- During the meeting of the Technical Assistance and Cooperation Committee (TACC) in November 1996, and later at the meeting of the Board of Governors in December 1996, the Director General reported on recent developments and matters of significance to the TC Programme, and outlined its overall direction including several initiatives aimed at strengthening activities in the manner requested in GC(40)/RES/13. He also reported that the Secretariat would consider steps to improve the implementation of the new direction and to restructure the TC Department to better utilize the available staff resources for this purpose.
- The most significant developments in 1996 to strengthen technical co-operation activities relate to the formulation of a new strategy to establish objectives, methods and targets for achieving TC's new direction. Since most of the initiatives, such as Model Projects and Country Programme Frameworks (CPF) have become operational activities, the present Report should be read in connection with the 1997 Report on Strengthening of the Agency's Technical Co-operation Activities (GOV/2922-GC(41)/4). In this way, coherence is established between recommendations for improving programme quality and progress in achieving them.
- In recent years the methods and objectives of the Agency's TC Programme have taken a new direction aimed at strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of activities. A gradual shift in programme emphasis is occurring from technology transfer that helps build capacity in nuclear authorities and institutions to broad based collaboration with counterpart organizations on employing this capacity for productive and sustainable human development. The Agency, however, is not a development organization and this new direction requires functions, responsibilities and resources beyond its traditional role. To become more effective, the Agency must strengthen its partnerships with counterpart organizations, and through them build new partnerships with national planning and development ministries, international aid organizations and the private sector. This goal is reflected in the term "Partner in Development", and underlies the objectives of the new TC Strategy.
- Within the Agency, the TC Strategy calls for stronger collaboration between Departments in the full range of technical activities. Programme management is being redefined by Model Project standards leading to improved relevance and sustainability and producing more significant benefits for Member States. Developing a common logic and criteria for project formulation are important prerequisites for the new approach. This requires close collaboration with the Technical Divisions and national counterpart organizations. Detailed project planning will facilitate greater delegation of project implementation responsibilities based on programme standards and workplans.
- For recipient Member States, the strategy calls for more rigorous dialogue on project and programme planning, stronger commitment to project objectives and an active role in promoting programme and financial linkage with development organizations and non-traditional donors.
- The TC Strategy elaborates the partnership concept, establishes targets and success criteria through the year 2000 and calls for an internal management plan for efficient organization and implementation. Several supplementary objectives such as enhanced TCDC activities and expanded contacts with development organizations also support the Partner in Development approach.
Outline of the Strategy and Objectives:
- The Agency is assuming the role of a Partner in Development with each Member State by closer collaboration in planning, formulating, financing, implementing and sustaining technical cooperation activities.
- The Model Project standards will be extended to the entire TC programme. This involves strengthening internal management and planning functions, establishing detailed guidance and standards for project design and systematic work planning and performance monitoring. Extending the approach to other areas of activity and to additional Member States is integral to the basic workplan.
- TC projects will concentrate on applying nuclear technologies that have tangible and quantifiable benefits for Member States. To accomplish this, all major TC projects will be formulated using common logic and design standards employing performance indicators and success criteria. Thus, a uniform basis will exist for assessing project and programme quality through systematic evaluation.
- The Country Programme Framework (CPF) will become the principal programme planning tool. This requires a joint effort by the Agency and the concerned Member State to identify priority areas for application of nuclear technologies that are in line with the country's developmental needs and plans.
- Thematic planning for TC is a new internal management tool that results from collaboration between the TC Department and various Technical Divisions. Its purpose is to prioritize TC activities or techniques based on success criteria, and provide guidance for expanding the application of successful activities based on national needs and capacity. Thematic planning contributes to the CPF process by producing a data base of country assessments as well as a systematic means of extending successful Model Projects to additional Member States. The thematic planning process will also establish a category of TC activities that have demonstrated special importance for Member States.
- Support to help build scientific and technological infrastructure in Member States will require clearly defined objectives identified through country assessment activities. For example, training and other manpower development activities should be based upon CPFs and Thematic Plans.
- Technical Co-operation among Developing Countries (TCDC) will continue to play an essential role in TC activities. The Agency will encourage partnerships among developing Member States, including the least developed countries, by making greater use of the nuclear capabilities and experience in developing Member States. For example, "centers of excellence" within the regions should act as reference and service centers to support TC activities in applications such as tissue banking, radioimmunoassay diagnosis and radiation protection.
- Regional Co-operative Agreements (RCA, ARCAL and AFRA), which have proven to be a successful Agency mechanism for stimulating TCDC, will be strengthened through direct participation in all stages of project life, and by enhanced management responsibilities for Member States.
- Attempts will be made to extend the resource base for TC activities to non-traditional donors. To meet this objective, the Agency will broaden its partnership base by promoting planning and programming with end-users, regional planning bodies, international aid organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector. Success will require further improvement in project design and management, and development of fund raising skills and capacities. To this end, a small unit was established during 1996 to establish contacts with non-traditional sources of funding, and the result of this new effort will be reflected in next year's TC Annual Report. Standard measurements for quality and success will help to meet donor requirements for project cost sharing and will improve fund raising prospects.
- The details of the TC Strategy will be subject to further internal analysis, and a final review will be conducted by SAGTAC prior to submission to the TACC meeting in November 1997. An internal management plan will be developed in 1997 to achieve the objectives set out in the Strategy. The plan will be revised annually along with individual work plans. The management plan will be an internal document providing guidance to TC staff. Progress toward the objectives outlined in the Strategy will be contained in the annual Technical Co-operation Report.
Management and operations
- New methods of operation often require adjustments in structure, organization and procedures. A full management review will be necessary to ensure that administrative arrangements fit the operational requirements for implementing the Strategy. In parallel with efforts to improve programming activities with Member States, internal measures are being introduced to streamline managerial practices and to enhance staff performance through a variety of training activities. However, the objective of extending the standards of Model Projects to the entire TC Programme entails a number of new functions and responsibilities that place increased demands on the management capacity of the TC Department and its partners. The main prerequisite for this approach is management responsibility for new methods of planning, formulating and appraising project proposals, and systematic monitoring and evaluation of project performance. These new and expanded functions in turn influence the structure and procedures of the TC Department. In unison with formulating an implementation plan for the TC Strategy, a restructuring plan is now under development with the proviso that it will be cost neutral.
- Improved information systems and technology supported the Department's efforts to streamline and simplify operations and improve management during 1996. Two client/server applications for project implementation were put into operation: the TC Field Procurement Management System in August; and the TC Training Course System in December. For the 1997-98 programme use of "PIPELINE for Windows" software in project management resulted in the availability of data on all aspects of requests, appraisal and workplans and reflects one of the most significant developments since the last cycle. It is now possible to generate a variety of project statistics which can be used for systematic performance monitoring. This software also facilitated the preparation of workplans which were introduced for the first time in large projects included in the 1997-98 TC programme. Such workplans ensure that the details of project execution have been elaborated in advance. The development of the TC Project Information System (TC-PIMS) is proceeding in several phases. The first module developed and tested in 1996 will maintain workplans and establish linkages to the implementation systems.
- The use of electronic mail has now become widespread and it is increasingly integrated into new applications. The incorporation of Internet/Intranet into the daily workplace has started and it is now recognized as the standard for access to information in the future. All workstations were upgraded to the level required for Windows 95 by either replacing processors or hard disks with more powerful components or, in some instances, by acquiring new work stations. TC local servers and networks were upgraded in 1996 and the conversion to the Agency standard architecture was completed. Staff members in the Department were supported by a local help desk for TC applications, office automation tools and workstation equipment.