Q&A: Search for HSG new Secretariat Information webinar with interested applicants

A summary of the questions and answers that emerged during the HSG Board Secretariat transition webinar

Q&A: Search for HSG new Secretariat Information webinar with interested applicants

Term of service

1. Question: Is the period for the incoming Secretariat set to be 2023-2026?

Answer: Yes, the period for the incoming Secretariat is set to be 2023-2026. However, the duration can be extended based on the Board’s decision in due course.

2. Question: Will the new Secretariat start before or after the HSR2024 symposium?

Answer: The new Secretariat is expected to commence in September 2023, which is more than a year before the HSR2024 conference.

There will be a transition period between the outgoing and incoming Secretariats and the absolute deadline for the new Secretariat to assume its responsibilities is 31 October 2023.

Roles & responsibilities

3. Question: What is the involvement of the Secretariat in the HSR2024 symposium?

Answer: The HSG Secretariat bears the joint responsibility for delivering the HSR2024 conference in collaboration with the Programme Working Group, Symposium Fundraising and Executive Committees. Additionally, the Secretariat collaborates with the Local Organizing Committee composed of the local hosts of the symposium and the Professional Conference Organizer.

There is a dedicated person within the Secretariat team specifically responsible for organizing the symposium. However, all members of the Secretariat contribute to the overall support of the HSR conference. Secretariat’s involvement in the conference is extensive and crucial for its success.

4. Question: What is the role distribution between the Board and the Secretariat in fundraising for the Society?

Answer: While the Board holds the primary responsibility for fundraising, fundraising is a collaborative effort involving both the Board and the Secretariat. The Secretariat actively supports the fundraising initiatives of the Society, liaises with funders for various projects, establishes and nurtures relationships to secure financial support and ensures appropriate reporting. Secretariat plays a crucial role in ensuring the financial sustainability of the Society.

5. Question: Is the responsibility of maintaining the website assigned to the Secretariat or not?

Answer: The maintenance of the website is the responsibility of the Secretariat. We have a current collaboration with an outsourced partner to manage the technical aspects of the website. However, if a Secretariat’s organization has the capacity to maintain the website, this function can be conducted in-house. Whether it is outsourced to an external organization or handled by internal staff, please clarify how you will proceed and ensure that your budget includes funds for ongoing website management.


6. Question: Are there any specific instructions regarding overhead expenses? What should be the appropriate overhead amount that the Secretariat can include in the budget?

Answer: While there are no strict guidelines for overhead expenses, we expect the budget to justify the value it provides and the overheads to be consistent with the relevant institutional policies. Currently, the overhead stands at 18%.

7. Question: Are there any costs that applicants need to incorporate in the budget proposal? For example, subscriptions to platforms and other related expenses?

Answer: Yes, such costs should be included in the Operations section of the budget. This may encompass expenses for subscriptions to various services and platforms like Dropbox, Zoom, or membership platforms. It is important to consider such operational costs when preparing the budget to ensure that the necessary resources are allocated these essential tools and services, as they contribute to the overall functioning and effectiveness of the Secretariat.

8. Question: How will the budget for the retained 2 staff members – Events and Learning Manager and Operations and Partnerships Manager – be managed?

Answer: These will be part of the Secretariat’s overall budget. Once the proposals from organizations have been received, they will undergo a thorough evaluation and subsequent discussion with the Board. These will inform a decision on how to allocate and manage the budget for the retained staff members.

Staffing structure

9. Question: What guidance is provided regarding the exact number of full-time staff required for the Secretariat? The Request for Proposal (RFP) proposes two different staffing structures.

Answer: In the RFP, we have included the staffing structure of the current Secretariat plus a possible scenario for the new Secretariat. However, the applicants are not bound to follow either of these suggestions, and are free to propose alternative staffing structures that they believe would be more suitable to ensure the successful implementation of the Secretariat functions.

10. Question: Can we engage external agencies for communication and event management?

Answer: Yes, it is permissible to engage external agencies for communication and event management purposes. We have a precedent of outsourcing communication and event management tasks in a previous Secretariat.

11. Question: Are there any restrictions or limitations in the key positions of the Secretariat?

Answer: There are no strict restrictions or limitations in the positions of the Secretariat. However, it is expected that the Secretariat will cover the main functions outlined in the RFP. The Secretariat should also have a named Executive Director.
As indicated above, the Board intends to retain staff in two specific positions within the new team until HSR2024: Events and Learning Manager (currently based in Canada) and Operations and Partnerships Manager (currently based in the Republic of Georgia). This would ensure continuity of the two on-going responsibilities.

International travels

12. Question: Will the Secretariat’s role involve international travel? And are there any instructions for international travel?

Answer: Yes, it is expected that the Secretariat will engage in international travel. While there are no specific instructions, it is anticipated that international travel may be necessary for certain activities and contingent upon how the Secretariat structures its operations and processes. It is important to maintain a commitment to planetary health and prioritizing virtual means of collaboration whenever possible. When international travel is deemed necessary, such as for contributing to the global symposium or attending face-to-face Board meetings, there will not be constraints. Currently, most of the work takes place virtually, with only one annual face-to-face Board meeting and the requirement for Secretariat staff to attend the Symposium in-person.

Application process

13. Question: Are there any specifications for the organizations submitting their proposals that applicants need to keep in mind?

Answer: The specifications for organizations submitting proposals are outlined in the RFP. Detailed instructions are provided Annex 1. The proposal should contain clear sections, each capturing specific aspects of the proposal.

14. Question: Could collaborating institutions submit a joint proposal? Is it restricted to a single organization?

Answer: Yes, collaborating institutions are welcome to submit a joint proposal. The process is not restricted to a single organization.

15. Question: Is there a way to contact HSG for further queries during proposal writing?

Answer: You can contact the HSG via info@healthsystemsglobal.org. The Secretariat will respond to general questions on a weekly basis. The Q&A repository will be updated with new questions and answers on our website consequently. The Secretariat will not respond to questions that may provide an advantage to specific applicants over others.

Comment from Secretariat Transition Committee Chair: To ensure clarity and financial competitiveness, it is important for proposals to be transparent and strive to be financially competitive. The RFP specifies a maximum budget, which does not represent the target but rather an upper limit. We encourage proposals below this maximum budget.

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