International Consultant in IT/IACS systems to review compliance of relevant Georgian systems operated by the Rural Development Agency with the EU IPARD II/Neighbourhood requirements and recommend further development action priorities.


Location : Home Based (with mission to Tbilisi)
Application Deadline :27-Aug-21 (Midnight New York, USA)
Additional Category :Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :International Consultant
Languages Required :
English  
Expected Duration of Assignment :Up to 21 working days during the period of September - December 2021 with 1 mission to Georgia

UNDP 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.

UNDP does not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse, any kind of harassment, including sexual harassment, and discrimination. All selected candidates will, therefore, undergo rigorous reference and background checks.


Background

Article 332 of the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia states that the “Parties shall cooperate to promote agricultural and rural development, in particular through progressive convergence of policies and legislation”. The Government of Georgia demonstrated its commitment in implementing an institutional reform aimed at creating a policy management system which represents a new approach for rural development in Georgia aligned with the relevant EU regulations and common provisions on agriculture and rural development.

UNDP project “Improving Rural Development in Georgia” (IRDG) under EU ENPARD III has a capacity development component for public sector agencies involved in formulating and implementing rural development actions (measures) – in particular by aiming to build capacity and support in the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture (MEPA) and Rural Development Agency (RDA) aligned with EU policy and procedures for supporting the EU rural development sector.

Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy of Georgia provides country’s vision for the coming years (2021-2027) in key areas of rural development – growth and diversification of local economies, improvement of social and public services, increase of employment and sustainable use of national resources. The strategy represents a new approach to rural development in Georgia grounded on the European Union practice and the EU member state knowledge and experience in this field. The ongoing UNDP support under EU-funded ENPARD 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 management of the rural development sector.

In support of this GoG commitment, UNDP has been supporting 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 Rural Development Agency with functions of a similar nature as a Paying Agency in the 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.

The UNDP has supported MEPA and Rural Development Agency in conducting analysis of gaps between current RDA capacities and those required for EU approval of IPARD II Paying Agencies, set out in the “standard” IPA Framework Agreement. On 18 November 2020, MEPA established an intra-ministerial working group “on institutional reform of RD policy management system in Georgia”, 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 will undertake large scale organizational changes and capacity building, to cover: 

  • Administration and payment operations management system incl. system for managing the application verification, evaluation and authorization process. 
  • Fundamental changes in monitoring and control system (regional on-the-spot inspections and overall monitoring data management). 
  • Introduction of an EU-compliant Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) including a Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS-GIS). 
  • Harmonization of written procedures, HRM standard and continuous training system. 

Currently, Neither MEPA nor RDA have Integrated Administration Control Systems (IACS) meeting all the requirements of EU Regulations (EU regulation 1306/2013EU delegated regulation 640/2014EU implementing regulation 809/2014) and the requirements of IPA Framework Agreements and IPARD Sectoral Agreements co-signed by the EU and individual candidate countries. As a contribution to development of the IACS, MEPA contracted a private company specializing in IACS in 2019 to create an expanded IT registry system, based on EU requirements, for two major rural development support measures operated by RDA for MEPA, namely:

  • ‘Plant the Future’ supporting fruit berry producers and establishment of commercial horticultural enterprises producing perennial crops; and
  • ‘Preferential Agro-Credits’, through which commercial banks and other financial institutions under contract to RDA are encouraged to make loans available on commercial terms to eligible agricultural and rural investments.

The contractor delivered the systems in January 2021; Before taking their decision on formal acceptance, RDA and MEPA are testing the systems and data transmission links (interoperability characteristics) with other Ministry and Agency systems needed to populate the new registers, for example, to the Georgian cadastre operated by the National Agency of Public Registry of the Ministry of Justice in order to verify applicant’s farm areas claimed in applications and claims for payment and inclusion in the planned RDA Farm Register. The current systems do not provide on-line application facilities for either of the two measures; systems for other types of support measures currently operated by RDA (list at Appendix 1); a Land Parcel Identification System (LPIS) aligned with EU requirements; Interoperability with relevant IT systems in the Autonomous Republic of Ajara.

UNDP IRDG project under EU ENPARD provides support on specific activities to be undertaken by the Rural Development Agency under the Ministry Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia with the overall aim to ensure progressive transformation of RDA into an IPARD II-compliant Paying Agency by the end 2024.


