Operational management of the monitoring
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|Strengths||ODI took over the role of fundholder and provides administrative support, for the CCMG.|
|Opportunities for development||
Independence of the fundholder from government is viewed by stakeholders as part of the independence of the monitoring as a whole.
There are options available to move the fundholder role to another organisation with the required capacity (a new entity, an NGO or another type of organisation). The organisation must have adequate infrastructure to manage the financial aspects of project management.
The monitoring fundholder manages the finances, including paying the people involved in the monitoring, managing payments for expenses, tracking expenditure and meeting reporting requirements to government and the CCMG.
Fundholding is a project management function, not a governance function. While the fundholder reports to the governance group, most decisions do not need the approval of the governance group once a monitoring plan is agreed.
As the party responsible for paying monitoring employees and expenses, the fundholder must have the expertise and capacity to:
- Demonstrate the monitoring’s independence: The fundholder role has the potential to influence the monitoring.
- Track finances: The fundholder should track and report on the budget to the CCMG to provide assurance monitoring funds are used efficiently and transparently. The fundholder also reports to ODI to fulfil contractual requirements.
- Be accountable to governance: The fundholder must account to the CCMG, including providing accurate reports and responding to requests for information about expenditure.
- Manage contractual relationships with the project team: The monitoring employed/contracted many people as monitors (more than 50 since 2010). The fundholder must meet their obligations as an employer, including supporting monitors in responding to Work and Income and Inland Revenue requests.
- Provide means for employees to pay expenses: The monitoring involved a large number of expenses (for example for taxis and flights). At times expenses were paid on employee’s own credit cards and not reimbursed for some time. The fundholder should quickly process and pay invoices or provide employees with the ability to pay expenses directly from monitoring funds.
The Disabled Person’s Assembly (DPA), one of the CCMG member DPOs, was established as the monitoring fundholder under a contract with ODI. This role is also recorded in the CCMG memorandum of understanding.
The Convention Coalition appoints DPA (NZ) Inc as the administrative fundholder on its behalf. Expenditure of funds will be consistent with the agreed budget and the [CCMG]’s oversight. Provision of reports by the fundholder will be as directed by the CCMG.
In 2015 ODI reluctantly took on the fundholder functions of providing administrative support for the monitoring from DPA. ODI’s role includes contracting the monitors and monitoring team members and managing their invoices and payments.
Having a government agency providing the fundholder functions creates a potential risk of perceived undue influence on the monitoring. Under the Paris Principles, referred to in Article 33(2) of the Convention, the monitoring should have:
Adequate funding and not be subject to financial control that might affect independence.
There is no suggestion that this risk has been realised in New Zealand. ODI took on the fundholder functions as a necessity. New Zealand ensures independence through Cabinet directive, and provision of transparent and accountable funding for the CCMG. However, most stakeholders would feel more comfortable if the role sat outside government. Stakeholders suggested a range of options for reassigning the fundholder role (all have implications for governance structures as well):
- An entity created for the monitoring: As noted above, the DPO Coalition could govern a legal entity which in turn could be the monitoring fundholder. The greatest risk is that of capacity, though this could be mitigated through including the fundholder responsibilities in the role of one of the employees.
We had talked about at some stage setting up an umbrella entity that would be very clear. The Chairs/CEOs could govern it. (stakeholder)
- One of the DPOs: Some of the DPOs have the capacity to meet the demands of the fundholder role. However, selecting a single DPO creates risk to the unity of the CCMG and creates another resource demand.
- Another NGO (disability service provider or other): Some service providers in the disability sector manage high value contracts with government and have the infrastructure to fulfil the fundholder role. However, there is a clear distinction between DPOs and service providers in New Zealand. Including service providers in such an important role in the monitoring may conflict with the principle of ‘by disabled people, for disabled people’.
- Another organisation: There are many other organisations who undertake contract work for government on a regular basis (from universities to private finance, accounting, policy or research companies), are independent from government and have the necessary capability. They could hold the contract but be governed by the CCMG.
Project management team, administration and logistics
|Strengths||The outgoing national coordinator and project leader have documented the different components of their role, carrying institutional knowledge forward.
The current project manager has established some of the needed processes.
|Opportunities for development|| Empower the monitoring team to make all operational decisions and report them to the CCMG.
Continue to build on the project management foundation that has been established and increase the focus of the CCMG on governance issues, drawing on the expertise of the project team.
There are aspects of the monitoring that need to be actively managed to ensure the monitoring functions effectively and efficiently. As noted in section 4.1, these operational activities fall outside the scope of the governance group and should be managed by the monitoring team. They have been well documented by the current monitoring team which should enable planning to improve their management in the future. They include:
- Paying for and approving expenses
- Arranging travel for governance group meetings, monitors, etc
- Arranging bookings for training sessions
- Recruiting monitors
- Ethics applications
- Managing electronic and physical data.
The monitoring team should report activity in these areas to the governance group. Reports should be reviewed outside meetings. They should not use meeting time, unless a problem for the monitoring arises.
The project leader role was very important in managing the monitoring.
[Project lead] did a lot of great work. There was clarity when she was there and she was independ
ently selected by the Coalition. She was able to get a really good handle on it. Project plan, budget, monitoring how that’s going. The last two years worked better (DPO)
The broad role included:
- Managing the relationships within the monitoring team and between the monitoring team and the CCMG
- Tracking progress through regular reports from the researcher and project coordinator
- Being the focal point for communication
- Presenting issues requiring CCMG decisions to the group
- Coordinating CCMG meetings
- Working on monitoring reporting.
CCMG members and other stakeholders spoke very highly of the project leader and the improvement after the project leader was in place.
Once in place the national coordinator managed the data collection, including scheduling interviews and reporting on progress. The role involved managing issues with logistics (for example, managing expenses and coordinating multiple people and their travel arrangements for interviews).
The project leader was the main representative of the monitoring team in CCMG meetings. The national coordinator did not communicate with the CCMG directly but through the project leader. At times, there were long waits for decisions from the CCMG on operational matters which could have been resolved by the monitoring team.
The monitoring could be strengthened by ensuring the project management team are empowered to make operational decisions.
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