Consultancy- Construction of an information and data management system for ECW
New York City (United States of America)
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the global fund to transform the delivery of education in emergencies - one that joins up governments, humanitarian actors and development efforts to deliver a more collaborative and rapid response to the educational needs of children and youth affected by crises. ECW was launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 by a broad coalition of international aid agencies and public and private donors to usher in faster and more sustainable education responses in crises settings. Guided by the ECW Strategic Plan 2018-2021 , the Secretariat realizes five core functions: (1) inspire political commitment to financing education in humanitarian contexts, (2) catalyze financial resources; (3) facilitate joint programming between humanitarian and development actors; (4) strengthen capacity to respond to crises; and (5) improve accountability. ECW is hosted and administered under UNICEF's financial, human resources and administrative rules and regulations, while operations are run by the ECW’s own independent governance structure that provides strategic guidance and oversight to its investments. ECW's day-to-day activities are carried out by a Secretariat under the direction of the ECW Director. Education Cannot Wait is seeking services of a qualified consultant to create an appropriate data and information system that : 1) Supports grantees in the submission of their program proposals via standardized online forms. 2) Supports grantees in the submission of their results and financial reports via standardized online forms. 3) Monitors ECW’s progress against its results framework (latter is enclosed in annex). ) 4) Generates automated reports based on selected variables (type of investment, grantee, program, geographical location, gender/age-group, population groups etc.) as requested. 5) Allows ECW, grantees and donors to view, edit and download the above-mentioned data and reports.
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Education Cannot Wait (ECW), established in 2016 and hosted within UNICEF, is the worlds first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises. The fund aims to inspire stronger political will to focus and invest in education in emergencies, catalyse new sources of funding and facilitate collaboration and coordination between humanitarian and development actors to increase the effectiveness of education programming in emergencies for crises-affected children. ECW disburses grants to various development and humanitarian actors (ECW grantees) who in turn deliver humanitarian assistance on the field.
The increasing breadth and complexity of ECW-funded programs calls for strengthening of the information management systems and processes in use at the ECW Secretariat. ECW recognizes the need for an integrated, centralized, simple-to-use, cloud-based information management system, whereby data seamlessly flows from ECW grantees to the ECW Secretariat, and the ECW Secretariat can validate the submitted data and integrated with additional information, as needed. This is fundamental for the ECW Secretariat to conduct analyses and produce reports.
ECW provides grants through three funding windows: First Emergency Response (FER), Acceleration Facility (AF), and Multi-Year Resilience Programs (MYRP). Each funding window requires different information (on results, on expenditures, etc.) to be submitted by grantees, as specified in annex. For this reason, a phased piloting of the information management system will be required, suggested to begin first with the FER grants, and then the MYRP and AF grants, as explained below.
The following needs were identified by ECW staff while collecting data necessary to report on the ECW results framework:
- ECW needs to establish a comprehensive database that stores all grant-related information. Given ECW's ambition to the highest standards, it cannot rely on a mix of automated and manual data entry to a set of auxiliary databases (mostly in Excel) created by each section and stored in the respective cloud-based drives, resulting in high risk of human errors and creation of â€œsiloedâ€ processes.
- There is a need for an online central filing location for all information and reports received from grantees. Without it, staff may utilize multiple IT solutions, which creates challenges in information management.
- There needs to be a dedicated grants management software for use in ECW.
- There is a need to streamline the submission of applications for funding and budget reports, as they are currently submitted in stand-alone files in Word and Excel respectively, which creates challenges in information management.
- ECW needs to be able to automate the calculation of certain performance indicators for the ECW dashboard and the ECW Annual Results Report. Automating certain data checks and procedures would reduce the risk of errors and facilitate the use of real-time data, amongst other efficiency gains.
Objectives of the assignment
ECW is seeking the services of qualified individual consultant to submit proposals to create an appropriate data and information management system that:
1) Supports grantees in the submission of their program proposals via standardized online forms.
