|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-sixth General Assembly
34th Meeting (PM)
United Nations Financial Situation Continues to Show Encouraging Signs of Progress,
Says Top Management Official, in Detailed Briefing to Budget Committee
Also Takes up Reports on Support Account for Peacekeeping,
Brindisi Logistics Base, Office of Internal Oversight Services Pilot Project
Despite increases in Member States’ unpaid assessed contributions, at the end of 2011 the United Nations cash situation had improved in most areas and the amount of money it owed to Member States had declined slightly, the United Nations top management official told the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this afternoon, during a presentation on the Organization’s financial situation.
“With the gains made in recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of Member States demonstrating their commitment to the Organization by meeting their financial obligations in full at the time of the final situation presentation,” Warren Sach, Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Management, said as he presented detailed financial information on the regular budget, peacekeeping operations, the international tribunals and the Capital Master Plan.
Unpaid assessed contributions stood at $454 million on 31 December 2011, up $103 million from 31 December 2010, he said. But by the end of last year, 143 Member States had paid their regular budget assessments in full, up from 138 in 2010.
Moreover, this year the Organization’s financial position continued to show encouraging signs of progress, he said, noting that, as of 7 May 2012, total unpaid assessments were $600 million lower than one year ago across all categories, although some peacekeeping operations were still affected by cash shortages, which in turn hampered payments to countries that contributed troops to those operations.
He said that as a significant level of outstanding assessments remained — 95 per cent of which was owed by the United States, Mexico, Spain and Venezuela — the final outcome for 2012 would depend in large measure on whether countries in arrears paid up.
After his presentation, the Committee scrutinized the reports of the Secretary-General, the Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC) and the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the 2010-2011 budget and proposed 2012-2013 budget of the support account for peacekeeping operations, which were introduced by Maria Eugenia Casar, Assistant Secretary-General and Controller; John Muwanga, Chair of the IAAC; and Collen Kelapile, Chair of the ACABQ, respectively.
Algeria’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, stressed the need for sufficient support during all phases of peacekeeping operations and said the level of the support account should broadly correspond to the mandate, number, size and complexity of peacekeeping missions and special political missions. Integrated support was vital to ensure efficiency and avoid duplication, and it should be aimed at qualitative improvement in service delivery to personnel on the ground.
The European Union’s representative, stressing the need for scalability in the use of the support account, regretted that the proposed post and non-post resources for the account were increasing, rather than decreasing. The net reduction of just two of a total of 1,259 posts illustrated that there was substantial room to reduce the support account, in line with the consolidation of peacekeeping operations as a whole. She backed the ACABQ’s call on the Secretary-General to step up efforts to determine what comprised a core capacity needed to effectively support peacekeeping operations and what comprised a scalable capacity that responded to changes in the level of peacekeeping activity, as was originally envisioned when the support account was first implemented.
Delegates also looked at the report of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on implementation of its investigation pilot project, which provided information on the budget allocations for centres of investigation in Nairobi, Vienna and New York, as well as resident investigators in seven peacekeeping missions. Carman Lapointe, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced that report. Mr. Kelapile introduced the ACABQ’s corresponding report, which said that, as the pilot project was still in effect until 30 June 2012, the OIOS should submit a final report on the entire project in the context of the proposed support account budget for the 2013/14 period.
Also today, the Committee discussed the Secretary-General’s reports on the 2010-2011 budget and 2012-2013 proposed budget for the United Nations Logistics Base (UNLB), which were introduced by Ms. Casar, as well as the ACABQ’s related report, which was introduced by Mr. Kelapile.
At the outset of the meeting, the Committee recommended to the General Assembly that it appoint Susan McLurg ( United States) to replace Lisa Spratt ( United States), who resigned from the Committee on Contributions effective 3 May 2012. Ms. McLurg would fill the remaining period of Ms. Spratt’s term, set to expire on 31 December 2012.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 May, to discuss the Board of Auditor’s performance audit, special political missions and the international residual mechanism.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to fill a vacancy in the Committee on Contributions and consider ways for improving the financial situation of the United Nations, as well as discuss the support account for peacekeeping operations, the investigation pilot project of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), and the United Nations Logistics Base (UNLB).
