11 October 2013
General Assembly
GA/AB/4075

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

Sixty-eighth General Assembly

Fifth Committee

6th Meeting (AM)


Delegates Urge Faster Implementation of Business Operation Reform Initiatives,


Hail Increased Use of International Accounting Standards

 


Budget Committee Takes Up Board of Auditors’ Reports on

2012 Financial Statements for United Nations Funds, Programmes


The Organization’s top auditing watchdog told the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today that the Secretariat had to persist in transforming its business operations so as to update its operations and deliver on its ambitious development goals.


Amyas Morse, Chair of the United Nations Board of Auditors, gave the Committee an overview of the Organization’s massive business transformation as the Secretariat reforms systems in information technology, accounting and human resources while renovating its physical structure through the Capital Master Plan.


“What we find so often in our work is that the United Nations processes continue to be outdated, parochial and inconsistent,” said Mr. Morse, adding that delays in the reforms were felt by staff throughout the world who relied on the United Nations to deliver direction, services and leadership. “To think otherwise is to deceive ourselves.”


Hugh O’Farrell, Chairman of the Audit Operations Committee at the Board of Auditors, laid out the Organization’s progress on accounting issues as he introduced numerous Board reports, including financial reports and audited financial statements for 2012 and the Board’s Reports for the nine Funds and Programmes. These reports indicated that eight funds and programmes had produced financial statements that, for the first time, complied with the use of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).  The use of global accounting standards indicated that managers needed to address the control of inventory and the oversight of implementation partners.


Chandramouli Ramanathan, Officer-in-Charge of the Department of Management’s Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of Board recommendations for the same financial period ending in 2012.  During 2012, eight United Nations entities turned out financial statements that complied with IPSAS and received unqualified audit opinions from the Board.  This was a major achievement that showed these organizations’ commitment to adopt the new accounting standards and carry out needed changes in business methods.


Weighing in with the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), Chair Carlos Ruiz Massieu noted that the Board of Auditors had audited nine United Nations entities and issued unqualified audit opinions in all cases.  Only the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) received an “emphasis of matter”.  This result was an improvement over the Board results issued for the biennium ended 31 December 2011.  The financial year ending 31 December 2012 also marked a transition for the Board’s reporting since not all United Nations entities had completed IPSAS implementation at that time.


India’s delegate lauded the Board’s high-quality reports and its role as an oversight body.  He called for better and faster follow-up action on Board recommendations as the success of the reform initiatives hinged, in part, on their timely implementation as well as their sound financial management.


Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, Fiji’s delegate also stressed the important role played by the Organization’s oversight bodies. They ensured the United Nations entities followed proper practices and fully disclosed their finances.


Turning to the Committee’s second agenda item concerning the Organization’s increased use of international accounting standards, Mr. Ramanathan then introduced the Secretary-General’s sixth progress report on the adoption of IPSAS.  This document covered the period from September 2012 to August 2013.  Ten United Nations system entities had issued their first IPSAS-compliant financial statements for 2012, adding to the 11 organizations that had already done so between 2008 and 2011.  All 21 organizations had obtained “unqualified” audit opinions on their 2012 financial statements, representing a significant achievement of the United Nations system in implementing IPSAS and sustaining their compliance.  Three other organizations — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Secretariat - were on schedule to begin implementing the global standards in 2014.


Mr. MASSIEU, who introduced the Advisory Committee’s eponymous report on the matter, said he was encouraged the Funds and Programmes were meeting the challenge.  He also welcomed the successful launch of IPSAS accounting for peacekeeping operations.


A representative of the European Union’s delegation also praised the progress in implementing IPSAS, and called on all entities implementing it to provide benefits realization plans by year’s end.


Mr. O’Farrell introduced the Board of Auditors’ third annual progress report on IPSAS implementation, saying the nine entities that produced IPSAS-compliant financial statements addressed a key-risk area pinpointed by the Board in 2012.  The auditing watchdog’s rendering of unqualified opinions was a significant step toward modernizing United Nations entities’ business operations.


Also speaking today were delegates from the United States, Philippines and Russian Federation.


