3.3 Administrative management bodies

In many processes, the administration and management of the process have been afterthoughts and have been handled in an ad hoc fashion. This has led to confusion and disagreements about who does what—and even to the failure to perform key tasks. Because of the dozens and even hundreds of tasks that need to be coordinated and managed, some form of an administrative management body is usually needed. (See part 2.1 for examples of the range of tasks this body may handle.)

For the purposes of this handbook, we have used the term “administrative management body” to take into consideration the wide range of experiences of administering and managing the process. We have defined an administrative management body broadly to include any organization, business, institution, committee, unit, or small group of administrators that implements the policies and plans of the constitution-making process and provides technical support. Such a body can range from a two- to three-person management committee for an uncontroversial reform process to a secretariat with hundreds of staff members to support a participatory process. In this section we discuss how these bodies are established, their roles and powers, who directs them, and how they are structured and managed.

Establishing the administrative management body

A decision should be made at an early stage about whether a new administrative management body should be created or whether an existing body can serve the purpose, and when to establish the body. In countries with a standing parliament, the secretariat or a similar body sometimes becomes the administrative management body. In Brazil [1988], the senate’s information and data-processing center, which supported the standing legislature, also supported the constitution- making body. While this may be convenient, there can be drawbacks. The existing body may not have staff members with the skills required, such as civic educators. The staff members are also responsible for sensitive tasks such as analysis of the public views and the technical task of drafting the text. There may be questions about the degree to which government actors in general can maintain a position of impartiality toward all interests, groups, and individuals. In South Africa [1996], some constituent assembly members viewed parliamentary staff who had served during apartheid with deep suspicion. If the constitutional reform is noncontroversial and parliamentary staff members are sufficiently qualified to support the process, this can be aconvenient option (as in Finland [2000]).

In postconflict countries there may not be any existing institution able to serve the function of an administrative management body. In both Afghanistan and Timor-Leste, a new secretariat was put in place before the main constitution-making body to hire and train staff, plan activities identified in the mandate, and handle any procurement, infrastructure, or logistical tasks needed to prepare for the process. In a context where infrastructure has been destroyed and both human and material resources are scarce, simply finding office space and hiring staff can be time- consuming. Designers of the process need to plan sufficient time to get the administrative management body up and running in these situations.

In some processes, multiple administrative management bodies have been established. In Uganda, a secretariat supported the Uganda Constitutional Commission from 1988 to 1993 and was disbanded and replaced by an entirely different secretariat that supported the work of the constituent assembly from 1993 to 1995. However, in processes that engage in civic education and public consultation and use more than one constitution-making body, having a single administrative management body can more effectively ensure continuity and coordination of all the “moving parts.”

Administrative management bodies have hired or been linked to external organizations, ministries, or businesses to assist with some of their core tasks—in particular, civic education. The tasks can also be divided among more than one body. In South Africa [1996] the logistics, catering, flights, and accounts were managed by the Independent Business Council—a local business-sponsored nonprofit organization regarded as politically neutral. In Zimbabwe [ongoing] the secretariat linked with advertising agencies to assist with producing public information materials. An administrative arm of the constituent assembly was also established to manage research and drafting as well as tasks associated with public participation. In Afghanistan [2004], the secretariat performed all tasks except for finances, which were handled by the United Nations Development Programme.

Depending on its role, the administrative management body may need a certain level of independence from the executive arm of government (including the cabinet, ministers, and public service management bodies). Otherwise it risks being perceived as biased in favor of governmental interests.

Role and powers

Generally, the leaders of the constitution-making body (such as an executive committee, or government actors) make policy decisions, and the administrative management body plans for and implements these policies. For example, a constitutional commission may decide that civic education and public consultation will be held in all regions, and then the administrative management body implements the decision. In practice, the role and powers of the constitution- making body and the administrative management body (if separate) may not be clearly defined by law or any other means.

A lack of clarity regarding roles and powers has led to serious tensions. In Timor-Leste, the secretariat to the constituent assembly did not have a clear mandate or reporting lines. This resulted in the president of the constituent assembly firing the first director for making decisions that the assembly members felt were beyond her authority.

Directing the administrative management body

The director should be impartial and independent of government and parties or other key stakeholders. The chairperson of a commission or constituent assembly can also direct the administrative management body (e.g., as was the case in Eritrea [1997] and Kenya [2005]).

Box 40. Nepal [ongoing process]: A poorly planned management structure

The constituent assembly in Nepal in 2008 set up several committees to handle different tasks, but without an overarching coordination mechanism. There was a secretariat that provided limited administrative support but that did not resolve the disagreements among the committees about which was to do what and when. This led to planning problems such as launching a public consultation process without a strategy for how the thousands of views would be analyzed and shared with the assembly members.

