Report on Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission

By Kyle Grant,2014-03-26 14:40
8 views 0
This One Budgetary Framework will provide common reporting of all UN and WHO have begun migrating to the new interagency VSAT contract with EMC.

    Report on Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission

    Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 July 2007

    An ebony sculpture commissioned by the Tanzania One UN team (photo: Greg Vanny)

1. Background

    In November 2006, the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on System-wide Coherence submitted a series of recommendations to overcome fragmentation within the United Nations and improve partnerships to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and other internationally

    Delivering As One," called for "the agreed development goals. The Panel's report, titled "

    establishment of One United Nations at the country level, with one leader, one programme, one budget and, where appropriate, one office." Eight pilot countries have been selected to be among the first to implement the panel’s recommendations: Albania, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Pakistan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uruguay, and Vietnam.

    In the first of a series of joint missions, headquarters-level ICT staff representing five UN agencies (UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO) went to Pakistan in June 2007 to assist country-level ICT teams in defining and implementing ICT-related activities to support the One

    UN pilots. The Pakistan mission and subsequent missions to Rwanda and Tanzania in July 2007 (in which FAO also participated) were both initiated and led by UNDP in the context of its coordinating role. Through these missions, there has been a cross-fertilization of ideas between headquarters and field-based ICT staff, with a sharp focus on the stated objective of "One Office", including its consequences for future ICT plans and strategies in the field and throughout the UN system.

2. Mission objectives

    Terms of reference prepared by UNDP on behalf of the joint mission specified these objectives:

    Perform a joint review of the ICT infrastructure of the UN agencies represented in

    […] Dar es Salaam as well as an assessment of the implications for this ICT

    infrastructure in view of the "One-UN" office within the UN reform drive. This includes

    an assessment of the potential for network and infrastructure harmonization and the use

    of each other's infrastructure and assets to carry out business processes and to possibly

    achieve economies of scale. In addition, the mission seeks to gather information about the

    discussions underway at the Country Office level when it comes to harmonization of ICT


3. Participants

Headquarters ICT

    ; Pierre Abramovici, FAO (Rome)

    ; Bob Barad, WFP (Rome)

    ; Zarina Dali, WHO (Geneva)

    ; Jarle Herikstad, UNDP (Copenhagen)

    ; Greg Vanny, WFP (Kampala)

UN Tanzania ICT Working Group (Dar es Salaam)

    ; Jorge Flores, UNICEF, Chairperson

    ; Shahan Ara Quadir, WFP

    ; Durell Mkuu, WHO

    ; John Mwangosi, ILO

    ; Robert Ngalomba, UNDP

    ; Mariam Ngware, UNDP

    ; Eladius Silayo, UNHCR

    ; Kassim Vicent, UNESCO

4. Activities

    ; Mission briefings with UNDP Country Director, CMT, and RCO

    ; Meetings with the UN Tanzania ICT Working Group to discuss the team's role and

    review proposed initiatives

    ; Site visits to FAO, ILO, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO

    ; Wrap-up meetings with CMT and UN Tanzania ICT

     5. Initial briefings

    UNDP Country Director Alain Noudehou told the mission that UN Tanzania does not believe in a "one size fits all" approach for implementing One UN reform. Rather, Tanzania’s Country

    Management Team (CMT) aims to integrate the One UN agenda into the national context, stressing government ownership of the pilot process. Gianluca Rampolla, Senior Adviser to the Resident Coordinator and former Advisor to OSCE, gave the mission a detailed

    Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 July 2007 2

    presentation of the One UN pilot, an effort involving 17 different UN agencies, programmes, and funds. He explained that UN Tanzania's One UN reform initiatives are aligned with the Joint

    Assistance Strategy for Tanzania (JAST), an agreement launched in December 2006 by the

    Government (Government of United Republic of Tanzania and Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar), United Nations, and 18 other development partners. Consistent with the government’s

    strategy, UN Tanzania's approach focuses first on joint programming within a common budgetary framework.

    The CMT is working with the Government on six joint programming priorities for 2007-2008:

    1. Wealth creation, employment and economic empowerment

    2. Reduction of maternal and newborn mortality

    3. Support to the reduction and prevention of HIV/AIDS

    4. Capacity strengthening for development management

    5. Capacity building for Zanzibar

    6. Human security, risk reduction, and disaster preparedness

    The joint programmes will be supported through a common budgetary framework. This "One Budgetary Framework" will provide common reporting of all UN resources available to each joint programme while also highlighting any gaps in funding. Unfunded portions of joint programmes are to be financed by the "One UN Fund," a special account set up for this purpose. As designated "administrative agent" for the fund, UNDP requires common financial accounting and reporting tools to administer and monitor programme activities across participating agencies. Lead agencies tasked with implementation of joint programmes ("managing agents"), will need to standardize on UN-wide cost recovery percentages and to establish harmonized business processes and systems ensuring transparency, accountability and reporting among UN partners.