The Committee will reconvene on Thursday, 17 October, at 10 a.m. to discuss its agenda item on improving the Organization’s financial situation.


Background


The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met today to consider numerous reports of the Board of Auditors regarding the financial statements of the United Nations system, as well as reports on the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS).


On the first subject, it had before it the financial reports and audited financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) (document A/68/5/Add.1), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) (document A/68/5/Add.2), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) (document A/68/5/Add.3), as well as on the Voluntary funds administered by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (document A/68/5/Add.5), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) (document A/68/5/Add.7), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) (document A/68/5/Add.10 and Corr.1), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN—Women)(document A/68/5/Add.13 and Corr.1), and the United Nations Capital Development Fund  (UNCDF) (document A/68/5/Add.14 and Corr.1).


In addition, it had before it the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the report of the Board of Auditors on the implementation of its recommendations relating to the biennium 2010-2011 (document A/68/163), the Secretary-General’s report on Implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors contained in its reports on the United Nations funds and programmes for the financial period ended 31 December 2012 (document A/68/350) and the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) on the Financial reports and audited financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors for the period ended 31 December 2012 (document A/68/381).


On the second subject, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the sixth progress report on the adoption of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards by the United Nations (document A/68/351), as well as the Secretary-General’s note  on the third progress report of the Board of Auditors on the implementation of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (document A/68/161), and ACABQ’s report on the sixth progress report on the adoption of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards by the United Nations (document A/68/508).


Board of Auditors’ Reports


AMYAS MORSE, Chair, United Nations Board of Auditors, presented the Committee with a “big picture” summary of business transformation and the embedding of modern business processes within the United Nations.  He said modern management approaches and programmes once perceived as “little more than acronyms” were now permeating the system.  Such transformations were essential as the United Nations faced pressure to improve efficiencies and cost-effectiveness to meet the challenges of man-made disasters, to deliver on ambitious development goals, and to respond to growing global economic uncertainty.


Swathes of the United Nations system were antiquated, with too many resources devoted to “administration and long-entrenched methods of operating and inflexible structures,” he said.  Modernizing business systems could improve efficiency and free resources to expand the discretionary portion of the Organization’s budget.  He welcomed the efforts made to transform and modernize the United Nations but stressed the need to continue to eliminate “outdated, parochial and inconsistent” procedures.  Waste, duplication of effort, delays and uncertainty pervaded, with the effects felt in the field by those in need of the United Nations’ work.


In an atmosphere of public spending constraints and changes in the ways public services operated, the United Nations was not immune and needed both to economize and to implement technological innovations, streamlining and benchmarking, he said.  The Committee, recognizing the need for change, had launched several major business transformation programmes, including institution of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), a new enterprise resource planning system, and a new system to support field operations.  It had also called for improved accountability, information technology, risk management and human resources within the system.  Taken together, implementing those challenges amounted to an “enormous undertaking”, especially when delivery needed consensus support in a highly federated, sometimes disunited Organization.  In that context, he welcomed positive responses to previous recommendations and pointed to real progress in many areas, notably in implementation of IPSAS in nine entities during 2012, which he called “a serious achievement”.


Offering his personal reflections as external auditor, he identified a pattern whereby major United Nations transformation projects often made bad starts, needing rescue by skilled teams brought in specifically to fix them.  There was a need to consider whether the use of such “trouble shooters” could be avoided in the first place.  Stressing that it was better to avoid the sorts of emergencies for which trouble shooters were deployed, he called for more realism in budget planning to avoid cost overruns and to minimize upward revisions of budgets.  In addition, a common framework for delivery would also help to reduce the likelihood of crises hitting projects and if the United Nations was clearer about the destination that projects were expected to reach, the Secretariat would find it easier to act collectively and to hold management to account.


HUGH O’FARRELL, Chairman, Audit Operations Committee, Board of Auditors, introduced the financial reports and audited financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2012 and Report of the Board of Auditors on (UNDP) (document A/68/5/Add.1), UNICEF (document A/68/5/Add.2), UNRWA (document A/68/5/Add.3), the Voluntary funds administered by UNHCR(document A/68/5/Add.5), UNFPA (document A/68/5/Add.7), UNOPS (document A/68/5/Add.10 and Corr.1), UN—Women (document A/68/5/Add.13 and Corr.1), and UNCDF (document A/68/5/Add.14 and Corr.1).  He also introduced a note of the Secretary-General transmitting the Board’s biennial report on the status of implementation of recommendations relating to the biennium 2010-2011(document A/68/163).


