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HR During Start-up

Start-up team

When UNDP is nominated for the role of Principal Recipient (PR) for the first time, a start-up process is necessary. As a first step in the process, under the supervision and guidance of Country Office (CO) or Regional Service Centre (RSC) senior management, a member of the CO should be designated as the focal point to lead the implementation of the rolling work plan and grant management arrangements in consultation with the UNDP Global Fund Partnership and Health Systems Team (GFPHST).

The designated focal point oversees the recruitment and management of a start-up team, which supports the preparation of grant documents, determines implementation arrangements, and completes other activities leading up to grant signing. The start-up team should possess, at a minimum, programme management, finance and procurement and supply management (PSM) expertise.

The CO may benefit from input and lessons learned from another CO that has undergone the start-up process. In addition, CO staff and UN Volunteers in existing UNDP PR countries may be available for a short-term detailed assignment to support key activities, including the preparation of grant documentation, Quantum setup, etc. The UNDP GFPHST can facilitate a discussion to support a detailed assignment.

To strengthen its efforts to effectively support COs and national stakeholders in the implementation of Global Fund programmes, the UNDP GFPHST in coordination with the GPN Roster Team has developed a roster of qualified experts. More about the GPN Roster can be found in this section of the Manual.

PMU structure and terms of reference

As the establishment of the Project Management Unit (PMU) should start as soon as possible after UNDP has been confirmed at the PR to ensure that the required human resources are in place, one of the key activities in the start-up process is defining the structure and terms of reference (TORs) of the PMU.

The structure and terms of reference of the PMU should be defined with support from the UNDP GFPHST, with consideration to the following:

  • The structure should allow for the necessary human resources to be available to ensure adherence to the terms of the Grant Confirmation, effective oversight, effective implementation of programme activities for impact and capacity building mandate.
  • PMU structures vary considerably both across and within regions, reflecting the diversity of programme activities and the complexity of the operating environment, national capacity and risk assessment. COs should determine PMU resource needs by viewing the grant in terms of its life cycle, as the structure may change over time with surges of staff required during peak times (e.g. net distribution campaigns).
  • PMU staff costs (staff, operating costs) should be budgeted in the grant as direct costs for grant management. UNDP’s pro forma costs are accessible here. For more information regarding budgeting for PMU and other staff costs, please refer to the financial management section of this manual.
  • COs should not overlook the human resources needs that will be required during the grant closure period.
  • The terms of reference for each PMU position should include the standard UNDP core competencies, cross-functional competencies, technical competencies, and people management competencies clearly defining the key responsibilities of their respective roles.

For examples of TORs for various positions please reach out to the UNDP GFPHST.

Following the introduction of the new PSA policy framework in 2021, UNDP BMS/OHR issued the Guide on Using Contractual Modalities which sets out the roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities governing the selection and usage of appropriate contractual modalities within UNDP. An additional Memorandum on appropriate use of contractual modalities was related in September 2023 to draw attention to this Guide and, given the critical importance of ensuring that the correct contractual modality is used in each case, highlight the key criteria that must be followed when considering how best to meet a particular staffing need.

COs have leveraged United Nations Volunteers (UN Volunteers) as an efficient and cost-effective way of mobilizing additional human resources needed for project implementation beyond the core team, in functions ranging from medical and health service professionals to engineers, ICT, M&E and procurement specialists. UNV and UNDP have developed a number of standard Descriptions of Assignment (DoA) templates to support future deployments: Monitoring and Evaluation, Procurement and Supply Chain Management Specialist, Civil Engineer (health infrastructure), Finance Officer. For more information on types of UNV profiles and how to host a UN Volunteer, please see the UN Volunteers section of the Manual, which includes additional links to UNV guidance material.

Practice Pointer
As part of the PR Capacity Assessment Tool that the Global Fund requires COs to complete during grant-making, COs are often required to submit the PMU structure and TORs for review by the Local Fund Agent (LFA). For further guidance on other components of the start-up process, please refer to the PR start-up section of the Manual.

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