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Core Concepts - Effective Programme Management

Several features characterize effective electoral programme management:

  • A commitment to excellence in communication across all management levels
  • An unambiguous focus on capacity development, the strengthening of institutions and sustainability; and
  • A balancing of political realities and development objectives.

With these objectives in mind, management structures also need to be tailored to country contexts. Programming carried out within peacekeeping or political mission structures led by a representative of the Secretary-General differs from that managed by a UNDP country office in a more stable environment, for example. In a peacekeeping context, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) heads the overall mission and is supported by deputies responsible for political and development/humanitarian areas. People working on political and development issues must maintain close communication and ensure harmonization in the reporting process.

In more routine development situations, the UNDP country office takes the lead on coordination and management of electoral assistance, either directly or through a programme management unit (PMU).

Within UNDP, the Results Management Guide has adapted the Prince2™ (Projects IN Controlled Environments) project management method. It is built into the ATLAS system and should be used to administer all programmes. See the "On Demand" ATLAS training guide for more information. The Results Management Guide elaborates on a variety of other management issues. More tools are online at the Programme and Project Management for Results—Maturity Toolkit.

See also Coordination and Management Arrangements for a two-tiered management structure that may be useful for electoral assistance projects receiving pooled funding from several donors.

Integrated Mission and Electoral Project Management – Country Cases

Thus far, the term “integrated mission” has referred less to a specific management model than to a strategy of bringing together all UN components in a country—peacekeeping, humanitarian and development—to achieve a successful transition from peace to development. The structures of integrated missions have varied considerably.

Although the DPA-UNDP Note of Guidance on Electoral Assistance defines the roles of Chief Electoral/Technical Advisor and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) who also is the Resident Coordinator/Resident Representative, one of the key issues in the design of electoral support in integrated mission is the issue of reporting lines, which in turn, influence greatly communication and coordination among UN/UNDP electoral teams on the ground. Looking at recent experience, it is clear that the UN electoral support in integrated missions has not followed a single approach in terms of reporting lines.

Sierra Leone has had an Executive Representative of the Secretary-General, who is also the top humanitarian and development official (wearing the so-called ‘three hats’). In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in charge of the electoral assistance portfolio was also the UNDP Resident Representative. A UNDP Country Director supported this role.

In Sudan, two deputies assist the SRSG. One works closely with the Special Representative in addressing good offices and political support to the peace process and governance, including electoral support, while the other acts as UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator and deals with development concerns.

In Timor-Leste, the electoral assistance project is coordinated by a Project Manager, recruited by UNDP, who oversees implementation. Regardless of reporting lines, all advisors working to implement the UN project of assistance to the electoral cycle are coordinated by the Project Manager. The advisors are coordinated in terms of delivery of project activities and outputs by the Project Manager but retain their reporting and supervisory lines, through their intermediate supervisors, to the DSRSG who is currently in the reporting line of both UNDP and UNMIT advisors.

In Afghanistan, UNDP’s Enhancing Legal and Electoral Capacity for Tomorrow (ELECT) project was headed by a Chief Electoral Adviser (CEA) of the UN to the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan, and reported substantively on electoral matters to the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/DSRSG (Political) and administratively to the UNDP Country Director (in Afghanistan, unlike in DRC or in Timor-Leste, separate DSRSGs were in charge of elections and UNDP, respectively).

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