On the first topic, it had before it the Secretary-General’s note on the appointment of members of the Committee on Contributions (document A/66/102/Add.2), whose annex contains the curriculum vitae of Susan McLurg (United States), the candidate to replace Lisa Spratt (United States), who resigned from the Committee on Contributions effective 3 May 2012. Ms. McLurg is to fill the remaining period of Ms. Spratt’s term, which expires on 31 December 2012.
Concerning the support account for peacekeeping operations, the Committee considered five reports. The Secretary-General’s report on the budget performance of the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 (document A/66/610) lists gross requirements in terms of expenditures for that period as $341.42 million, a 6.2 per cent decrease from the same period a year earlier. The Secretary-General asks the General Assembly to decide on the treatment with respect to the 2010/11 period of $28.49 million, comprising theunencumbered balance of $22.39 million and of other income totalling $6.1 million, including interest income ($1.03 million), other miscellaneous income ($615,000) and cancellations of prior-period obligations ($4.46 million). Also before the Committee was an addendum (document A/66/610/Add.1) containing information on planned and actual outputs relating to section II of document A/66/610.
According to the Secretary-General’s report on the budget for the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (document A/66/721) the budget for that period is $283.12 million, excluding enterprise resource planning requirements of $37.34 million, and it provides for 1,259 posts, taking into account the proposed abolishment of 36 posts. The report requests that the Assembly approve that budget and apply the full amount of other income totalling $6.1 million, including interest income ($1.03 million), other miscellaneous income ($615,000) and cancellations of prior-period obligations ($4.46 million), with respect to the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 to the support account requirements for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.
It asks the Assembly to apply the excess authorized level of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund in the amount of $2.48 million with respect to the financial period ended 30 June 2011 to the support account requirements for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013. The Assembly should also prorate the $274.5 million balance among the budgets of the active peacekeeping operations for the financial period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.
The Independent Audit Advisory Committee’s report on the budget of the Office of Internal Oversight Services under the support account for peacekeeping operations for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (document A/66/737) contains the comments, advice and recommendations of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC) on the OIOS’ proposed budget for that period of $25.47 million (gross), a 7 per cent reduction over the approved budget for the prior period.
Weighing in on the support account with a report titled budget performance for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 and proposed budget for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 of the support account for peacekeeping operations (document A/66/779), the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) says that its recommendations would entail a $1.06 million net increase to the proposed budget for the period for 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (document A/66/721). That would represent a $212,100 net reduction under proposed non-post resources and a $1.25 million increase under post requirements, based on the ACABQ recommendations against the proposed abolition of 11 posts funded under the support account and the creation of the corresponding posts in the 2012/13 budget for the Logistics Base.
The ACABQ also recommends that the Assembly approve $321.49 million gross ($292.74 million net) for the support account for the 2012/13 period, comprising $284.16 million for post and non-post resources for the support account and $37.34 million for the enterprise resource planning project requirements pursuant to Assembly resolution 66/246. Regarding the Secretary-General’s proposals in document A/66/610 on the budget performance of the support account for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011, the ACABQ recommends that the Assembly apply the total amount of $28.49 million during the financial period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 to the support account requirements for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.
Additionally, the ACABQ concurs with the Secretary-General’s proposal in document A/66/721 to have the Assembly apply the excess authorized level of the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund in the amount of $2.48 million with respect to the financial period ended 30 June 2011 to the support account requirements for the 2012/13 period.
Concerning the OIOS investigation pilot project, the Committee had before it two reports. The OIOS report titled comprehensive report on the implementation of the pilot project designated by the General Assembly in resolution 63/287 (document A/66/755) provides information on the budget allocations for centres of investigation in Nairobi, Vienna and New York, and resident investigators in seven peacekeeping missions. The report states that, in resolution 63/287, the Assembly asked the Secretary-General to submit, in the context of its consideration of the support account budget for 2012/13, a comprehensive report on the pilot project, with a view to deciding on how to restructure the OIOS.