There are potential drawbacks associated with a chairperson directing both the political tasks of the process and the day-today administration and management tasks:

  • A chairperson or president of the constitution-making body is typically chosen to lead the constitution-making body because of his or her political skills or acceptability to all key power brokers. He or she may not have the requisite management skills also to direct the administrative management body.
  • The chairperson or president of the constitution-making body will have significant responsibility for overseeing the political and intellectual tasks of preparing the constitution; the administrative and management tasks may become a distraction from this role, or he or she may not pay the administrative and management tasks enough attention.
  • The chairperson or president of the constitution-making body may not be impartial, and may manipulate the outcomes of certain tasks so that they favor his or her party or group. For example, he or she may ensure that the analysis of the public consultation process favors his or her views and interests.

For these reasons, it can be helpful for the director of the administrative management body to be someone who is not a member or leader of the constitution-making body. He or she can then be hired, seconded, or appointed specifically for his or her management expertise and acceptability to all stakeholders. Headhunters have been used to find experienced and acceptable managers. Some designers of the process have held wide-ranging public consultation to ensure that the director was acceptable to all key stakeholders. It may take considerable work to identify the right person.

If no local actors are appropriate, foreign foreignactors could be an option, but ideally their role should be to mentor local actors. In Timor-Leste [2002] the secretariat was headed by a Brazilian, through the United Nations. Relationships are likely to be more delicate if the administration is foreign, or partially so. In many countries there is little experience of constitution-making and sometimes even little experience of constitutions. National participants may lack self-confidence; at the same time they have been given an important responsibility. Careful management is necessary to ensure that national participants feel respected and in charge of the process, even if their management experience is limited. It may be hard for experienced international managers to watch things being done inefficiently, but in the long run it is likely to be counterproductive for them to try to take things over. There can also be charges of undue international influence. At least in Timor-Leste, a local actor could have been found to do the job just as effectively or more, and an opportunity was lost to develop local capacity.

The director typically reports to the leaders of the constitution-making body, but he or she could report to the executive or some other governmental body if the constitution-making body is not independent. Here are some of the conditions that lead to tensions between the leadership of the constitution-making body and the director of the administrative management body (if they are different persons):

  • The director is not involved during the decision-making process and is directed to implement policy decisions that are not feasible because of lack of resources or time, or logistical constraints.
  • The director of the administrative management body may make decisions that do not reflect or support the policy decisions of the constitution-making body or other relevant body.
  • The powers, duties, and reporting lines may be unclear, which can lead to confusion about what has been decided and what is being done. For example, in Afghanistan, the director of the secretariat had reporting duties to the United Nations, President Karzai, and the chair of the constitutional commission. At times each would direct him differently and he had to manage these tensions. In particular, the chair assumed he could make decisions about establishing the Constitutional Loya Jirga although he had no formal role and was not involved in the decision-making process being guided by the executive and the United Nations.
  • Corrupt members of the constitution-making body may try to influence the director to provide additional resources to them, or to give contracts to family members. Or members will simply demand a role in procurement and budgetary decisions. The legal mandate or a code of conduct could specify that members should not be involved in procurement or budgetary procedures and specify the powers of the director in this area, as well as how oversight will be provided. (See part 2.3.3.)
  • The administrative management body may be requested to resolve tensions or disputes between the leaders or members of the constitution-making body that could jeopardize its role as an impartial provider of technical and support services (e.g., Albania [1998]).

Clear reporting lines, powers, and duties, as well as regular meetings between the director and the constitution-making leaders to discuss issues as they emerge, can resolve some of these tensions. Other problems will simply require strong diplomatic skills. A mechanism should be established that would allow the director to report corruption or conflicts of interest on behalf of constitution-makers attempting to influence administrative and management decisions.

Creating specialized units or departments

An administrative management body that undertakes a number of complex tasks is often divided into specialized departments or units named after each core function. There is no preferred model for how to structure an administrative management body. Funding and the availability of resources will place limitations on the number of departments and positions that the body can afford, if any.

In South Africa, the constituent assembly administration was led by a directorate (with an executive director and two deputies) that oversaw the following departments: the secretariat, the law adviser’s department, and the research, finance, administration, media, and community liaison departments (the last of which also handled civic education and public consultation). Some of the departments also hired consultants to assist them, such as external evaluators and caterers. Many administrative management bodies have also included field offices to assist with outreach to the rest of the country (as in Eritrea [1997], Afghanistan [2004] and Kenya [2005]).

Here are some generic potential departments or units, with brief descriptions of what they might do. The list is not exhaustive in terms of the departments or their functions; it is a tool to assist in planning for what may be needed to administer and manage a complex process.

• Office of the director—implements policy, manages all units and field offices, and ensures that all tasks are carried out in a timely, ethical, and professional manner. Reports to the constitution-making body or other body as specified in its mandate.

