Fifth Committee Approves Liquidation Budget for Terminated Georgia Mission, Takes Up Financing for Proposed Enterprise Resource Planning System
Fifth Committee Approves Liquidation Budget for Terminated Georgia Mission, Takes Up Financing for Proposed Enterprise Resource Planning System
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
16th Meeting (AM)
Fifth Committee Approves Liquidation Budget for Terminated Georgia Mission,
Takes Up Financing for Proposed Enterprise Resource Planning System
Also Begins Discussion on Several Related Initiatives,
As Well as Funding for United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) this morning made recommendations to the General Assembly on the final administrative liquidation budget of the recently-terminated United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG).
Acting, without a vote, on a draft resolution on the matter, it approved a reduction in the Mission’s initial appropriation for 2008/09 from $36.08 million to $35.58 million, and a reduction of the amount of $15 million previously approved for the liquidation of the Mission through 31 December to some $10.94 million for the period from 1 July to 31 October 2009.
Also this morning, several delegations supported the implementation of an Organization-wide information and communication technology strategy, which includes the introduction of a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, known as “Umoja”, or “unity” in Swahili.
“If you truly want an integrated administrative and management reform, multi-skilled and mobile staff, then Umoja is our change management vehicle”, said Under-Secretary-General for Management Angela Kane, presenting the Secretary-General’s proposals in that regard.
Explaining the need for a new ERP system, she said that, with the increase in complexity and responsibility for missions and mandates that had not been foreseen a decade or two ago, United Nations’ 39,978 staff had been relying on fragmented and silo systems, along with manual and paper-based process. In the current economic situation, however, there was also concern at the request for an increase in the budget. Yet, that concern must be examined against the impact of not approving the required resources for Umoja.
The representative of Australia, also speaking on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said that the enterprise resource planning had the potential to provide an unprecedented level of unity within the United Nations system and should enable significant organizational resources to be freed up and used to fulfil other mandates, improving productivity across the board. Given the project’s size, however, funding requests should be judged according to their reasonableness and appropriateness. It was important to ensure appropriate audit trails, progress markers and justification for resource requests.
Switzerland’s representative, speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, said that, at this stage, the discussion went beyond the issue of whether or not the Organization needed state-of-the-art enterprise resource planning. The Assembly had mandated the implementation of such a system and had already provided the seed funding to start preparations for it. In the coming weeks, Member States should find ways to ensure that the design phase of the project could be completed as planned, and that there would be a seamless transition to the subsequent phases of building and deployment. Due to the complexity and magnitude of the undertaking, a number of questions remained open, however, for instance, regarding the timetable, the streamlining of business processes and the potential for monetary savings.
The United States representative also noted the complex and costly nature of the project, with a total cost of $315 million over four years for the “pilot first” approach, which had been recommended by the Secretary-General. Implementation would require a strong commitment and continued energetic leadership to see the project to its fruition, on time and within its budget. He concurred with the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) to approve the Secretary-General’s initiative on enterprise resource planning through the “pilot first” approach, making every effort to do so as cost-effectively as possible.
The representative of Japan said that, without continued support of all stakeholders and staff, the enterprise resource planning would turn out to be a waste of money. The ACABQ had also encouraged the Secretary-General to strengthen his analysis and identify administrative resources that could be released as a result of ERP. It was his assumption that the project would be of real benefit to the budget for, if it was not, it would be hard to justify the large investment.
He also said that, at this stage, it was necessary to carefully examine the costs and benefits of every proposal. As the ACABQ had requested, a more detailed assessment of potential productivity and efficiency gains arising from the ERPproject, as well as a range of future operating costs, needed to be submitted to the Assembly. Through that, the Assembly could not only consider the issue in depth, but also always with an overall picture of how things stood.
Also discussed today were related initiatives on enterprise content management and customer relationship management, and a unified disaster recovery and business continuity plan, which seeks to address the vulnerability of United Nations $1-billion-a-month global operations in the face of such threats as terrorism and possible pandemics.
The Committee was also presented with a request for a subvention for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, and revised estimates in connection with recent decisions of the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council.
Also taking part in the discussion were representatives of the Sudan (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China), Sweden (on behalf of the European Union) and the Republic of Korea.
Numerous documents before the Committee were introduced by Choi Soon-hong, United Nations Chief Information Technology Officer; Susan McLurg, Chair of the ACABQ; Sharon van Buerle, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division; and Inga-Britt Ahlenius, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services.
The Committee will meet again at a time to be announced.
The Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met this morning to take up a number of items relating to the proposed programme budget for 2010-2011, including information and communications technology/enterprise resource planning, business continuity management, and revised estimates of requirements for the Economic and Social Council, the Human Rights Council and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.
Information and Communications Technology/Enterprise Resource Planning
The Committee had before it an update on the implementation of the enterprise content management (ECM) and the customer relationship management (CRM) systems (document A/64/477), highlighting their synergies and relationship with the enterprise resource planning (ERP) project (named Umoja, or “unity” in Swahili). The report also presents a framework and action plan for a unified approach to disaster recovery and business continuity for information and communications technology (ICT).
The Secretary-General asks the General Assembly to approve funding to continue the Enterprise Content Management project for the biennium 2010-2011, estimated at about $14.55 million. The requirements to continue the Customer Relationship Management project are estimated at $4.43 million; and the estimate for the unified disaster recovery plan and maintenance of the Brindisi enterprise data centre for the same biennium amounts to $3.39 million.
The Assembly is requested to approve a total of $23.11 million gross under section 28D, Office of Central Support Services ($1.42 million), and section 29, Office of Information and Communications Technology ($20.96 million), of the 2010-2011 proposed budget. Comprehensive plans on disaster recovery and business continuity for Secretariat entities, including requirements for the maintenance and monitoring phase of the ICT disaster recovery plan, will be submitted in the context of the proposed budget for 2012-2013.