The report concludes that, given the relatively limited number of investigators working on the support account, the geographic breadth of the work, the range of issues to be examined and the diversity of living and operational environments in the peacekeeping missions, the organizational arrangements for providing investigation services must be adapted to what managers deem to be operational priorities in carrying out investigations. Groups in regional hubs should anchor the investigation work and carry it out where there is no resident coordinator. But, in a small number of missions, appropriately constituted teams should continue to form part of the business model.
The findings in the report will be reflected in the proposed support account budget for 2013/14. OIOS will also assess the merit of establishing investigative capacity in the Regional Service Centre, in view of its role in carrying out a wide range of support functions with increased associated risk and to take advantage of efficiencies, such as scheduled transportation to missions.
Weighing in on the pilot project’s implementation with its own comprehensive report (document A/66/799/Add.1), the ACABQ states that, as the pilot project is in effect until 30 June 2012 the OIOS report on the matter did not benefit either from a comprehensive assessment of the project’s entire period, nor from full consultations with all relevant stakeholders. Because of that, the ACABQ views the OIOS report as interim in nature, and it recommends that the Assembly ask the OIOS to submit a final report on the project in the context of the proposed account budget for the 2013/14 period. That final report should include a complete assessment of the findings and conclusions due to the experience gained during the pilot project’s full period, details on full consultations with relevant stakeholders, and a breakdown of how resources were used during the pilot period.
Lastly, on the United Nations Logistics Base, the Committee also had before it three reports. The Secretary-General’s report on the budget performance of the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 (document A/66/603) states that total expenditures for that period were $68.12 million, down 0.1 per cent from the previous period. It asks the Assembly to decide on the treatment of the unencumbered balance of $53,900 with respect to the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011, and on other income/adjustments for the period ended 30 June 2011 totalling $2.9 million from interest income ($1.33 million), other/miscellaneous income ($1.32 million) and cancellation of prior-period obligations ($244,500).
The Secretary-General’s report on the budget for the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 (document A/66/724) states that the Logistics Base budget for that period amounts to $70.46 million and provides for the deployment of 145 international staff and 305 national staff, including temporary positions. Total resource requirements for that Logistics Base period have been linked to the objectives of the Base through the results-based budgeting frameworks under the support component. Explanations of variances in both human and financial resources have been linked to specific outputs planned by the Base.
In line with the requirements of the global field support strategy, the budget submission for 2012/13 proposed strengthening the Logistics Base structure to accommodate its re-profiling as the Global Service Centre. In the report, the Secretary-General asks the Assembly to approve the $70.46 million to maintain the Logistics Base and prorate that amount among individual peacekeeping operation budgets to meet the Logistics Base’s financing requirements for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.
Weighing in on the budget performance for the period from 1 July 2010 to 30 June 2011 and proposed budget for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013 of the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy (document A/66/718/Add.15), the ACABQ says that its recommendations would entail a reduction of $1.84 million to the proposed budget for the 2012/13 period. It recommends against several things, including the creation of the Field Human Resources Management Section in Valencia, the transfer of extra functions from the Field Personnel Division at Headquarters to the Global Service Centre, the creation of 11 posts and 16 temporary positions at the facility in Valencia, and the relocation of the Field Central Review Board Unit, the Reference Verification Unit and the Education Grant Unit from Brindisi to Valencia with 13 posts. It also backs the Secretary-General’s proposal to abolish one P-4 Police Communications Adviser post for the Standing Police Capacity tenant unit. Further, it recommends that the operational requirements for the 2012/13 period be adjusted accordingly.
In considering the Secretary-General’s proposals on the budget, the ACABQ took into account the recommendations of the Board of Auditors on United Nations peacekeeping operations. The ACABQ stresses the value in the Board of Auditors’ findings and reiterates the need to implement the recommendations within the time frames specified by the Secretary-General.
The ACABQ recommends that the Assembly approve $68.63 million to maintain the Logistics Base for the 2012/13 period and prorate that amount among individual peacekeeping operation budgets to meet the Logistics Base’s financing requirements for the period from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.