Taking up first the financial reports, he said the eight entities had produced IPSAS compliant financial statements for the first time, with each achieving unqualified audit opinions.  That was a “significant achievement and a positive step towards modernising United Nations entities’ business administration”, he said.  UNICEF had received an emphasis of matter, drawing attention to enhanced disclosures of its accounting treatment for revenue received from National Committees.  Action had been taken on the Board’s previous recommendations but UNICEF’s National Committees had accumulated reserves and were retaining funds, indicating a need for greater monitoring.


Control of inventory was a common weakness across the entities, and something he believed would be addressed by introduction of IPSAS.  IPSAS had revealed the full extent of inventory management problems at many country offices of UNHCR, giving management a full picture of how to rectify the situation.  Other common themes were deficiencies in control and oversight of implementation partners, which indicated ongoing weakness in the assurances available to management about whether funds were used for their intended purposes and which exposed entities to higher fraud risk.  He said an independent investigation had been launched.


The need for enhanced corporate oversight, accountability and governance over field operations was again noted, he said, pointing also to continued deficiencies in procurement, human resources management and finance.  Better managers were needed with enhanced skills and expertise, and they needed to be empowered to add value.  Information technology was also lacking in several entities.


Turning to the status of implementation of recommendations, he said implementation levels in the nine entities reporting were comparable to previous biennia.  Forty-one per cent of the 139 recommendations made in the 2010—2011 biennium were fully implemented, compared to 46 per cent in 2008—2009.  Between the two periods, comparable proportions were under implementation or were awaiting action.  In addition, the entities had engaged substantively with the recommendations and were tackling the issues raised appropriately.  Despite a small increase in partially implemented recommendations, that was offset by the fact that a third of those related to implementation of multi-year transformation projects like IPSAS.  Eighty-two per cent of recommendations made in the 2008—2009 biennium were fully implemented by March 2013, representing “a good result”.


From 2014, all entities would report annually, removing the need for interim reports on the status of recommendations, so he recommended that the current report on the status of implementation of recommendations be the last, with the Board instead preparing a “Concise summary of principal findings and conclusions” that would comment on rates of implementation and other trends.


CHANDRAMOULI RAMANATHAN, Officer-in-Charge, Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, Department of Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of the recommendations of the Board of Auditors contained in its report on the United Nations funds and programmes for the financial period ended 31 December 2012.(document A/68/350).  This report includes responses from the executive heads of eight United Nations entities.  In 2012, these eight United Nations entities successfully produced financial statements that complied with IPSAS and received unqualified audit opinions from the Board of Auditors.  This was a major achievement that reflected the commitment of these organizations, both in terms of adopting the new accounting standards and carrying out needed changes in business processes and systems.


Every effort had been made to ensure compliance with the Assembly’s request to ensure implementation of oversight recommendations, he said.  This includes prioritizing the setting of timeframes for implementing the Board’s recommendations as well as identifying the departments and offices responsible for implementation, and providing explanations of any delays.  The main recommendations, which the Board regarded as the most important, would be given a higher priority.  He sincerely appreciated the constructive spirit the Board used to carry out its oversight function.


CARLOS RUIZ MASSIEU, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), introduced the Advisory Committee’s report on the financial reports and audited financial statements and reports of the Board of Auditors for year ended 31 December 2012 (A/68/381).  The Board had audited nine United Nations entities and issued unqualified audit opinions in all cases.  Only the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) received an emphasis of matter.  This result was an improvement over the reports issued by the Board for the biennium ended 31 December 2011.  He noted that the financial year ended 31 December 2012 marked a transition for the Board’s reports since not all United Nations entities had completed IPSAS implementation.  In this regard, the Advisory Committee agreed with the Board’s proposal to combine, from 2014 onward, the concise summary of principal findings and conclusions of its current audits, with a statistical and summarized qualitative analysis on the status of implementation of its prior period of recommendations.


