Accountability is the obligation of the Secretariat and its staff members to be answerable for all decisions made and actions taken by them, and to be responsible for honouring their commitments without qualification or exception.(A/RES/64/259)


Actions taken or work performed for which inputs, (such as funds, technical assistance and other types of resources) are transformed into outputs.


Assumptions are the conditions that need to be in place to ensure the project or programme logic unfolds in the way it was envisioned. They are often outside the control of the project or programme.


Data describing the situation prior to interventions under a programme, project or management initiative, that serve as the reference point against which progress or achievements can be assessed.


Reference point or standard against which performance or achievement can be assessed. A benchmark often refers to an intermediate target to measure progress within a given period as well as to the performance of other comparable organizational entities.

Data Collection Method

The mode of collection to be used when gathering information and data on a given performance indicator.

Data Source

The origin of the data or information collected. Data sources may include informal and official records, individuals, documents, etc.

Delivery of output(s)

An output is generally considered to have been delivered when the service is completed or when the products resulting from a programme activity are made available to the intended primary users; e.g., in the case of a report or a technical publication, when it has been circulated to Member States, interested Governments or other primary users; in the case of a sales publication, when it is placed on sale.


The extent to which a project or programme attains its objectives and delivers expected accomplishments.


A measure of how well inputs (funds, expertise, time, etc.) are converted into outputs.

Expected Accomplishment(s)

A desired outcome involving benefits to end users, expressed as a quantitative or qualitative standard, value or rate. Accomplishments are the direct consequence or effect of the generation of outputs and lead to the fulfilment of a certain objective.

External factors

Events and/or conditions that are beyond the control of those responsible for an activity but that have an influence on the success or failure of the activity. They may be anticipated in the form of assumptions or they may be unanticipated.


An expression of the changes produced in a situation as the result of an activity that has been undertaken. Positive or negative, primary and secondary long-term effects produced by a development intervention, directly or indirectly, intended or unintended. The impact level sits above the objective level.

Indicators of achievement

Are used to measure whether and/or the extent to which the objectives and/or expected accomplishments have been achieved. Indicators correspond either directly or indirectly to the objective or the expected accomplishment for which they are used to measure performance. Ideally, indicators should be strategic, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound. A measure of a variable that provides a reasonably simple and reliable basis for assessing achievement, change or performance. A unit of information measured over time that can help show changes in a specific condition. Quantitative indicators are represented by a number, percentage or ratio. In contrast, qualitative indicators seek to measure quality and often are based on perception, opinion or levels of satisfaction.


Personnel, finance, equipment, knowledge, information and other resources necessary for producing the planned outputs.

Intergovernmental organ

An organ is intergovernmental if its membership consists of Governments. Thus, United Nations bodies consisting of persons serving in their individual capacities are not intergovernmental organs, even if the persons concerned were nominated by Governments or elected by an intergovernmental organ.

Legislative mandate

A legislative mandate is a request for action addressed to the Secretary-General or an executive head acting on his behalf in a resolution or decision adopted by a competent United Nations intergovernmental organ.

Logical Framework

Is a tool/planning structure for improving the planning, implementation and management of programmes/project through the logical analysis and presentation of information. It is a way of structuring the main elements in a programme or project (objective, outcomes, outputs, indicators, means of verification and assumptions) and highlighting the logical linkages between them.

Means of Verification

The means of verification define the data source necessary to verify the indicators. Means of verification can be official documents and statistics, project reports, etc. Means of verification tell evaluators and others interested in the project where to get the data from to assess the progress and success of the project based on the indicators defined in the Logical Framework.


Monitoring is the periodic determination by the head of a department or office of the actual delivery of final outputs in comparison with the commitments for the delivery of outputs set out in the programme budget as approved by the General Assembly.


Milestones (also known as progress markers) indicate progress made along a predetermined path. They are not used to assess failure or success (see indicator), but for learning and reflection and to ensure that the project is proceeding along planned timelines. Milestones can be used to track progress at all result levels.


Description of an overall desired achievement involving a process of change and aimed at meeting certain needs of identified end-users within a given period of time. A good objective meets the criteria of being impact oriented, measurable, time limited, specific and practical. In the Logframe the objective is set at the next higher level than the outcome.