Briefing on Financial Situation of United Nations
Opening the meeting, WARREN SACH, Officer-in-Charge, Department of Management, made an oral statement on the Organization’s financial situation that would be issued as an addendum (document A/66/521/Add.1) to the Secretary-General’s report on the matter. Mr. Sach focused on four main financial indicators: assessments issued; unpaid assessed contributions; available cash resources; and debt to Member States. He noted that, while there were increases in unpaid assessments, the cash situation had improved in most areas and there had also been some improvement in the level of debt to Member States, though it was less than anticipated in October 2011.
On the regular budget, he said assessments and payments were higher in 2011 than in 2010, by $249 million and $162 million, respectively. Unpaid assessed contributions were $454 million on 31 December 2011, up $103 million from 31 December 2010. A total of 143 Member States had paid their regular budget assessments in full by the end of 2011, up from 138 in 2010. He urged all others to pay their assessed contributions in full as soon as possible. He noted a significant reduction in the outstanding assessment, 95 per cent of which was concentrated among four Member States. As of 7 May 2012, a total of 92 Member States had paid their assessments to the regular budget in full, up from 86 a year earlier.
Regular budget assessments for 2012 were $2.4 billion, he said, added to an unpaid assessment of $454 million. Against this, payments of $1.7 billion were received by 7 May 2012, resulting in an outstanding amount of $1.2 billion, of which 95 per cent was concentrated among eight Member States. Out of that, $171 million had been received from the United States after the 7 May 2012 cut-off date. The final outcome for 2012 would depend in large measure on action by those eight Member States. Cash resources for the regular budget were provided by the General Fund, to which assessed contributions were paid; the Working Capital Fund, authorized periodically by the Assembly; and the Special Account. The significant increase in cash resources for the regular budget, which rose from $94 million as of 31 December 2011 to $819 million as of 7 May 2012, was due to receipts of contributions at the beginning of 2012, while expenditures would be spread throughout the year.
The projected cash balance at the end of December 2012 in the month-by-month cash position was slightly lower than the amount at the end of December 2011, he said. The final position would depend in large measure on action by the eight Member States with outstanding assessments.
Turning to peacekeeping operations, he said the unpredictable nature and demand for peacekeeping activities made it difficult to predict financial outcomes. Moreover, peacekeeping had a financial period that was different from that used for the regular budget; assessments were issued separately for each operation and for different periods throughout the year, in line with the mandate period approved by the Security Council for each mission. Such factors complicated a comparison between the financial situation of peacekeeping operations and those of the regular budget and the tribunals.
The total amount outstanding for peacekeeping operations at the end of 2011 was $2.63 billion, a $164 million increase from a year earlier, he said. He noted a good reduction in the outstanding assessment, perhaps due to the effect of differing payment cycles for Member States. About 80 per cent of the $2.63 billion outstanding at the end of 2011 was owed by nine Member States. He paid tribute to the 29 Member States that had paid all peacekeeping assessments due on 31 December 2011.
The cash available for peacekeeping at the end of 2011 was approximately $3.8 billion, he said. It was divided among the separate accounts maintained for each peacekeeping operation and there were restrictions on the use of that cash. Peacekeeping cash at the end of 2011 among active missions was $3.4 billion, closed missions with $238 million and the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund with $140 million. The financial position of peacekeeping operations as of 7 May 2012 showed significant improvements, with outstanding assessments falling to $1.39 billion from $2.63 billion at the end of 31 December 2011. New assessments of more than $1.2 billion had been issued by 7 May 2012. Against that, $2.4 billion, or double, was received as payments, thereby reducing the amount outstanding from $2.6 billion to $1.4 billion. Seven Member States were responsible for 79 per cent of the total owed as of 7 May 2012. As of that date, 37 Member States had paid in full, up from 31 a year earlier.
Based on current information, the total cash available in peacekeeping accounts at the end of 2012 totalled more than $3 billion, with $2.6 billion in the accounts of active missions, $279 million in the accounts of close missions, and $139 million in the Peacekeeping Reserve Fund, he said. Those estimates were based on projected receipts and disbursements, as well as the reclassification of the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) from active to closed mission. The cash in closed missions would be the projected total cash, not the surplus cash that would be available for return to Member States.
