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International consultant to support the Rural Development Agency in introducing an operating structure and increased efficiency for IPARD/EU compliant application processing and payments.

Georgia

  • Organization: UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
  • Location: Georgia
  • Grade: International Consultant - Internationally recruited Contractors Agreement
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Infrastructure and Urban-Rural development
  • Closing Date: 2022-05-31

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Background

Rural development is a process that delivers improvements in the quality of life and economic well-being of people living in relatively isolated and sparsely populated rural areas.  Rural development, traditionally, has focused on the exploitation of land-intensive natural resources, such as agriculture and forestry.  However, changes in global production networks, increased urbanization and dynamic links between rural and urban environments have changed the character of rural areas.  Increasingly tourism, niche products and recreation have replaced resource extraction and agriculture as dominant economic factors.

The need for rural communities to approach development from a wider perspective has created more focus on a broad range of development goals rather than merely creating incentives for agricultural or resource-based businesses. Education, entrepreneurship, physical and social infrastructure, biodiversity protection and enhancement, climate change adaptation and mitigation all play an important role in developing rural regions. Rural development is also characterized by its emphasis on locally produced economic development strategies.

The EU signed an Association Agreement (AA) with Georgia in June 2014. This aims to deepen political and economic relations between the parties and to gradually integrate Georgia into the EU’s internal market. This entails, as one element, creating a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between the EU and Georgia. Under Article 333 of the Association Agreement (Cooperation between the Parties in the field of agriculture and rural development), there is provision for ‘facilitating the mutual understanding of agricultural and rural development policies’. This was the basis for the formulation of a Rural Development Strategy for Georgia which will in turn yield specification of measures which will benefit from funding under the European Neighborhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development (ENPARD).

Rural development has an important role to play in the sustainable development of Georgia. The need for rural communities to approach development from a wider perspective has created more focus on a broad range of development goals rather than merely creating incentive for agriculture development. The goal of the Rural Development Policy of Georgia is to support sustainable economic development through enhanced socio-economic activities in rural areas and improved living condition of rural population. The policy provides the country’s vision related to the key areas of rural development – growth and diversification of local economies, improvement of social and public services and sustainable use of national resources.

Under ENPARD III, UNDP Georgia supported the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA) in development of Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy for 2021-2027. With this support, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA), is gradually progressing in implementation of a coherent Agriculture and Rural Development Policy. MEPA takes steady steps in enforcement of solely rural development related programs and projects. The overall objective of the project is to enhance rural economic activities in a diversified, competitive and sustainable environment benefiting from gender equality mainstreaming and advocacy. Specific objectives are: (1) To promote non-agriculture entrepreneurial activities which in turn will stimulate local economic development, improve social-economic conditions in rural areas and create new jobs; and (2) Foster environment protection in rural areas, sustainable use of natural resources and promotion of climate change measures.

The Commission advised and requested all Member States to adopt CAP Strategic Plans for 2021-2027 in line with the Commission’s individual sets of recommendations annexed as Staff Working Documents to COM (2021) 846. The Commission provided aggregate summaries of its specific recommendations to each individual Member States for achieving the Green Deal targets and those stemming from the Farm to Fork Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. In addition, Member States were instructed to include actions and plans to make their CAP Strategic plans more “Fit for the Purpose” by 3.1. Integrating the Green Deal in the CAP Strategic Plans; 3.3. Reinforcing the partnership principle.

The ongoing UNDP project “Improving Rural Development in Georgia” (IRDG) support under EU-funded ENPARD III is instrumental in assisting the Government (Inter-Agency Coordination Council for Rural Development - IACC) in its endeavor to develop the institutional and human capacities for managing rural development sector and gradually bringing into alignment with the EU policy framework and CAP rules – basic regulations.

UNDP has been supporting the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA) concerning institutional set up of the following separate authorities, operating in close cooperation: (i) the Managing Authority, being a public body acting at national level, to be in charge of strategic programming, designing measures, including implementation procedures and their publicity, the coordination, monitoring and evaluation and managed by a senior official with exclusive responsibilities; and (ii) the subordinate entity Rural Development Agency (RDA) with functions of a similar nature as a IPARD/Paying Agency in the Candidate and Member States being in charge of application processing/selection of projects as well as authorisation, OTS inspection, Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS), accounting of commitments, payments and the execution.

On 18 November 2020, MEPA has established an intra-ministerial working group “on institutional reform of RD policy management system in Georgia”, which is chaired by the Minister of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (order N2-1072). The Working Group has approved a three-year Institutional Reform Action Plan (2021-2024) on 7 April 2021, as a result, RDA is undertaking institutional reform covering areas such as: (1) Administration and payment operations management system incl. system for managing the application verification, evaluation and authorization process; (2) Fundamental changes in monitoring and control system (regional on-the-spot inspections and overall monitoring data management) and (3) Introduction the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) incl. Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS-GIS). 

