Magdy Martínez-Solimán: Executive Board Annual Session: Remarks at Evaluation and Management Commentaries on 2016 Annual Report

May 31, 2017

Ambassador Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations and President of the Executive Board,
Distinguished Members of the Executive Board,

On behalf of UNDP senior management, I would like to thank the Director Indran Naidoo and his team in the Independent Evaluation Office for the work conducted in 2016, and for putting together this thorough report.

Similar to previous Annual Sessions, UNDP takes the opportunity of the presentation of the Annual Report on Evaluation to provide an update on the measures taken to improve the quality of the decentralized evaluation function.

I will specifically refer to the performance of the decentralized evaluation function, the progress achieved in implementing the UNDP Strategy on Decentralized Evaluation and the priorities of 2017 based on the UNDP-IEO joint action plan, presented to the Executive Board in January this year.

Decentralized evaluations

UNDP has identified four factors that greatly influence the quality of decentralized evaluations: quality of programmes and projects; quality of M&E capacities and institutional benchmarks; quality of guidelines and processes, and quality of evaluators. Identifying these factors has helped UNDP develop better and more targeted efforts to address some of the shortcomings that we have identified together over the last three years.

While this is an ongoing process and we acknowledge that UNDP still has a long way to go to claim success, I am pleased to share a series of key achievements from 2016, which we believe confirm UNDP’s growing commitment to professionalizing the evaluation function.

UNDP management notes with satisfaction that 73% of the country offices met the prescriptive benchmarks for M&E capacities, totalling 137 staff in 2016. This indicates a steady increase when comparing to 2014 (46%) and 2015 (54%).

Improved compliance with the management response requirement is also noted with 98% of evaluations accompanied by a management response in 2016, compared to 86% in 2015. Implementation of management responses similarly improved, with only 12% of actions reported overdue, down from 15% in 2015 and 29% in 2014.

To better understand and further strengthen the utility of decentralized evaluations, the Results-Oriented Annual Reporting (ROAR) continued to capture in 2016 feedback from country offices reflecting on evaluation recommendations and their relevance for future programming. Per data reported, out of the 1,532 recommendations given by independent evaluators to project and outcome evaluations in 2016, 40% were considered supported by an evidential basis, credible and practical, action-oriented, and with potential to be used in decision making, and 38% as supported by an evidential basis and credible, but not as relevant, specific and/ or action-oriented for subsequent follow up. Consolidating these ratings, 78% of the evaluations conducted in 2016 were useful or moderately useful. IEO concluded in their Annual Report on Evaluation that 75% of the evaluations assessed had been satisfactory or moderately satisfactory. There is clearly double check and validation.

2016 ROAR data also indicated that 57% of country offices met the UNDP internal benchmark of spending 1-3% of their programme budget on M&E. This figure is slightly lower than 2014 (65%) and 2015 (64%), however the process of data cleaning and validation has become much more thorough, thus the 2016 figure is considered more accurate.

UNDP would also like to share a few additional results related to M&E capacity development that were achieved in 2016:

•    38% of country offices recruited short term external support to provide evaluation expertise (up from 35% in 2015)
•    13% of country offices recruited new UNDP specialized staff to provide evaluation expertise (14% 2015)
•    34% of country offices strengthened the role of evaluation staff (up from 26% in 2015)
•    30% of country offices provided training for country office staff on conducting or managing high quality decentralized evaluations (up from 24% in 2015)
•    26% of country offices provided training for project staff or national counterparts on conducting or managing high quality decentralized evaluations
•    28% of country offices increased budget for decentralized evaluation for key projects (33% in 2015)

The positive results presented are believed to be a direct consequence of the decentralized evaluation reform implementation efforts, such as the requirement to have management responses in place preceding ROAR reporting, data linkages established between UNDP’s Corporate Planning System and the Evaluation Resource Centre, and evaluation-related capacity building of staff.

In terms of funding, the total M&E expenditure in 2016 was $50.5million which represents 1.13% of UNDP’s $4.48 bill expenditure (core and non-core programme spending) in 2016. The amount includes: $42.0 mill spent by country offices and regional bureaux and $8.5mill spent by the IEO. This indicates a slight increase in expenditure from 1.07% in 2015.

Of the total M&E expenditure outlined above, the total spending on decentralized evaluation alone was $11.4 mill, representing 0.25% of UNDP’s total expenditure in 2016. This amount includes: $1.6 mill spent by regional bureaus on staff and evaluations, and $ 9.8mill (0.22%) spent by country offices (up from 0.19% in 2015). UNDP is as of 2017 undertaking efforts to secure the 1% threshold for evaluation spending as stated in the new Evaluation Policy.

2016 achievements through the implementation of the Strategy

Against the 4 Q factors driving quality in evaluation, UNDP has marked a series of achievements that were shared with you in the informal consultations held last week, basically Quality of Programmes and Projects, Quality of M&E capacities and Quality of Guidelines and Processes.

In concluding, I would like to highlight that UNDP will continue to invest in the quality of decentralized evaluations while aiming to learn more from our development partners. During 2017, UNDP and the IEO will also review practices and procedures related to payments to evaluators; expand and update the evaluation consultant roster; continue undertaking efforts to strengthen compliance with evaluation plans and implementation of management responses; and improve learning. Once again, UNDP welcomes the findings and recommendations of the 2016 Annual Report on Evaluation and the feedback provided by the Member States in all our consultations over the year.

I thank you for your attention.

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