Objective 3.2


  • Human Resources Strategy adopted, setting corporate priorities on continuity of staffing solutions, mobility, enhanced human resources services and systems, staff welfare and scaled-up capacity-building.
  • Field vacancy rate reduced from 16 per cent in December 2011 to 7 per cent in December 2012 (with a rate of 5 per cent in non-family duty stations).
  • Average recruitment timeline with 155 days in 2012, which is 35 per cent lower than in 2010; average field recruitment timeline with less than 100 days over 58 per cent faster than the 2010 OCHA-wide average.
  • Eighty-six deployments to emergencies during the year from OCHA-managed surge rosters.

Year In Review

Delivering coordination services is a complex task. To perform effectively in humanitarian crises, OCHA depends on the skills, versatility and creativity of its staff, as well as the systems and tools to efficiently recruit, deploy and administer those people. In 2012, OCHA launched a new Human Resources Strategy, acknowledging the need for a more integrated approach to human resources management. It sets out priorities under five major headings: continuity of staffing solutions; staff mobility; enhanced human resources services and systems; staff welfare; and scaled up capacity-building support (as part of the closely related Organizational Learning Strategy). 

In 2012, there was a growing recognition that these systems must be accompanied by improved continuity and reduced turnover in key positions. The response to Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines towards the end of the year was typical of efforts to manage surge deployments in phases, and to minimize disruptions between the initial days of an emergency and the recruitment of longer-term staff.

OCHA managed 86 surge deployments in 2012, of which the Stand-by Partnership Programme accounted for almost half. Surge pools have been deepened, with more technical specialists and greater regional and linguistic diversity. New training programmes were rolled out for surge personnel, including on needs assessment, information management, public information, reporting and civil-military coordination. OCHA routinely carries out detailed pre-deployment briefings and post-deployment debriefings for all surge personnel. Senior-level surge capacity was strengthened with the recruitment of OCHA’s first P5-level Roaming Emergency Surge Officer, who served as the interim Head of OCHA’s office in Sri Lanka before moving to the OCHA Syria support office in Amman, Jordan.

Smooth transitions from the surge phase to the arrival of regular staff depend on effectively functioning recruitment processes. OCHA continues to work through the Secretariat-mandated Inspira system to reduce recruitment timelines. In 2012, it took an average of 155 days from the issuance of a job opening to selection. This represents a 35 per cent reduction since 2010. The average for field posts was even better, with an average time frame of less than 100 days. This was due to investment in dedicated capacity to support recruitment for the field.

OCHA’s field vacancy rate fell from 15.9 per cent at the end of 2011 to 7 per cent in December 2012. The rate for non-family duty stations is 5 per cent. The strategy here was to draw from pre-cleared rosters where possible, but to carry out more targeted outreach for posts with specific language requirements or in hardship duty stations. Rosters were used to fill D1-level Head of Office positions in Somalia and South Sudan. An additional 14 P5-level (Head of Office and Deputy Head of Office) positions in the field were filled–part of an overall total of 184 positions filled in 2012. The percentage of women making up OCHA’s field staff increased from 30 per cent to 33 per cent by the end of the year.

OCHA is committed to implementing systems to facilitate the predictable mobility of staff, both to support equitable sharing of the burden of service in hardship duty stations and to ensure a dynamic and versatile workforce. A total of 103 staff moved in 2012, of whom just over half (52) moved to non-family duty stations. However, 65 per cent of the staff moving to non-family duty stations did so from other non-family duty stations. OCHA will encourage greater movement from non-family duty stations to posts in headquarters or family duty stations. These efforts will form part of a framework for internal mobility that OCHA will develop in 2013, in parallel with discussion of the Secretary-General’s mobility proposal in the General Assembly.

In 2012, OCHA provided greater support to its national staff, including through the Organizational Learning Strategy. This builds on the recommendations of studies on administrative arrangements in the field and enhanced capacity-building. All national staff were granted full access to UNDP’s extensive learning management system, and the first of a series of training workshops for field staff was rolled out in November. In terms of contractual arrangements, in 2012 most country offices were either pursuing or had achieved regularization of national staff contracts. In mid-2012, files for 64 national staff members were submitted to UNDP for conversion to permanent contracts. All 64 were processed by December. 

Progress against Performance Framework
RESULT 1 Targeted and effective staffing solutions to support emergency response.
1. Strengthened capacity for senior surge and surge package of care.