According to the document, enterprise content management will be deployed over a five-year period. The Office of Information and Communications Technology has been leading efforts to lay the foundation for the implementation of the ECMsystems which are needed because, currently, there is a patchwork of fragmented, support-intensive systems across the Organization. The deployment of the ECM will be planned and coordinated by the Knowledge Management Service in cooperation with relevant departments and offices at Headquarters and in the field. Among initiatives constituting a first step towards future initiatives are a correspondence management system for the Executive Office of the Secretary-General; the production of iSeek news using the web content management module; and the use of a collaboration tool, which allows the sharing of ideas and documents by several units within the Secretariat.
Also before the Committee was the first report on the implementation of the enterprise resource planning (ERP) project (document A/64/380), which the Secretary-General defines as “the cornerstone of dramatic reform to the administrative and peacekeeping support functions of the United Nations” -- an $11.5 billion per annum operation, of which approximately $7.5 billion is allocated to peacekeeping. The next generation ERPsystem is going to replace the outdated Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) and introduce a unified approach to the management of the Organization’s human, financial and material resources.
The Secretary-General states that, if fully funded, Umoja could deliver in the range of $134 million to $224 million in annual capacity improvements and cost recovery, as well as improved effectiveness, timeliness and accountability. The report warns, however, that, while based on thorough analysis, expert advice and experience, all figures presented in the report are estimates.
According to the report, as at 31 July, 28 of the project’s 44 positions were encumbered and a further 16 were under recruitment. Those positions are proposed for conversion to temporary posts. The report also includes a request for an additional 36 temporary posts. Furthermore, Umoja has contracted with systems integration services for the design phase, and for strategic advisory services, and is in the process of negotiating a contract for ERPsoftware.
Responding to Member States’ request for options for a reduced ERPpackage at lower cost, the Secretary-General says that, after thorough analysis, it was concluded that no shortcuts could be made without introducing unacceptable risk, increasing the longer-term cost and sacrificing most of the benefits. Nevertheless, several options were analysed of which the Secretary-General recommends the “pilot first” option, which would allow the system to be initially tested in a contained environment. Resource requirements for full deployment of this option amount to $315.79 million, with $175.35 million required for 2010-2011. While this is clearly not a “reduced option”, it is, in fact, the most economical of all those analysed. Three main cost components include software, system integration and roll-out/change management.
With this approach, the design phase will be completed in the second quarter of 2010, followed by the build phase, which also sees preparation for implementation, and development of a comprehensive training programme. The complete solution would be ready by the end of 2011, and deployed to the entire organization by the end of 2013. This timetable represents a delay of one year, compared to the original plan, due to a delayed start and slower execution of the initial phases. Those, in turn, resulted from reduced funding granted for 2008-2009: $20 million as opposed to the $82 million requested.
The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), in a related report (document A/64/7/Add.9), recommends approval of a total amount of about $19.42 million gross for the biennium 2010-2011 for the Office of Central Support Services ($1.19 million) and the Office of Information and Communications Technology ($17.71 million). Amounts of some $11.95 million and $3.56 million are recommended for the continuation in 2010-2011 of the enterprise content management project and customer relationship management project, respectively.
The ACABQ also recommends that the Assembly note the estimate of $323.14 million for the ERPproject, to be completed during the period 2008-2013. Under the regular budget, the report recommends approval of a gross amount of $24.65 million under grants and contributions, inclusive of the amount of $11.78 million already included in the budget proposal for 2010-2011; and a total amount of $29.06 million under the peacekeeping support account for the period from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2010. An estimated amount of $72.63 million of the total ERPproject would be financed from extrabudgetary resources.
While recommending acceptance of the Secretary-General’s ERPproposals, the Advisory Committee notes that a significant portion is based on estimates and recommends that the Secretary-General be requested to make every effort to reduce the overall costs of the project and to exercise prudence in the utilization of resources. The Secretary-General should also be requested to provide, in future, annual progress reports, full details on the efforts to contain costs, as well as project expenditures incurred and justifications for the utilization of resources.
In connection with enterprise content management and customer relationship management, the Advisory Committee states that the Secretary-General should have provided preliminary estimates on the requirements for those systems in his latest budget proposal. Future budget proposals should include requirements for all ongoing and envisaged activities, thereby enabling Member States to make informed decisions.
In the report, the ACABQ asks for more concrete information on many aspects of the projects, including data on the resources already engaged across all funding sources, composition of the costs and efficiencies gained. It also advocates drawing on existing in-house expertise and reducing reliance on external experts and vendors and recommends regular reassessments of requirements on the basis of experience gained.
On posts, the Advisory Committee states that, rather than doubling the size of the Knowledge Management Service, maximum use should be made of existing capacity. It recommends approval of seven of the 11 positions (three P-4 and four P-3) proposed for the Knowledge Management Service and a reduction of $1 million in the proposed $8.07 million under contractual services. For the CRM, the Advisory Committee recommends approval of four of the five additional general temporary assistance positions proposed (one P-4, one P-3 and two P-2); and a reduction of $500,000 in the $2 million proposed for expert services.
As the first phase of the CRMis to be implemented by the end of 2009, the Secretary-General should ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place for gathering the necessary data before the systems are deployed. The Advisory Committee is also supportive of the Secretary-General’s intention to build internal capacity for managing the deployment of the CRM and to reduce the Organization’s reliance on external vendors.
While recommending approval of $3.39 million for disaster recovery and business continuity and for maintaining the Brindisi enterprise data centre for the biennium 2010-2011, the Advisory Committee emphasizes the need to base requirements on objective needs and to fully explore the most cost-effective solutions.
