ITC evaluation, reporting and policy

30 July 2015
ITC News

Speech delivered by Arancha González, ITC Executive Director

Joint Advisory Group (JAG)

26 June 2015 - Geneva

Ladies and gentlemen,

As already indicated this morning a comprehensive external evaluation of ITC’s work between 2006 and 2013 was presented to you last June. The external evaluation recognised that ITC was ‘fit for purpose’ and that we had strong technical expertise for which demand continued to increase. It also pointed to four broad ways for ITC to improve both operationally and in terms of visibility. These recommendations were adopted last January and have been guiding our work since last year.

In addition, just last month the Office of Internal Oversight of the United Nations – OIOS – concluded another evaluation of the ITC which took as a part of its remit to validate the independent evaluation. As with the Independent evaluation, here the ITC was also able to accept all of the recommendations made.

The results of this evaluation and its recommendations were discussed by the Committee on Programme Co-ordination of the UN General Assembly earlier this month.

As part of our commitment to accountability and transparency, today I would like to give you an update on our implementation of the recommendations. Please note that a comprehensive update has been provided to you in writing.

On the first recommendation, to focus on well-defined priorities to minimize inefficient spending, we completed, with your input, a new Strategic Plan for 2015-17 that sets out the focus areas for our technical assistance and the principal internal improvements we will make to improve our efficiency. We are at an advanced stage of implementation of a programmatic approach. A Programme Development Task Force has been set up and it is finalizing the organization of ITC’s work into programmes under each of our six focus areas. Each programme is associated with clear intervention logics and theories of change. The Task Force is also finalising the catalogue of ITC products and services.

We are responding to the second recommendation, to further improve the quality of ITC’s technical work, by placing greater emphasis on our pipeline of innovative products and services, a few of which I mentioned this morning. We have revamped the quality control process for all TRTA projects. We are at an advanced stage in improving project cycle management, with a strong focus on clear indicators for measuring results. The first instalment of our revamped projects portal will be released in July. It will incorporate the entire project cycle under one roof thus improving our ability to track progress in implementation and results. The migration of projects into the upgraded portal has already started and staff are already being trained.

We have also revised our evaluation policy along four main axes:

- Incorporation of new evaluation trends such as the advancements made by UN organizations in enhancing evaluation function to better service the post-2015 development goals (enhancing the utility of evaluation, integrating evaluation capacity building, facilitating partnership and avoiding conflict of interests to ensure the impartiality)

- Improved operationalization of evaluation along the principles of independence, accountability, learning, partnership, and capacity building. These will guide ITC in conducting impartial, inclusive and useful evaluations.

- Better anchoring evaluation products and services within ITC’s strategic planning framework.

- Emphasising on follow-up and implementation of evaluations

The new evaluation policy has been circulated to all of you together with the Annual Evaluation Synthesis Report, which summarises ITC’s own evaluation findings on various programmes and projects as well as cross-cutting issues.

In this year’s report, the key learning themes touched upon are: sustainability and exit strategy, the length and possible extension of project implementation periods, and project-level monitoring and reporting, all of which are being addressed as part of ITC’s action plans to the recommendations of the two external Independent Evaluations.

Strategic recommendation three called for better governance and enhanced accountability. Here we have already completed the full transition to IPSAS and implemented the first all-ITC accountability framework as well as being at an advanced stage of introducing an organization-wide risk management framework. Despite important challenges we are also moving ahead with implementation of the UN’s new enterprise resource planning system, UMOJA, which will be operational on 1 November. This risks slowing down the rate of delivery in the last part of the year, given the significant amount of time and efforts required as well as the likely period of blackout in ERP which we are expected to face. We will – as always – do our utmost.

The final recommendation was for ITC to raise its visibility and prominence. In response we have stepped up our work to showcase the ways we enable SMEs to connect markets, in particular in the on-going debate concerning the post 2015 development agenda. We have built new partnership and revived existing ones. We are also at an advanced stage of preparations to open a liaison office in Addis Ababa. We have also undertaken more regular, strategic dialogues with all our stakeholders, here and in-country.

We have also adopted a new resource mobilisation strategy. We have adopted and promulgated a gender mainstreaming policy for the ITC. We have appointed a gender focal point and we are introducing gender parity metrics, all of which are recommendations made by OIOS.

This is where we are today. In the documentation we have provided you will see details of the work in progress, as well as expected dates for completion and means of verification.

We commit to come back to you at the next CCITF and JAG to report further progress. Let me also indicate that we are at your disposal to organise dedicated sessions on any of these topics with you or your experts in capitals as we did recently. We all gain from these exchanges.

I thank you for your attention and look forward to your observations.