The challenges of the 21st century are increasingly placing demands on Customs administrations around the world. Now, more than ever before, there is a need for Customs administrations to be more efficient and proactive in order to achieve the objectives set by states. The WCO, as the global centre of Customs expertise, plays a central role in the development, promotion and implementation of modern Customs standards, procedures and systems and has positioned itself as an international leader in Capacity Building policy development and delivery.
The WCO Membership, Secretariat and Regional Structures have combined their efforts to develop a responsive, needs-driven and sustainable approach to support Customs administrations in their efforts towards reform and modernization. This approach is focused on results-based management, whereby assistance is linked to priorities and results.
Actions on the ground such as more than 110 diagnostic missions and the delivery of comprehensive capacity building, including technical assistance and training, have enabled us as a collective to acquire a broad understanding of key issues and challenges Members face.
Significant progress has been made since the adoption of the WCO Capacity Building Strategy in 2003. However, new and emerging key strategic drivers impact on international trade and the roles and responsibilities of Customs administrations. This requires that all our capacity building efforts remain responsive and needs-driven to ensure beneficiary Customs administrations can obtain the support they need to pursue their reform and modernization.
Guided by the Capacity Building Strategy and the various tools and instruments that have been developed, including most recently the Capacity Building Roadmap, the WCO follows a comprehensive capacity building approach. This approach aims to support the development of Customs administrations that can take ownership for their reform, and that reduce progressively their reliance on external assistance.
The ODP Approach
In order for Customs administrations to build capacity through reform and modernization, and ultimately to be equipped to achieve their objectives, the WCO and its Members have adopted and apply an organizational development approach. This means that reform and modernization is approached in a holistic, planned and structured manner. It relies on ownership by administrations and emphasises effective implementation and management of reform.
This approach relies on three key phases:
Diagnostic of current situation – A thorough examination of the current situation is the key to ensure that the organizational capacity gaps and needs for development are identified. The findings serve as the basis for setting priorities and pursuing a comprehensive Customs reform and modernization programme.
Strategic planning and implementation of change – Based on findings and recommendations of the diagnostic, and taking into account organizational and government priorities, the Customs administration, in co-operation with the WCO, develops a holistic reform and modernization plan that serves as the roadmap to enhance the capacities of the organization. The development and implementation of key initiatives to contribute to the development of the administration then becomes the focus.
The development plans, elaborated and owned by the beneficiary Members, should be the main conduit to request and streamline the WCO support offered by the various Capacity Building initiatives and programmes. In many cases, the subsequent WCO support will address and focus on the development of core Customs competencies and capacities as necessary steps to achieve the goals of the Administration through implementation of Customs international standards and best practices.
The WCO may offer assistance in facilitating the development of the strategic and modernization plans and in the implementation of key priorities to ensure the sustainability of the modernization process. Ownership of this process by the administration remains nevertheless an essential success factor.
- Monitoring and evaluation – As administrations progress in their reform and modernization, there emerges a need to assess the progress achieved since the earlier diagnostic and the results of the efforts deployed. This phase also serves to identify new capacity gaps and if needed, readjust the priorities for the development of the administration.
The organizational development approach is also supported by a wide range of standards outlined in the various WCO instruments, conventions, recommendations, tools and best practices in both Customs-related technical and non-technical areas of development. These standards serve as the basis to conduct the diagnostic and to assess the current situation, and also provide guidelines against which the administrations can define their strategic objectives and implementation action plans.
Enablers of the ODP
It is also recognized that reform and modernization does not take place in a vacuum and that it works best when attention is paid to securing political will, investing in people and building effective partnerships with relevant stakeholders. This is referred to as the “3P Framework”.
Political will – Securing the commitment of policy-makers is necessary to ensure that the Customs administration has the support it needs to implement its reform and modernization. There is a need to ensure that the role of Customs, its value and contribution to the development and protection of the country’s interest is clear to policy-makers. Demonstrating tangible progress and results is an integral part to obtaining this support, and administrations must therefore develop their own capacity to engage policy-makers at that level.
People – Customs administrations must create the right conditions, policies and programmes to recruit, develop, and retain the best people available to perform the various duties within their organization. Issues such as career paths, comprehensive training and learning, adequate remuneration, integrity development, and other modern human resources management practices are fundamental to ensure administrations can fulfil their mission and attain their objectives.
Partnerships – Working closely with stakeholders from the private and public sectors is essential to achieve sustainable reform and modernization. Customs administrations must strengthen their capacity to engage stakeholders in a meaningful and constructive way. Modern administrations are able to maintain formal consultation mechanisms, and can agree with stakeholders on the establishment of collaboration agreements. Administrations can also benefit from acquiring the skills necessary to dialogue with financial backers and the international donor community, as a way to secure funding for their reform initiatives.
Outreach to Members and Development of the ODP Action Plan
The ODP Action Plan will prepared at the 5th Session of the Capacity Building Committee and indicate deadlines where appropriate as well as identifying those responsible for the specific actions.
One of the important approaches that the WCO will take is the organization of regional workshops to assess Members’ needs. WCO Members’ needs in respect of the ODP are very different, as identified in the reports following the Phase 1 Diagnostics. In this regard, the WCO may organize regional workshops in all six regions to identify innovative organizational development practices that can be shared with all Members.
Based on the results of regional workshops and Members’ experiences, the WCO may add new tools and instruments to complement existing resources in the package.