Donor-led Assessments of the United Nations System Organizations (JIU/REP/2017/2)

As extrabudgetary or voluntary contributions have become essential for most United Nations system organizations to pursue their mandates, donors are increasingly undertaking their own assessments of these entities and their programmes to ensure that their funds have been used efficiently, and for intended purposes and with the expected levels of accountability. These bilateral assessments have been proliferating in recent years, giving rise to expressions of concern from the management and oversight bodies. Many organizations view them as a challenge requiring them to devote resources and staff time; they also lead at times to duplication and overlap, despite the value perceived as inspiring introspection and reform. The report reviews the various approaches, arrangements and practices in place regarding donor-led assessments in the United Nations system, identifies areas of common challenges and concerns, and makes recommendations as appropriate. Ways should be explored to enhance donor confidence and their reliance on the oversight reports by further strengthening of the organizations’ oversight and evaluation functions and bridging the assurance needs of donors with the work performed by the existing oversight bodies. Equally, organizations should work closely with donors to increase the understanding of donors’ requirements, expectations and needs. This should include an effort to apply better reporting on results, and participation in initiatives such as the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). The report calls for better sharing of donor assessments that would help to reduce the risk of overlap and duplication among them. It would also provide to the stakeholders concerned a broader evidence base for their assessments. The Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) should evaluate its methodology to assess its rigour and utility in providing the expected levels of information and determine its effectiveness, in view of further reducing the degree of duplication and level of transaction costs. The report recommends establishing a central function for coordinating the multiplicity of assessments, including for managing the information provided to donors, ensuring consistency and tracking the follow-up action on assessment findings and recommendations. Such a measure will also allow for organizational learning and improvement. The report advocates initiating and sustaining a high-level dialogue with donors to determine shared priorities and define a multi-stakeholder assessment platform with a robust framework and methodology to reduce the need for additional bilateral assessments. The report contains six formal recommendations, three of them addressed to the legislative organs/governing bodies and three to the Executive Heads of the United Nations system organizations.