|Mobilizing science for global food security. Third External Review of IFPRI (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research ) (1998)|
LIST of 1990 EMR RECOMMENDATIONS LABELLED as NOT IMPLEMENTED in THE 1992 MID-TERM REVIEW and STATUS IN 1998.
5. A Deputy Director General for Research and Development (DDG) should be appointed.
ACTIONS as of 1992 Interim Review:
(a) The Board endorsed this recommendation in its formal response to the EMR and considers the appointment of a DDG important in the long run.
(b) After thorough discussion during its meeting in October 1990, the Board concurred with the Director Generals decision that during his tenure a Deputy would not be appointed. Accordingly, the functions which were intended to be performed by a DDG are being performed partly by the Director General himself and partly shared among other senior staff.
RESPONSE in 1998: As noted above, the interim director general determined and the Board of Trustees concurred that a DDG not be hired until the new director general was brought on board. The current DG joined IFPRI in July 1992. After a one year assessment, the management recommended and the board agreed that a DDG be hired to take over the role of the DFA, who was retiring, and to represent the DG in his absence. An extensive recruitment process led to the hiring of a DDG in 1995. She left after five months for personal reasons related to dual-career families. An assessment of the experience gained during the period when IFPRI had a DDG and further review of IFPRIs needs resulted in the conclusion that it was unlikely that IFPRI would be able to find a person who would have the necessary expertise, background, and interest to span the requirements for finance and administration as well as those required of a DDG in the area of research, outreach and IFPRI representation and image. Management, therefore, recommended and the Board approved that the DDG position not be refilled, but that the DFA position be recreated and filled. The DFA position was filled as of September 2, 1997.
7. Create a position for a Director of Outreach which combines the present functions of Information Services and External Relations; and recruit as Director a respected scientist who understands policy issues and can participate in training as well as be able to organize conferences and seminars.
ACTION as of 1992 Interim Review: Before creating this position and recruiting a specialist to manage the outreach functions, the Director General and staff see a need to explore more thoroughly and in detail what the Institute can and should do in the area of formal and informal training and other outreach activities in the 1990s. In the meantime, therefore, the EMR recommendation is on hold for a period of experimentation and discussion that will define more clearly IFPRIs outreach strategy for the 1990s.
RESPONSE in 1998: The Outreach Division (OD) was created in late 1992 in large part in response to a recommendation made in the 1990 review and to preliminary results from the 1994-1998 MTP planning process. The director for the division, the former director of the Special Development Studies Division, was assigned in 1993. Although a staff committee on outreach had already determined the nature and scope of the new division, the director crystallized the specific direction of the capacity strengthening and information program. During 1992-1997, outreach activities, including capacity strengthening and public awareness, have been a growing emphasis for IFPRI. The Outreach Division (OD) was established to disseminate policy information IFPRI generates and to help strengthen the capacity of developing countries to conduct policy research. Through several recent strategic planning processes and in response to a 1996 internally commissioned external review, IFPRI has decided to further strengthen its Outreach Division to improve information dissemination, capacity strengthening, country programs, impact assessment, seminars, and networking.
21. The long-term employment prospects of Research Assistants/Analysts (RAs) should be clarified.
ACTION as of 1992 Interim Review: Long-term employment prospects of RAs was taken up as part of the general review of personnel policies and among the concepts embodied in the Salary Administration Plan. Position descriptions and responsibilities were clarified in consultation with RAs representatives. A number of issues related to the role of RAs in the Institute remain under discussion. Promotions from assistant to analyst, which were suspended, have resumed, and in some cases made retroactive.
RESPONSE in 1998: As of 1997, all IFPRI employees are hired with limited-term appointments that range from several months to five years, all of which can be renewed. Those RAs hired prior to this time are grandfathered in and are not subject to term limits. However, performance of RAs is reviewed annually, as it is for all staff, and high standards of performance are expected from RAs, regardless of their term status. There are now three levels of RA positions at IFPRI: research assistant, senior research assistant, and research analyst.
If qualified, RAs can be promoted to a higher level RA position, without using a competitive process. RAs are also welcome to apply for internationally-recruited, senior research positions for which they qualify.
SECTION C - OTHER
4. When appointing trustees, the CGIAR should give special attention to ensuring that the Board has sufficient management expertise in its membership. (Also appears under Section A.)
ACTIONS as of 1992 Interim Review: This IFPRI progress report cannot speak for actions taken by the CGIAR. However, the CG generally appoints Trustees in close consultation with IFPRIs Chairman, who makes clear to the Secretariat the criteria the Board is seeking for new appointees. Moreover, the Nominating Committee, as part of the operational changes noted in paragraph 2, has been instructed to define its criteria more explicitly and to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that Board membership contains the appropriate mix of experience and points of view. Three persons appointed to the board in the period following the external reviews have considerable administrative experience in addition to being familiar with issues of food policy.