Administrative reform should lead to reduced administrative burdens and costs for the Organization, the report states, recommending a more systematic and detailed approach to harvesting efficiency gains in connection with the ERP. The Secretary-General should strengthen his analysis and identify administrative resources that can be released as a result of the project. The ACABQ recommends that the Secretary-General’s next progress report include a plan for the downsizing of the ERP team upon completion of the project. It also recommends a review of all systems providing core functions for the management of the Organization’s resources and asks for a report on the benefits from the implementation of new systems.
While welcoming the expansion of the project Steering Committee, the Advisory Committee believes that the composition of that body is heavily tilted towards service providers and that increased representation of user departments is desirable. As one of the largest entities of the Secretariat, the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management should be represented in the ERP-governance structure.
The Committee also had before it the second progress report on the adoption of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) by the United Nations for the period from 1 April 2008 to 31 July 2009 (document A/64/355) and a related ACABQ report (document A/64/531).
Approved by the Assembly in July 2006 for introduction by 2010, the project seeks to harmonize the Organization’s accounting framework in order to improve the quality and credibility of financial reporting across the United Nations, set common measurements for financial evaluation and bring the United Nations in line with international standards. The major areas of achievement for the system-wide IPSAS Project Team have been continued development of accounting guidance papers, input into new standards, communication of IPSAS information, and development of IPSAS training courses along with plans for their deployment.
The report states that the project at the United Nations has been synchronized with the revised timetable for implementing the enterprise resource planning. As a result, the target date for the first full set of IPSAS-compliant financial statements for the Organization has been adjusted to 31 December 2014. This date continues to be subject to timely implementation of Umoja.
The Advisory Committee, among other things, notes that the transition to IPSAS represents a major effort in terms of training and change management. One of the major achievements of the United Nations IPSAS Implementation Project Team was the development of training products in support of IPSAS implementation across the system. The ACABQ emphasizes the need to keep the training plan under review and to adjust requirements in the light of experience and lessons learned, so as to ensure the most efficient use of resources.
The United Nations IPSAS Implementation Project Team, established in April 2007, is to be strengthened with three Professional posts in anticipation of an increase in the pace of IPSAS implementation. IPSAS requirements for 2010-2011 are to be apportioned among various sources according to the cost-sharing formula applied in the context of the ERP project, namely, 15 per cent from the regular budget, 62 per cent from the support account for peacekeeping operations, and 23 per cent from the special accounts for programme support costs. Overall expenditures relating to the adoption of IPSAS for the current biennium are projected at $2.39 million as at 31 July 2009, including $1.73 million and $516,600 under the regular budget and support account for peacekeeping operations, respectively.
The Committee also had before it two reports of the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU): a review of management of Internet websites in the United Nations system organizations (document A/64/95) and of information and communication technology (ICT) hosting services in the United Nations system organizations (document A/64/96).
Inspectors present a number of recommendations aimed at reforming website governance, updating website strategy and policy, and implementing multilingualism. Among those recommendations is a proposal to establish an ad hoc committee dealing with the implementation of multilingualism on United Nations organizations’ corporate websites. The governing bodies would review the report submitted by the ad hoc committee on the measures and financial implications to achieve language parity on their websites and take appropriate action.
According to the second JIU report, ICT hosting decisions should be based on three factors: organizational situation and business demands; ICT governance and strategy; and cost benefits analysis of each service considered. Further, the selection process should incorporate a Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats analysis. The Inspectors consider a joint governance structure to be best practice for the implementation of a common ICT system and also view the lead agency and cluster model as best practice in joint ICT initiatives. Through this model, one system organization takes the lead to implement a new ICT initiative, build the business case and achieve benefits which will become attractive and feasible for other United Nations system organizations to join later, thereby formulating a cluster of organizations sharing the same system/application.
The JIU recommends that system organization governing bodies should request executive heads to report at their next session on the implementation of recommendations contained in the report, in particular those aimed at defining common methodology for ICT costs/expenditures and exploring hosting solutions to take advantage of economies of scale.
Two related reports containing the comments of the Secretary-General and the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) on the JIU reviews (documents A/64/95/Add.1 and A/64/96/Add.1) were also before the Committee.
Business Continuity Management
The Committee also has before it revised estimates relating to business continuity management activities (document A/64/472), which amount to about $9.79 million for the 2010-2011 biennium. That amount covers the costs of 17 new posts necessary to implement and maintain business continuity management, and other general operating requirements, including contractual services, training, equipment, and supplies, including vaccines and medical supplies.
Business continuity management seeks to address the vulnerability of United Nations global operations, which cost almost $1 billion per calendar month. In the face of today’s threats, which include transnational terrorism and possible pandemics, the initiative seeks to strengthen the Organization’s ability to respond to risks and maintain continuity of critical business processes following disruptive events.
The proposed programme of work for 2010-2011 recognizes the need for all departments and offices of the United Nations to have business continuity plans in place; for heads of departments and offices away from Headquarters and regional commissions to be held accountable for their implementation; and for this to be done in a coordinated manner, including through systematic support, appropriate coordination structures, and regular consultations between business continuity focal points in New York and at other duty stations.
Work currently under way at the United Nations Secretariat builds on initial efforts carried out in the framework of pandemic preparedness planning, which started with the emergence of a virulent strain of avian flu in 2006. The Business Continuity Management Unit was established during the second quarter of 2007 to ensure viability of the business continuity planning of the United Nations Secretariat, offices away from Headquarters and regional commissions. It currently consists of three temporary staffing positions, including one P-5 Chief of the Unit, one P-4 Business Continuity Management Specialist, and one General Service (Other level) Administrative Assistant.
