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1. Background and Project objectives
The technical assistance project to support the strengthening of the capacities for the implementation of the Public Financial Management strategy (PFM) Albania was designed to support the implementation of the public finance management reform strategy for 2014-20 alongside the EU-funded PFM Sector Reform Contract. The project will be implemented from 18 April 2017 to 17 April 2020.
The overall objective of the Project is to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Finance and other stakeholders to implement the public finance reform strategy, strengthened transparency and accountability processes through enhanced dialogue and availability of information through Parliament, High State Control and strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Finance for the better coordination and management of the reform process.
The purpose of the Technical Assistance is to strengthen the capacities of the Ministry of Finance to run an effective mechanism for the management of the reform process to coordinate the implementation of the PFM strategy, monitor and report on results via the PFM Steering Committee and its Secretariat.
It will also provide assessment, policy advice, capacity building etc. to the Ministry of Finance and other stakeholders involved in relation to the implementation of the reforms process.
The assistance will also strengthen the capacities of and cooperation with other stakeholders such as relevant governmental counterparts, state audit office, Parliament as well as consultation with development partners, think tanks and civil society organizations to contribute to overseeing the reform implementation.
The project delivers assistance split into the following six components:
1) Improved capacity of the MOFE to participate effectively in the formulation and coordination of the implementation of the EU funded sector budget support/sector reform contract programmes;
2) Improved capacity of the MOFE and other relevant public institutions to effectively coordinate and implement the public finance management reform strategy as well as to effectively coordinate and interlink PFM reforms with other ongoing reform implementations;
3) Improved annual and medium-term budget planning (MTBP) to enhance the credibility and comprehensiveness of the medium term budget and to better align strategic planning and budgeting through gap analysis, design of policy advice and implementation and capacity building;
4) Improved budget transparency and increased comprehensiveness of the publicly available information increased public participation and public consultation and understanding of the funds implementation through the national budget;
5) Improved implementation of the public internal financial control (PIFC) in budget institutions with a special focus on the strengthening of the Financial Management Control (FMC) system and enhanced capacity of the Government to implement the recommendations of the external audit including those on the arrears clearance process;
6) Enhanced communication and understanding of the PFM reforms, its importance and value added - including the EU’s support attached to it including enhanced awareness raising of the public.
2. Purpose of SNKE Assignment
The purpose of the assignment shall be threefold to identify options and implement appropriate solutions, in the following priority order:
1) Customise a web-based platform to assist the Central Harmonisation Unit (CHU) in the automated analysis and reporting of Line Ministry Public Internal Financial Control (PIFC) self-assessment questionnaires;
2) Assist the MOFE to establish a user-friendly platform (preferably interactive) for sharing budget information at planning and execution stages and enabling public engagement in budget planning and execution reporting; and
3) Establishment of a Knowledge & Learning Platform for Government Sector Budget Support stakeholders; and
The assignment will be undertaken by a Senior Non Key Experts from 22 October 2018 – 31 March 2019 (40 working days in total).
3. Requested Services and their context
1) Customise a web-based platform to assist the Central Harmonisation Unit in the automated analysis and reporting of Budget Institutions Public Internal Financial Control (PIFC) self-assessment questionnaires
Currently Line Ministries (LMs) and Budget Institutions (BIs) are required to report on the management of the budgetary system as part of the monitoring of implementation of Public Internal Financial Control (PIFC) according to articles 7 and 18 of the Financial Management Control (FMC) Law. This provides inputs into an Annual PIFC Reportproduced by the Central Harmonisation Unit (CHU), MOFE. Accordingly, BIs are necessitated to complete (currently manually) an annual self-assessment questionnaire of progress made in the implementation of FMC and Internal Audit (IA). The manual processing of the questionnaires consumes two months’ time of three civil servants from the CHU.
It is estimated that efficiency gains of approximately 75 per cent (six weeks) would be realised through the introduction of a web-based platform for submitting and analysing the self-assessment questionnaires. Such as online system is already in place in Kosovo (https://mf.rks-gov.net/desk/inc/media/8F53A7E2-9DF0-4D40-849A-16B5D627673B.pdf) and Bosnia, and it is anticipated that a similar system would be suitable for Albania. Consultation with the CHU would be needed to identify the cross-tabulation and report formats required from the automated questionnaire analysis, in order to populate the PIFC Annual Report with quantitative date presented in visually appealing and user-friendly charts and graphics.
