GOOD PRACTICES AND LESSONS
Best Practice: Joint Information Activities Plan (JIAP)
Coordination Objective: Achieve greater UN visibility through joint public activities Participating UN Agencies: DPI, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA, WHO, UNIFEM
In an effort to maximise resources and significantly improve the UN’s image in the country, the UN
Country Team (UNCT) requested the Information Group to formulate a Joint Information Activities
Plan in early 2003. The Group, composed of Information Officers from all UN Agencies, reviewed
previous information activities and developed a comprehensive, year-long workplan covering all major
aspects of public information. The workplan focused on the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)
and aimed at disseminating key advocacy messages countrywide through pro-active engagement
with print, audio and visual media. The JIAP was operationalised through the Information Group,
which met on a regular basis, and periodically evaluated by the UNCT. DPI served as the lead.
1. What was achieved:
The UNCT regards the JIAP is one of its most successful joint initiatives. As a result of the
1. the UN has been able to project an image of unity to the broader public and communicate
key messages in an effective, coherent and targeted manner;
2. the UN has achieved countrywide coverage on key advocacy issues, including the MDGs;
3. UN Agencies has saved substantial resources by cost-sharing all major public events;
4. planning and implementation time for public events has been substantially reduced;
5. collaboration among Information and Programme Officers has been significantly
2. Main activities:
Under the JIAP workplan, UN Agencies:
1. published quarterly issues of the UN in Armenia Bulletin;
2. published and disseminated two UN posters to secondary schools throughout the country;
3. published the UN in Armenia book;
4. contributed to the UN Intranet and Virtual Library;
5. published a UN table calendar devoted to the International Year of Rice and International
Year against Slavery;
6. renovated two playgrounds in the UN Park in Yerevan;
7. organised two Model UN exercises;
8. organised various exhibitions in the UN Library;
9. established an UN on-line photo archive;
10. arranged major events on UN days.
3. Why is this a good practice:
Through the JIAP, UN Agencies were able to harmonise public information activities, reduce
costs, strengthen collaboration among key staff and significantly improve the image of the UN.
As a result of the JIAP, which required relatively small financial resources, the UN in Armenia
was able to project an image as an increasingly unified, efficient system that advocates for a
clear set of universal principles.
4. What others think:
Key stakeholders have praised the JIAP for its efficiency and for leading to an improvement in
the quality of UN public information. Journalists and Government counterparts have said that
it is easier and more effective to deal with a single UN focal point during public events rather
than all of the agencies separately.
5. Challenges faced:
Although the JIAP was operationalised through the Information Group, which functioned
effectively, implementation was affected by:
1. lack of financial resources;
2. lack of time;
3. lack of clarity about the roles and responsibilities of UN Agencies;
4. lack of human resources.
6. Ways of overcoming challenges:
The challenges faced by the Information Group could have been overcome if:
1. the UN agencies had provided additional cost-sharing and allocated more funds from the
Resident Coordinator’s budget;
2. there had been stronger coordination by the lead agency, in this case DPI, or the
3. activities, schedules, tasks and specific functions had been assigned prior to
implementation of the JIAP.
7. Key lessons learned:
During a review of JIAP implementation, the UN Agencies identified the following lessons:
1. contracts with news agencies should be signed on behalf of the whole UNCT and include
a provision indicating that the UN acts as one legal entity;
2. volunteers and interns should be recruited by UN Agencies to support JIAP
3. financial allocations should be streamlined to avoid delays in advance payment.
8. How it was done – step by step guidance:
The JIAP was operationalised in the following manner:
1. The Information Group developed a Joint Information Activities Plan and on the basis of
this, calculated cost-sharing percentages for each agency.
2. The workplan and budget were presented to and endorsed by the UNCT.
3. On the basis of the budget, Agencies allocated funds directly to the lead agency, in this
4. The Information Group met regularly to: a) prioritise activities; b) divide responsibilities
and assign tasks; c) coordinate activities; and d) monitor activities.
5. The UNCT discussed the JIAP on a quarterly basis and revised the workplan as
necessary to reflect emerging priorities.
9. What else would have helped?
The JIAP would have been implemented more effectively if:
1. an information assistant fully responsible for JIAP implementation had been recruited by
2. the MDG Project Coordinator had been included in the Information Group to ensure
greater synchronicity between the MDG Advocacy Campaign and the JIAP.
For more information please refer to:
Ms. Armine Halajian, Information Assistant, DPI
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +374 1 566 072 + 206
Mr. Emil Sahakyan, Information and Communications Officer, UNICEF
E-mail: email@example.com, phone: +374 1 580 174
Websites: www.undpi.am; www.undp.am; www.un.am (will be available in May 2004)
Best Practice: Common Premises and Services Initiative Coordination Objective: Increase efficiency and reduce costs of administration and operations
Participating UN Agencies: DPI, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNFPA, WHO, UNIFEM
Recognising that administration costs accounted for a significant proportion of agency budgets in
Armenia and that cost-savings in operations could be used more effectively on programming, the
UNCT requested the Operation Managers Team to formulate a workplan on common premises and
services. The Operation Managers Team, composed of Administration and Operations Officers from
all UN Agencies, reviewed the status of common premises and services and developed a
comprehensive, year-long workplan covering all aspects of the UN House and introducing common
services aimed at lowering costs, increasing efficiency, avoiding duplication and building on best
practises. The workplan was operationalised through the Operation Managers Team, which met on a
regular basis, and periodically evaluated by the UNCT.