OCHA’s surge capacity has improved considerably in recent years. But surge capacity at more senior levels is not yet reliable and sizeable enough. Additional measures are required and multiple solutions will be pursued. Changes will be proposed in the ERR so that it becomes easier and more attractive for senior staff to make themselves available. SCS will add a P5 category to the new ASP modality, with a focus on former OCHA staff who have served in leadership positions. Another essential component will be hiring three roaming emergency surge officers (RESOs) at P4 and P5 levels. Surge will be further supported through a care package consisting of: Prepare (pre-deployment briefings, pre-mission info, face-to-face training and capacity development); Support (continuous contact during deployments, referrals); and Debrief (operational and personal).


a) New ERR regulations implemented.


b) ASP P5s on board.


c) RESOs recruited.


d) Sixty per cent of surge deployments supported through the service package.


e) Number of days after new emergency that OCHA has office with full capacity to support humanitarian response in place.


f) Sixty per cent of ERR surge staff deployed within one week of request. 


g) Eighty per cent of surge from external rosters deployed within one month of request.


a) Regulations implemented and related procedures implemented. 


b) Additional P5s ASP members on board. 


c) One RESO in place. Advertisements for remaining RESO (P5) and Roaming Operational Stability Officer (ROSO – P4) to close in January 2013. 


d) Target met; service package provided for all deployments. 


e) In Typhoon Bopha response (large–scale, sudden-onset response in 2012), core team from the Regional Office, OCHA Geneva and UNDAC deployed in advance of landfall; ERR deployments (general coordination, information management, public information) on the ground between two and three weeks of landfall; handover to standby partners and newly recruited staff (from ASP) underway within one month. 


f) Sixty-five per cent of deployments within one week of request. Despite faster processing times, shortfalls partly due to delays outside OCHA control, e.g. issuance of visas. MTT to develop an indicator that better reflects aspects of deployment process within OCHA control. 


g) Fifty-four per cent of standby partner deployments taking place within one month. Issues leading to delays have included visa issuance and availability of secondees with necessary language skills. 


a) No further gaps in internal senior surge (P5 HoO-type surge assignments).


b) Eighty per cent of surge deployments supported through the care package.


c) Completion of outstanding RESO and ROSO recruitment. 

2. Improved succession and continuity in staffing of emergency response

No existing comprehensive/integrated policy on achieving operational stability through surge, regular (longer-term) staff and supporting infrastructure (work/costplans, logistics, etc.) are in place. 


a) SOP approved by SMT; implementation begun. 


b) Enhanced operational stability through a reduction in number of staff handovers between surge phase and regular staffing solutions.  


a) Implementation of SOP on surge management continuing. Policy Instruction on Emergency Response finalized. 


b) Continued improvements in using established procedures to coordinate, with reduced staff turnover in key positions. Key examples included Typhoon Bopha (no changes in Head of Office and Administrative Officer functions; single baton pass for inter-cluster coordination and reporting/public information functions) and Syria (one baton pass for Deputy Head of Office, Administrative Officer and information management functions). 


a) SOP on surge management used as guiding tool in all relevant emergencies, leading to the earlier attainment of operational stability in new or escalating emergencies.


b) Development of system/tool to consistently track coverage of key functions from surge to arrival of regular staff.  

3. Effective recruitment for non-family duty stations, including targeted outreach to attract specific groups of candidates

Persistent challenges in attracting qualified candidates for positions requiring specific language skills and senior positions in non-family duty stations through available roster candidates. Limited pool of diverse and female candidates (e.g. only 30 per cent of all professional staff in the field are female; females comprise only 27 per cent of field staff at the P5 and above level). Recent OHRM outreach missions to Member States were not geared toward OCHA requirements. 


a) Vacancy rate for non-family duty stations less than 25 per cent. Average field vacancy rate less than 15 per cent.


b) One to two outreach campaigns conducted by June 2012 to target a wider pool of senior candidates to serve in non-family duty stations, including diverse and female candidates.


a) Non-family duty station vacancy rate 5 per cent as of December 2012. Overall field vacancy rate 7 per cent as of December 2012. Over 75 per cent of recruitment/reassignment cases in 2012 were for non-family duty stations. 


b) Outreach campaigns/missions not carried out, and to be rolled into a comprehensive action plan on increased diversity in OCHA. 


a) Vacancy rate for non-family duty stations maintained at below 10 per cent.


b) Ratio of recruitment of female-to-male field staff higher than ratio of female- to male staff in the field.

c) Action plan launched on outreach to increase diversity of OCHA staff; implementation under way. 

RESULT 2 Enhanced career development through managed mobility.
1. Prompt implementation of forthcoming UN Secretariat mobility policy.