Regarding debt to Member States, he said the amount owed for troops, formed-police units and contingency-owned equipment as of 31 December 2011 was $529 million, down from $539 million owed at the start of the year. New obligations were projected to increase in 2012, primarily due to exceptional reimbursement by the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia) (UNSOA) for contingent-owned equipment, as well as the increase in the contingent-owned-equipment reimbursement rate effective 1 July 2011, which had been partially offset by the partial drawdown by the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) of its post-earthquake surge capacities. Debt to Member States would increase to an estimated $678 million by the end of 2012, based on the projected new obligations of $2.1 billion and projected payments of $1.9 billion. As of 7 May 2012, the amount owed was $774 million, of which half was owed to eight Member States.
Payments for troops and formed police unit costs, including the supplemental payment as decided by the Assembly during its sixty-fifth session, were current up to January-February 2012 for all missions, except for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) and United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), due to insufficient cash in the special accounts for those missions. Projected payments for 2012 were dependent on timely finalization of memorandums of understanding. As of 7 May 2012, 30, or 9.5 per cent, of the memorandums of understanding for all peacekeeping operations were yet to be finalized.
Turning to the international tribunals, he said the financial positions for the tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia were unchanged at the end of 2011, versus the same period a year earlier, with $27 million outstanding. A total of 105 Member States had paid their assessments for both tribunals in full by the end of 2011, up from 98 at the end of 2010. He urged others to follow suit. The tribunals’ financial situation had improved in 2012. Outstanding assessments as of 7 May 2012 were $84 million, down from $133 million as of 10 May 2011. A total of 64 States had paid their assessments to both tribunals and the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals in full as of 7 May 2012, versus 61 the same period a year earlier. End 2012 cash balances were projected to almost match the actual cash balances at the end of 2011.
On the Capital Master Plan, he said that, as of 7 May 2012, a total of 188 Member States had made payments to the Plan’s special account amounting to $1.86 billion; $8 million was currently outstanding. In addition to the cost of the project, the Assembly approved creation of a working capital reserve of $45 million. As of 7 May 2012, a total of 183 Member States had already made payments to almost fully fund the reserve, leaving a balance due of $8,785. Also as of 7 May 2012, a total of 142 Member States had paid in full; 46 had made partial payments. Four had not made any payments.
In conclusion, he paid tribute to those Member States that had paid in full their assessments to the regular budget, peacekeeping operations, the international tribunals and the Capital Master Plan. Payments were received from Denmark and Liechtenstein after the 7 May 2012 cut-off date. The latest situation reflected the continued emphasis on improving Member States’ access to information on the status of contributions. “With the gains made in recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of Member States demonstrating their commitment to the Organization by meeting their financial obligations in full at the time of the final situation presentation,” he said.
He said the financial situation at the end of 2011 showed improvement in some areas, despite the global financial climate. Though unpaid assessments were higher compared to the end of 2010, the number of Member States meeting their obligations in full had increased in all categories, the cash situation was also better in most areas, and debt to Member States had decreased slightly. He noted further encouraging signs of progress in the Organization’s financial position in 2012. As of 7 May 2012, unpaid assessments were below the levels one year ago across all categories. Total unpaid assessments were $600 million lower at 7 May 2012. But, some peacekeeping operations continued to be affected by cash shortages, which also affected payments to troop-contributing countries.
While lauding the increase in the number of Member States that had settled their financial obligations in full as of 7 May 2012, he noted that a significant level of outstanding assessments remained. The final outcome for 2012 would depend in large measure on action by Member States with outstanding assessments, he said, warning that the “financial health of our Organization depends on Member States meeting their financial obligations in full and on time”.
Introduction of Reports
MARIA EUGENIA CASAR, Assistant Secretary-General, Controller, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on the support account for peacekeeping operations and on the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy.
On the support account, she said expenditures for 2010/11 amounted to $341.4 million against the approved requirements of $363.8 million, leaving $22.4 million unspent and resulting in a resource utilization rate of 93.8 per cent. The unspent balance stemmed from lower expenditures due to higher-than-budgeted actual vacancy rates for civilian personnel, including temporary positions, as well as lower-than-budgeted requirements for information technology.
