25 July 2012
Press Release
ORG/1556

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

United Nations Board of Auditors Holds Sixty-sixth Session at Headquarters

 


The United Nations Board of Auditors, the independent external auditors of the United Nations and its funds and programmes, held its sixty-sixth regular session at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, from 24 to 25 July 2012.


The main purpose of the meeting was to review and approve the Board’s audit reports on the financial statements of the United Nations and its funds and programmes for the biennium ended 31 December 2011 and other topics.  These reports will be presented to the General Assembly and other legislative or governing bodies.


The Board approved a total of 27 reports and they will be placed on the United Nations Board of Auditors’ website in September 2012.


The Board noted that:


(a) Out of 27 reports, the Board modified 3 reports with emphasis of matter or other matter to reflect the conditions present on those entities’ financial statements.


(b) The United Nations is currently in the midst of several large-scale business transformation projects, which are crucial drivers in modernizing the organization and keeping it relevant.  The Board has completed separate reports on three of these projects:  the new enterprise resource planning system (Umoja); the implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS); and the Capital Master Plan.  The Board commented on a fourth transformation project, the Global Field Support Strategy, in its report on peacekeeping operations (documents A/66/5 (Vol. II)).  The Board found that, in all these projects, the United Nations needs to do more to define the end vision of each project in clear terms, develop a benefits realization plan, institute a robust and transparent reporting system on project cost and progress, establish clear accountability for the success of the project and put in place effective governance mechanisms that both challenge and support the implementation team.


(c) The progress on IPSAS implementation indicates that the funds and programmesare all on track to implement IPSAS in 2012 and to produce their first IPSAS financial statements in early 2013.  However, for the United Nations Secretariat and the peacekeeping operations, implementing IPSAS in such a diverse and fragmented business is a very complex and demanding business transformation programme.  The Board notes that the United Nations IPSAS implementation team has made significant progress in 2011 and 2012 and has worked closely and constructively with the Board to achieve the near completion of the IPSAS Accounting Policy Framework.  The United Nations is now in a position to start converting this framework into practical application guidance for staff.  Effective IPSAS implementation requires that comprehensive benefits realization and change management plans be developed; clear accountabilities and mechanisms are established to track the delivery of benefits; and senior management and governing bodies institute clear and transparent reporting systems on progress towards benefits realization.


(d) The calculation of end-of-service liabilities is a first step for the United Nations organizations to identify the magnitude of these liabilities.  United Nations entities have not yet fully recorded these liabilities in their accounting records and developed strategies to fund these liabilities.


(e) United Nations organizations applied inconsistent approaches in recording the allocation of funds to implementing partners and this also led to variable levels of assurance obtained by the organizations on the utilization of these funds.  The Board’s reports reflect the risks and challenges faced by the administrations in working with implementing partners for the delivery of their mandates.


(f) The procedures for producing financial statements at some organizations remain complex with a significant reliance on manual and inadequately documented processes to generate financial performance information.  The Board sees a need to strengthen those procedures to ensure entities generate accurate, complete and transparent information that appropriately reflect activities and events that have occurred.


(g) The Board’s reports also highlight the need for improvements in other areas of the functioning of the administrations, including project management, fundraising through national committees, procurement function, governance and oversight, as well as budgeting and financial reporting function of the United Nations and its funds and programmes.


The next regular session of the Board will be held on 23 to 24 July 2013 at United Nations Headquarters in New York.


The Board’s website is at http://www.un.org/auditors/board/.


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For information media • not an official record