The likely or achieved short-term and medium-term effects of an intervention’s outputs resulting in a change of behaviour or institutional capacity of the beneficiaries.


Outputs are final products or services delivered by a programme or subprogramme to end users, such as reports, publications, training, servicing of meetings, or advisory, editorial, translation or security services, which an activity is expected to produce in order to achieve its objectives.

Performance Indicator(s)

A quantitative or qualitative variable that allows the verification of changes produced by an intervention relative to what was planned.


Planning is a management function necessary to ensure efficient and effective use of resources and the achievement of results within a specified time span.


Set of interventions aiming to achieve a common global, regional, country, or sector development objective (expected accomplishment). A development programme is a time bound intervention involving multiple activities that may cut across sectors, themes and / or geographic areas.


Planned activity or a set of planned, interrelated activities designed to achieve certain specific objectives within a given budget, organizational structure and specified time period.

Project Cycle Management

A tool for understanding the tasks and management functions to be performed in the course of a project or programme’s lifetime. This commonly includes the stages of identification, formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Proxy indicator

Proxy indicator is used when it is difficult to identify direct indicators to measure the result. Proxies are indicators that may tell us indirectly whether a result has been achieved.

Qualitative Data

Information that is not easily captured in numerical form (although qualitative data can be quantified). Qualitative data typically consist of words and normally describe people's opinions, knowledge, attitudes or behaviours.

Quantitative Data

Information measured or measurable by, or concerned with, quantity and expressed in numerical form. Quantitative data typically consists of numbers.


Results are deliberate changes in a state or condition which derive from an action.(source: UNODC)

Results-Based Budgeting

A management tool to plan for budget allocation and monitoring (A/RES/55/231)

Results-Based Management

A management strategy that ensures that processes, products and services contribute to the achievement of results (impact, outcomes, outputs, objective). RBM is focused on achieving results and improving performance, integrating lessons learned into management decisions and monitoring of and reporting on performance.


Risks are the conditions that can negatively affect the project or programme. If a risk is too high, teams must take steps to mitigate the risk or address the problem that results from a risk.

Risk Analysis

An analysis or an assessment of factors (called assumptions in the Logframe) affecting or are likely to affect the successful achievement of an intervention’s objective. Risk analysis enables consideration of strategies to manage identified risks. Some external factors may be beyond the control of programme managers and implementers, but other factors can be addressed with slight adjustments in the programme approach or strategy. It is recommended that stakeholders take part in the risk analysis as they offer different perspectives and may have key information about the programme context. Risk management should be performed in line with the Secretariat’s approach to Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) and the underlying risk universe contained therein.


The Strategy translates an entity’s mission into a platform for action that spans the medium term (ideally 3-5 years) and helps to link the longer-term mission and vision with the short-term implementation plans, including projects.


At the level of the UN secretariat, a subprogramme is a set of expected accomplishments aimed at achieving on or a few closely related objectives as set out in the strategic framework. The subprogramme structure shall correspond, to the extent possible, to an organizational unit, normally at division level.


Specifies a particular value that an indicator should reach by a specific date in the future in order for the action to be considered a success.

Theory of Change

A method that explains how a given intervention, or set of interventions, is expected to lead to specific development change, drawing on a causal analysis based on available evidence. A theory of change must be driven by sound analyses, consultation with key stakeholders and learning on what works and what does not in diverse contexts drawn from the experiences of the UN and its partners. A theory of change helps to identify solutions to effectively address the causes of problems that hinder progress and guide decisions on which approach should be taken, considering comparative advantages, effectiveness, feasibility and uncertainties that are part of any change process. A theory of change also helps to identify the underlying assumptions and risks that will be vital to understand and revisit throughout the process to ensure the approach will contribute to the desired change.

Work plan

A detailed document stating outputs to be delivered and activities to be carried out in a given time period, how the activities will be carried out, and what progress towards expected accomplishments will be achieved. It contains timeframes and responsibilities and is used as a monitoring and accountability tool. The work plan is designed according to the logical framework.