Duties and Responsibilities

The overall objective of the assignment is to provide guidance support to the management of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture and the Rural Development Agency in implementing activities envisaged by the action plan in 2021 related to Integrated Administration Control Systems and provide recommendations on closing gaps as well as corrective actions for each of the weaknesses identified during the process.

The consultant will work under the direct supervision of the National Project Manager and the Project Technical Leader of “Improving Rural Development in Georgia” Project in close collaboration with the Rural Development Agency.

The UNDP will make arrangements for meetings and capacity building workshop(s); UNDP will facilitate liaison with government and other stakeholders as necessary.

The below listed tasks of the incumbent shall be performed in close cooperation with a Capacity Development Coordinator of the project “Improving Rural Development in Georgia” and include the following:

  1. Complete a detailed gap analysis identifying the specific IT systems and structural units needing to be developed or further strengthened to comply with IPARD II rural development IT requirements (e.g. Farm Register Unit; IACS Operations Unit or Department; LPIS Development Unit; etc.) excluding EU direct payment operating systems and structures).
  2. Based on an in-depth review of compliance of relevant Georgian systems operated by the Rural Development Agency with the EU IPARD II/Neighbourhood requirements, specifically, IACS elements and operations requirements, elaborate IT/IACS development action plan along with:
  • specific IT system development priorities for Axis 1 and 3 measures during 2021 to 2023, taking account of priorities adopted by Candidate Countries and accepted by the EU Commission when conferring decentralised authorities to Candidate Countries
  • outline staffing requirements (numbers, grades, qualifications) needed to establish or strengthen units in line with the findings from task 1 above.
  • outline terms of reference and indicative costs for external technical assistance for software development, provision of hardware, timetables for contracting and testing.
  • other corrective or strengthening actions deemed necessary.

3..Prepare staff training curriculum, incl. pre-/post- knowledge evaluation tests and deliver a 1.5-day inception training for RDA and other relevant officials operating and managing systems (max 20 participants) to build knowledge on IACS elements and operations requirements.

4.Participate in the project events (meetings, a conference), present findings/recommendations and promote best-suited approaches, as appropriate.

All documents shall be developed in English.

Deliverables:

50 % of the consultansy fee upon submittion:

Deliverable 1 -  A detailed gap analysis/compliance review identifying the specific IT systems and structural units needing to be developed or further strengthened to comply with EU IPARD systems - IACS/IT elements and operations requirements. 

50 % of the consultansy fee upon submittion:

Deliverable 2 -  T/IACS development recommended action priorities and action plan for alignment during 2021 to 2023 with outline TORs, estimate costings and timings (task 2).

Final report covering implementation aspects of the contract including training curriculum and evaluation report with relevant annexes from the training described in the task 3 of the Terms of Reference.

Management Arrangements:

The consultant will work under the direct supervision of the National Project Manager and the Project Technical Leader of “Improving Rural Development in Georgia” Project in close collaboration with the Rural Development Agency and the Capacity Development Coordinator of the Project “Improving Rural Development in Georgia”.

The payments will be produced upon the confirmation by UNDP of high-quality performance. A total assignment will be up to 21 days during the period of September 2021-December 2021.


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, business process mapping and reengineering in relation to IT/IACS systems in accredited or pre-accession paying agency.  (Minimum Requirement) - `10  points.
  • At least 7 years’ experience in designing strategic concepts of agricultural and rural development ICT systems and/or protocols for quality management of Farm registry, LPIS, or related systems in pre-accession or candidate country paying agency. (Minimum Requirement) - `10  points. 
  • Experience in developing training programmes and delivering users’ trainings in IT systems of Agriculture and RD measures, IACS/LPIS/Farm register, HRM information systems would be an asset (additional 4 points).
  • Experience in working with pre-accession assistance aid and/or accession auditing procedures/reports (additional 4 points).
  • Experience in providing technical assistance in Georgia or within a comparable transition context (additional 4 points).

Language Requirements:

  • Excellent written and verbal English skills.

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 :

The financial proposal shall specify a total lump sum. Payments are based upon delivery of the services specified in the TOR.  All envisaged travel costs must be included in the financial proposal. This includes all travel to join duty station/repatriation travel.  In general, UNDP does not accept travel costs exceeding those of an economy class ticket. Should the IC wish to travel on a higher class he/she should do so using their own resources. In order, to assist the requesting unit in the comparison of financial proposals, the financial proposal will include a breakdown of this lump sum amount. 



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