For 2012/13, the budget amounted to $320.5 million, which represented a reduction of $24.3 million or 7.1 per cent from 2011/12. The proposed resources included $37.3 million for the financing of Umoja. Proposals for resources for 2012/13 did not include new posts. Continuing general temporary assistance positions for recurring functions had not been proposed for conversion into posts, with the possibility of redeploying and reassigning existing resources still under review. An effort had also been made to adapt the use of temporary positions for very specific time-bound initiatives.
The key variances are mainly explained by a reduction of 36 posts, of which 34 corresponded to functions proposed to be transferred from the Department of Field Support at Headquarters to the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy (Global Service Centre); reduced requirements for temporary positions, partly due to transfer of resources from the Department of Field Support Headquarters to the Global Services Centre; and reduced provision for information technology.
On the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, Italy, the proposed budget for 2012/13 amounted to $70.5 million, which represented an increase of $2 million or 2.8 per cent from the approved amount for 2011/12, she said. The key variances were the proposed transfer of logistics and human resources functions from the Department of Field Support Headquarters to the Global Service Centre, in line with the global field support strategy and the reprofiling of the Logistics Base as a Global Service Centre. In that regard, 34 posts and 16 general temporary assistant positions were proposed to be established at the Global Service Centre for 2012/13, and concurrently proposed to be abolished in the support account for peacekeeping operations.
JOHN F.S. MUWANGA, Chairman of the Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC), introduced its report on the budget proposals of the Office of Internal Oversight Services in respect of the support account for 2012/13.
Since its inception, the IAAC had made a number of recommendations relating to the various OIOS Divisions’ work planning and budgeting processes, he said. The IAAC had noted progress in the implementation of the recommendations that had led to improvements in OIOS budgeting process. The IAAC noted improved risk-based work-planning methods at some OIOS divisions, including methods of identifying residual risks faced by the various Departments of the United Nations. In the current environment and given the complexity of the United Nations, assessing and managing risk was critical. The IAAC had continued to encourage all OIOS Divisions, including the Investigation Division, to employ an appropriate risk-based methodology in developing their work plans and analysing resource requirement.
The IAAC had made a number of recommendations, including that the Office conduct more capacity gap analysis of the work of the Office as a whole. It also had maintained that available resources should not be the driver of the work plan, but rather, the work plan — derived from a robust residual risk assessment — should be the determining factor for the resource requirements of the Office.
He commended the Internal Audit Division for already carrying out capacity gap analysis as his office recommended. But, the OIOS Inspection and Evaluation Division had wanted to do critical evaluation activities, but could not do it, due to resource constraints. The IAAC had recommended that OIOS future work plans provided information on such cases of critical evaluation activities that it needed to do, but was constrained from doing. With respect to the investigation function, the IAAC recalled its earlier recommendation relating to disparities in the distribution of investigation resources and the high vacancy rates, which could affect the outcome of the pilot project. Subsequent to issuance of its report, the IAAC had received a copy of the comprehensive report of OIOS on the pilot. It intended to review the report and its comments would be reflected in its annual report and also in the next report on the support account budget submissions of OIOS.
CARMAN L. LAPOINTE, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, introduced its comprehensive report on the implementation of the pilot project. She showed confidence in the report’s accurate and comprehensive review of currently available information relating to the decision to designate centres of investigation in Nairobi, Vienna and New York and to maintain resident investigation staff presence in some peacekeeping operations.
While the criteria for measuring success of the pilot project had not been specified, OIOS could have easily inferred the objectives from the specific details requested for inclusion in the comprehensive report, with a view to deciding on a restructuring of the Investigations Division of the Office, she said. Those details included comments and observations of field missions; a cost-benefit analysis, including effectiveness and efficiency of the pilot structure; assumptions about long-term trends of investigations in field missions; justified rationale for all investigations staff and resources, and responsiveness to changing caseload requirements.
