United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC or, by its Spanish acronym, CEPAL) is headquartered in Santiago, Chile. ECLAC is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations. It was founded with the purpose of contributing to the economic development of Latin America, coordinating actions directed towards this end, and reinforcing economic ties among countries and with other nations of the world. The promotion of the region's social development was later included among its primary objectives. The 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, together with several Asian, European and North American nations that have historical, economic and cultural ties with the region, comprise the 44 member States of ECLAC. Thirteen non-independent territories in the Caribbean are associate members of the Commission.ECLAC has a staff of 543 people and an annual budget of 57.9 million.
The overall purpose of ECLAC is to promote the economic, social and environmentally sustainable development of Latin America and the Caribbean through continuous international cooperation, by undertaking comprehensive research and analysis of development processes and providing relevant normative, operational and technical cooperation services in support of regional development efforts. The Commission's mandate derives from Economic and Social Council resolution 106 (VI), by which the Council established the Commission for the purpose of contributing to and coordinating action towards the economic and social development of the region and strengthening the economic relationships among the countries of the region as well as with other countries of the world. In 1996, by virtue of ECLAC resolution 553(XXVI), the Commission was instructed, inter alia, to collaborate with member States in a comprehensive analysis of development processes geared to the design, monitoring and evaluation of public policies and the resulting provision of operational services in the fields of specialized information, advisory services, training and support for regional and international cooperation and coordination.http://www.eclac.org/
Evaluation is an integral part of the work of ECLAC in all of its substantive areas and has contributed to effective programme planning, design and implementation. As an important accountability mechanism, it has enhanced the Commission’s legitimacy and credibility. It has also helped ECLAC to ensure a results orientation in the activities it undertakes, and to identify the impacts of its interventions. Moreover, it has been an important driver of institutional learning, allowing ECLAC to replicate best practices and apply innovative approaches.
The Commission's evaluation function is situated within the Programme Planning and Evaluation Unit (PPEU) of the Programme Planning and Operations Division (PPOD). The PPEU Evaluation Team comprises a Chief of Unit, a Programme Officer and an Evaluation Assistant. The group operates under the overall supervision of the Director of the Division who, in turn, reports directly to the Executive Secretary of the Commission. The PPEU Evaluation Team is separate from other management functions in the Division so as to ensure, to the extent possible, independence in the evaluation function. Moreover, ECLAC contracts its evaluators externally, and their independence from the evaluation subject is considered a prerequisite for their selection.
Promoting a Culture of Evaluation within ECLAC
The PPEU evaluation team focuses strongly on learning and improving programme management as well as future programme design. The unit provides technical assistance to self-assessments and internal evaluations and functions as a "go to" place for all evaluation-related matters in the Commission. ECLAC, has also created a network of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) focal points, comprised of two representatives of each of the ECLAC subprogrammes. The M&E focal points facilitate the formulation of the biennial Evaluation Plan, and coordinate the monitoring and reporting on follow-up to evaluations. Training in evaluation is provided on a regular basis for the Commission's network of M&E focal points.
United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
Programme Planning and Evaluation Unit (PPEU)
- The Programme Planning and Evaluation Unit (PPEU) is part of ECLAC's Programme Planning and Operations Division (PPOD)
Human Resources (reference date: June 2015):
- Unit Head: 1F
- Evaluators : 1F
- Support Staff : 1F
Evaluations conducted or commissioned by the unit in 2015
- 10 evaluations
Evaluation expenditure (2015), excluding staff costs
- US$ 164,000.00
Key objectives of evaluation
- Managing for results
- Learning, innovation and organizational change
- Enhancing participation and quality assurance
- Institutional learning from evaluations
The Commission's evaluation function is situated within the Programme Planning and Evaluation Unit (PPEU) of PPOD. The PPEU Evaluation Team comprises a Chief of Unit, a Programme Officer and an Evaluation Assistant. The group operates under the overall supervision of the Director of the Division who, in turn, reports directly to the Executive Secretary of the Commission.
In order to ensure the independence of the evaluation function, it should be fully transparent and free from undue influence. While evaluations at ECLAC are managed by its staff, measures are taken to maximize to the extent possible the independence of the evaluation function.
The evaluation function at ECLAC is separate from other management functions within PPOD so as to ensure, to the extent possible, full discretion in the supervision of evaluations, and the Head of Evaluation has the authority to submit reports directly to the Executive Secretary. Moreover, ECLAC takes various measures to safeguard the independence of the evaluative process. For example, the function of ECLAC staff is limited to task management of evaluations and they never form part of the evaluation team itself. In addition, ECLAC contracts its evaluators externally, and their independence from the evaluation subject is considered a prerequisite for their selection. Additionally, ECLAC ensures that evaluators have editorial independence, demonstrate impartiality in their assessment and are given access to all relevant information on the subject of the evaluation.
Agenda Setting & Evaluation Planning
One year before the beginning of each biennium, evaluation plans are delivered, along with programme budgets, to the Office of Programme Planning, Budget, and Accounts (OPPBA) in the United Nations Secretariat, after which they are formally submitted to the General Assembly for final approval. These plans indicate the topic, estimated cost and time frame of each evaluation. Evaluations of programmes and projects are selected based on their planned closure dates, while thematic and strategic evaluations are determined by PPOD in consultation with ECLAC substantive divisions and subregional offices, according to need and relevance in the given biennium. The evaluations submitted as part of the programme budgets are considered to be estimated plans rather than formal commitments, and adjustments are sometimes made to respond to changing conditions.