2) Assist the MOFE to establish an Interactive Platform between the Ministry and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for engagement in Budget Planning and Execution Reporting
This Platform is part of Component 4, Activity 4.4.3. Support implementation of an interactive IT budget preparation platform for MOFE and interest groups/citizens interaction). The aim is to facilitate increased interaction between MOFE and civil society (and other stakeholders such as academia and the private sector); thereby achieving increased transparency and accountability of MOFE and LMs. An online Platform would provide the government with opportunities to present the draft budget and execution reports, details of events/forums, and enable the public to post questions/structured comments/feedback in a user-friendly and interactive manner. If appropriate, enhancements should be identified for existing government portals to establish an interactive IT platform, or alternatively a new Platform should be established.
Existing government-citizen on-line portals, websites and social media sources include websites (Ministry of Finance: financa.gov.al/en/ministria), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MinistriaeFinancavedheEkonomise/) and the Electronic Register for Public Notices and Consultation (www.konsultimipublik.gov.al). Line Ministries also have their own websites (but they have not been reviewed and are outside the scope of this project). The MOFE website includes the publication of reports, guides, and indicators; a news section is also utilised for sharing information internally, and externally with the public. The MOFE Facebook has 6,488 followers with posts including videos of financial agencies, such as the General Tax Directorate, and news on legislation with links to the MOFE website. The Electronic register is managed by the National Agency for Information Society (AKSHI). To understand their suitability as on-line Platforms, these, and other existing mechanisms should be evaluated to identify their effectiveness in terms of visibility, user-friendliness, frequency of use, responsiveness, current webmaster staffing etc. If existing mechanisms are not suitable for enhancement to provide such an interactive online Platform, then options for establishing one should be identified. The Platform should be linked to the MOFE website or the Government of Albania’s website/citizens’ portal.
It is understood that there are currently no open platforms for CSOs that would facilitate their participation in government forums where budgetary policies and fiscal projections are debated but this would need to be checked with AKSHI. One option could be linking and/or collaborating with the World Bank’s (WB) BOOST which is an interactive GIS financial mapping tool. It provides useful economic and financial data to facilitate public access to budget, revenue and expenditure data which can be used by researchers, government officials and ordinary citizens to examine trends in allocations of public resources, analyse potential sources of inefficiencies, and become better informed about how governments finance the delivery of public services. Other budget transparency platforms outside of the government include the Open Data Portal (open.data.al) and the local government finance portal (financavendore.al), which has been recently linked to the official MOFE webpage. It appears that currently none of these webpages offer opportunities for interactive exchange and public input.
3) Establishment of a Knowledge & Learning Platform for C1 Sector Budget Support stakeholders
This Platform is a deliverable within Component 1 (C1) EU Sector Budget Support (SBS) Activity 1.3: Strengthen coordination, monitoring, reporting and support role of DR-PFM and other keys stakeholders.
An SBS Multi-stakeholder Coordination Working Group (WG) is in process of being established. Its objective is to coordinate the design, monitoring and reporting of sector strategy implementation progress, particularly SBS indicators, The WG will comprise managers from the key Ministries concerned: within MOFE: the Directorate Reform – Public Financial Management (DR-PFM); Department of Budget PFM Steering Committee; PFM Technical Committee; the Ministry of European and Foreign Affairs; the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Line Ministries (LMs) in receipt of Sector Budget Support: Department of Public Administration; Department responsible for Employment and Skills (within MOFE); Ministry of Justice; and Ministry of Transport. It is imperative that these stakeholders are able to learn from good practice from each other, since some SBS has been received since the end of 2015, whilst others are just commencing with SBS now. Guidance from the EU and other countries in receipt of SBS would also provide a wealth of information that should be readily accessible to these stakeholders.