She said, in short, the pilot project had obviously sought to answer the following question: “What is the most cost-effective structure that would enable OIOS to build and maintain adequate professional capacity to respond timely and effectively to the investigation needs within peacekeeping operations and in particular the express needs of field missions?” Immediate action should have been taken by OIOS at that time on several fronts, including to establish clarity on the intended purpose of the pilot; to develop specific definitions for key elements of the question; to determine the historical and actual baseline levels of services then being provided and benchmark against other relevant investigative bodies; to systematically examine the strengths and weaknesses, if any (including root causes), of the existing structure from the perspectives of key stakeholders; to establish reasonable future expectations of stakeholder clients as target objectives and outcomes; to implement basic management monitoring mechanisms to measure and report on actual performance against targets; and propose adjustments to processes and/or structures to improve performance when needed.
“Unfortunately,” she said, “these actions had been late getting started by almost a year and a half, and were challenging (if even possible) to establish long after-the-fact.” Nevertheless, OIOS had developed and/or reconstructed a significant amount of data, where feasible, and was continuing to do so to improve future analysis, she added.
In terms of client expectations, she highlighted that mission management had urged the building of investigative capacity in missions, mostly because on-site capacity was seen as more responsive and expertise was easily and informally available. When investigators were embedded inside a mission, more violations were reported, with 26 per cent of peacekeeping-related reports during the pilot period generated through on-site investigators. But, due to leave requirements, on-site investigators had slightly less available time than their counterparts in regional centres. And, unsurprisingly, the requirement and retention of investigation staff continued to pose a challenge, with an average vacancy rate of 44 per cent in the positions allocated to seven missions and a vacancy rate of 30 per cent even in the centres. The temporary nature of the positions allocated to the pilot, and difficulties in attracting staff to non-family duty stations, increased the challenge, as competition for professional investigation skills was fierce.
Given the challenges and opportunities, including opportunities for travel-related savings with the establishment of an Investigations Office in the Regional Service Centre in Entebbe, a hybrid structure would be the most useful approach for all concerned, for the Organization at large, for OIOS, for peacekeeping missions, and in particular for the victims of certain types of misconduct, such as sexual exploitation and abuse, she said. A slightly modified hybrid structure would allow retention of some centres, while increasing support to mission management by building investigative capacity on the ground. A final analysis and proposals, including the impact on financial resources under the proposed support account budget for the period 2013/14 would be submitted once full information on the results of the three-year pilot was available.
COLLEN KELAPILE, Chair of ACABQ, introduced the Advisory Committee’s reports on related documents introduced this afternoon.
The Advisory Committee reiterated its previous position that there should be a determination of what constituted a core or basic capacity necessary to effectively manage and backstop peacekeeping operations and what constituted a scalable capacity that responded to changes in the level of peacekeeping activity. ACABQ continued to believe that consolidating peacekeeping activity should lead to a more pronounced downward trend in proposed posts and non-post resources for backstopping field operations, given that increased capacity had already been provided in preceding budget periods when peacekeeping operations were trending upwards. The Advisory Committee had expected the reviews of the existing resources and streamlining of the backstopping of peacekeeping operations to be reflected in the overall level of peacekeeping operations resources requested in forthcoming periods, but was disappointed that the budget proposal for 2012/13 for the support account reflected a net reduction of only two posts.
On the Enterprise Resource Planning project, or Umoja, the Advisory Committee was informed that the system development would commence in the second quarter of 2012 following acquisition of system integration services. It was also informed that a study of the total implementation cost was being carried out, distinguishing between the costs to be funded centrally from the Umoja project budget and those that would have to be borne by other departments/offices. The Committee was concerned about the lack of progress in filling Umoja-related posts and expected the Secretary-General to provide project updates in his next report, including progress made and a detailed cost analysis.
For Inspira, the new talent management system, the Advisory Committee emphasized the importance of effectively integrating Inspira and Umoja, and urged the Secretary-General to take all necessary steps to ensure that the remaining components of the system were implemented without further delay.
Turning to the OIOS report on the pilot project, Mr. Kelapile said the Advisory Committee was of the view that the report did not benefit from a comprehensive assessment of the project’s entire period and from full consultations with all relevant stakeholders. Therefore, ACABQ recommended that the General Assembly request OIOS to submit a final report on the pilot project in the framework of the support account budget for 2013/14.