The Advisory Committee highlighted four specific issues enveloped in the Board’s reports, he said.  First, it was important to address three significant risk areas that cut across many areas and required the Secretariat’s attention.  This included the need for better control and monitoring of the implementing partners working with United Nations entities; the need to strengthen core business functions by improving staff skills; and improved oversight and governance for global operations by balancing delegated authority and monitoring from Headquarters.


Secondly, he said the financial ratios provided by the Board as it analyzed the impact of IPSAS implementation on the nine entities was very valuable and provided a new perspective on their financial statements.  The Board also noted that the introduction of international standards had drawn additional attention to the end—of—service liabilities, including after—service health insurance.


Finally, the Board’s specific observations for each entity included existing weaknesses in areas such as dispute inter-fund balances, procurement and project implement.  The Advisory Committee issued comments on entity-specific issues, which included procedural lapses in ex—post—facto procurements at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); the long outstanding balance disputed between United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and the slower than targeted rate of projected implementation by UN-Women.


LUKE DAUNIVALU (Fiji) speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, underlined the importance of oversight bodies to ensuring that United Nations entities adhered to proper procedures and practices and fully disclosed their financial statements, while fully implementing recommendations made by the Board of Auditors.  Three cross-cutting elements of risk had been identified by the Board of Auditors, with recommendations issued to the Administration for enhancing control and monitoring; strengthening core business functions like management of procurement, contracts and finances; and enhanced oversight, accountability and governance.  Those issues should be addressed without delay.


He noted forthcoming changes to the Board of Auditors’ reporting and welcomed the new approach, also noting the rate of implementation of its recommendations.  He hoped to be provided with detailed reasons why UNRWA and UN—Women had rejected recommendations made by the Board and hoped to receive more detailed information on issues related to UNICEF’s fundraising and retention of funds.  The fact that United Nations entities might not be able to fully meet their obligations when end-of-service liabilities fell put retired or nearly retired United Nations staff at risk after long years of dedicated service.  He requested more information on results-based budgeting and results-based management, and an update on internal oversight arrangements at UNHCR.


CARMEL POWERof the European Union Delegation, thanked all the Secretariat officials for their comments and reflections.  She commended the high-quality of the Board of Auditors’ reports and said the information was very important, as the Committee had a heavy agenda with many details on many items.


ARUN JAITLEY ( India) commended the high-quality reports of the Board, which was the core of the Organization’s oversight mechanism.  Its observations and recommendations played an important role in the United Nations’ financial and administrative management.  Major management reform initiatives were under way in information technology, accounting, human resources, field support and the Capital Master Plan.  India was happy that the preliminary phases of UMOJA had begun and the implementation of IPSAS standards was on course.  He called for better and faster follow-up action on Board recommendations.  There was much room to improve the synergy between various oversight bodies in the Organization.  The success of the initiatives would depend not only on their timely implementation, but their sound financial management and the delivery of all intended benefits. “Needless to say, the case for sound oversight has never been as pertinent as today,” he added.


The Committee was facing a substantial session with deliberations on the programme budget for the biennium 2014—15, its second performance report, special political missions and the mobility framework, in addition to ongoing management-reform projects, he said.  Most importantly, revised appropriations for the 2012-2013 biennium budget would be discussed by the Committee.  The most recent budgets had included low—level appropriations that were supplemented at the revised appropriation stage.  “There was a fundamental disconnect between the creation of mandates and our aspiration to freeze budget-levels well ahead of time,” he said.


CHERITH NORMAN CHALET ( United States) commended the eight United Nations entities for receiving unqualified opinions from the Board.  She also acknowledged the increase in the number of recommendation implemented and the improvements made by a number of the entities since their previous audits.  It was important to continue improving oversight.  She noted the risk that the United Nations might not complete implementation of IPSAS by 2014 and urged completion of the work still necessary to produce IPSAS compliant statements, increase transparency, provide insight into the cost of operations and drive cost-effective decision-making.  She also reiterated concerns over management of expendable and non-expendable property, high cash and investment balances maintained by certain entities, and procurement and contract management deficiencies.


