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Consultancy - Scoping Study on Cash Transfer Programming and Risk in Financial Management and Compliance

1. Background and Rationale

The Global Objective 2 of the Global Framework for Action seeks to ensure that cash is routinely considered, alongside other modality tools. While in the past two years cash transfer programming (CTP) is being considered much more systematically, there remain barriers and constraints to systematic adoption of CTP, particularly unconditional and unrestricted modalities. According to the State of the World’s Cash Report, the biggest barrier to more effective and extensive usage of CTP is risk, mainly because of concerns about misappropriation or leakage of cash. The report notes a dilemma - in that donors may be able to tolerate diversion of a modest proportion of in-kind aid but can be much more sensitive to diversion of cash since it is perceived that there is greater risk of harm with cash modalities compared to alternatives. This acts as an inhibitor for greater consideration of CTP and is felt by implementing agencies as well as certain donors.

Panelists and participants of the Grand Bargain Cash Workstream Workshop (31 May – 1 June 2017) agreed however that the existing evidence did not show cash to be riskier than other modalities and pointed out that no delivery modalities are risk free. As potential ways to decrease risks, the following was suggested: improved evidence base, good internal control systems, good monitoring, and capacity building and training for staff. To achieve this, the participants of the workshop decided that a working group on risks involved with CTP shall be established.

In 2018, CaLP agreed to co-lead the work on risk with WFP, as part of the Grand Bargain Cash Workstream. CaLP’s mid-term goals on CTP and risk include:

  • Myths around CTP are debunked and the discourse, attitudes and behaviour of humanitarian actors around the risks of CTP will change
  •  CTP is systematically and equally considered, based on evidence of actual risks across modalities
  • Regulatory barriers, such as the counter-terrorism agendas of donors do not prevent the systematic consideration, of cash.
  • Financial institutions understand CTP as a recognized, legitimate aid delivery mechanism and do not “derisk” organizations that use CTP by delaying transfers or closing accounts.
  • Risk is tackled through collaboration between operational humanitarian actors, governments, donors, and financial institutions.
  • Operational staff have the capacity and practical tools to identify and mitigate risks.

To meet the above goals, CaLP is conducting a variety of activities on CTP and risk. Activities include the facilitation of closed door roundtables to enable candid discussions about the relative risk of cash compared to other modalities, share concerns and experiences and jointly develop solutions. CaLP is developing case studies on risk management in CTP in Northern Mali and Yemen, from which lessons will be drawn to inform the use of CTP in challenging environments. Other actors are conducting research on CTP and risk, including on data protection (Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and ICRC) and beneficiary protection risks (IRC and WFP). Despite these initiatives, there remain various gaps in evidence to inform CaLP’s efforts. While cash is perceived to be risky due to the diversion or leakage of cash, there has been limited examination of CTP from a finance and compliance perspective, at a time when some donors are increasing scrutiny of implementing partners’ risk management policies and procedures.

2. Objectives of Consultancy

2.1 Primary objective

  • The purpose of this scoping study is to understand how CaLP should focus its efforts to support stakeholders with the guidance, tools, and other learning to manage CTP-specific finance and compliance risks and to ensure that these risks are not a significant barrier to the systematic consideration of CTP. This study will also inform the development of CaLP’s efforts to facilitate sharing and discussion of risk with stakeholders in the ‘risk roundtables,’ planned in 2018/19.

2.2 Specific objectives

This scoping study will focus on:

  • Identify CTP-specific risks, with particular attention to those focused on financial management and compliance: Analyse CTP-specific finance and compliance risks; how the risk compares with other modalities; and potentially differing perceptions among stakeholders, e.g. donors, implementing partners, finance or programme staff, etc. CTP risks should be identified through the review of risk assessments, risk registries, risk matrices, SOPs, audit reports and stakeholder consultations at the global and regional levels. The CTP-specific risks in financial management and compliance, including:
    • Budgeting for and pre-financing CTP, assessing costs of delivering cash
    • Understanding and managing financial flows, including currency risks, from donors to humanitarian organization to delivery mechanism to beneficiary
    •  Assessing counter-party risks, i.e. those associated with financial service providers (particularly when contracts are managed in partnerships and/or by other organizations) or other delivery mechanisms
    •  Assessing local financial infrastructure
    • Mitigating against de-risking by financial service providers
    • Managing KYC requirements and other counter-terrorism restrictions
    • Instituting appropriate financial controls, e.g. securing assets, segregation of duties 