    Priorities for the "One Office" UN reform objective include: (1) an initial focus on promoting joint UN office premises in Zanzibar and North Western Tanzania sub offices, and (2) pending establishment of a future UN House in Dar es Salaam, integration of IT systems to establish a virtual One Office. In addition to establishing common auditing and reporting procedures, UN Tanzania aims to achieve integrated services and operations for procurement, IT, human resources, emergency preparedness and response before the end of 2008.

6. Review of existing ICT infrastructure

    UNDP is co-located in a single compound and shares ICT services with UNAIDS, UNDSS, UN Habitat, UNIC, UNIDO, UNV and the UN dispensary. After this mission, these UN offices were joined in the common premises by UNESCO. UNFPA, physically located some distance from the shared UN Tanzania compound, connects to the UNDP-managed network and its services via a microwave link. These current premises are a temporary arrangement pending the outcome of continuing discussions with the Government on provision of land for a new UN House.

    UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO offices each operate their own VSATs. WFP and UNHCR both use Emerging Market Communications (EMC) for VSAT services, while UNDP, Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 July 2007 3

    UNICEF, and WHO have begun migrating to the new interagency VSAT contract with EMC. WFP also operates VSATs in Dodoma, Isaka, and Kigoma sub offices. The FAO and ILO offices use SITA services to connect to their agency wide area networks. UN offices obtain their local ISP services from a mix of different providers. ICT teams in UNICEF and WFP are led by full-time international staff, Jorge Flores working for UNICEF, and Shahan Ara Quadir at WFP. Other UN offices employ local staff or rely on consultants and remote HQ support for their ICT support requirements.

    There is substantial sharing of common premises at the sub office level in Zanzibar and North Western Tanzania. UNDP and UNFPA share common premises in Zanzibar, and ILO, UNESCO, UNICEF, and WHO, are expected to combine with them in the near future. WFP’s Kigoma

    office hosts UN staff from FAO, UNDP, UNIDO, and UNICEF who access the internet and agency-supplied webmail services through the WFP-managed VSAT. UNCHR hosts UNICEF and WFP in Kasulu and Kibondo, and shares premises with UNICEF in Ngara. While the UN agencies housed in UNCHR sub office premises all share common electrical systems and back-up generators, the integration of network and email services at these offices is more limited. Shared sub office premises are well-advanced in Tanzania as compared with many UN countries, and offer a good foundation for ICT enhancements and further network integration.

7. UN Tanzania ICT Working Group

The mission met with UN Tanzania’s ICT Working Group (UNICTWG), chaired by Jorge Flores

    of UNICEF and including participants from ILO, UNDP, UNESCO, UNHCR, and

    WFP. UNICTWG was created to coordinate ICT-related One UN initiatives, including proposed infrastructure investments to be funded by the "One UN Fund". At the time of our meetings, the group had identified five action areas:

    ; Inter-agency harmonization of Government importation and licensing requirements for

    ICT equipment

    ; Mutual ICT support, training and information sharing

    ; Improved resource sharing, including VSATs

    ; Common disaster recovery plan

    ; VHF bridge between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar

    ; Enhanced information sharing through UN system-wide intranet

    The group had submitted preliminary funding proposals for a VHF bridge between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar (estimated cost: $3,000) and for two disaster recovery scenarios designed to accommodate 25 people. The first scenario called for establishment of a standby "Emergency Recovery Center" with a startup cost of $394,625. The second scenario, costed at $133,475, proposed temporarily accommodating these 25 people in existing UN offices.

8. Discussion and recommendations

    Our discussions focused on evaluating the UNICTWG proposals, helping to define which planned activities could best be locally led and which would depend most heavily on headquarters-level activities, assessing the complexity and likely timeframe for actions, and Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 July 2007 4

    sizing and prioritizing requests for possible One UN funding. The mission also introduced some additional action areas, including raising possibilities for shared procurement of ICT-related maintenance and local Internet services. Current initiatives (indicated with blue triangles) and proposed action areas are summarized in the following chart and discussed in more detail below.