2) Supports grantees in the submission of their results and financial reports via standardized online forms.
3) Monitors ECW's progress against its results framework (latter is enclosed in annex).
4) Provides a shared database whereby a) all relevant results information on ECW systemic as well as grantees' results and expenditure can be regularly updated, stored, displayed, retrieved and shared; b) all grants-related information can be stored, updated, retrieved and viewed as a report or dashboard.
5) Generates automated reports based on selected variables (type of investment, grantee, program, geographical location, gender/age-group, population groups etc.) as requested.
6) Allows ECW, grantees and donors to view, edit and download the above-mentioned data and reports.
The objective of the procurement is to implement a data and information management system ('system' in short henceforth) with the following features:
- Grantees must be able to build application forms for funding via online standardized application forms, so that benchmarks for reporting (e.g. indicator targets) and applicants' data can be stored in an online database and queried / referenced by partners and ECW Secretariat staff.
- Grantees must be able to report their results and expenditures in standardized online forms, so that data on results can be stored in an online database and queried / verified / validated by partners and ECW Secretariat staff.
- Users must be able to create reports, dashboards and charts based on the information contained in the database. An intuitive interface to build queries must be developed so that reports can be created in easy fashion by users who may not be IT-savvy.
- The system must be able to handle both quantitative data on results (e.g. children reached, schools rebuilt, etc.), qualitative info describing results (e.g. a text summary on whether children in district x accessed education) and financial information (e.g. on expenditure or sub-granting on behalf of grantees).
- The system will feature different degrees of access/privileges (can view, can edit, etc.) based on functions and roles: ECW grantees, ECW staff, etc.
- The system will send notifications to assigned ECW staff members when errors, missing data or inconsistencies are found, or data validation, or approval of specific requests is needed.
- The system will send notifications to assigned ECW staff members regarding deadlines (e.g. when reports are due, or when applications have been submitted)
- Logical checks and data consistency checks are embedded in the system to account for potential errors in data entry.
- The system must conform to standards of safety and data protection.
- Data should be safely backed up and mechanisms should be put in place to prevent data loss.
Expected results: (measurable results)
Scope and timelines of the assignment
The primary objective of the assignment is to set up a system to strategically collect information coming from the field in systematized fashion, with the objective to (i) minimize the submission of unstructured, non-coded information that will require ''human'' data handling; (ii) swiftly produce reports and (iii) calculate standard indicators. Therefore, the software solution should remain lean and be developed primarily for data management and reporting purposes; under this tender ECW is not looking for ''program management'' software, or software that simply stores information.
Data should be available for analysis and consolidation at different levels:
1) at grant level, following each grant's results framework, which is contained in each approved proposal;
2) at country level - e.g. if ECW disburses 8 grants in Mozambique, aggregated stats for Mozambique should be available;
3) at global level, following the ECW Results Framework available in Annex I;
4) by grantee organization - e.g. if ECW disburses twelve grants to a given international NGO across six countries, aggregated stats for that international NGO should be available.
It is of paramount importance to build flexibility into the system. Since grants results framework and the ECW Results Framework can change over time, the system must retain the flexibility to allow ECW staff to calculate new indicators easily; likewise, if data requirements change, ECW should be able to flexibly edit the online forms for data collection without compromising the structure and performance of the system.
The system should not rely on novel applications or require the installation of dedicated software. It must be designed for use and accessibility in humanitarian emergencies, where internet connection may not be strong and NGO personnel may not be IT-savvy.Â
The system could be built on multiple modules:
- An application module, with a standard online form collecting key information and data on each approved program proposal (envisioned outcomes, targets, budgets, etc)
- A grant-level data module, collecting all quantitative data (e.g. indicators from the grants' results framework) and qualitative data (e.g. qualitative description of a certain result) for a given grant.
- A ''corporate results'' module to provide the information to report against the corporate (or ''global'') ECW results framework.
- A financial data module, following the templates in use by ECW for financial reporting, to collect and manage financial information.
