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Evaluation of the JPO programme - Finland

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  • 1. Evaluation of the JPO programme - Finland Field phase immediate feedbackPamela White, Maaria Seppänen and Päivi Ahonen Helsinki 23 June 2011
  • 2. Field phase• Visits to HQ: interviews with JPO coordinators, supervisors of JPOs and JPOs (+ ex-JPOs)• Rome: Bioversity, FAO, IFAD, WFP• Geneva: UN (OCHA), UNAIDS, UNHCR, UNEP, WHO, WMO, ILO, ITC, UNECE• Paris: UNESCO• Washington: WB• New York: UNICEF, UNDP, DESA (UN Secretariat), UNFPA, UNHCR,• Copenhagen: JPOSC
  • 3. Embassies/missions/permanent delegations:• Rome ROO• Geneva GEN• Paris UNE• Brussels EUE• Bangkok BAN• Kathmandu KAT• Nairobi NAI• Dar-es-Salaam DAR• Washington WAS• New York YKE• Copenhagen KÖP• MFA-Helsinki – current & retired staff, & some ex JPOs
  • 4. Regional HQ, JPOs & others• HQ UNEP, UN Habitat• Field offices in Paris (UNEP), Kathmandu, Bangkok, Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam• Current JPOs• JPOs’ supervisors• Finnish ex-JPOs• Other nationalities’ JPOs• Finnish UNVs• Other donor embassies
  • 5. Other European donors-Ministries MFA:• Denmark• France• Belgium• The Netherlands• Luxembourg• Still to meet with Sweden• Questionnaires from approx 225 JPOs & ex- JPOs from total of 454 email contacts (50%)
  • 6. JPO programme as policy• Objectives taken from internal documents – no public statement• No mention in 2007 Develt Policy, no mention in 2008 Multilateral Policy• Most MFA interviewees consider the programme as a foreign policy tool for Finland’s visibility and influence in the international community – but also tool for developing cadre of development professionals• However, the organisations supported & JPO posts funded are defined by development policy objectives• While it appears to be strengthening (full marks to Susanna), the Programme suffers from lack of visibility, strategic planning & high level management (& organisational changes internally)
  • 7. • Outsourcing to CIMO contributes as MFA not very visible to the JPOs or to organisations, only main contact is in KEVALKU (plus practicalities)• Finland does not lobby for its JPOs, which causes a lot of resentment among the JPOs themselves-> feeling of abandonment by own government• Only recently has Finland used linkage between project funding to get higher level staff in UN orgs• Few embassies/missions/advisers show any interest in JPOs: Finland does not regularly use JPOs as source of information• Some good examples – project links in forestry, meteorology, environment – but these are rare
  • 8. Organisations’ feedback• Generally very happy with Finnish JPOs• Appreciate Finland for being efficient (decisions come in a couple of hours…not the case with all donors)• Positive feedback regarding communication• Several organisations/supervisors mentioned that the educational or experience background of shortlisted candidates did not correspond to what they had required in the TOR• General concern on JPOs (not specifically Finnish) of ’Generation Y’: very qualified and professional but competitive generation easily fed up who challenge superiors and cause problems within the hierarchy (uraohjukset, surffailijat, kaikki heti mulle-sukupolvi)
  • 9. Post selection / organisation prioritisationDividing the posts between posts with foreign policyand development policy aims?  Foreign policy – HQ posts, career-minded, policy level, more lobbying by embassies needed for retention  Development policy – field posts, more hands-on, not a focus on retention but on training of experts for Finnish develt coop  Will mean focus on different organisationsOrganisation focus versus spread  Has been scatter of recipient organisations in last 4 years.  Perhaps more effective to limit the number. More bargaining power, less work for MFA (though allow for some flexibility)  Could select posts by sector/topic rather than organisation?Country?  Finland is ambivalent regarding country of post – policy documents state that preference is given to LT partner countries, but in practice doesn’t happen (only 14% last year), & some MFA/Embassy staff argue strongly for opposite.  Denmark, Sweden, Belgium and Netherlands only send JPOs to bilateral partner countries
  • 10. Recruitment• Good communication by CIMO to organisations, JPOSC, MFA & applicants• Technical annual report to MFA would be useful• Selection professional but perhaps too mechanical. Usually good candidates selected, but may be that qualified and motivated candidates do not get shortlisted because CIMO’s view of requirements may differ to organisation’s• Closer link between CIMO & MFA & recipient orgs? To try to understand needs better• More weight in selection to development experience of applicants and motivation to work in development & represent Finland, less international careerists
  • 11. • Sometimes too few candidates presented to i/v or too weak• Long list of 10 candidates may be good solution for some organisations to improve quality & ownership - screening the long list together with supervisors and agencies (WB & UNFPA not interested, others are)• Targeted advertising / recruiting in specialised cases?• How to attract more male applicants? Allowing civil service in development? Advertising career options in technical universities / faculties?
