According to the Office of the Inspector General, significant enhancements have been made by The Global Fund to improve the process put in place for planning its 2017-2022 Strategy. However, the OIG said, there is room for improvement on the timing and extent of data analysis to inform strategic choices. As well, there are significant issues concerning the processes for implementing and monitoring the 2012-2016 Strategy.
The OIG added that the Secretariat has a number of plans underway which, if finalized and fully embedded at all levels in the organization, will address the issues and risks it has identified.
This information is contained in a report on an audit conducted by the OIG. The report was released on 8 March.
In the audit, the OIG sought to answer three questions:
- Does The Global Fund have effective processes to plan and develop its 2017-2022 Strategy?
- Are the Global Fund processes to implement the 2012-2016 strategy effective?
- Are the Global Fund processes to monitor the progress and results of its 2012-2016 Strategy effective?
The balance of this article deals with the planning processes for the 2017-2022 Strategy. See separate articles on the implementation of the 2012-2016 Strategy (here) and the monitoring of the 2012-2016 Strategy (here).
The audit found that the planning process for the 2017-2022 Strategy is a significant improvement from the 2012-2016 exercise and was supported by extensive internal and external consultations to inform the strategic framework. Three partnership forums were held with over 330 key stakeholder groups from over 130 countries. The OIG called the process “all-inclusive” and noted that there have been transparent with multiple communications on the external and internal Global Fund websites, and with members of the Board and the Strategy Investment and Impact Committee.
However, the OIG found that there were some weaknesses in the data analysis processes supporting the overall development of the strategy, “which creates a potential risk that the trade-offs and strategic choices being made as part the strategy development may not be informed by sufficient data.”
Apparently, the OIG and the Secretariat had a difference of opinion on this point. The OIG said that most of the consultations on the development of the strategy occurred before detailed analytical work was completed that would provide relevant data on current needs and existing gaps. This is the kind of data that was included in the Global Fund Investment Case which was not released until December 2015.
According to the OIG, the Secretariat’s view is that an assessment of the external and domestic financing landscape and the Global Fund’s role in financing the fight against the three diseases was presented at each recent Board meeting and every partnership forum; and that while the Investment Case is an analytical and communications document that provides a strong case for replenishing the Global Fund, it is not an essential document for the development of the strategy.
The OIG believes, however, than the analytic work that went into the development of the Investment Case should be an important input into both the development and implementation of the Strategy. “A clear understanding of both the current status as well as the remaining needs and gaps, based on objective data and robust evidence-based analysis, is necessary to enhance the quality of the internal and external dialogue on strategic choices,” the OIG said.
According to the OIG, seven of the 11 SIIC members it interviewed for the audit said that the level of data supporting the development of the strategic framework was insufficient – particularly with respect to the nature and extent of gender gaps or data related to health and community systems.
The OIG was critical of the fact that the current strategy planning process does not include an internal organizational analysis. The OIG said that this analysis is critical for the organization to understand its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
The OIG noted that the Secretariat is in the process of defining success and key deliverables for each of the strategic objectives and actions supporting the 2017-2022 strategic framework. The intention is to describe how the objectives will be achieved. In parallel, the OIG said, The Global Fund has started to work on defining the key performance indicators relevant to the strategic framework, to ensure that objectives adopted are achievable and measurable.
However, the OIG cautioned, until these analyses are completed and related action plans implemented, there is a risk that improvements made in the strategy planning phase may be offset in the subsequent implementation phase due to gaps in clear linkages among the strategic goals, targets, objectives, and actions; and gaps in effective monitoring of performance.
According to the OIG, the Secretariat believes that the current strategy planning process was the most rigorous and inclusive in Global Fund history, and that there are no major or significant gaps or weaknesses in the process that require remediation. “Hence, the Secretariat elects to implement no management corrective action,” the OIG said.