Therefore a Knowledge & Learning Platform for SBS stakeholders to share knowledge and learning should be established. The platform should provide a document library facility and interactive Question & Answer (Q&A) facility. At an SBS training and coordination workshop held with SBS stakeholders in June 2018, an EU online platform was considered: https://europa.eu/capacity4dev/. The functionality and feasibility of this platform to be used for SBS stakeholders should be explored, along with potential alternatives.
Options analysis for each Platform
Criteria for determining the most favourable option should be developed for each Platform with at least three options explored for each platform. Criteria should include (amongst other factors) functionality; user-friendliness; costs of purchase, licensing and maintenance; compliance with government rules; licensing requirements. Costs should be minimal and open source software would be the most favourable solution. For all the three potential Platforms within this ToR, liaison with the National Agency for Information Society (AKSHI) will be required to identify any particular rules and constraints, along with any software licensing requirements and so on. These factors are critical, and the selected platforms should be feasible options whose introduction and operation should not be delayed by such matters. The project plan for the introduction of the platforms should address these factors.
All platforms should operate in the Albania language. Webmaster requirements and named webmasters for each platform should also be identified to maintain the platforms.
4. Required activities and outputs
The following activities and outputs will be performed for this Assignment:
The development and live introduction of three Platforms as described in Section 3 above:
1) Prepare a workplan for the assignment
2) Liaise with Project Experts and key stakeholders on Platform requirements and functionality;
3) Confirm the functionality required for the each of the Platforms;
4) Where applicable, appraise current government online interactive mechanisms including websites, portals and social media tools and identify whether and how an online Platform could be integrated with existing systems;
5) Undertake an Options analysis with clear criteria for weighing up the pros and cons of at least three possible solutions, for each of the three Platforms;
6) Test and demonstrate the functionality of all shortlisted online Platform options to ensure their suitability to the Project and to key stakeholders;
7) Liaise with AKSHI to identify rules and constraints of the potential solutions before commencing solutions identification for the three Platforms, and then again once options have been identified, to determine whether any constraints are insurmountable and therefore should be eliminated as feasible options;
8) Produce budgets and workplans for the introduction of the online Platforms, identifying timescales as well as tasks to be undertaken by whom;
9) Prepare basic, step-by-step, user-friendly user guides;
10) Prepare basic user and webmaster training as required, including Train-the Trainer in conjunction with Project Experts and civil servants;
11) Prepare Webmaster and maintenance requirements;
12) Manage the live introduction and testing of the online Platforms in conjunction with the Project Experts and civil servants; and
13) Seek feedback from users and after a live test period, revise the Platforms as required.
5. Experts’ Profile
Qualifications and Skills
· A bachelor’s degree in information technology, or other related field (where the bachelor’s degree has been awarded on completion of a minimum of 3 years of study in a university or equivalent institution) or 7 years’ experience in the area related to this assignment.
· Excellent knowledge of online Platforms;
· High performing and self-motivated project manager and problem solver;
· Fluency in written and spoken English and Albanian;
· Excellent communication and reporting skills.
General professional experience
· Minimum 10 years of working experience in the area of information technology.
Specific professional experience
· Minimum of 3-years’ experience in projects/contracts/assignments related to providing support to government or international development organisations as well as the private sector, in the design and delivery of Information Technology solutions.
· Previous experience with information technology in the financial sector is considered an advantage.
Civil servants and other staff currently employed by public administrations of the beneficiary country are not eligible to apply as experts.
Experts must be independent and free from any conflict of interest in the responsibilities defined by the Terms of Reference.
2. Location and Duration
The activities will be implemented in Tirana, Albania. The expert is required to be based on the MOFE premises and home-based working is not permitted. The required number of working days is 40. The work will commence in November 2018 and shall be implemented until 31 March 2019.
3. Administrative issues
Interested candidates are requested to submit their CV (Europass format), and a cover letter in English by 26 November 2018 via e-mail (please quote "384-002 IT SNKE”) to the following address: email@example.com
The Project is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from women and minorities.
Shortlisted experts will be proposed to the Delegation of the European Union to Albania, which will formally approve the selected candidates. The selection procedure shall be based on professional background, relevant work experience and language skills, according to the requested qualifications.
Employer’s Certificates/References, diploma/s/certificates must be available upon request. The selected expert will sign a Statement of Availability.
All submitted documents will be considered strictly confidential.