8.1 Initiatives at country level

    Both the RCO and CMT expressed concerns about the current variability among UN offices of Government requirements for the importation and licensing of ICT-related equipment. One

    UN reform offers an opportunity to harmonize the Government’s treatment of ICT equipment and services by negotiating a new basic agreement covering all of UN Tanzania. The new agreement should ensure that UN exemptions from taxation and import duties are as favorable as those granted to other diplomatic entities, and that all UN offices are treated equally. It is important, however, that UN offices now enjoying better treatment from Government regulatory authorities do not lose those more favorable conditions. UNICTWG can support this process by conducting a comparative review of licensing and importation practices now being applied to different UN offices and help UN Tanzania to ensure the future One UN basic agreement both solidifies and formalizes the best treatment currently being afforded. UNICTWG should call on HQ-level assistance in drafting and reviewing ICT-related legal language that is proposed for inclusion in the One UN basic agreement.

Expansion and integration of radio-based security telecommunications is another ICT action

    area that promises quick wins. The mission agrees with UNICTWG that investment in a VHF bridge between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar offers good value and merits One UN funding. Integration of short-range VHF radio with long-range fixed and mobile HF radio systems was also discussed, and the mission encourages UNICTWG to develop and put forward Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 July 2007 5

    the business case for introducing HF to VHF cross-patch devices and for sustaining these services on a country-wide scale, including technical options to inter-connect radio with voice and data networks.

UN Tanzania operates a common web site at This site includes

    both publicly accessible pages and a password secured intranet for internal use. It was developed by a USA-based contractor who registered the domain name in

    December 2005 and reserves non-transferable rights to its use. The web server is hosted by a managed services provider located in Los Angeles, California. It has a colorful, user friendly format with prominent placement of pages describing UN Tanzania's activities as a One UN pilot country. It also uses a content management system to facilitate page updates within a structure of existing templates established by the site developer. The web site demonstrates both the advantages and disadvantages of a fully outsourced ICT service; it has a professional design, fast loading pages, and does not need technical support from local ICT staff, but the mechanics for expanding and sustaining the site’s technical infrastructure without continuing external assistance from the site developer are less clear. The CMT and the site's managers should assess these sustainability issues and identify funding for developing and maintaining content. In particular, consideration should be given to decreasing the service's current dependency on a single external provider. UNICTWG, while not directly involved in this outsourced service at the time of our mission, should be called on to help weigh alternate scenarios and to invite technical advice and request model hosting agreements from HQ ICT units. The joint mission learned about security holes in login procedures that leave the site open to abuse. As these could expose the UN to embarrassment if exploited, we urgently recommend a security review of the authentication procedures for this site.

Creation of an accurate listing of UN staff in Tanzania would be another useful ICT contribution

    for One UN reforms. UNICTWG can look to existing sources where possible and design a plan for sharing and automating list updates among agencies. As most agencies are using Microsoft’s Active Directory system for their networks, it may be possible in the longer-term to explore integration scenarios taking advantage of those resources, especially after completion of the UNDP-led "Common Directory Study" now being prepared. In future, these lists may provide a tool for user authentication and secure access to shared intranets. Any initiative for the sharing of staff information should always consider individual privacy and the securing of corporate information to prevent misuse.

    The joint mission encourages UNICTWG to take an active role in promoting common maintenance contracts with local suppliers (computers, printers, photocopiers, and electrical power systems, including generators, UPSes, and voltage stabilizers) and determining the most competitive offerings and best value for money that is available from local internet service

    providers. By sharing information, working closely with local procurement teams, and comparing ICT-related maintenance and service contracts, UNICTWG can help build the business case for consolidation. These actions can help to leverage available ICT technical know-how and purchasing power, eliminate redundant procurement activity, and reduce costs.

    UNICTWG members expressed concern about extra burdens that One UN-related ICT requirements may impose on ICT staff already fully engaged in supporting existing Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 July 2007 6

activities. An interim solution would be to hire additional ICT staff to focus on One UN

    initiatives or free up existing ICT staff for reassignment to new One UN-related ICT tasks.