  • 12. Gender• 82% females in last 11 yrs• Very few male applicants, but this even decreases during recruitment - selection process favours girls statistically• Gender balance varies with location & organisation & TOR• Some UN orgs happy, others are worried• Implications for retention• Should there be positive discrimination or should it be left alone?• Currently tendency for self-perpetuating cycle – JPO Programme coming to be seen as a programme for women
  • 13. Psychological testing• While some organisation are happy with the testing, others were surprised at the depth• Perhaps excessive length of test – full day. No other donor does this (SIDA spend 1 hour)• Psych tests seem to have more weight with CIMO than earlier with MFA – perhaps too much? Should be an extra piece of guidance rather than decisive• No link with MFA & TTL, so no chance to learn from experiences on important issues• Perhaps could still proceed to i/v for all those who go through psych test - & only after ranking, discuss test results with interviewers• Feedback has sometimes been a bit harsh, & there has been a tendency to ‘blackban’ applicants for 2 yrs• Language question? Swedish, English
  • 14. Psychological Assessment for Selection of JPOCandidates - 2008-2010 StatisticsEvaluation of aptitude based on assessment 1-2 3 4-5 Total JPOs Approx. (JPOs went to nos. tested assessed post per post 2010) filled2008 26 44 13 83 30 2,72009 16 35 14 65 38 1,72010 16 45 16 77 27 2,8• Quite a lot of candidates considered unsuitable by TTL• Why have so few been sent for testing? (tender said usually 5). This is setting up a situation where there will be too few candidates sent to interview by the recipient
  • 15. Briefing - KEVALKU• Try to group UNVs and JPOs into briefings• Some Finnish development policy briefing is good, some optional units would be good• Involve more sectoral advisors• Less lecturing & more group work, active learning• Involve more ex-JPOs – reality check & UN exp• Other course options? Turin? – expensive but perhaps good grounding & network?• Recipient organisation induction courses in UNFPA, UNHCR, IFAD, UNAIDS after a few months
  • 16. During the assignment• Quite often TOR is not reality – but often JPOs are ok with this – flexibility important• Personality & rank of Supervisor is critical – not too low, not too high, P5 good! Embassy could have role of checking first• Inadequate contact with MFA/Embassy (with some exceptions, eg. Nepal now, forestry post in Tanzania)• More management decision from MFA needed in order for embassies & advisers to prioritise JPOs• Use of the training funds seems good• Reporting? Some other donors require reports during posting, not just at end (which are often not done)
  • 17. What happens afterwards• Debriefing important• Final reports often not written (especially if they don’t come back to Finland) – would be good to insist & also circulate reports• Perhaps not enough link/action on feedback from JPOs or embassies (eg. bad units, current JPO about to negotiate retention, etc)• Future career support? Give options, NCE, contacts to Finnish consulting companies, NGOs, etc• SIDA provides 6 mth salary for relevant post back home – a good way to link back to society
  • 18. Using ex-JPOs afterwards• International development experience is not valued by Finnish employers & tendering process makes it difficult to go on to consultancies• How to make ex-JPOs an attractive option to Finnish employers? (Sida option?)• ‘Protected’ post within the bilateral projects for mid- level entry?• Allow them to go on to UNV post if interested
  • 19. Retention rates?• Finnish retention rates are low compared with other donors• Characteristics of Finns that make them appreciated as JPOs are precisely the ones that don’t get retention! Hard working, not involved in office politics & networking, straightforward, etc• Less females retained than men (reverse for other nationalities)• Ways to influence / improve – choose organisations with good retention rates – 3rd year the norm, consider mid-level entry posts – ensure good supervisors/units & make mentoring links – don’t send a new JPO to unit if current one has possibility of retention – embassies/MFA to lobby hard – be strategic – choose male JPOs!
