Project Design and Strategic Planning Specialist

TITLE:   Project Design and Strategic Planning Specialist

SUPERVISOR: Service Center Manager

STATUS:   Full-time

Summary Description:

The Program Cycle Service Center (PCSC) will provide support to USAID’s Office of Policy Planning and Learning (PPL) on the entirety of the programming cycle, including strategic planning, project design, monitoring and evaluation. The Service Center will assist Missions with these core elements of the programming cycle, incorporating a host of new policies and procedures instituted by USAID/PPL.  These will include, but are not limited to: USAID’s Project Design Guidance, CDCS Guidance, and the Evaluation Policy. 

The Program Cycle Service Center promotes the view of strategic planning, project design, and evaluation not as discrete, disconnected activities, but as essential components of an integrated programming cycle that allows missions to learn from experience. The PCSC Center helps create the conditions for development success by: (1) facilitating collaboration internally and with external stakeholders; (2) feeding new learning, innovations, and performance information back into the strategy to inform funding allocations, program design and project management; and (3) translating new learning, as well as information about changing conditions, into iterative strategic and programmatic adjustments. Field support is particularly focused on training Junior Foreign Service Officers recruited under the Agency’s Development Leadership Initiative (DLI) in strategic planning, project design, and evaluation. 

The PCSC is staffed by a team of five persons that are Key Personnel who are subject to USAID review. One of these is the Project Design and Strategic Planning Specialist.

In early 2011, USAID updated the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) Guidance by releasing Version 3.  USAID’s CDCSs continue to improve upon the Agency’s long tradition of strategic Planning to define development objectives and maximize the impact of development cooperation.  The CDCS process implements the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) and the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development (PPD-6) which states:  “USAID will work in collaboration with other agencies to formulate country development cooperation strategies that are resulrs-oriented, and will partner with host countries to focus investment in key area that shape countries’ overall stabilitiy and prosperity.

Also, in December 2011, USAID issued Project Design (PD) Guidance to revitalize the Agency’s commitment to project design fundamentals and maximize the impact of limited resources. Project Design should be informed by evidence, supported by analytical rigor, and consistent across USAID Missions. The Project Design Guidance recognizes that development is highly complex, requiring that the design process itself be responsive to Mission‐specific circumstances, and stresses the need to adapt project implementation based on continual assessing and learning. While the majority of the requests are for CDCS and Evaluation support, demand is starting to shift toward Project Design as more countries with approved CDCS’s turn their attention to operationalizing their new strategies.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

The Project Design and Strategic Planning Specialist will oversee the following support for Project Design and Strategic Planning as part of the Service Center’s Services:
• Assisting PPL to market PCSC services to Missions undergoing strategy and project design processes;
• Conducting workshops in Washington to USAID staff members in the Program Cycle, particularly as it relates to strategy and project design;
• Assisting PPL Analysts, Geographic Bureau, Technical Backstops and Missions to develop the scopes of work for project design and/or strategic planning consultants;
• Assisting DLIs and their mentors to develop learning objectives for their experience;
• Identifying and supporting consultants approved by PPL for part time, as-needed, project design and/or strategic planning consultancies;
• Providing trainers, presenters, and facilitators presentations and handouts for workshops in the field at Missions and/or regional hubs, on how to apply the project design and strategic planning guidance, etc.;
• Providing the logistical support for these consultants;
• Arranging debriefings for consultants and USAID team members to catalog lessons learned, best practices in design, and design problems that still require solutions, tools and other resources;
• Reporting this learning online, often on ProgramNet, in ways accessible to project designers and strategic planners; 
• Referring remaining needs and problems to PPL for resolution;
• Tracking the numbers of USAID staff and DLIs trained and the amount and kind of training and/or mentoring that each has received; and
• Deploying to Missions to provide direct assistance in strategy and/or project design.

Additional Responsibilities:

• Provide technical and budget reporting as needed, for contract management and Service Center daily operations.
• Support the Service Center Manager in collecting best practices and lessons learned and work with USAID’s Compliance and Oversight of Partner Performance (COPP) Division to share these with other partners and Missions. Postings of best practices and lessons learned will be made to ProgramNet, newsletters, and communities of practices, etc.

On Call Services/Knowledge Management
• Assist in the Design and Follow-up to Annual Mission Needs Assessments that inform the Program Cycle Service Center, USAID/PPL and the Geographic Bureaus regarding the Mission’s projected demand for services, as well as insights that will enable the Center to respond in a more constructive fashion.
• As needed, respond to inquiries from USAID operating units  to provide immediate answers to questions regarding strategic planning and project design.
• Assist in organizing webinars and call-in work sessions on commonly-needed subjects involved in solving problems in project and strategy design.

Conference Planning:
• In collaboration with the short-term Conference Coordinator, support planning for at least one world-wide conference per year. The annual worldwide conference will target USAID Program and Project Development Officers, focused on evaluation, strategic planning, project design and continuous learning.  PPL will develop the conference agenda in consultation with Agency operating units.   Up to 300 participants are anticipated, with perhaps one-half coming from overseas Missions.  
• This support will include: research on content for conference materials and handouts, as well as post-conference follow-up to disseminate notes on sessions and post presentations on relevant websites.

The Project Design and Strategic Planning Specialist will contribute to the writing, editing, and preparation of the following reports:
• Work Plans (Annual and Quarterly Updates)
• Missions’ Needs Assessments (annual)
• Trip reports on STTA consultancy (reviewing)
• PMP (including information from feedback forms from STTA consultancies, conference and workshop attendees, and users of the call in and online services)
• Quarterly narrative and financial reports
• Deliverables related to planning of each annual conference and an after-action report on each annual conference
• As-requested reports
• Quarterly communication newsletter sent to the field and posted on ProgramNet About the centers activities, lessons learned, etc.
• Monthly log on Call Center activity reports
• Monthly summary of ProgramNet discussions and inquiries
• Development Leadership Initiative (DLI) Tracking
• Interim Reports due at key periods of the contract
• Final close-out report. Represent the Service Center as needed, at seminars, conferences, meetings, professional events to strengthen networks.
• Prepare content for the website and other media, which includes drafting and updating of marketing tools.

Qualifications: The Project Design and Strategic Planning Specialist is required to have at least a Master’s degree in international development, regional planning or a related field; and at least 10 years of overseas professional experience in developing countries, including playing a lead role in both project design for at least 3 different technical sectors and developing country strategies.  Experience training international development staff in project design and/or strategic planning, facilitating workshops and mentoring young international development professionals is required. 


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