Key Actions by:

Standard 6: Early transition and start-up planning (including pre-award).

Transition from the design/proposal team to the project start-up team and plan and conduct early start-up activities.

Set up an appropriate project governance structure.

  • Who

    • Primary responsible: Project manager/chief of party (PM/CoP)
      • The PM/CoP, or acting PM/CoP, works with the SMT to establish the governance structure and shares information with the members of the governance structure for decision-making from start-up through close-out.

    • Others involved: Country representative (CR); country program senior management team (SMT); partner senior leadership; other stakeholders as appropriate
      • The CR and SMT support the PM/CoP to determine what type of governance structure is most appropriate for the project;
      • The CR supports the PM/CoP as needed in outreach to partners or other stakeholders who may be part of the governance structure;
      • CRS and partner senior leadership and other stakeholders who are members of the project governance structure contribute to the finalization of the governance structure.

    Ensure staff with appropriate experience and seniority lead governance structure set-up: If the governance structure is set up before the PM/CoP is in place, country program senior managers should take responsibility for this key action if the individual designated as acting PM/CoP is not highly experienced.

  • When

    Set up the governance structure so that it is operational within the first month after project approval.

    • For externally funded projects, set up the structure no later than three weeks after learning of the donor’s intent to fund.
    • For other projects, within three weeks of project start-up.

    Defining governance structures during project design phase: For complex projects, donors may require a description of the project governance structure in the project proposal. Defining a preliminary governance structure during project design may also be useful for other projects (e.g., multi-country projects). In these cases, during start-up, the focus is on refining and launching the previously defined structure.

  • Partnership
    • A project governance structure provides a clear way to include partners in project decision-making.
    • When engaging with partners about the establishment of a project governance structure, communicate clearly and transparently about the purpose of the governance structure and the required criteria/profile for governance structure members.
    • When possible (based on CRS’ knowledge of the partner organization), invite specific individuals to represent the partner in the governance structure. Partners are autonomous organizations, and CRS should be open to partner suggestions of alternate representatives, if the alternate meets the criteria for members of the governance structure. CRS should emphasize that it is essential for the effective functioning of the governance structure that the partner representative is someone who can make decisions on behalf of the organization.
  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
  • Emergency projects
    • Project governance structures are often established for a wider emergency response rather than individual emergency projects, as the situation is fluid and often requires decision-making and resources beyond the scope or authority of a single PM/CoP. In such situations, a clear and effective governance structure is critical, as several projects will report into it.
    • CRS directly implements some emergency projects. Even in these situations, a governance structure that engages CRS leadership and other stakeholders (e.g., government, beneficiary, and donor representatives) is a best practice to ensure sound project management.