The Secretary-General reports that, in order to test the decision-making structure in New York, a full-day simulation, involving both the Senior Emergency Policy Team and the Crisis Operations Group, was organized. While based on a pandemic scenario, the simulation also focused on testing measures to ensure business continuity. On the basis of the outcome of the simulation and the experience gained in responding to the influenza A (H1N1) outbreak in the spring of 2009, the United Nations Headquarters pandemic plan was revised. Progress achieved to date also includes the establishment of the Standing Pandemic Preparedness Working Group and the development of an internal pandemic staff communication strategy.
The report also describes the Organization’s crisis management structures --led by the Department of Safety and Security -- which deal with incidents that pose threats to staff and assets, as well as the coordinated response of the United Nations system to the spring 2009 outbreak of the A (H1N1) influenza.
The Advisory Committee, in a related report (document A/64/7/Add.8), states that the Secretary-General should have provided preliminary estimates on business continuity management in the proposed budget for 2010-2011. It also reiterates that cooperation with host country authorities at all duty stations is essential in order to ensure an effective and coordinated response to potential disruptions and encourages the Secretary-General to continue his efforts in this regard.
The report further draws attention to requirements for telecommuting, one of the four main mitigation strategies for business continuity, and reiterates the importance of a coordinated approach to the proposed programme of work for 2010-2011, with the involvement of all actors. The Advisory Committee recognizes the importance of reinforcing the planning capacity of the Organization in order to address pandemic or other business continuity issues, as well as the need to instil the required cultural awareness and responsibility in all parties concerned. Important tasks remain to be completed in that regard.
Out of the 17 posts requested, the ACABQ is recommending acceptance of eight posts on a temporary basis for the biennium 2010-2011. An evaluation of the business continuity capacity should be carried out at the end of this period, and a progress report should be submitted indicating what has been achieved and how the tasks and responsibilities have been incorporated into existing structures. The Advisory Committee further recommends acceptance of three of the four temporary posts requested for 2010-2011 and says that consideration should also be given to the placement of the Business Continuity Management Unit within the Office of the Under-Secretary-General of the Department of Management, in view of its coordinating role with all United Nations entities.
The ACABQ’s other comments on posts include recommendations on redeployment and use of existing capacity. For example, some of the services provided by the Office of Information and Communications Technology, for which additional resources are requested, are already part of the capacity and responsibilities of the Office. The ACABQ, therefore, recommends that resources requested for contractual services for the Office be reduced by $500,000 to $1.85 million. Similarly, it recommends a reduction of $163,500 in the request for operating expenses by the Office of Central Support Services, which should be able to provide proposed miscellaneous services from existing capacity. Of the six posts requested for Nairobi, the Advisory Committee recommends acceptance of three posts for: the Business Continuity Coordinator (P-4); the Medical Doctor (National); and the Nurse.
Although the United Nations employs significant numbers of health-care professionals, there is no overall policy for occupational health and safety issues or resources or structures for managing and supporting globally distributed medical staff, the report continues. The Advisory Committee believes that the reorientation of the programme, its global reach and related resources should be presented and justified in the context of the proposed budget. It, therefore, recommends acceptance of one P-5 post, of the five posts proposed, for the Senior Medical Officer, and one P-4 public health and infectious diseases specialist.
Revised Estimates for Economic and Social Council, Human Rights Council
and United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
Another report before the Committee details budgetary requirements resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session of 2009 (document A/64/344), in which it authorized relevant functional commissions, standing committees or expert bodies to undertake additional activities, for which no provisions had been made in the 2008-2009 budget and which would have an impact on the estimates for 2010-2011.
Additional requirements arising as a result of those resolutions and decisions are estimated at $19,100 under the regular budget, all of which will be absorbed within the resources provided under the programme budget for 2008-2009. Requirements of $167,800 for 2010-2011 are also proposed to be accommodated within the provisions under the proposed budget for that biennium.
Also contained in the report are proposed modifications to the Economic and Social Council’s programme of work for 2010-2011 as a result of the decisions of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs and the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, as contained in Economic and Social Council decision 2009/251.
In a related report (document A/64/7/Add.1), the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questionsnotes that, in addition to the revisions resulting from decision 2009/251, Council decision 2009/4, extending the mandate of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti until July 2010, would require additional resources of an amount estimated at $12,200 under section 9, Economic and social affairs, for a consultation mission to Haiti in April 2010. The Advisory Committee has no objection to the course of action proposed by the Secretary-General.
Contained in the Secretary-General’s report on the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council in 2009 (document A/64/353) are additional requirements related to resolutions and decisions adopted at the Council’s tenth and eleventh sessions which amount to $1.88 million for 2008-2009 and $2.83 million for 2010-2011.
The Secretary-General is proposing that the amount of $1.88 million be accommodated within the resources appropriated under the 2008-2009 budget and reported in the context of the second performance report. As to the total estimate of $3.66 million relating to the biennium 2010-2011, given that provision of $824,700 has already been made in the proposed 2010-2011 budget in relation to perennial activities, the Secretary-General is proposing that the balance of $2.83 million be met from within the provisions of the 2010-2011 budget. No additional appropriation would be required.
In connection with Human Rights Council decision 11/117 on the issuance of reports of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, the Secretary-General indicates that the requirements for the biennium 2008-2009, estimated at $1.44 million, for the translation of reports into all official languages of the United Nations, could be met from within the overall appropriated resources. As regards related requirements for 2010-2011 of $4.38 million, it is indicated that specific proposals to strengthen United Nations Office at Geneva’s permanent conference-servicing capacity, to meet the increased demands stemming from the activities of the Human Rights Council and other human rights mechanisms, have been included in the proposed budget for 2010-2011.