The lack of a mandatory mobility policy for the UN Secretariat leaves OCHA unable to enforce a managed-mobility programme and address the limited rotation of staff between HQs and the field. Secretary-General due to present a comprehensive mobility policy to the Secretariat in late 2012. 


a) Staff-member database developed, including level, duty station, duration at duty station and previous duty stations, and skill set inventory by Q2.


b) Determination of positions to be considered part of a managed-mobility programme.


a) Further updates and clean-up of staff database completed, illustrating service in current position and current duty station as against recommended maximum post occupancy duration. Database does not currently include information on staff skill sets due to a low rate of response to a skill-set survey.  


b) Based on an extensive review of posts (completed in support of data collection by OHRM related to the Secretary-General’s mobility proposal), OCHA considers all of its professional posts to be non-specialized and therefore subject to mobility.


Due to the General Assembly’s deferral of consideration of the Secretary-General’s mobility proposal (now scheduled for March 2013), OCHA will explore implementation of a non-mandatory internal mobility framework encompassing headquarters and the field. 

2. Improved understanding of staff attitudes, including on career development and mobility.

There has been a renewed focus on human resources management. This is seen in the appointment of a new senior management echelon, the restructuring of select units to ensure that the organization is fit for purpose, OCHA's commitment to improving field effectiveness, and the development of a corporate human resources strategy. Staff attitudes and perception of progress are indicators of whether these changes are addressing priority areas and issues of concern to staff.


Completion of global staff survey, which is expected to cover career development, mobility, staff-management relations, performance management, working environment. The survey will allow OCHA to identify specific human resources and management-related issues requiring targeted action.


The MTT has opted not to proceed with the global staff survey as it overleaps with other surveys (e.g. OHRM mobility) and use other avenues to consult staff on issues of staff mobility, career development. 


The MTT will regularly consult with staff in field and headquarters, as well as staff representatives, as the proposed voluntary internal mobility framework is developed. 

RESULT 3 Standardized and more effective administrative service provided to the field.
1. Review of administrative services provision to the field offices

Lack of standardization, consistency and accountability in the provision of services from third-party service providers, e.g. UNDP and WFP.


a) Study on administrative service arrangements in the field concluded providing recommendations on the optimal arrangements for third-party service provision in the field, including the possibility for regional service centres.


b) Action plan in place following senior management review.


a) Study completed and recommendations endorsed by the SMT. 


b) Overarching recommendation to continue to use current service providers accepted. Revised template for local-level service agreements finalized. Discussions under way in several countries, and discussions on a global-level OCHA-UNDP framework agreement were revived. Corporate agreement secured for “external user” access by OCHA in the field to UNDP’s ATLAS system. Outstanding items on review of OCHA administrative capacity in the field and clean-up of human resources data. 


a) Senior management-endorsed recommendations from study of third-party service-provision arrangements fully implemented. 


b) Global agreement between UNDP and OCHA in place. 


c) Training on UNDP procedures incorporated into learning planning for field-based administration, finance officers and support staff. 

2. Legal status of OCHA’s national field staff settled

Ambiguity regarding the legal status of national field staff serving with OCHA (Secretariat vs. UNDP) has had an adverse effect on the effective administration of these staff members and on their opportunities for career development in the UN Secretariat.


Targets contingent upon the findings of the review of administrative services provision to the field offices.


Key recommendation of field administrative service consultancy was to retain UNDP as the core service provider, on economic grounds and in the absence of feasible alternatives. Transfer of national staff to Secretariat contracts dependent upon conclusion of host country agreements between the UN and all OCHA host countries, which is not achievable in the short or medium term. Priority in relation to staff contracts is to improve UNDP contractual status of locally recruited staff. 


a) All 64 cases proposed for conversion to permanent UNDP contractual status processed by UNDP. 


b) Field offices continue to pursue regularization of core or long-term staff (short-term contract modalities retained for short-term or emergency needs). 


c) Access to UNDP learning platform secured for all OCHA national staff. 


d) Various recommendations on national staff capacity-building integrated into OCHA Organizational Learning Strategy.  


a) Continued implementation of national staff-focused capacity-building initiatives as part implementation of the broader Organizational Learning Strategy. 


b) Development of a support package for national staff seeking to transition to international contracts and/or external opportunities.  

3. Enhanced capacity for administrative support in field offices

Scope for enhanced capacity of field administrative staff in providing HR support and guidance to field staff.


a) Updated field operations manual.


b) Development of training plan and schedule of implementation for field administration staff, including decision on the timetable of field administration workshop. 


a) Final draft of field operations manual under review, with one chapter outstanding. 


b) First of three scheduled regional workshops for field staff on administration and human resources took place in November 2012, the second and third will follow during the first quarter of 2013. 


a) Update of field operations manual completed. 


b) First round of training workshops for field-based administrative staff completed; report finalized and key findings fed into an action plan and updated guidance.