Restructuring service delivery by pooling ICT staff into mutual support teams may offer a

    more long-term solution. UN offices would benefit from improved access to a wider range of in-house technical skills, improved cross-training opportunities, more continuous support coverage during leave and sick days, and potential reductions in support costs. Staff morale is also likely to be boosted when ICT colleagues work within a larger technical team. However, this approach also has foreseeable risks. In the absence of UN-wide standards for office hardware and software, ICT staff would need to allocate time to familiarize themselves with more systems. With UN offices geographically dispersed in different parts of Dar es Salaam, ICT staff centralized at a common location may consume excessive time traveling between offices, causing delayed response to urgent support needs. There is also the need to define a management structure for the team and funding to sustain it. Complexities of interagency cost sharing and agencies’ concerns for protecting information security would need careful

    UNICTWG can help strengthen the business case for additional hiring and mutual evaluation.

    support teams through these actions:

    ; Compile a skills inventory of all current ICT support staff for use in identifying where

    support could be shared.

    ; Determine gaps in current service coverage and target functions where adding new staff

    is most likely to improve services.

    ; Elaborate cost reduction and cost recovery scenarios.

    ; Suggest governance policies and organizational structures for the group.

Two disaster recovery scenarios developed by UNICTWG as funding proposals were reviewed

    by the joint mission and assessed. The first scenario defined a "warm standby" site to be built from scratch and remain unused until a disaster occurs. The attraction of this type of recovery site is that it can be made fully operational on short notice. However, the joint mission observed that the $395,625 cost of a warm standby facility could not be clearly justified for Dar es Salaam, a city where UN offices are not all housed in common premises. UNICTWG's second disaster recovery scenario, priced at $133,475, envisions that any office recovering from a disaster would be temporarily moved to another UN location, eliminating the need for a special facility and limiting costs to standby equipment only. Although this second scenario is preferable to the more costly one, the joint mission still doubts the usefulness of large investments in standby equipment, and encourages UNICTWG to design alternate, more flexible contingency plans. Investments in shared resources (including VSAT and common network infrastructure) should always take into account disaster recovery scenarios, ensuring that avoidance of wasteful duplication is balanced with the need to maintain minimum levels of redundancy that ensure business continuity.

8.2 Opportunities in Zanzibar and North Western Tanzania

    While UNFPA and UNDP already share an office in Zanzibar, the high priority being given to joint programming there creates immediate incentives for other UN agencies to also position staff in a shared Zanzibar office. Responding to this requirement, UN Tanzania is considering Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 July 2007 7

    establishing a new office premises for its expanded joint programming in Zanzibar. The new office presents a greenfield opportunity to incorporate the best ICT solutions the UN can offer, include efficiency enhancing, cost-saving technologies, as detailed below.

    In North Western Tanzania, there is a long-standing practice of co-locating UN offices and staff. This shared infrastructure born out of common requirements for office space, staff security, and a reliable supply of electrical power can provide a foundation for higher levels of ICT integration in support of expanded joint programming needs. The North Western Tanzania sub office managed by WFP in Kigoma has already moved in this direction, grouping together over 25 UN staff, including four from UNDP, three from FAO, two from UNIDO, and two from UNICEF. These staff share one generator, one radio network (VHF and HF), one PABX system, and web access via WFP's local area network and its connected VSAT installation.

    The Kigoma model, although attractive, has at least three notable limitations:

    ; The shared Internet connection is an unstable cooperative arrangement that depends on

    WFP's presence in Kigoma and the continuing flow of WFP funding to maintain a VSAT

    station there.

    ; To comply with WFP network security policies and standards, the office can only offer

    non-WFP staff remote access to email through webmail via Internet.

    ; Not all of the UN staff in Kigoma are co-located; UNHCR houses 29 of its own staff at

    an unconnected building situated elsewhere in the same town.

    However, solutions to each of these challenges are already becoming available. These solutions offer possibilities to expand the Kigoma model and extend it to more sub office locations. The interagency VSAT developed by UNDP, OCHA, WHO, WFP, and UNICEF offers an

    adjustable financial framework that provides free inter-office telephone calls and a flexible technical scheme to separate each agency's data traffic and guarantee security and performance for mission critical applications. It can reduce migration costs for existing installations by reusing VSAT components already in service. Once a site is operational, levels of service can be scaled and rescaled to fit the number of agencies participating and the bandwidth required to meet changing operational needs.

    In parallel, the IT Security Sub-Group on UN Harmonization (UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, and WFP) is advancing toward an agreed UN-wide architecture defining secure standards for sharing a common network infrastructure connected to the interagency VSAT. These standards will permit remote UN offices to share physical network components (cabling, switches, routers, and firewalls) without risk of compromising the network performance or data security requirements of co-located agencies.