The Committee also had before it revised estimates resulting from resolution S-9/1 adopted by the Human Rights Council at its ninth special session in 2009 (document A/63/853), which amount to about $1.85 million. Of that sum, an estimated amount of $650,000 will be met from extrabudgetary resources and an amount of $266,900 is expected to be met from within the resources already appropriated for 2008-2009. The estimated balance of $904,000 (net) represents additional requirements to be financed from the programme budget for 2008-2009.
The text provides for strengthening the field presence of the Office in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; gathering information and reporting, by all relevant special mandate holders, on human rights violations of the Palestinian people; dispatch of an urgent independent international fact-finding mission to investigate all violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law by the occupying Power against the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory; the provision of all administrative, technical and logistical assistance required to facilitate the aforementioned; and investigation of the latest targeting of facilities of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza.
The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, in a related report (document A/64/7/Add.3), recommends that the Assembly take note of the report of the Secretary-General on the revised estimates resulting from resolutions and decisions adopted by the Human Rights Council. Informed that additional requirements in connection with resolution S-9/1 could be met from resources already appropriated under the 2008-2009 budget, the ACABQ recommends approval of those additional requirements, to be accommodated from within the resources appropriated for 2008-2009.
Regarding the issuance of Universal Periodic Review reports, the Advisory Committee writes that, while supporting the Secretary-General’s proposal to redeploy 12 posts from New York to Geneva and to increase the level of resources allocated for temporary assistance for meetings, it is also concerned about the adequacy of that proposed additional capacity. Therefore, the Secretary-General should be requested to monitor the situation closely and to report to the Assembly on any developments that may have financial implications.
In its report on the audit of conference services put at the disposal of the Human Rights Council in 2009 (document A/64/511), the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) concludes that the Division of Conference Management in Geneva received insufficient resources to provide conference services to the Human Rights Council, while maintaining the same level of service to the Division’s other Geneva-based clients. The resource requirements for providing conference services to the Council’s universal periodical review process were estimated at $3.85 million for the biennium 2008-2009, but the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Division of Conference Management overlooked the fact that three annual sessions had to be provided for. Thus, the real resource requirements were nearly three times higher than the estimate. However, the amount finally approved by the Assembly was only $874,000. The combination of these factors indicates that the processes for determining resource requirements for conference services on an “as required” basis needed to be reviewed.
The OIOS points out, among other things, that the Division of Conference Management, in consultation with the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, should develop a strategy for establishing optimal permanent staffing levels for providing acceptable standards of service. If immediate action is not taken to address this issue, other Geneva-based clients serviced by the Division of Conference Management could face a problem similar to that experienced by the Human Rights Council. The audit also showed substantial delays in the submission of documents to the Division of Conference Management for processing. Compliance with the 10-week rule for the submission of documentation would permit timely processing of documents relating to the Human Rights Council in all the official languages of the United Nations.
The report calls for improved communication, coordination and collaboration between the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Division of Conference Management through such measures as designation of focal points, regular meetings and outreach activities to facilitate better coordination and collaboration.
The Committee also had before it a request for subvention for the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (document A/64/270) in the amount of $558,200 from the regular budget of the United Nations for the biennium 2010-2011. The subvention was recommended by the Board of Trustees to ensure the Institute’s independence. The Secretary-General, in his note on the matter, explains that the proposed budget for 2010-2011 already contains a provision of $558,200, representing the Organization’s subvention to the Institute.
Regarding the financial situation of the Institute, the Secretary-General reports that funds available at the beginning of 2009 amounted to some $1.26 million, including $308,700 as an operating cash reserve. Total income for the year is estimated at $2.94 million from voluntary and inter-organizational contributions, and a $307,800 subvention from the United Nations regular budget. Total estimated expenditure for 2009 is $3.32 million, and requirements for 2010 are estimated at $2.02 million.
The Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, in its related report(document A/64/7/Add.7), recommends approval of the request in the amount of $558,200 (before recosting) from the regular budget of the United Nations for the biennium 2010-2011, for which the provision has already been included under section 4, Disarmament.
Information and Communications Technology and Business Continuity
ANGELA KANE, Under-Secretary-General for Management, introduced the Secretary-General’s reports on enterprise resource planning, IPSAS and revised estimates on business continuity. She said that every attempt had been made to provide Member States with a more refined strategy, planning, budgeting and benefit projections on Umoja, based on considerable analysis drawn from Umoja Team’s consultations with staff of all offices at Headquarters, away from Headquarters, regional commissions and peacekeeping missions. The recommended option of “Pilot First” was the lowest risk option, as it had a gradual and not sudden operational impact. That meant that Umoja would be deployed to a group of pilot sites first and then to the rest of the Organization. It was not the lowest cost option in 2010-2011, but it was the lowest in the medium term, with measurable benefits to the Organization.
She added that, in the current economic situation, on one hand, there was concern on the request for an increase in the budget, and, on the other hand, there was the impact of not approving the required resources for Umoja. Currently, 39,978 staff worked for the Organization, including 23,158 in the field. With the increase in complexity and responsibility for missions and mandates that had not been foreseen a decade or two ago, United Nations staff had been relying on fragmented and silo systems, along with manual and paper-based process. United Nations legacy systems, for example, IMIS, were so highly customized that it was difficult to integrate and interface with new open technologies and modern distributed architectures. There was a high cost of ownership to maintain, operate and upgrade that system, while still running the risk of not meeting the Organization’s evolving business requirements.
“If you truly want an integrated administrative and management reform, multi-skilled and mobile staff, then Umoja is our change management vehicle”, she said.