  • 20. Non-Finnish JPOs?• Some donors fund non-OECD (notably Dutch)• Other EU citizens? Permanent residents?• Finland has funded a few non-OECDs earlier• Some justification for this, however pragmatically not much ’value’ to Finland• Trust Fund option - would give no visibility to Finland• One option might be to fund UNV posts for target country nationals? (Luxembourg, Ireland and Austria finance other nationalities )
  • 21. Other donors – new findings from field France• 20 JPOs per year, 2 yrs + cost sharing 3rd year, all to HQ (as best chance of retention & policy influence)• Selection once a year• One part of posts funded by Political Department, one part by development cooperation• Annual reporting to home government• Tried dev. country JPOs within Francophonie but gave up due to clientelism & political pressures
  • 22. The Netherlands• Strong budget cuts, situation changing dramatically• JPO population in the field kept at 130• 3 years funded• No max age limit but max work experience 3-4 years• No previous work experience required-> really junior JPOs• Question of nationality: 50% dev. country nationals but the rest limited to Dutch nationals (but recent batch in DESA were 1 German, 1 Italian, 1 Dutch)• Wanted to eliminate Dutch nationality requirement for EU nationals but gave up (no reciprocity)• If the case is taken to the European Court of Justice
  • 23. Belgium• 3 years JPO period, age limit 31 at application• Prior requirement upon application: a national one-month course on development cooperation successfully passed -> very motivated and development-oriented JPOs• 25 JPOs per year, 5 dev. country nationals (20%), posts earmarked• Allows EU nationals in theory but not in practice (preparation course only in French and Flemish)
  • 24. Luxembourg• 32 years max age limit• ’some years’ of previous work experience required• Nationality restricted via language (EU citizens)• Funds 2+2yrs, combining field and HQ• LUX (and FR, NL, IT, CH etc) fund a JPO course at UN Staff College on ILO Campus in Turin: a ready sense of belonging to an international JPO body with contacts, networking and mutual help (email lists)
  • 25. Denmark (DANIDA)• Focus on partner countries (25!) 70% in Africa• Phasing out Guatemala, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Vietnam• EU open: recruitment & admin & reporting language Danish• Age: 34 years old when sending shortlist for interview• Non OECD- 1-2 annually• 100 % funding for 3 years for all interested, no 4th year funding• JED frozen since 2008 (missing financial statements)• Recruitment: no psychological testing, agencies interview together with supervisors based on shortlisting by the ministry Videoconferences and conference calls used widely to assist with this
  • 26. JPOSCReview of the Finnish applicants’ cvs sent to JPOSC (NB. this is not necessarily representative of whole pool of applicants):• Finns seem to have less development related studies as part of their degree than other nationals (more ‘pure’ degrees)• Many Finns have PhD studies (unlike Swedes e.g.)• Finns do not fill the P11 form systematically enough and are too short in descriptive answers• Finns give very short responses in interviews• JPOSC aims to find candidates who plan for long career in UN (ie. retention), those looking for only two years are regarded as having low motivation
  • 27. Conclusions from JPOSC• 3rd year importance: only a few countries still start with 2 years• SARC: mid level entry point, useful for improving retention - 31-38 of age, 5 years working experience, most of SARCs former JPOs, P3 level, important for UN reform• Following the Recruitment Guidelines from now will authorize ex JPOs to apply the permanent posts in the category of Internal Candidates
  • 28. Overall impressions• As a tool for achieving development outcomes, probably not very effective• As tool for producing experienced development practitioners, very effective• As tool of foreign policy, low retention rate makes it not so effective long term, but constant flow keeps Finland visible• As personal career move, most JPOs are very appreciative of the experience, but just wish for more support with next step• In general it is good programme – with clearer policy & logical actions stemming from this, it would be more effective
  • 29. Recommendations• Get policy clear first then action plan of how to implement & achieve results• Division of foreign policy & development posts?• Use the JPOs better as information sources/exchange• Utilise the JPO & ex-JPO database as resource & information channel• Focus on quality rather than quantity – 3 yrs as a norm (providing they go well) – 2+1 (field & HQ?) – Use embassies to check out supervisors and departments prior to selecting post – Allow people be more than one of JPO/UNV/JED – Limit the number of organisations – SARC or other mid-level entry points – Allow UNV / JED / JPO double post