The project is part of the EU supported nation-wide programme “European Neighbourhood Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development”  (ENPARD) phase III and contributes to the main purpose of ENPARD III, which is to promote inclusive and sustainable growth and development, creating employment and livelihoods for the poor and excluded, and to the achievement of results related to improvement of institutional capacities for the implementation of the Rural Development Strategy; improvement of rural economic diversification, employment and services; and Improvement of environment, sustainable management of natural resources and climate action.

Duties and Responsibilities

The overall objective of this consultancy is to support RDA to follow and be able to plan interventions that support the Government of Georgia from coping to improving and accelerating compliance with Paying Agencies’ operating rules. Specifically, the objective is to provide written recommendations to RDA on the operating structure and increased efficiency for IPARD/EU compliant application processing and payments for agriculture and rural development. The consultant will work under the direct supervision of UNDP Economic Development Team Leader and “Improving Rural Development in Georgia” National Project Manager.

The below listed tasks of the incumbent shall be performed in close coordination with RDA and UNDP Project Capacity Development Coordinator and include the following:

1. Conduct gap analysis identifying priority areas in relation to deficiencies in the current governance and operations system within the Rural Development Agency, covering:

  • the responsibilities vested in RDA and the allocation of responsibilities between the departments of RDA and the adequacy of internal and external controls in respect of payments;
  • the procedures by which claims by beneficiaries are received, verified, and validated, and by which expenditure is authorised, paid and accounted for, namely the procedures and systems in place for the authorization and execution of payments and the annual performance reporting;
  • the extent to which the procedures and systems put in place are apt to safeguard financing including risk-based anti-fraud measures and conflict of interest;
  • the relationship of RDA with other bodies, public or private, which are responsible for implementing any measures;
  • the maintenance of accounting records.

2.Build awareness of MEPA and RDA on primary and secondary draft legislation requirements, concept and definitions including regulations (EU) laying down the rules on the financing and monitoring of the common agricultural policy, including on the accreditation of paying agencies and its organisational structure, financial management and procedures, including scrutiny of payments and transparency and separation of duties.

3.Where it is considered that RDA does not comply with the accreditation criteria, inform of the specific conditions it is required to fulfil and propose concrete actions to address each of the serious deficiencies indicated by the gap analysis.

4.Describe the recommendations so as to enable RDA and the Ministry to assess whether the corrective actions are sufficient to remedy the deficiencies including working arrangements and conformity procedures.

5.Provide examples from EU member states and/or candidate countries on communications and documents produced, processed and managed by using IT systems such as e-Administration and Application Programmes Management System (APMS).

6.Support the work of RDA thematic working group by providing expert input on activities needed to deliver the desired outputs envisaged by the recommended action priorities.

7.Participate in the meetings of RDA thematic working group and provide technical/content support including through presentations and minutes detailing topics discussed and decisions made.

8.Prepare training curriculum and deliver in total full 3 days of practitioners’ training on tasks described above.

  • Elaborate a detailed curriculum for the learning, including learning goals in particular on the items of  separation of duties (no official has responsibility for more than one of the responsibilities for authorising, paying or accounting of sums charged to Agriculture funds, and no official performs any of those tasks without supervision), how are prepared in a written job description including fraud awareness, and policy for rotating staff in sensitive positions, or alternatively for increased supervision and appropriate measures are taken to avoid and detect a possible risk of conflict of interests within the meaning of article 61 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2018/1046.
  • Elaborate evaluation tools for measuring the effectiveness of the learned.
  • Identify, describe, quantify and reason any support material, IT infrastructure and support personnel that may be required for the training(s).
  • Present the draft curriculum to UNDP IRDG project and obtain approval.
  • Actively support IRDG project in the identification and selection of the participants. This includes, but may not be limited to, the establishment of selection criteria for participants and participation in the selection process. Note that participants must cover all key institutions of the working group.
  • Deliver and evaluate the course according to the approved criteria.
  • Identify areas of further improvement and improve curriculum and materials accordingly.
  • Identify lessons learned and prepare a final report comprising of pre-/post- knowledge evaluation results.

