Monday, 29 August 2011

OIOS Report: Development Policy and Analysis Division (DPAD)

UN/DESA - DPAD Mandates:

DPAD’s overall components and functions include:

  • The Office of the Director (OD) coordinates the activities of the division, administers and executes various development account projects, manages its human and financial resources, and manages its relations within DESA, with the inter- governmental process and with other United Nations and non-United Nations agencies and the general public.
  • The Committee for Development Policy (CDP) secretariat provides substantive servicing to the CDP including administrative support and parliamentary documentation and the review, application and monitoring of the criteria for determining least developed countries (LDCs).
  • The Development Strategy and Policy Analysis Unit (DSP) is in charge of undertaking economic and social research into fundamental development issues and trends and formulating advice for the United Nations development agenda. The unit coordinates the production of the World Economic and Social Survey (WESS), DESA’s flagship report which has been published annually since 1948.
  • The Global Economic Monitoring Unit (GEM) monitors global economic trends and contributes to United Nations reports, briefings and notes in the area of macroeconomic analysis. The unit coordinates the production of the World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP), the joint report of DESA, UNCTAD and the regional commissions on the state of the world economy and emerging macroeconomic policy challenges. In addition to the main report, a mid-year update for the WESP is issued, as well as a series of monthly briefings on the world economic situation and a world economic vulnerability monitor issued approximately quarterly.

UN/DESA - DPAD Budget:

OIOS Evaluation Results:

However, the direct impact of DPAD’s work on intergovernmental resolutions appeared to be limited

19. Interviews with DPAD management confirmed that accurately assessing the impact of DPAD’s reports and analyses on the intergovernmental processes and decision-making was a challenge, as the ownership of the subjects for discussion lay with Member States. At the same time, publications could be used in more informal ways, such as in its working papers for informal discussions, etc. Such usage, while possible and likely, was difficult to quantify. Evidence of direct impact of DPAD’s work on General Assembly and ECOSOC resolutions was therefore elusive. In 2009, there was no reference to either WESP or WESS in a General Assembly resolution.20 Similarly, no ECOSOC resolutions in 2009 or 2010 referred to either of these publications.

20. Nevertheless, there were some indicators of indirect impact of the WESP and the WESS upon the intergovernmental process. For example, one General Assembly resolution in 2010 “noted” a report of the Secretary-General (on the subject of the new international economic order), which in turn referred to the warnings contained in successive editions of WESP on the increasingly unsustainable global balances that DPAD drew attention to prior to the financial crisis of 2008.21

21. Additionally, some impact was suggested by the fact that Members States delegates occasionally quoted the WESP and WESS during their speeches. For example, in a General Assembly plenary debate in September 2010, the President of a Member State stated, “According to the 2010 WESP, developing countries as a whole transferred USD 891 billion to developed countries in 2008 and $568 billion in 2009.” In the sixty-second session of the General Assembly, another Member State stated it shared the opinion of the WESP 2008 that “strong economic growth, while not the only condition, is essential to ... generating the necessary resources to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.”22 In the sixty-first session of the General Assembly, a Member State delegate relied on the WESS and stated, “As the Report on the World Social Situation in 2005 and the WESS in 2006 have revealed, the region remains behind others in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.”23

22. An analysis of the debates of the 65th session of the General Assembly showed that Member States delegates had on two occasions relied on analyses produced by the IMF and the WB with respect to the expected growth rates in their countries. Also, as noted in the DESA- wide evaluation report, during the United Nations Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis in New York in June 2009, delegates did not publicly reference DESA’s forecasts for the world economy and instead mentioned IMF forecasts in their discussions.

While regional commissions’ and UNCTAD’s inputs to the WESP contributed to a unified United Nations view on the world economic outlook, they, in turn, made limited use of DPAD’s outputs in their publications

27. Since 2008, DPAD has played an enhanced role in promoting policy coherence vis-à- vis other United Nations entities, as it has been mandated to foster and disseminate a “unified United Nations view” on the world economic outlook and its implications for the prospects of developing countries. DPAD currently measures its performance by an increase in the number of inputs from United Nations system entities and Member States to the dialogue on the WESP. Interviews with stakeholders demonstrated that the institutional cooperation between DPAD, the regional commissions and UNCTAD to produce the WESP had improved. Regular inputs by way of WESP chapters were provided by the Financing for Development Office (FfDO), the regional commissions, and UNCTAD. The integration and institutionalization of the regional commissions’ and UNCTAD’s views into a single publication (WESP) demonstrated that DPAD had made progress in fostering and disseminating a unified United Nations view; earlier, UNCTAD’s views were expressed in separate reports.

28. Despite the progress in fostering a unified United Nations view of the world economic outlook noted above, four regional commissions and UNCTAD made uneven use of the WESP and WESS in their publications.30 (See Table 4) These stakeholders suggested some areas for improvement. This included more thorough and regular consultations to obtain their inputs. As stated by one, “a unified UN view of the global economic outlook is a common vision that should be gathered through a process of shared analysis and discussion.” Stakeholders considered that such a unified United Nations view could be measured by various factors including considering references to WESP and WESS in regional commissions’ publications, and increasing the number of meetings, video conferences, etc. dedicated to the analyses and discussion of global economic outlook with the objective of reaching consensus.

C. DPAD’s strategic framework posed performance measurement difficulties

38. In this respect, there were limitations in how DPAD measured it own performance and impact. Specifically, one element of DPAD’s 2010-2011 Strategic Framework was not appropriately drafted to accurately measure its performance in strengthening and assisting international debate in the General Assembly and ECOSOC. As currently formulated, the indicator of achievement for “increased number of debated economic policies and actions to achieve internationally agreed development goals” leaves open the question as to how such debates on economic policies and actions can be attributed to DPAD’s work rather than the cumulative and hard-to-differentiate efforts of multiple stakeholders all desirous of shaping and influencing the content and direction of debate at the intergovernmental level.

39. Furthermore, DPAD’s second 2010-2011 Strategic Framework indicator in this regard, namely, the “increased level of satisfaction by Member States with the substantive support provided” was better formulated to capture the effectiveness of DPAD’s work, but has encountered difficulties in implementation. Management’s efforts to gauge the satisfaction of Member States about its work and publications have met with marginal success owing to poor feedback; only seven Permanent Missions to the UN responded to a DPAD initiated survey in 2008.

Collaboration with other DESA divisions was rated more highly by management than by staff

47. Interview and survey data showed mixed results with regard to how well DPAD collaborated with other DESA divisions. Examples were offered of how it had collaborated to utilise the inputs and expertise of other DESA divisions such as the Statistics Division (SD), Population Division (PD), Division for Sustainable Development (DSD), Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM), Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination (OESC) and Financing for Development Office (FfDO).

48. However, when asked to characterize the frequency with which they met with staff members from other divisions, 76 per cent of staff who responded replied that they did so infrequently or only on an ad hoc basis. Staff also indicated that there was need for greater collaboration between the teams preparing the WESP and the WESS.

The gender and human rights linkages of DPAD’s work were weakly perceived by stakeholders

49. DPAD’s analyses and publications inherently support economic and social human rights, in particular, the rights enshrined in Articles 6, 7 and 9 of the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.46 Despite this linkage, however, most stakeholders were either unsure or did not believe that the division had mainstreamed human rights into its work. With regard to gender mainstreaming, less than half of DPAD stakeholders (38 per cent) believed that it had effectively mainstreamed gender perspectives into its work. Among DPAD staff, only 52 per cent considered that it had effectively mainstreamed gender into its work.

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