Regarding IPSAS, she said that, since the Organization’s wide deployment of Umoja was now projected for the third quarter of 2013, the Secretary-General proposed that the first full set of IPSAS-compliant financial statements be issued for the year ending on 31 December 2014. For peacekeeping, the plan was to provide the Assembly with IPSAS-compliant financial statements for the year ending 30 June 2014.
Describing the business continuity management programme, she said that the departments and offices were currently in the process of developing strategies aimed at mitigating the impact of different risks. Despite those major efforts, much more needed to be done. Some critical measures that still had to be undertaken included the development of mitigation strategies at the departmental level; consolidation of departmental business continuity plans; business impact analysis; coordination of business continuity planning among organizations located in New York; provision of technical assistance to offices away from Headquarters; and training of critical staff and ensuring accountability at all duty stations by undertaking regular testing of business continuity plans.
In conclusion, she said that, with the ad hoc budgetary solution for the past two and a half years, the Organization had taken the first steps towards establishing minimum capacity of business continuity management. The resources and staff deployments had been strictly temporary in nature, with the result that the process itself was fragile and could not be sustained under such an arrangement beyond 2009. The resource requirements of $9.7 million would institutionalize the process. Concrete guidance and a clear direction of alternatives that the Assembly wished to pursue would allow the Secretariat to achieve a common vision and goal of an efficient, modern and result-driven United Nations.
Introducing the report of the Secretary-General on the enterprise content management and customer relationship management systems and proposal for a unified disaster recovery and business continuity plan, SOON-HONG CHOI, Chief Information Technology Officer, said that since its establishment this year, the Office of Information and Communications Technology had begun implementation of the ICT Management Framework, which provided the ICT governance structure and established an investment review process for major ICT projects. In fact, his Office had taken the suggestions of the ACABQ and the Assembly on last year’s proposed governance model to heart and simplified its approach, streamlining the number of bodies and clarifying their roles. A Client Services Unit had been launched to better understand the needs and priorities, and a Project Management Office had been established to effectively plan and coordinate the evaluation of ICT investments and projects.
Parallel to those strategic changes, the Office had completed two rounds of the Fast Forward Programme, comprising projects that provided practical and tangible ICT solutions for the Secretariat within a 90-day period. For example, the creation of deleGATE Portal last year had been the result of that programme. The ICT Structural Review was well under way, which would streamline and consolidate the current high level of fragmentation in the use of ICT resources across the Secretariat. Its findings would be presented in the sixty-fifth session of the Assembly. In short, the implementation of the ICT strategy had begun with a high level of energy and increased focus on tangible results.
Regarding the ERPproject, he said that it was a joint venture, driven by business process demands and delivered through complex information technology systems that required a high level of technical expertise. Going forward, he expected information and communications technology’s contribution to the project to increase and intensify. The ICT Office had learned from other organizations that had suffered from inadequate technical work and would avoid such problems through good planning and proactive engagement.
Turning to enterprise content management, he emphasized that it was a multi-year effort that had the potential to revolutionize the way the United Nations conducted its substantive business. Enterprise content management provided significant improvements in using the vast amounts of information and knowledge supporting the activities of the United Nations. It allowed the Secretariat to create, manage, share, disseminate and preserve its important outputs and knowledge in an extremely efficient way, resulting in significantly improving its responsiveness, agility and productivity. Customer relationship management would be providing a much-needed common system for global management and provision of essential services. When implemented in the United Nations context, “C for customer” referred to anyone or any entity that had a relationship with the Organization. That included staff, Member States, other agencies, non-governmental organizations and vendors. An incremental approach had been taken to the system, with smaller-scale initiatives launched in specific areas. The primary customer relationship management initiative, iNeed, had already coordinated services related to information and communications technology and facilities management in a collaborative effort involving the Department of Management, the Department of Field Services, the Office of Information and Communications Technology, and a number of field missions.
Regarding the unified Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity, he said that his Office had worked very closely with Business Continuity Management Unit of the Department of Management to ensure that their proposals were coordinated effectively.
Introducing a related report of the ACABQ, the Chair of that body, SUSAN MCLURG, said that revised estimates related to the enterprise content management, customer relationship management and proposals for a unified disaster recovery and business continuity plan. The Advisory Committee had expressed its view that the Secretary-General should have provided preliminary estimates on the enterprise content management and customer relationship management in the proposed budget for 2010-2011, in light of the fact that the Assembly had requested that report in its resolution 63/262 in December last year.
In that connection, she recalled that the implementation of enterprise content management and customer relationship management systems had been initiated before a full proposal had been presented to the Assembly. The Secretary-General’s report had been submitted in response to the Assembly’s request for information on the benefits expected and full costs of the implementation, as well as the measures necessary to complete and maintain the systems. The Advisory Committee had emphasized the need to ensure a coordinated approach to the implementation of the enterprise systems, under the authority of the Chief Information Technology Officer. It had also recommended that the Secretary-General be requested to provide information on the overall costs over the five-year span of the implementation of the enterprise systems across all funding sources, including the expenditures already incurred, the initial costs, estimates related to customization and training, as well as recurring costs for software maintenance and licences and other requirements, once the systems were fully deployed. Also recommended was further development of analysis of expected and actual efficiency and productivity gains.
Concerning the benefits of the enterprise resource planning, she said that the Advisory Committee had noted the efforts made to carry out a quantitative analysis of potential productivity and efficiency gains, but noted that those gains did not represent or suggest a net decrease in posts or savings in staff costs, but rather a potential to redirect resources towards high-priority tasks, to compensate for gaps in current processes. The ACABQ considered that a more systematic and detailed approach to harvesting efficiency gains was required and that the Secretary-General should identify the administrative resources that could be released as a result of implementing ERP. It would be up to the General Assembly to decide on the disposal of those resources.