EDUARDO JOSE ATIENZA DE VEGA ( Philippines) aligned himself with the Group of 77 and China, saying that one of the benefits of implementing IPSAS was already being seen with bodies now preparing annual financial statements.  That allowed audit issues to be raised and corrective action taken by management in a timely manner, providing the Committee with a better basis upon which to make decisions.  That was particularly important in the current year, as budget proposals for the upcoming biennium would be under review.  He therefore looked forward to receiving the views of the Board of Auditors on comparisons of budgets and actual utilization.


SERGEY A. SAFRONOV( Russian Federation) noted the high quality of the Board of Auditors’ reports, stating that the reports were invaluable sources of information on the programmes and funds of the United Nations system in various areas of their activities.  The recommendations provided on systemic problems in programmes and funds were especially useful and he anticipated that managers would pay particular attention to the reports’ recommendations.  Stating that all programmes and funds subject to audit had been given positive opinions, he stressed that was critical in the context of the implementation of IPSAS.  He also stressed the importance that the Committee placed on the opinions and comments of the Board of Auditors in the context of the large workload with which the Committee contended.  Implementation of the recommendations would help to enhance the transparency and quality of the Organization’s work.


International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)


Mr. RAMANATHAN, taking the floor again, introduced the Secretary-General’s sixth progress report on the adoption of IPSAS (document A/68/351), the third report of the Board of Auditors on the third annual audit of IPSAS implementation (document A/68/161) and ACABQ’s report on the sixth progress report on the adoption of IPSAS by the United Nations (document A/68/508).


The Secretary-General’s report lays out the progress in implementing these international accounting standards at the United Nations and throughout the United Nations System from September 2012 to August 2013.  Mr. Ramanathan said he was happy to report that 10 United Nations system organizations had issued their first IPSAS-compliant financial statements for 2012, adding to the 11 organizations that had already implemented these global standards between 2008 and 2011.  All 21 organizations had obtained ‘unqualified’ audit opinions on their 2012 financial statements, representing a significant achievement of the United Nations system in implementing IPSAS and sustaining their compliance.  The remaining three organizations — the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Secretariat were on schedule to receive their implementation in 2014.


Regarding the Secretariat’s implementation, he said the project remained on track.  The shift to international standards in the peacekeeping operations was planned on 1 July 2013 and all other Secretariat operations were to make the shift in January 2014.  One of the most significant challenges to its implementation was the lack of an enterprise resources planning system.  He said he was happy to report that the necessary system changes had been made as the Organization shifted to Umoja from existing systems such as the Integrated Management Information System (IMIS), Galileo and Progen.  This was done keeping in mind the recommendations of ACABQ.


He said the benefits realization plan, targeted for completion at the end of 2012, had been delayed until the end of this year.  This plan was broadly in line with best practices to reliably measure the benefits of shifting to international accounting standards.  Factors behind the delay were the difficulties in securing external assistance and the lack of time if preparations for Umoja, including its design and testing, were to be completed.


The introduction of international standards and the annual audit of financial statements would increase the workload of ACABQ, the Fifth Committee, the Secretariat, the Funds and Programmes and the Board of Auditors, he said.  He emphasized that using international accounting standards would be a major challenge for the Secretariat until Umoja was fully deployed in 2016 or 2017.


Mr. O’FARRELL introduced the Board of Auditors’ third annual progress report on IPSAS implementation (document A/68/161) saying that the nine entities that produced IPSAS-compliant financial statements addressed a key risk area identified by the Board in 2012 as needing considerable attention.  The achievement by each of the entities of unqualified opinions was a “significant achievement and positive step towards modernizing UN entities’ business administration”.  Mainly, IPSAS implementation had been a technical exercise but some evidence of more fundamental changes to business processes had been seen.


IPSAS generated new information that could be used to generate benefits within an organization, he said.  Only one entity, the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund (UNJSPF), had completed and implemented its IPSAS benefits realization plan.  Work needed to be expedited to realise the benefits of IPSAS adoption.  In particular, there was limited progress on production of new management accounting data and on improving financial reporting for management so that it had regular and ongoing in—year information on financial performance to aid timely decision making.