1. Main activities:
The UNCT regards the common premises and services workplan as one of its most
successful joint initiatives. Under the workplan, UN Agencies:
1. signed a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Occupancy and Use of Common
Premises in April 2003;
2. established a Common Services Account (DPCA) and approved a total common budget
of USD 122,545.30 for the year, of which USD 110,906.30 was disbursed and the
remainder transferred back to the Agencies;
3. maintained the UN House and adjacent territory;
4. provided continuous security for the UN House;
5. managed joint telecommunication services including VSAT and HF/VHF radio
communication and established a common radio room;
6. managed the UN Library and Documentation Centre;
7. managed the UN House recreation area;
8. managed the UN House Conference Room;
9. supported the UN House cafeteria and reimbursed accrued rent from the cafeteria to the
10. established the UN Intranet and Virtual Library using seed money allocated by UNDGO;
11. purchased a joint subscription to electronic news and saved USD 20,000;
12. established a joint UN House Review Group to plan all joint exhibitions in the UN House;
13. held Joint UNCT trainings on security and seismic awareness;
14. established common databases and rosters for procurement and recruitment;
15. monitored privileges and immunities.
2. Why this is a good practice:
Through the common premises and services workplan, agencies were able to achieve greater
efficiency, reduce costs by USD 27,000, promote more effective use of human resources and
increase intra-UN House interaction among the staff. The introduction of the UN Intranet and
Virtual Library reduced the volume of paper work, made information on the UN Library
available to the general public via Internet and promoted inter-agency learning.
3. What others think:
Clients, including donors, consultants, candidates and suppliers, have praised the UN for its
increasing operational efficiency. Government counterparts appreciate cost-savings in
administration and operations because it frees resources for higher priority programmes. The
Government has also praised the UN for reducing bureaucratic procedures and transaction
4. Challenges faced:
Although the common premises and services workplan was operationalised through the
Operation Managers Team, which functioned relatively well, implementation was affected by:
1) lack of time;
2) lack of human resources.
5. Ways of overcoming challenges:
The challenges faced by the Operation Managers Team could have been overcome if:
1) there had been stronger coordination by the lead agency, in this case UNDP, or the
2) activities, schedules, tasks and specific functions had been assigned prior to
implementation of the workplan.
6. How it was done – step by step guidance:
The common premises and services workplan was operationalised in the following manner:
1. The Operation Managers Team developed a common premises and services workplan
and budget in November 2002.
2. The workplan and budget were presented to and endorsed by the UNCT.
3. On the basis of the budget, Agencies contributed funds quarterly to the lead agency, in
this case, UNDP.
4. Implementation of the common premises and services workplan was done by the UN
House Building Manager and UNDP’s Operations Centre.
5. The lead agency provided Agencies with monthly reports on expenditures and quarterly
reports on allotments. All reports were placed on the UN Intranet.
6. The Operation Managers Team met regularly to: a) prioritise activities; b) divide
responsibilities and assign tasks; c) coordinate activities; and d) monitor activities.
7. UN Intranet and Virtual Library - step by step guidance:
The UN Intranet and Virtual Library were operationalised in the following manner:
1. The UNDP Operations Centre, agency focal points and the Operation Managers Team
prepared a draft action plan.
2. The action plan was reviewed by operations staff and UNDP’s ICT Specialist.
3. Funding for the initiative was allocated from UNDGO seed money.
4. A detailed concept document was prepared by the UNDP Operations Centre and
reviewed by the Operation Managers Team.
5. A sub-contractor, under the supervision of UNDP’s Operation Centre, was recruited to
implement, test and launch the UN Intranet and Virtual Library.
8. What are the Virtual Library and UN Intranet:
The Virtual Library is a database of the written, audio and video titles available in the UN Library. A limited number of titles are also stored on-line through digitalisation. The UN
Librarian maintains the UN Virtual Library through a web-based interface, which can be
managed without specialised knowledge of web-programming or similar technologies. The
Library is accessible to all users. The UN Intranet contains a number of specific components
aimed at promoting inter-agency collaboration through web-based modalities. Each
component is updated by moderators, who are able to use passwords through the web-based
interface. The Intranet is supervised by UNDP, with all agencies contributing moderators. The
Intranet is accessible only to UN staff. The following is a brief description of the main
components of the UN Intranet:
1. Theme Groups Area: Under this component, Theme Groups members are able to share
files of common interest.
2. Resource Centre Area: Under this component, UN Agencies are able to share files of
3. Common Services Area: Under this component, information on UN House common
services is available including the common services budget, common services reports
and allotment reports.
4. Rosters: Under this component, detailed information on the companies and individuals
registered for the procurement or recruitment rosters is available.
5. Security Area: Under this component, information on UN House security is available. 6. Learning Place: Under this component, information UN Learning-related issues is
available. Reading folders on UNDP Practice Areas and Virtual Development Academy
materials are also accessible.
7. Message Board: Under this component, users are able to exchange messages. 8. News: Under this component, news received electronically is posted on a daily basis.
There are headline and full text options.
9. Super User Area: Under this component, the designated administrator is able to update
moderators and set or reset access passwords.
10. What else would have helped?
The common premises and services workplan would have been implemented more effectively
1. a strategic plan for common services had been developed covering several years;
2. agency headquarters had provided stronger guidance on the development of common
3. the Operation Managers Team had received training on management of common
premises and services and been introduced to best practices.
For more information please refer to: Ms. Naira Grigoryan, Operations Manager, UNDP
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: + 374 1 566 073 (ext. 111)
Websites: http://oc.undp.am; http://www.undp.am; http://www.un.am (will be available in May 2004)