On a related issue, the Advisory Committee had noted that the workforce planning exercise being introduced Secretariat-wide would determine the critical skills and competencies that would be required to align the United Nations staffing structure with programmatic goals and evolving needs of the Organization. That exercise should also take into account the impact of the ERPon the nature of administrative activities to be performed, including the low-value activities that would become redundant and high-value tasks that might require new skills.
The Advisory Committee had provided an update of the ERPproject status and utilization of the funds provided thus far, she added. It had recommended that a more detailed timeline of the project be provided in future progress reports, showing, for each of the four phases of the project, the key activities, milestones and deliverables, as well as the dependencies between the major activities. An overview of the resources required for each key activity should also be provided, such as the number of work months of project staff, subject matter experts and consultants, travel and other costs. The ACABQ had also emphasized the importance of establishing a baseline for the project from the outset.
On the overall ERPbudget, the ACABQ had noted that the resource requirements over a five-year period had risen to some $315.8 million, which represented an estimate. The Advisory Committee had noted the main areas, in which changes in costs were proposed, compared to previous estimates. Those largely related to start-up operational costs; the strengthening of the ERPproject team with an additional 36 positions; greater involvement of experts and temporary assistance; and change management and training, which would shift from a train-the-trainer approach to instructor-led training. The Advisory Committee had recognized the importance of ensuring the participation of the Organization’s most knowledgeable staff in the design and implementation of the system, and of developing in-house expertise. Every effort should also be made to ensure the cost-effectiveness of the training strategy and methods, and to adjust requirements in the light of experience and lessons learned.
YOUSIF MAGID (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that he looked forward to discussing the issues addressed in the reports introduced during informal consultations, and would seek clarification on a number of issues related to information and communications technology.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, HENRIC RÅSBRANT ( Sweden) said that implementation of the enterprise resource planning was an opportunity to make the Organization’s work more effective and efficient through streamlined information management and business processes. The Union would carefully study the proposals for, what he stressed, were the significant resources requested in that regard and seek possible ways to contain costs. He further agreed with the ACABQ that a more systematic and detailed approach to harvesting efficiency gains was required. Qualitative and quantitative benefits needed to be clearly identified in the short and long term, he said.
The European Union also welcomed efforts by the Secretariat to keep customization of the enterprise resource planning at a minimum, he continued, and noted that other information systems, such as the new talent management system, must be fully compatible with the ERP.
SHANNON WHITE (Australia), speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said that, for the Organization to be effective in the modern era, it must achieve a global, coherent, rational and harmonized approach to information and communications technology both through coordinated, strategic direction and recognition of the important role of the end-user, particularly in the field. Accountability and oversight were integral to that process. She said that the enterprise resource planning was fundamental to management reform, as well as an important element in other reform processes. It had the potential to provide an unprecedented level of unity within the United Nations system and should enable significant organizational resources to be freed up and used to fulfil other mandates, improving productivity across the board.
However, given the project’s size, she continued, funding requests should be judged according to their reasonableness and appropriateness. It was important to ensure appropriate audit trails, progress markers and justification for resource requests. Further, business continuity management was an integral part of the ICT and ERPcluster, and she expressed disappointment that preliminary estimates, in that regard, had not been included in the proposed 2010-2011 biennium budget. She also said that there was merit to placing the Business Continuity Unit within the Department of Management. Lastly, she noted efforts made to provide for secondary data centre requirements in connection with the Capital Master Plan, and said that the Secretariat should continue to identify efficiencies and improve productivity to ensure real gains.
SHIN BOO-NAM (Republic of Korea) said that timely investments in information and communications technology would enhance the efficiency and effectiveness, as well as accountability and credibility, of the United Nations system, bringing benefits to all stakeholders. Over the last two decades, his Government had been pursuing e-Government in all public sectors, introducing the Business Process Management System, Electronic Procurement Service and Electronic Tax Services, among other things. Those efforts had produced tangible results, improving the efficiency and transparency of administrative work, providing customer-focused administrative services, and expanding opportunities for stakeholders to participate in policy-making. From his country’s experience, he was of the view that the critical success factors for the ICT strategy, including enterprise resource planning, were: extensive business process re-engineering, along with the introducing of ICT; strong leadership and support of the top management; and active involvement of all stakeholders in every stage of system development. In that connection, he recommended that the Secretariat devote more strenuous efforts and resources to those important factors during the implementation of the ICT strategy.
Investing in information and communications technology itself was not a magic bullet, he said. As noted in document A/64/380, extensive implementation of the business process re-engineering, accompanying a structural change in the staff’s working and thinking process, was one of the main conditions for success. The Secretariat should regularly provide progress reports to Member States on business process re-engineering and ICT. He also reiterated the importance of strong leadership from the Chief Information Technology Officer, as well as coordination of different needs and interests among stakeholders, including staff. Last but not least, open-mindedness and support of all stakeholders were crucial for a successful ICT strategy.
In connection with the ERPproject, he said that, while detailed information had been provided about the benefits of ERPand related resource requirements, those did not give the full picture of all possible resources needed, as well as efficiency gains from the ERP. The Secretary-General should provide the life-cycle cost of enterprise resource planning. The Secretariat should provide more tangible and visible efficiency gains, such as personnel reduction and cost savings, which could actually be reflected in the next budget. Considering the current economic downturn, an additional resource requirement for the ERPproject could only be justified if benefits adjusted by an appropriate discount rate exceeded the project’s life-cycle costs.
Timely implementation of the ICT strategy with the business process re-engineering should be prioritized to enhance the Organization’s overall efficiency and effectiveness. “We cannot gather a harvest in the fall without sowing seeds in the spring”, he said. Taking that into consideration, his delegation would carefully compare costs incurred immediately with benefits realized afterwards in reviewing the Secretary-General’s proposal for resource requirements.
