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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Results-Based Management at the United Nations – 1: Inconsistent RBM

--Greg Armstrong --

There is wide variation in the competence of UN agencies’ use of Results-Based Management. As bilateral aid agencies consider how they can offload responsibility for managing aid programmes to multilateral agencies, it is worth examining how the UN agencies stack up in terms of accountability for results. This is the first of four posts comparing how bilateral and UN aid agencies define results. It reviews publicly available guidelines and policy documents to try to understand the underlying causes for poor results reporting at the UN agencies.

[Edited to update links June 2018]

Level of Difficulty of the reviewed documents:  Moderate to complex
Primarily useful for: Those trying to understand the UN’s inconsistent RBM system
Coverage:  8 documents reviewed,  546 p.
Most useful: The Draft ILO RBM Guide
Limitations: Dense language in most of the documents, and unresolved ambiguities about what results mean in the UN context.

Who this post is for

This post is intended for bilateral aid agency representatives, host country government agencies, project managers, evaluators and monitors who want to know why there is such a wide variation in the standards applied by different UN agencies to managing for and reporting on results. While most readers will not end up any more satisfied with the UN approaches to RBM after reading these posts, they may understand why there is such variation in performance reporting.

One of the problems in reviewing donor agency policies on results reporting, and sometimes the guides on results based management, is the huge amount of essentially tedious material that the reader must wade through before getting to the heart of what each agency requires, and in particular what it means by “results”.  The sites and documents referred to in the first two posts of this series of four, are intended to be of use to people who need, for one reason or another, to make sense of, take guidance from or work within UN agency results frameworks.  These posts are likely to be of limited interest to readers who don’t need to worry about UN agency RBM, other than perhaps to gain some insight into why it can be difficult sometimes to pin down “what difference” development assistance is making.

Inconsistent UN application of Results-Based Management

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