To provide "last mile" connectivity at locations where agencies are not all housed in a common

    building, terrestrial or radio-based technologies can extend networks and link participating UN offices to sites where the interagency VSAT is physically located. During the mission, UNDP described their pilot of "Wi-Max" technology in Burkina Faso, where connectivity has successfully been extended to remote UN agencies, project offices, and senior staff residences.

Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 July 2007 8

    The joint mission concludes that the UN office planned for Zanzibar and ICT services already being shared by UN staff in Kigoma offer fertile ground to pilot interagency VSAT, common network architecture, and last mile solutions at the sub office level. A more standardized model for shared ICT infrastructure at the sub office level could be replicated to other UN offices in Tanzania, with VSAT operating agencies like UNDP, UNICEF, and UNHCR taking on leading roles for different locations. UNICTWG can draw on HQ support in developing detailed requests for One UN funding to purchase the necessary hardware and services for piloting these common systems in Zanzibar and Kigoma. These proposed pilot initiatives merit investment because they can help build successful ICT models with significant potential for application in other One UN countries.

8.3 Initiatives awaiting more concerted action at HQ level

Most One UN pilot countries have requested HQ guidance on a common domain name standard

    for web sites and email addresses. The issue is of special concern to Offices of the Resident Coordinator (RCO) which, under the UN reform, are expected to exercise the "One Leader" role on behalf of all UN entities that operate within the country, representing all of them equally. RCOs need to project a public image of UN activities in their countries belonging to one organization that delivers services under a common umbrella. However, this desired public image contrasts starkly with current realities. In the absence of any HQ level guidance, One UN pilot countries have established web sites with very different domain name formats (for example:,, and, and UN entities seeking to "deliver

    as one" each operate their own independent email systems with no shared root domain.

    UN Tanzania CMT members expressed diverse points of view on this issue, with some heads of agencies agreeing that a uniformly applied domain name standard would be helpful, while UNICEF and others saw it as more a cosmetic than a substantive problem. The Country Director of WFP felt that the best solution would be to have a simple email domain specifying only the UN, without further specification of agency or country. The joint mission stressed that any domain name solution will need to address not only the public image-related "branding" aspects, but also the technical function of domains in ensuring successful transmission of emails to and from users, and reliable routing of Internet traffic across networks. One proposal for the creation of a common root domain was recently referred to the UN Management

    Group. Pending forthcoming HQ level guidance, the joint mission recommends UN Tanzania hold action on any proposed domain name changes for web sites or email systems.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are used by some UN agencies to integrate

    computing requirements of departments and functions through a single, unified system. Unlike earlier systems, ERPs are built around end-to-end business processes that cut across traditional departmental roles within organizations. While the multiple types of ERP software solutions now in use by UN agencies pose challenges for future integration, the absence of harmonized UN-wide business processes creates a more fundamental obstacle to progress. Until agencies agree to standardize business processes, no single ERP can service all their

    requirements. Before that can happen, a common ERP strategy will be needed at HQ level.

Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 July 2007 9

Extraction of ERP-managed financial data for common reporting purposes is more achievable

    in the medium-term, but it will require active HQ participation. Because UN Tanzania’s joint programming builds on a foundation established over the last few years through the JAST process, some financial resources are already dispersed through the One UN Fund. This fund is administered by UNDP through their Atlas ERP system, but UN agencies acting as "managing

    agents" will also need to report on downstream handling of those resources. Other funds still independently administered by UN agencies using their own ERP systems will need to produce comparable data for common reporting purposes. UNDP can lead in this area by defining a model data set (starting with reporting on One UN Fund resources, as extracted from Atlas) that

    fully satisfies RCO requirements. UNICTWG can promote further progress in this area by sharing the model data set with ERP specialists at HQ level and compiling information on HQ readiness to extract comparable data from the range of ERP and non-ERP financial management systems in use by UN offices.

     9. Conclusion

    The joint mission was impressed by UN Tanzania's commitment to One UN reform and the originality of the approaches that are being developed there. In particular, we welcomed the willingness to commit an important share of One UN Fund resources in support of change management activities, including funding for well-formulated ICT initiatives presenting a strong business case. In this report, we have tried to identify and assess UN Tanzania’s most promising

    ICT initiatives while also describing the work that still needs to be done at country and headquarters level to fully transform these ideas to actions. The joint mission thanks the RCO, CMT, and UNICTWG for their inputs, and we hope that this report substantially strengthens the foundation for future collaboration.

Prepared by the mission participants using Google Docs.

    Distributed 24 October 2007.

    Joint UN ICT Assessment Mission, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 16-18 July 2007 10

Report this document

For any questions or suggestions please email