  • Identify good practice in risk mitigation: Draw lessons learned and other examples of how aid agencies addressed risks in financial management effectively, including effective policies, processes, guidance and tools to manage finance and compliance risks associated with CTP
  • Develop recommendations about how implementing agencies can mitigate CTP-specific challenges and risks in financial management and compliance, as well as through facilitated discussions or learning, the development of guidance, tools, etc.

3. Deliverables and Methodology

The consultancy will involve a mixture of literature review and consultations of aid actors. The methodology is expected to include the following components. Given the nature of the work these won’t necessarily be chronological and will involve a degree of overlap and iteration:

  • Desk review: to include CTP implementers’ reports, risk management documentation, organizational SOPs, audit reports, existing literature, remote cash guidance, and any other relevant document.
  •  Inception report: based on in-depth consultations with CaLP, and potentially other stakeholders, an inception report containing a detailed methodology, work plan (timeline, locations, deliverables, etc.) and tentative table of content of the scoping study should be produced. This stage of the process should also include the drafting of any tools for primary data collection.
  • Primary data collection: The following are potential components of the data collection process:
    • Key informant interviews/structured consultations of donors, HQ staff, and staff of regional offices, from backgrounds ranging from management, policy, finance, and programs, using remote platforms/communications. CaLP will help facilitate the identification of interviewees through its membership. Due to organizational silos, however, it will be more challenging for CaLP to identify these contacts and any networks the consultant brings would be a significant advantage.
    •  Focus group discussions, through fora such CaLP-facilitated risk roundtables, to be held in the 4th quarter of 2018.
  •  Data analysis, write-up and finalization of the report**: This includes the writing of the report (max. 50 pages):
    • Findings from the desk review and primary data collection should be documented and summarized in a final report. In addition, it will be useful to highlight where further work is required that is beyond the scope of the consultancy.
    • Presentation and validation of findings through a webinar.
    • Review of the study by CaLP and other external expertise.
    • The study is revised and finalized by the consultant based on CaLP/external review.

4. Proposed Timeline and Location of Assignment

The Consultancy is planned to take place between October and December 2018, and will last 20 days. 

5. Profile of Consultant

The consultant(s) should have the essential skills and knowledge outlined below. Due to the unique skills and experience required, developing a team of consultants is encouraged:

  •  Strong experience in finance, treasury, audit, and/or compliance roles.
  •  Strong experience in the operational implementation of CTP, as well as in complex emergencies.
  •  Knowledge and experience of the ways of working of emergency NGOs, UN, local organisations and donors, including strategies and approaches for risk mitigation.
  •  Knowledge and experience of the ways of working of financial service providers, particularly banks.
  •  The ability to assemble large amounts of information and identify critical aspects.
  • Able to communicate complex and technical subject matter (in a written and oral form) that is accessible to people with varying technical backgrounds.
  • Experience in conducting in depth interviews remotely and using qualitative methods for data collection and analysis.
  •  Experience of working remotely with a diverse range of stakeholders, ensuring effective consultation and engagement is achieved.
  •  Fluency (written and oral) in English.

How to apply:

Action Against Hunger US invites potential candidates to send their submission package, which should include:

  • CV, detailing qualifications
  • Demonstrated experience in similar assignments undertaken
  • A maximum of 4 pages outlining the consultant's understanding of ToR and proposed methodology, tools and techniques to conduct assignment
  • Detailed Workplan based on ToR and deliverables
  • Financial Proposal with itemized consultant's fees and costs

Interested consultants should submit both technical and financial proposals to the following email address: tender@actionagainsthunger.org as per below instructions:

Subject of the email should read - Consultancy - Scoping Study on Cash Transfer Programming.

Type of contract
October - December 2018 (total 20 days)
New York