Core Concepts - Execution and Implementation Options
Several basic mechanisms exist for project execution and implementation. Harmonized country programmes are increasingly the norm. DEX/DIM and NEX/NIM are traditional options.
National execution under CPAP
The Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP) is the operation plan of the Country Programme. It is an integral part of the UN country programming process. The CPAP is mandatory for UNDP except in countries opting to develop the UNDAF Action Plan (one common operational plan for the entire UN Country Team), in which case the UNDAF Action Plan replaces the CPAP. With the CPAP signed by the government and UNDP, all activities are nationally executed. Implementation is redefined as the management and delivery of programme activities to achieve specified outputs, as in the annual work plans.
The CPAP elevates responsibility for executing the project to the management of the country programme. By reinforcing the definition of execution as overall management rather than the management of inputs, the CPAP encourages government involvement in directing the strategy of the country programme, rather than micromanaging inputs.
Under a CPAP, a Country Programme Board should be established as a mechanism for consultation and management decisions. Each programme component should have an Outcome Board charged with monitoring the achievement of expected outcomes. Complex programmes encompassing multiple projects may also require the creation of Project Boards. For more details, see Programme and Project Management Roles.
DEX/DIM is the default
As detailed in the Note of Guidance between UNDP and DPA, the national implementation modality should be limited in electoral assistance projects due to the political and often sensitive nature of the electoral environment, making direct execution (DEX)/direct implementation (DIM) the default modality. DEX/DIM requires the approval of the UNDP Associate Administrator. UNDP is the executing agent, and the senior staff of the PMU report to UNDP and donors through a steering committee. Regardless of where the PMU is situated—within the UNDP country office, in the EMB or in some third location—the project manager is under UNDP contract. UNDP has responsibility for making project management decisions. See also How to Set Up a PMU.
Management factors that affect direct execution/implementation include:
- The appropriate delegation of authority—usually flowing from senior UNDP management to the chief technical advisor of the election project
- The different profiles and division of labour between the project manager and the chief technical advisor
- The overall delineation of responsibilities among the various levels of staff involved in the programme
Appropriate delegation of authority allows for a clear separation of roles and functions according to Prince2. If the chief technical advisor or head of the PMU has authority to approve vouchers and purchase orders and is responsible to the steering committee, UNDP country office staff can focus more on project assurance.
NEX/NIM is an option sometimes
Some longer-term electoral assistance programmes that offer capacity development assistance to EMBs over a period of time have used the national implementation (NEX/NIM) modality following an assessment of national capacities. In such case, full consultation with DPA, UNDP Regional Bureaus and UNDP/BDP needs to take place before the decision on the selection of the national implementation modality. The programme is managed by the EMB; UNDP works closely with it to identify specialist support needs and contract such personnel. Specialist experts report to the EMB but should have a good working relationship with UNDP.
Fast Track Procedures
Apart from the two major project implementation modalities, in case a country office faces a strategic agenda that requires time-critical response, use of the Fast Track Procedure (FTP) is one option to consider as a means to support quick delivery.
Although FTP is primarily designed for emergency contexts, it may be formally activated by the Resident Representative outside the context of an acute crisis, e.g., when a strategic and/or time-critical response is needed to maintain UNDP’s credibility and relevance, under which support to elections may fall. As of October 2010, FTP had been activated for elections in Central African Republic and Guinea - Conakry.
Once activated, FTP give a pre-defined delegation of authority in procurement and human resource management, and it also allows deviations to existing procedures, many of which will support quick delivery of electoral assistance in the field.
See the Fast Track Strategy Paper for detailed procedure for activation as well as full list of Automatic Delegation of Authority and Modified Operational Procedures.