Stakeholder involvement and promoting national evaluation capacity development
ECLAC has also enhanced the participation of implementing partners in the evaluation process, including other Regional Commissions, donor representatives, and entities in the broader UN system. In addition to ongoing liaison between the task manager, the evaluation team, and implementing partners, ECLAC has now introduced two tools:
- Stakeholder debriefing: At the end of the data collection process, the evaluator presents the preliminary findings of the data collection process to all programme implementing partners in a debriefing session. This session give the opportunity to the partners to provide initial feedback to the evaluator, before the submission of the draft report.
- Evaluation Reference Group (ERG): composed of a representative of each programme implementing partner, is a formal panel set up to provide feedback on the evaluation’s preliminary finding and review the draft evaluation report. Comments by all panel members are consolidated by PPEU and submitted to the evaluator, who addresses them in the revision process as well as through a response template.
ECLAC uses several means to ensure the highest standards of quality in its evaluations.
(a) Guidelines and methodological data collection tools: All ECLAC evaluations are carried out in accordance with evaluation guidelines developed by PPEU. These guidelines outline the evaluation process, key evaluation criteria and questions, as well as the format and content of deliverables, including the TORs, inception report, presentation of preliminary findings, the report of the evaluation and the follow-up action plan.
(b) Evaluator competencies: ECLAC follows a defined set of criteria for the experience and qualifications required in the selection of the evaluator.
(c) Review of evaluation deliverables: The task manager provides continuous guidance and feedback to the evaluator throughout the evaluation process and reviews all evaluation deliverables, including the inception report, methodological data collection tools, presentations to implementing partners, and the draft and final evaluation report. ECLAC programme managers in the respective substantive divisions also provide continuous feedback to the task manager and evaluator.
(d) Evaluation Reference Group (ERG): An ERG, composed of a representative of each programme implementing partner, is a formal panel set up to provide feedback on the evaluation's preliminary finding and review the draft evaluation report. Comments by all panel members are consolidated by PPEU and submitted to the evaluator, who addresses them in the revision process as well as through a response template.
Use of Evaluation
a) Dissemination of evaluations
Once each evaluation report has been finalized, a stakeholder meeting is organized via videoconference, in which the evaluator presents the key findings and recommendations of the evaluation to all programme implementing partners. Evaluations are then uploaded on the Commission's Internet and intranet sites. Moreover, evaluation results are summarized in the biennial report on the activities of the Commission, as well as during annual strategic planning meetings with substantive divisions and offices away from headquarters.
Following completion and distribution of the evaluation, the Programme Planning and Evaluation Unit (PPEU) convenes a meeting with all substantive divisions involved in implementing the programme to formulate a management response and identify key follow-up actions for each evaluation recommendation. All participating divisions are then asked to report yearly on their implementation of those actions for a period of two years. PPEU concludes the process at the end of the cycle, and participating divisions are urged to incorporate relevant activities of the process into their respective work programmes.
ECLAC communicates information on the evaluation follow-up process within the Commission in various ways. First, the follow-up action plan, is shared with all divisions and uploaded to the ECLAC intranet site. Action being taken as part of ECLAC follow-up processes and the respective outcomes are also summarized in the biennial report on the activities of the Commission. Second, in the case of programmes or projects being implemented in partnership with an external donor, follow-up action plans are shared with the relevant counterpart at both the beginning and the end of the process.
Furthermore, ECLAC places great weight on the importance of institutionalizing the results of evaluation follow-up processes within the Commission as a whole. To this end, the outcomes of these processes are discussed with all divisions at their annual strategic planning meetings and are taken into account in the preparation of the ECLAC biennial programme of work.
ECLAC endeavors to work in close coordination with programme managers and other implementing partners throughout the evaluation process. In addition, it seeks to strengthen ties with other United Nations regional commissions and the UN Evaluation Group (UNEG). Wherever possible, opportunities are sought to collaborate with other United Nations agencies in the implementation, coordination and knowledge-sharing on evaluations.
a) United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG)
ECLAC is an active member of UNEG, where its involvement is mainly centered around normative work, building national and regional evaluation capacity, and knowledge management for evaluation.
b) United Nations regional commissions
The evaluation findings of ECLAC are discussed during annual meetings of the chiefs of programme planning divisions from all five United Nations regional commissions (ECA, ECE, ECLAC, ESCWA and ESCAP). Moreover, in 2012, all regional commissions jointly established an interregional monitoring and evaluation focal points network with the overall purpose of ensuring effective communication and information-sharing across regional commissions on the use and practice of monitoring and evaluation in each organization. This network will serve to enhance the sharing of resources and experience in evaluation, and its alignment, where possible, with practices, norms and standards of the United Nations Department of Management, UNEG and OIOS. In 2013, the TORs for this group were being finalized and the network's first activities were being planned.
c) United Nations evaluation networks
ECLAC participates in a number of United Nations evaluation networks, including the "MyM&E" network led by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) with other partners, as well as the UNDP-led network "EVALUN-LAC" for evaluation in the Latin America and Caribbean region. Both these networks bring together experts throughout the United Nations system to conduct webinars and online discussions on various topics of interest within the practice of evaluation.
d) Global and regional evaluation networks
In addition to its current participation in evaluation networks across the United Nations, ECLAC also plans to widen its cooperation on evaluation to further networks and associations outside the United Nations system, both in the Latin America and Caribbean region and globally.
Programme Officer, UNECLAC
Programme Planning and Operations Division
Evaluation Assistant, UNECLAC
Programme Planning and Operations Division (PPOD)