Response in 1998: The IFPRI Board has considerably diversified its disciplinary mix and experience and the Board includes trustees with experience, capacity, and interest in management and finance as well as in key IFPRI research and outreach areas. When selecting new members, the Board makes an explicit effort to identify gaps in the composition of the Board and to seek candidates to fill those gaps.
23. The CGIAR Secretariat should clarify the responsibility of the centers to inform the CGIAR before making material commitments which are not included in the currently approved budget or medium-term plan.
ACTIONS as of 1992 Interim Review:
(a) This report cannot speak for the CGIAR Secretariat.
(b) For its part, IFPRI management has established and is actively using open channels of communications with the CG Secretariat.
Response in 1998: The CGIAR Secretariat has decentralized much of the financial planning and implementation to the CGIAR Centers.
Thus, IFPRI has more flexibility to make material commitments which are not included in the approved budget, as long as we can cover the costs through identified restricted or unrestricted support. The Institute does, however, remain committed to conducting only those research and outreach activities that are part of our MTP, which in turn are part of the agreed upon agenda for the CGIAR.
LIST of 1990 EPR RECOMMENDATIONS LABELLED as "NOT IMPLEMENTED" in THE 1992 MID-TERM REVIEW and STATUS IN 1998.
2. A primary data bank that archives IFPRI's household surveys needs to be organized with assistance from a data management expert and core funding support. (This recommendation would assign the data bank function to Computer Services and require additional staff financed by the core budget.)
ACTION as of 1992 Interim Review: As a result of scrutiny by the Director's Advisory Committee and discussions in meetings of the senior research staff in the context of program restructuring, the responsibility for the organization of the data bank was placed alongside the remaining food data evaluation function and located in Special Development Studies Division. In the budget review for 1992, the director of this division was asked to make a specific proposal for consideration by the RAC and the Director General of steps to be taken under this recommendation.
Response in 1998: Computer Services has taken over the function of archiving IFPRI's data sets and serves as a clearinghouse for requests. Most data sets are now clear and well-documented, and a well-defined policy for their use is in place.
7. The International Trade and Food Security Programme needs to be expanded to take on new research and outreach responsibilities.
ACTIONS as of 1992 Interim Review: Resource constraints have limited progress in this direction. One Senior Trade Economist has been recruited, and another is under recruitment to allow expansion of the activities of the division following priorities of IFPRI Research Strategy and Medium Term Plan.
RESPONSE in 1998: With the arrival of a new Division Director at the end of 1993, Trade and Macroeconomics Division (formerly International Trade and Food Security Program) reorganized its research program around two themes or multicountry programs
(MPs): "Macroeconomic Policy Reforms, Agricultural Growth, and Rural Development" (MP12), and "Regional Integration, Agricultural Trade, and Food Security in Developing Countries" (GRP2, formerly MP13). MP12 incorporates the first two themes (incentives and stability in food supply) and GRP2 the second two themes (the impact of trade negotiations and increased food security through regional trade). In 1998, Division staff includes five research fellows (three full time and two part-time visitors), one post-doctoral fellow, and six research analysts/assistants.
10. Staff performance should be thoroughly reviewed when contracts come up for renewal.
ACTIONS as of 1992 Interim Review: Procedures have been put in place for tracking termination dates of employment agreements and making a considered decision on extension taking account of performance factors inter alia.
RESPONSE in 1998: Guidelines have been developed for staff whose contracts are terminating which allow sufficient notice of the impending date. Contracts are renewed based on employee performance and the needs of the Institute. Performance evaluations play a vital role in these decisions. Details of the guidelines for these procedures are transparent to all staff as they can be found in IFPRIs intranet on the SMTs Human Resource decisions.
11. The Institute should reinforce its outreach and developing country capacity-building in policy research according to a well-defined strategy.
ACTIONS as of 1992 Interim Review: This relates to the issue of a Director for Outreach which is addressed in connection with the EMR. IFPRI decided to focus on these issues in developing its research strategy document, which is complete, and its medium-term program which remains to be done. The
Institute notes that CGIAR priority for capacity-building has weakened as reflected in a lower core allocation for this purpose to IFPRI in the resources envelop suggested for the MTP.
RESPONSE in 1998: See the response to Question 7 in the EMR.
14. IFPRI should design and implement a strategy for post-research follow-up activities to secure sustained collaboration with the developing country policy research communities.
ACTIONS as of 1992 Interim Review: This is part and parcel of the issue of outreach strategy which is being addressed, as mentioned in item 11 above. A great deal of follow-up is undertaken at the divisional level usually in the form of second and third phase research collaboration. We also need to consider the competition for resources between follow-up in areas where research is no longer being conducted and new research.
RESPONSE in 1998: It has been decided to establish a network of IFPRI Associates. Implementation will take place soon after the new Outreach Division director is in place.