• Personnel—assists with recruiting and hiring staff, develops or adopts any needed staff policies, develops job descriptions and terms of reference, sets salaries, and helps with any problems that arise.

• Financial administration—prepares the budget and maintains all budgets for donors, ensures that budgets are spent according to donor or governmental requirements, prepares necessary financial policies or procedures and trains the staff as necessary to adhere to policies and procedures, oversees cash-flow projections, approves all cash and wire transfers and maintains cash, controls and tracks expenses, prepares and makes payments for payroll, reports on how the funds are used, and works with external auditors as needed. Engages with and coordinates

donors, responds to donor queries, writes or coordinates donor reports, and advises on compliance with donor requirements.

  • Administration—manages large conferences or other bodies, and organizes all interpretation and translation services, printing services, secretariat (minute taking, secretarial services) and general services, infrastructure, logistics, and procurement.
  • Communications and outreach—is responsible for civic education, public consultation, and media and stakeholder relations. One manager should oversee these three interrelated tasks because careful coordination is needed so that each task is carried out in a timely way. For example, media campaigns and civic education should precede and support a public consultation meeting.
  • Security—advises the director on security issues and creates, if necessary, basic security procedures or adopts those of a similar institution already established; creates and enforces safety procedures (specific protocols for travel to insecure areas, communication, fire, bomb threats and detonations of explosive devices, gunfire, theft, physical assaults, health issues, and evacuation); establishes liaisons, where appropriate, with national police, local security personnel, intelligence units of the national government, peacekeeping forces, embassies, and other relevant actors to ensure security at various events or at the main constitutional bodies; produces regular security briefings where necessary; and manages hired or seconded security staff and other security officers.
  • Legal and research department—drafts constitutional provisions and other documents as instructed by the constitution-makers (the administrative management body may or may not have responsibility for drafting), maintains the official electronic version of the draft constitution in a secure environment with version control, researches requested issues, and advises on all legal questions or aspects related to the draft constitution as well as issues relating to rules of procedure or any codes of conduct or other legal issues. Could also assist with the public consultation process and analyzing, collating, and reporting on the views of the public.
  • Archiving and documentation—prepares guidelines and procedures for documenting the proceedings; establishes a system for sorting, coding, storing, and archiving text and nontext- based materials, including committee meeting minutes, reports, voting records, audio and video recordings, and photographs. Also may handle collecting, collating, and entering into a database all of the public views gathered, and transcribing oral views.
  • Information technology—advises on the technical needs for the process and provides computer services and maintenance, network services, user support and training, data processing services, and technical solutions. This may include supporting an election or voting process, creating the system for entering into a database the public’s views, or helping establish an official website for the process.
  • Capacity development—assesses the skills needed to carry out all core tasks and plans and conducts training to ensure that all staff members are adequately prepared to perform their roles.
  • Field-office coordination—assists in establishing field offices and coordinates with all other departments and units to ensure that the field offices are supported and linked with the head office. Communicates regularly and visits field offices to ensure proper functioning.

The departments can be subdivided or combined in any number of ways. Some specialized tasks could also be outsourced. (For a discussion of how these tasks should be administered, see part 2.3.)

The need for an organizational chart

An organizational chart for larger processes is useful when defining the lines of authority and reporting, both within the administrative management body and between it and the constitution- making body or any other body or institution to which it reports. Regardless of how it is structured, it will be important to view the organizational chart as flexible, depending on what is needed at any given phase of the process. For example, departments may need to be expanded, reduced, or added.

Practical tips

  • Establish the administrative management body early enough in the process so that the staff members are not scrambling to try to support a process with too little time to do all the required tasks—in particular, civic education and public consultation.
  • Create well-defined mandates, duties, and reporting lines as well as organizational structure.
  • Schedule regular meetings between the director and the leaders of the constitution-making body as well as between the director and the staff to ensure that proper coordination and communication are ongoing.
  • Allocate sufficient resources and funds to the administrative management body.
  • Don’t usurp the work of the constitution-makers. It is better that the administrative management body try to work with the actual constitution-makers rather than against them. It is likely to be more effective to try to bolster their self-confidence and make them feel that they are in control of what is happening and the document that will emerge is their document, so they have some pride in their work. Otherwise there is the risk that they will rebel and may simply not turn up.
  • Be transparent. In South Africa, journalists were invited to sit in on the administrative management body’s planning sessions; others have posted their budgets and work plans online.
  • Consider the level of independence for the administrative management body. Structural independence can be provided for in the legal framework establishing the mandate, but it can take many forms, depending on the context of the process.
  • Create an impartial administrative management body. The public should trust that the administrative management body will not unfairly advantage any group, political party, or governmental interest but will seek to balance all interests to the greatest degree possible. The director should not express opinions on or promote particular constitutional or political agendas or accept gifts from any stakeholders in the process.