On financing the United Nations Logistics Base at Brindisi, the Advisory Committee had recommended against transfer of the functions of the Field Support Division in the Department of Field Support to the Global Service Centre, entailing a cut of $1.8 million from its 2012/13 proposed budget. It recommended approval of the restructuring of the Logistics Service, which would entail consolidating and centralizing the processes and functions of the base into three main components, namely a Central Warehousing and Distribution Section, a Central Maintenance and Repair Section and a Programme Management Unit.
The Secretary-General’s proposal to deploy the Global Service Centre in two geographically distinct locations would entail centralizing expertise and service delivery in logistics, information and communications technology and supply chain management functions in Brindisi, as well as concentrating service expertise in field personnel management and field budget and finance in Valencia. In that connection, he proposed to establish a Human Resources Management Section in Valencia by transferring some functions from Brindisi and Headquarters. The Advisory Committee remained unconvinced about the operational requirement or benefits of such an arrangement and was of the view that the development of the Global Service Centre in two locations constituted a major change from the initial proposals for the strategy, with potentially significant organizational and financial implications.
Concerning the transfer of the roster management function from Headquarters to Brindisi, the Advisory Committee was of the view that further analysis was needed to determine whether the function fully met the Secretary-General’s criteria for relocating functions to the Global Service Centre, namely that they should be of transactional rather than strategic in nature, and that they should not require interaction with Member States. Pending further analysis, the Advisory Committee recommended against transfer of the functions of the Field Personnel Division in the Department of Field Support to the Global Service Centre.
ABDELHAKIM MIHOUBI ( Algeria), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, recognized the need for sufficient support during all phases of peacekeeping operations. The level of the support account should broadly correspond to the mandate, number, size and complexity of peacekeeping missions and special political missions. He recognized the changing nature of peacekeeping operations, which continued to acquire new levels of complexity and needed adequate resources, appropriate policies and support arrangements. Integrated support was needed to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and avoid duplication. All efforts towards that end should be aimed at qualitative improvement in service delivery to personnel on the ground. He stressed the importance of interaction and close coordination with all Member States, particularly troop-contributing countries. The latter must have free and constant access to the Secretariat.
The outcome of consultations must reflect their views in all phases of peacekeeping, from mandate-setting to implementation and deployment decisions, he said. Their views must also be reflected in any change in mandates or in memorandums of understanding. Troop-contributing countries must be represented at senior management levels in all relevant departments, including on the support side in the field and at Headquarters. That was essential to create greater coherence between those who managed, directed and commanded operations, and those who provided invaluable human resources on the ground. There was considerable room for improvement in those areas. He was also concerned about the continuing low percentage of women from developing countries in the Secretariat, especially at senior levels.
CARMEL POWER, a representative of the European Union, stressed the need for scalability in the use of the support account for peacekeeping operations. Consolidation of peacekeeping activity should lead to a decline in the proposed post and non-post resources for the support account. But, that did not appear to be the case. On the contrary, the ratio of the support account budget request was the second highest in five years, when compared to the overall peacekeeping budget request. The proposed net reduction of just 2 of a total of 1,259 posts was also an indication that there was substantial room for reducing the support account, in line with the consolidation of peacekeeping operations as a whole. The European Union would scrutinize all aspects of the proposal before the Committee, particularly concerning posts, the cost of general temporary assistance, long-term vacancies and non-post resources.
She agreed with the ACABQ that the Secretary-General should bolster efforts to determine what comprised a core or basic capacity needed to effectively support peacekeeping operations and what comprised a scalable capacity that responded to changes in the level of peacekeeping activity, as was originally envisioned when the support account was first implemented. The European Union would ask for detailed information on the roles and existing division of labour between the Department of Field Support and the Department of Management, and their respective posts and positions regarding peacekeeping financing. She noted the increasing role of the global service centre to backstop global peacekeeping, but said the current situation did not ideally reflect that reality. To improve budgetary transparency and accountability, total resources allocated for specific functions and for peacekeeping as a whole should be presented in a clearer, more transparent manner.
Also she backed the ACABQ’s request for a full, complete report on the OIOS entire pilot project in the context of the proposed support account budget for the 2013/14 period, fully taking into account the need to provide effective, efficient investigation services.
* *** *For information media • not an official record