CG Consortium Office IM standard curation system: request for proposal - From Antonella Pastore

Dear all,
 
Imma and I spoke briefly on the phone yesterday about the overall context and purpose of our request.
 
The best course of action at this point is for me to provide you with the background documentation and samples of the lists to clarify the context and the nature of the materials that we need to manage and distribute. The analysis and identification of the specific structural elements would be best assigned to your side.
 
As Johannes and Imma will be away next week, I hope we can get the conversation going on the details by email, and convene for a meeting, if necessary, by the end of June when you’re all back. I’m available to provide any clarification or additional info that may be needed. I would, however, appreciate from you an indication of the feasible timeline by which our request for a proposal can be satisfied.
 
Scope of the proposal
We would like to receive from you a proposal which outlines methodology, scope of work and time/cost estimate for the setup of a centralized management system that will allow the Consortium Office to maintain, create and distribute controlled lists of institutions, countries, regions, CG bodies, taxonomy of research areas for use in several research management systems in the CGIAR Centers.
 
Research management systems (RMS) will be the first set of “repositories” the standards will serve. The RMSs support the planning and implementation of research work. Plans are in place for designing additional systems for monitoring and reporting on performance of research programs, and publishing program information of public interest. This means that in the near future, the standards implemented at the stage of planning and implementation, will be used also for reporting, analysis and publishing of research information.
 
Your proposal will be included in a  request for funding I’m preparing for the Consortium Office for the establishment of an information management standard curation function. Among the maintenance, update and distribution tasks, one important area of work and deliverable is the setup of a centralized management and distribution system. This will have to build on the preparatory work done for OCS (see background below) and serve the needs of all the Centers that will manage and report on research programs. In addition to the lists described in detail below, the curators will have to develop, maintain and distribute a taxonomy of research areas to be used in the description of research work and outputs (Johannes and I spoke about the potential application of Agrovoc to this, with specific input from CGIAR subject matter experts).
 
The proposal I’m requesting of you will become part of our request for funding, that I’d like to finalise by end of June/early July.
 
Please find here below the background information, samples and source materials that you can use to do your preliminary analysis and draft the proposal.
 
Background
With the CGIAR Reform, a  new operational model is being introduced whereby Centers and partners will work on interdisciplinary research programs that will run from 6 to 10 years. The research programs (aka CRPs) will be aligned with the new strategy and results framework which provides the basis for strategic planning and monitoring of CGIAR research.
 
This change is bringing about the need to reorganize project, finance and hr resource management in Centers. Some of them are leading the development of the so-called One Corporate System (OCS), a new internal system for managing research work, finance, human resources. This system will provide the basis for new reporting requirements currently being designed by the Consortium Office, the Board and the Fund Office.
 
From an information management point of view, to effectively manage the CRPs and report to the Consortium bodies, the systems currently in use (and particularly the One Corporate System) will have to rely on a number of standards (controlled lists, structures and definitions). A few months ago, as part of the OCS design, we in ICT-KM coordinated a subproject, called OCS coding structures, that has resulted in a large set of candidate standards across the CG Centers for accounting, financial reporting, project management, and controlled lists for common use.
 
In late April, the OCS steering committee approved the work of the coding structures team and decided that while OCS would provide the immediate application of the standards, these were to be put under the supervision of the Consortium Office and their use be applicable to all CRPs. In response to this decision, we are now working towards creating an information management standard curation function in the Consortium Office.
 
Source materials for your analysis and proposal
From the IM team report (see attachment), you can derive the scope, methodology, sources and pending issues with the controlled lists that will need to be centrally managed and distributed as a priority.
 
The deliverables described in this report are attached to this message for your analysis:
 
IM standards list: in this spreadsheet, you’ll find a list of CGIAR Centers and Programs (but more entries for these are also found in the institutions list, hence our need to reconcile), CG countries, cgmap_countries, cgmap_regions, MTP projects, currencies. Descriptions of each are in the IM Team Report.
 
Sample institutions: this is a sample from merged-partners-donors-reference-20110310a.xlsx mentioned in the IM report, i.e. the list of institution names, generated by merging temporarily the two source lists of donors and partners. The structure is based essentially on main entry, authorized acronym, variant name, country of HQ, classification type, URL for verification.
How these were compiled is described in the Cataloguing guidelines. These outline how to create and maintain entries and classification of the institutions, and mentions the specific sources used for verification of names, acronyms and related information for the list.
 
There are other fields in there that we’re just currently using to track some aspects of handling the lists in a poor medium like Excel, so you can ignore those for now.
 
In analyzing the list structure, please note the following updates:
 
The AbrevName column. The OCS design team has used this list to generate temporary codes (the AbrevName) to be used for migration from the current systems in use in 3 Centers to the new system that is being designed. We are still discussing where the unique codes for donors and partners should be maintained (centrally vs locally). For now, let’s say that codes might be centrally generated and maintained, these would then be in the scope.
 
The Source list column. This is used here to track the list where the entry was originally found. However, this also highlights the problem of assigning the donor and/or partner status to an institution, as a result of a business practices. Our current take on this is that the scope of the standard list of institutions is to maintain names, acronyms, country and type for aggregation and analysis. Whether an institution is a donor or a partner depends on context. We are currently discussing with the OCS design team whether this piece of information should be centrally assigned and maintained or it can be left to the individual systems to determine based on context and frequency of use. Bottom line: not final yet whether this is a piece of info to be included in the central list. And I wonder if your expertise could guide us in making a sound decision on this.
 
The Is CG Entity? Column. As you read in the IM team report, one pending decision is the creation of a separate controlled list for CG-related names, where centers, programs, and additional information may be standardized and collected (like legal denominations, slugs to be used in online system, reference to official logos, etc, as you find in the CG bodies worksheet in IM standards). We’ve been using this to mark potential entries for a separate list or a subset of the institution names.
 
Independently Operating Offices. As part of our OCS work, we produced a small sample for cataloguing demonstration. However, I’ve heard that the Finance people are not completely clear yet about the granularity at which the operating offices of large institutions should be captured in the central list. There have been talks about maintaining relationships with the main organization, hierarchies of offices etc. While I cannot be clear on this requirement at this point in time, I would still suggest that your analysis covers the requirement of maintaining entries for offices that depend from one main organization, names and codes of which need to be maintained centrally.
 
Taxonomy of research areas. On this specific item, no ad hoc work has been carried out as part of coding structures. It is, as of now, desirable to develop a standard terminology to describe the areas of work in the CRPs. There are potential sources for this, which are the Strategy and Results Framework and the CRP themselves. This is an area to be set up from scratch, and we would appreciate your guidance in how to set it up from a methodological point of view.
 
It is quite a lot of information to digest, but am also counting on your extensive experience in organizing these types of requirements. I’ll be awaiting an indication of your timeline
 
In the meanwhile, have a great weekend and thank you
 
Antonella
 
 
 
 
Antonella Pastore
CGXchange Project Coordinator
ICT-KM Program
Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
http://www.cgxchange.org
http://cgmap.cgiar.org
Web site: http://ictkm.cgiar.org
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