Essential considerations for curriculum development:

The curriculum should systematically organize what will be taught, who will be taught, and how it will be taught with the following essential considerations:

  • issue/problem/need is identified (issue – what),
  • characteristics and needs of learners (target audience - who),
  • changes intended for learners (intended outcomes/objectives – what the learners will be able to do),
  • the important and relevant content (what),
  • methods to accomplish intended outcomes (how),
  • evaluation strategies for methods, content, and intended outcomes (what works?).
  1. Provide international consultant on Application Programmes Management System (APMS) a specialized orientation on recommended action priorities and progress up to date.
  2. Assess the process of aligning A/R Ajara agriculture and rural development governance structure with ongoing institutional approximation process at the national level by presenting institutional requirements (general mandate, segregation of functions, applied procedures) to the “Working Group on Institutional Development of the Ministry of Agriculture of Ajara A/R.

UNDP will provide all necessary arrangements for the meetings and events related to this Terms of Reference.

UNDP will facilitate liaison with government and other stakeholders as necessary.

Deliverables and payment modality:

Deliverbale 1 - 30% June 2022

  • Written recommendations on action priorities for alignment during 2022 to 2023 so as to enable RDA and the Ministry to assess whether the corrective actions are sufficient to remedy the deficiencies including working arrangements and conformity procedures.

Deliverbale 2 - 30% July 2022

  • Written recommendations on action priorities for alignment during 2022 to 2023 so as to enable RDA and the Ministry to assess whether the corrective actions are sufficient to remedy the deficiencies including working arrangements and conformity procedures.

Deliverbale 3 -40% September  2022

  • Final report covering implementation aspects of the contract including training curriculum and training evaluation report with relevant annexes.

Competencies

Corporate competencies:

  • Demonstrates integrity by modeling the UN's values and ethical standards;
  • Promotes the vision, mission, and strategic goals of UNDP
  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability;
  • Treats all people fairly without favoritism.

Functional competencies:

Knowledge management and learning:

  • Actively works towards continuing personal learning and development in one or more Practice Areas, acts on learning plan and applies newly acquired skills.

Development and operational effectiveness:

  • Ability to lead strategic planning, results-based management and reporting;
  • Ability to lead formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of development programmes and projects, mobilize resources;
  • Strong IT skills, particularly with MS Office and databases;
  • Excellent written and oral presentation skills.

Management and leadership:

  • Focuses on impact and result for the client and responds positively to feedback;
  • Leads teams effectively and shows conflict resolution skills;
  • Consistently approaches work with energy and a positive, constructive attitude;
  • Demonstrates strong oral and written communication skills;
  • Builds strong relationships with clients and external actors;
  • Remains calm, in control and good humored even under pressure;
  • Demonstrates openness to change and ability to manage complexities.

Required Skills and Experience

Education:

  • Bachelor’s or higher degree in public administration, public policy, agriculture and rural development, economics and business administration or related field  (minimum requirement). - 8 points;

Experience:

  • At least 7 years of experience in organizational approximation and/or development, business process reengineering and/or support in accredited or pre-accession paying agency. (minimum requirement)  - 12 points;
  • At least 2 experiences in designing accredited or pre-accession paying agency in terms of accreditation criteria such as internal environmental (organisational structure), human-resource standard, risk assessment, delegation tasks, procedures for authorizing claims, for payments and for accounting, procedures for the performing report, for advances, security and for debts, for audit trail and monitoring (minimum requirement) - 8 points; 
  • Experience in developing training programmes and delivering users’ trainings at different operational levels in division of duties in accredited or pre-accession paying agency would be an asset -  6 points. - Experience in providing professional services or development cooperation in Georgia would be an asset -  6 points.

Language Requirements:

  • Excellent English skills (both written and verbal).

Evaluation:

Individual consultants will be evaluated based on the Cumulative analysis. Individual consultants will be evaluated against combination of technical and financial criteria. Technical evaluation stage encompasses desk review and interview of applications. Experts not meeting any of minimum technical qualification requirements will be automatically excluded from the list of candidates for further technical evaluation.

Maximum obtainable score is 100, out of which the total score for technical criteria equals to 70 points (70%) and for financial criteria 30 (30%). Technical criteria composed of desk review (40 points) and interview (30 points). Offerors who pass 70% of maximum obtainable scores of the desk review (i.e. 40 x 70% = 28 points because of a desk review of applications will be invited for the interview. Those offerors who pass 70% of maximum obtainable scores for interviews of (i.e. 30x 70% = 21 points) will be considered as short-listed offerors and requested to provide financial proposals. 

Financial Proposal:

Short-listed Offerors will be requested to provide financial proposal. The financial proposal shall specify a total lump sum amount (with indication of specific sub-components of the payment, including daily fee, travel costs, living allowance etc.), and payment terms around specific and measurable (qualitative and quantitative) deliverables. The total amount quoted shall be all-inclusive and include a breakdown of all cost components required to perform the deliverables identified in TOR. All envisaged travel costs (ticket, insurance, communication and living allowance fees) must be included in the financial proposal as well. 

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Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.
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