International consultant to support the Rural Development Agency in preparation of the technical specification for purchasing Application Programmes Management System (APMS)


Location : Home Based (with missions to Georgia)
Application Deadline :31-May-22 (Midnight New York, USA)
Time left :4d 21h 31m
Additional Category :Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction
Type of Contract :Individual Contract
Post Level :International Consultant
Languages Required :
English  
Expected Duration of Assignment :18 working days during the period of May – July 2022 with estimated 1 mission to Georgia, 8 dasy


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

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 objective of this consultancy is to support RDA in preparation of the technical specification for purchasing Application Programmes Management System (APMS) for the selected types of interventions under the National Strategic Plan for Agriculture and Rural Development of Georgia.

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 overall functionality analysis of the current e-administration and application management systems of the Rural Development Agency including officially approved quality and information security protocols.
  2. Build the necessary procedures to ensure that every change in the agriculture policy and in particular any changes, are recorded in databases through automatic checklists updated in good time.
  3. Build awareness of MEPA and RDA on APMS/the application processing module that should provide means of creating and registering applications for different types of national programme claims including future IPARD programmes.
  4. Provide examples from EU member states and/or candidate countries on operations and maintenance of Application Programmes Management Systems (APMS).
  5. Support the work of RDA thematic working group by providing expert input on activities needed to deliver the desired outputs envisaged by the recommendations.
  6. 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.
  7. In cooperation with responsible departments of MEPA and RDA, draft technical specifications for purchasing Application Programmes Management System (APMS). In principle, the APMS should contain functionalities for:
    1. Application management for participating to a programme and for support (claims). This process should be integrated into one single process for way of simplification;
    2. Application Cross-Checks and validation automatized of administrative controls and collect electronically any eligible documentation as defined of a programme or support (claims);
    3. Application Administrative Approval during which the operators should be able to complete a set of checklists related to the application. These checklists would be a specific type of document residing in the DMS which will clearly list the reason for approval or rejection of the application (or measure). Ultimately, the administrative approval process will either result in the decision for rejection (in case the application is rejected) or will continue the workflow to the execution payment module;
    4. Scoring criteria is strictly defined budget as allocated for payment programmes. The total amount of applications to be paid under these schemes should not exceed their budget. For this reason the system should provide a means of ranking applications in a transparent manner in order to select only applications with the highest rank to be paid;
    5. Measures subject to a ranking process need a set of rules for the scoring of applications. The procedure applied shall create a ranking that selects only the maximum amount of beneficiary payable according to the ceiling and scores;
    6. The ranking sub-system must include a workflow process which will enable RDA to create rank lists, then to approve them and pass a process of ranking appeals;
    7. After a ranking is created, and publicly published, it can be appealed by applicants until it becomes final;
    8. Applications selected for payment within a ranking usually follow further workflow steps, since when dealing with related payment schemes, they may require the beneficiary to go to a regional office to sign a contract or commitment or to proceed to further controls. Workflow of applications forms part of the Application Processing Module described earlier;
    9. Risk analysis for selecting application to investigate for additional OTSC or on performing geotag follow up activities in the field. The system must provide a log of the criteria/constraints used during data extractions. The log will also contain information indicating whether a random or risk analysis selection is used, which weights were applied, who executed the sample extraction, etc. Instances of extractions for sample selection must be saved together with their attributes and should be recallable for future audits and reviews;
    10. While executing the risk analysis and preparing the selection, the system should provide a list of criteria which can be used during the ranking;
    11. Aggregating sample selected with assign roles to carry out OTSC and results collected of the OTSC including automatic inclusion of the data processed by AMS and/or geotag system and/or OTSC;
    12. Calculation of the payments per beneficiary is a formula with rate unit amount per hectares or number of animals or an invoiced project amount referred to the investment project of the programmes without or with penalties and sanctions.
    13. APMS should work in interoperability service with other external public datasets (e.g. Animal national databases, Person national register ect.).
    14. APMS should be integrated with others IT system and internal components (e.g. LPIS, Agricultural Monitoring System, Farmer Register etc.).

General considerations for APMS:

  1. The APMS should enable users of the system to create applications form and processes for the calculation of the payment per beneficiary according with the controls and OTSC (On-the-Spot Checks). It should enable and configure any eligibility criteria programmes to conduct basic operations on applications pre-filled in most of the application fields, depending on the type of application programme.
  2. The module should enable the configuration of different types of applications in the system by the system administrator allocating responsibilities and steps of separation of duties. The system will be able also to adjust the visibility of each form depending on the status of the application or the role of the user and registering an application, attaching scanner documents, visual checks through check list and check must be performed electronically by the system. At this regard, the administrative cross-check is performed electronically and in such a way that the user is notified if any information is still missing from the application. Basic data validation should be performed on the entry forms if mandatory data are missing, while the major administrative cross-checks need to be performed on the point of transition of an application to another status (for example when submitting the application, thus transiting it to “submitted” status). Updating an application
  3. Updating of a certain application is only possible during the “draft” status, during which the local operator with the farmer permission may change any of the data in it. Since the application sources a considerable portion of the data from the underlying registers, in order to update the application one would have to update the data in the underlying registers used by this application.
  4. Once the application is submitted it is considered un-changeable by anyone. Other parts of the system (such as administrative controls) can add data to the application, but the basic data that comprised the farmer’s declaration must remain unchanged. Amending an application and Application Status Transitions and Submission of the an Application status should be part of the flow process. At this regard an Aid Application Configuration tools and a rule engine system (to define any eligible criteria) should be part of thus APMS.
  5. The APMS should have a tool kit architecture that allow configurating any type of intervention with any set of criteria and type of processing and approval and software should be grants friendly. APMS is connected to the farmer register and internal/external registries including a data validation process made automatically. However, additional manual check with reported check list should be also available and for each additional programme a set of eligibility criteria and conditions/ documents can be added. AMPS should configurate each programme having from 1 to several rounds (separation of duties concept) of application stage/status and each round then should be supervised by a separate internal department if required. Finally, APMS should have a set of analytical reports for evaluation stage.
  6. APMS must be flexible in order to quickly define different year claims and enable the effective implementation of any programme national policy and future IPARD programmes. It must be a focal point of the whole software at which all underlying databases intersect in order to support submission of applications and its amendments according dates limit.

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 - 40% June 2022

  • Report covering implementation aspects of the contract and full details of the deliverables required for tasks 1 to 6 including training evaluation report with relevant annexes from the conducted trainings.

Deliverbale 2 - 60% July 2022

  • Report covering implementation aspects of the contract and full details of the deliverables required for tasks 1 to 6 including training evaluation report with relevant annexes from the conducted trainings.


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 ICT, GIS, 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)  - 12 points;
  • At least 2 experience in preparation technical specification in IACS components as such as Farm registry, LPIS, application processes, control mechanisms and calculation of payments or similar systems in pre-accession or candidate country paying agency (minimum requirement) - 8 points; 
  • Experience in developing training programmes and delivering users’ trainings in IT systems of Agriculture and RD measures, IACS/LPIS/Farm register would be an asset - 6 points, Experience in providing professional services or development cooperation in Georgia would be an asset. - Additional 6 points;

Language Requirements:

  • Excellent English skills (both written and verbal).

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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