The new financial statements provided new insights about the entities’ financial health and operational and financial performance, he noted, pointing out that the Board had conducted some limited ratio analysis which indicated that the entities concerned were in good financial health.  The statements also provided more complete and accurate assessments of entities’ running costs, information on the costs of delivering programmes, more complete information on the net worth of each entity and better information on significant future liabilities.  Management needed to do more to draw out insights and the Board was there to advise.


He urged use of the financial information provided by IPSAS to improve accountability, control and financial sustainability, as well as more cost-effective decision-making and delivery of vital services.  IPSAS adoption could also enhance the role and profile of financial management in general and finance functions in particular.


He said the Board considered implementation of IPSAS in the United Nations and its peacekeeping operations to be inherently complex and high risk because of the scale and fragmented nature of the organization and absence of a functional enterprise resource planning system.  The Administration needed to commit to and hit important milestones, and the transitional strategy still faced risks to data completeness and accuracy.  Guidance and training had been provided in the field but concerns remained that staff may have had insufficient time to familiarize themselves with new instruction and processes, especially given other demands like Umoja implementation.


Highlighting continued risks to implementation, he said the main concerns identified were asset data cleansing, the readiness of accounting guidance and systems, and the absence of dedicated local resource.  Governance of the project had improved, with a steering committee in place and a Project Assurance Officer appointed.  Deficiencies pointed out by the Assurance Officer had to be addressed.


Mr. MASSIEU introduced the Advisory Committee’s sixth progress report on the adoption of IPSAS (document A/68/508), encouraging United Nations system entities to address the challenges they faced.  He welcomed the successful launch of IPSAS accounting for peacekeeping operations, noting that progress towards implementation in non-peacekeeping United Nations operations was on track.  He was also pleased that measures were being taken to strengthen governance of the IPSAS project through the steering committee and Project Assurance Officer, who could impartially assess its health.


Noting progress reported regarding transitional arrangements to address the delay in implementation of Umoja, he said he remained concerned about the risk of using multiple systems to deliver accurate and consistent data for IPSAS compliant financial statements.  He hoped that engagement between the IPSAS project team and the Board of Auditors would enhance efficient management of the Organization’s inventory and underscored the importance of preparing accurate opening balances for assets and liabilities.  He further recommended that the General Assembly ask the IPSAS project team to identify additional benefits, and to stress the responsibility of management to deliver them.  Serious efforts should also be maintained to contain IPSAS project costs.


LUKE DAUNIVALU (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, welcomed progress reported in implementation of IPSAS and efforts made to strengthen its governance through the steering committee and independent project assurance.  He hoped that would keep the project implementation strategy on track and lead to monitoring and addressing of implementation risks in a timely fashion.  He had concerns over some aspects of implementation, particularly the absence of a common system and format for recording of financial data.  There was a risk that temporary adaptations to the existing system would not deliver adequate data for IPSAS-compliant financial statements.  He hoped for a progress report on implementation of the Board of Auditors’ recommendation that testing and validation of reliable transactional data be undertaken by the end of September 2013 in order to establish opening balances for assets and liabilities.  ACABQ had raised concerns about weaknesses in asset management and the processes underlying the preparation of IPSAS-compliant financial statements and he wished to hear how project managers were addressing such concerns.


GERTON VAN DEN AKKER, a representative of the European Union Delegation praised progress made on implementing IPSAS, with the project on target.  Nonetheless, implementation was not an end in itself and IPSAS should provide more accurate financial information that could improve accountability, transparency, control and financial sustainability, as well as making for more cost-effective decision-making and delivery of vital services.  He pointed to good overall progress but called on the Secretariat to be more proactive in reducing possible risks.  He agreed with ACABQ that a common system and format for recording of financial data was needed and that there was a risk that temporary adaptations to existing systems might not provide accurate data for IPSAS-compliant financial statements.  He called on all entities implementing IPSAS to finalize or prepare benefits realization plans by the end of 2013 and he agreed with the Advisory Committee that managers were crucial in leading efforts.  Lessons could be drawn from other organizations that had implemented IPSAS and to continue to identify further benefits.


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