BRUCE RASHKOW (United States), noted the Secretary-General’s proposal to implement enterprise resource planning using the “pilot first” option as the most cost-effective and risk-adverse approach for quick realization of projected efficiency gains, including increased operational effectiveness, improved accountability, enhanced transparency, and higher client satisfaction. He said that enterprise resource planning was a complex and costly undertaking, with a total cost, for the “pilot first” approach, of $315 million over four years. Timing was critical. Implementation would require a strong commitment and continued energetic leadership to see the project to its fruition, on time and within its budget. He concurred with ACABQ’s recommendation to approve the Secretary-General’s initiative on enterprise resource planning through the “pilot first” approach, making every effort to do so as cost-effectively as possible.
AKIHIRO OKOCHI ( Japan) said his country was committed to realizing reforms for efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations and was ready to discuss any meaningful proposal to that end. However, substantial budgetary implications deriving from reform proposals raised the stakes considerably. Therefore, at this stage, it was necessary to carefully examine the costs and benefits of every proposal. As the ACABQ had requested, a more detailed assessments of potential productivity and efficiency gains arising from the ERP project, as well as a range of future operating costs, needed to be submitted to the Assembly. Through that, the Assembly could not only consider the issue in depth, but also always with an overall picture of how things stood.
On the start-up operating costs in the revised estimate of the ERPproject, he said that the fact that those costs had not been included in the previous budget estimate and must now be requested in a piecemeal manner demonstrated a lack of coordination among relevant departments/offices, or else a failure to conduct rigorous project planning and management. In cases when additional requests for resources were made by the Secretariat, his delegation believed they should be absorbed within the overall cost of the project to be approved by the Assembly.
Benefiting from the introduction of the enterprise resource planning required continued and active support of all stakeholders and staff, he continued. Without that, the whole project would turn out to be a waste of money. Noting that sufficient technical support was planned to that end, his delegation wanted to emphasize, once again, the importance of full commitment on the part of senior management, as well as involvement of every staff member. The ACABQ also encouraged the Secretary-General to strengthen his analysis and identify administrative resources that could be released as a result of enterprise resource planning. It was his assumption that the project would be of real benefit to the budget for, if it was not, it would be hard to justify the large investment. To help Member States gauge success, the Secretary-General should provide periodic reports on the specific costs and posts that were released, so that the Assembly could make informed decisions about the use of such released resources. His delegation intended to look into such issues as the rationale for project staffing and customization of the ERP software. It would engage constructively with all other Member States in discussions on that important item.
FLORIAN GUBLER ( Switzerland), speaking also on behalf of Liechtenstein, acknowledged that implementation of ERP and other ICT projects required considerable investments. Resources requested would be examined with a commitment to budgetary discipline and with a view to avoiding unnecessary costs. Nonetheless, he recognized that realization of those projects must not be delayed. Reducing costs for the biennium 2010-2011 would lead to higher costs in the long run and delay the impact of expected benefits. By protracting enterprise resource planning, it would be necessary to spend money to maintain or update incompatible, outdated applications that would eventually be replaced by ERP.
Much more than a mere ICT project, he said, enterprise resource planning was a prerequisite for improvements in such areas as procurement, results-based budgeting and management, cost accounting, as well as IPSAS. A centrally hosted and managed ERPplatform would also address existing gaps in disaster recovery and business continuity. There were also potential synergies with other ICT projects under development, such as enterprise content management and the customer relationship management systems. Questions did remain regarding the timetable, streamlining of business processes and the potential monetary savings, among other areas, he said.
Going forward, deliberations during the coming weeks should find ways to ensure that the design phase of the project could be completed as planned and that there would be a seamless transition to the subsequent phases of building and deployment.
SHARON VAN BUERLE, Director of the Programme Planning and Budget Division, introduced, in one statement, the Secretary-General’s reports on revised estimates arising from resolutions and decisions of the Economic and Social Council and the Human Rights Council, as well as the note on a request for a subvention to the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.
The Advisory Committee’s related reports were introduced by Ms. MCLURG.
Presenting the OIOS report on the audit of conference services put at the disposal of the Human Rights Council in 2009, INGA-BRITT AHLENIUS, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, said that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management had initiated steps to implement OIOS recommendations. The Office would continue to monitor their implementation on a regular basis.
Mr. MAGID (Sudan), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, stressed the importance of providing the necessary resources to finance all decisions of the Organization’s intergovernmental organs relating to social and economic development, including resolutions and decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session. He further emphasized the role of the Committee on Programme and Coordination as the main organ of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council in reviewing the programmatic changes to the programme budget. The Group also supported approval of the requested subvention to the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, he said.
He said the Group deeply regretted that the Human Rights Council had not been provided with adequate conference services in 2009, and expressed concern with the OIOS findings on the issue, regretting that inadequate coordination in the Secretariat also had a negative impact on the provision of those services. He stressed the need for the Secretary-General to closely monitor the financial situation of the Council and to bring to the attention of the General Assembly any resource needs the Council might have, particularly as regarded the Universal Periodic Review. He emphasized that the Human Rights Council, as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, must be provided with all necessary conference services to support its mandated activities.
Action on Draft
The Committee then approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on the financing of the United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) (document A/C.5/64/L.5), the mandate of which was not extended beyond 15 June 2009.
By the terms of the text, the General Assembly would reduce the Mission’s initial appropriation for the period from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 from $36.08 million to $35.58 million. The Assembly would further reduce the appropriation of $15 million previously approved for the administrative liquidation of the Mission for the period from 1 July to 31 December 2009 to some $10.94 million.
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