- A module with a template for submission of human-interest stories and photos from the field.
The system will be property of ECW; the data handled by the system belongs to ECW and cannot be used by third parties or the company/consultant; in no way data can be held or distributed by the contractor during or after the completion of the assignment.
The construction of the system must follow a precise timeline to ensure finalization by February 19th, 2021. The milestones of the assignment are as follows:
1) Concept note (by November 12th, 2020). The concept note should contain:
- Detailed description of the structure of the envisioned system, following consultation with the ECW Secretariat;
- Proposed ways of collecting and managing information, given ECW data requirements;
- Modalities for aggregation and calculation of key performance indicators;
- Modalities for automated approvals and notifications;
- Modalities for accessing, editing, and querying the database, outlining the required privileges of different type of users;
- Envisioned safety and data protection measures.
2) First iteration of the system - prototype (by November 30th, 2020). The system should be piloted to cover all ECW active grants under the FER window and all MYRPs launched in 2018 and 2019.
3) Final iteration (by January 31st, 2021). Following an AGILE methodology, and the feedback from the previous iteration, the system should take its final shape and links for uploading the necessary information be shared with all ECW Grantees.
4) Produce an online tutorial and a training manual, by February 19th, 2021.
5) Conduct a training session for New York and Geneva offices, by February 28th, 2021.
6) Provide troubleshooting for up to 6 months after launch, as needed.
The consultancy will be carried out remotely.
Start date: As soon as possible in October/November 2020
End date: [Estimated] August 2021- duration of approximately 100 days
To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…
- At least 5 years of experience in designing effective IT solutions for data management and reporting in public or private institutions - 10 or more years of experience would be an asset;
- Experience with designing operating procedures to collect data via online forms;
- Experience in developing and delivering engaging virtual IT trainings and online tutorials to people with non-technical backgrounds;
- Expert knowledge of a range of cloud-based information management systems, and management of databases;
- Experience with mapping information systems to target specific areas of improvement and gaps in operating procedures;
- Experience testing and evaluating new IT solutions and troubleshooting technical issues as they arise;
- Previous experience with prototyping in information systems development;
- Fluency in English is required. Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian or Spanish) or a local language is an asset.
For every Child, you demonstrate…
UNICEF's values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.
The functional competencies required for this post are...
View our competency framework at
UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.
UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.
How to Apply
Applicants are requested to apply by October 16, 2020, 23:00pm EST.
Applications must include:
- Cover letter
- CV, and
- Writing sample of similar work
Please indicate your ability, availability and daily rate (in US$) to undertake the terms of reference above. Applications submitted without a daily rate will not be considered.
NOTE: Files should not exceed 5.0MB limit
Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with UNICEF and an underlying premise of the international civil service.
Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.
ECW is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.
Individuals engaged under a consultancy or individual contract will not be considered “staff members” under the Staff Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and UNICEF’s policies and procedures, and will not be entitled to benefits provided therein (such as leave entitlements and medical insurance coverage). Their conditions of service will be governed by their contract and the General Conditions of Contracts for the Services of Consultants and Individual Contractors. Consultants and individual contractors are responsible for determining their tax liabilities and for the payment of any taxes and/or duties, in accordance with local or other applicable laws.
If, consultants are required by ECW to travel beyond commuting distance from their usual place of residence, such travel at the expense of ECW shall be governed by conditions equivalent to the relevant provisions of the 100 series of the United Nations Staff Rules (Chapter VII) and relevant ECW policies and procedures. Travel by air by the most direct and economical route is the normal mode for travel at the expense of ECW. Such travel will be by business class if the journey is nine hours or longer, and by economy class if the journey is less than nine hours, and first class by rail.
Consultants are fully responsible for arranging, at their own expense, such life, health and other forms of insurance covering the period of their services on behalf of ECW as they consider appropriate. Consultants are not eligible to participate in the life or health insurance schemes available to United Nations staff members.