the UMOJA data, the supervisor ID includes is the head of the organizational unit.
This data enabled analysis for field offices on the average size of country and ROs and the
breakdown by job category. This data also enabled analysis for headquarters on the size of Core and
Administrative Functions. The Functional Review team assigned branches and sections to Core and
Administrative Functions based on interviews with key stakeholders from each function.
Current financial data
The Functional Review team received data from the Finance and Budgeting Section in ASB and
from SPEGS with cost plans and expenditures. Historical cost plans and expenditures are difficult to
compare to current data as they are in different formats and there has been restructuring of field offices
and headquarters branches and sections over time.

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Annex C: Management model (Key Definitions)
The Executive Management Committee (EMC) 137 is designed to be OCHA's main forum for
collective, strategic and operational decisions ensuring fulfillment of OCHA's mandate and strategic
plan. The EMC is described as offering leaders a constructive challenge function and allowing
members to monitor and mitigate potential risks more effectively. There are currently 11 members of
the EMC, comprising the USG, the ASG for Humanitarian Affairs, three Directors, and the Chiefs of
Communications, Policy, Strategic Planning, Information Services and Administrative Services, and the
Chief of Staff. While the meeting cadence has not been formalized, the EMC currently meets monthly.
The EMC has supplanted the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) – an undocumented committee made up
of the USG, ASG, and D2s. The USG has expressed interest in reviewing the EMC structure following
the findings from the Functional Review team. Internal communication norms from the EMC have also
yet to be established.
The Senior Management Team (SMT)138 is described as having three primary responsibilities.
First, it acts as the primary discussion and decision-making forum for organization-wide issues; second,
it serves as a consultative body that advises and assists the USG in fulfilling OCHA's mandate and
responsibilities; third, it makes recommendations for implementation by the relevant parts of OCHA.
The SMT includes ~20 people. In addition to all the members of the EMC, the SMT also includes the
Deputy Director of CRD, the Chiefs of the Partnerships and Resource Mobilization Branch, Program
Support Branch, CERF Secretariat, a Senior Resilience Advisor, and representative heads of a country
office, regional office and liaison office. The SMT meets every two weeks for 60-90 minutes.
The Budget Review Committee (BRC)139 is responsible for monitoring the financial situation of
OCHA (for example, income, allocation of funds, allotments, expenditures, cash flow), and for advising
and making recommendations to the USG on a range of financial matters, for example: office-wide
allocation of financial resources; biennial budget submissions; annual year-end adjustments of cost
plans; cost plan revisions beyond a certain amount; approval of new projects or activities to be funded
with Specially Designated Contributions outside current work program. The BRC is chaired by the ASG
for Humanitarian Affairs, and consists of the three Directors, the Chiefs of Administrative Services,
Strategic Planning, Donor Relations, Finance and the Chief of Staff. The BRC does not have a regular
meeting cadence, and convenes at the request of the Chair.
The Emergency Response Task Force (ERTF)140 is activated automatically when the USG
declares an "OCHA corporate emergency response". It can also be activated upon the request of the
USG or Director of CRD for a "major emergency response". The ERTF is responsible for ensuring
teamwork and collective responsibility in OCHA’s response to a crisis, with primary accountabilities
allocated between team leaders and functional teams. Team leaders are accountable for activities
such as: coordinating information exchange within the team and with other functions; leading
information gathering and analysis; delivering briefings at each ERTF; managing follow-ups as
required. The functional teams are accountable for activities such as: status/gap analysis for the
functional area; actions taken (if any) since the last meeting; recommendations for consideration by
ERTF. The ERTF membership for each crisis is composed of the CRD Director, CRD Section Chief,
CRD Geneva Chief, Heads of Office for the relevant regional and country offices, and representatives
of various functional groupings, such as situation analysis, staffing, logistics, information management,
policy, and communications. There is no set cadence for ERTF meetings; their frequency is set by the
ERTF Chair and agreed by the members.
The Governance Board for Information Technology (GBIT)141 is primarily responsible for setting
corporate priorities in line with the agreed OCHA information strategy and roadmap, and for ensuring
137

All staff announcement sent by USG on 8 February 2016
Latest TOR for the Senior Management Team as of July 2013
139
Latest TOR for Budget Review Committee as of June 2014
140
Policy Instruction on Emergency Response as of July 2015
141
Latest TOR for the Governance Board for Information Technology as of October 2013
138

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that resources are focused accordingly. It also endorses corporate standards and policies for all
aspects of OCHA’s information strategy, including: enterprise services; web and mobile technology;
content and data-sharing; ICT hardware; software; connectivity; and support. The GBIT identifies
promising initiatives that merit investment and/or scaling up, it provides support and guidance, it
reviews each initiative to ensure it complies with the relevant criteria, and it endorses initiatives as
appropriate. Membership is divided between core members present at all meetings and flexible
members who attend as required by invitation only. Core members on the standing team include the
three Directors, a Field Director from a regional or country office, and Chiefs of Information Services
and Strategic Planning. In addition, flexible membership includes Chiefs of Administrative Services,
Communications, Programme Support, Policy, Partnerships and Resource Mobilization, and other
relevant Information Services Section Chiefs, or Heads of Office for country or regional offices. The
Governance Board for Information Technology convenes as required without a set cadence, though it
must meet at least once every two months.
The Learning and Knowledge Management Board (LKMB)142 is responsible for providing a
governance model that supports OCHA's review and monitoring of learning and knowledge
management initiatives to ensure that they are aligned with agreed strategic priorities. LKMB also
defines annualized strategic priorities and resourcing for advancing learning and knowledge
management. The Board oversees and provides advisory support to ensure effective implementation
of information initiatives, and monitors implementation of learning programs to ensure that effort and
investments are in line with agreed priorities, that they are cost-effective, and that they lead to tangible
results. Finally, the LKMB enables and supports an innovative approach to learning within OCHA,
where best practices and innovative products/solutions can be identified and scaled up, when relevant,
for maximum impact. Core membership includes three Directors, Chiefs of Administrative Services,
Programme Support, Policy, and Strategic Planning, two Heads of Office in the field and a staff
representative. In addition, this Board has flexible members who can be invited upon request, including
other Branch Chiefs, business owner (which could include OCHA Sections or Country Offices), and/or
product manager, Section Chiefs in Administrative Services, and other Heads of Office for country or
regional offices. The LKMB does not have a set cadence for meetings; it convenes as needed and at
least once every four months.

142

Latest TOR for the Learning and Knowledge Management Board as of February 2016

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