4 February 2008


4 February 2008
Press Conference
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York



To further improve the United Nations accountability and foster a culture of transparency, senior managers today would publish Performance Compact Agreements on the Secretariat’s intranet, Alicia Bárcena Ibarra, Under-Secretary-General for Administration and Management said at a Headquarters press conference.

Together with an Enterprise Risk Management study, the compacts would form an integral part of what would be presented to the General Assembly as a new “accountability architecture”, a system-wide review of accountability measures based on the pillars of performance, compliance and integrity.

Some 29 compacts had been signed by 26 senior managers, as some managers were in charge of more than one programme, and today by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  In the run-up to publishing, the managers had met several times with the Management Performance Board, the body tasked with monitoring accountability and chaired by Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro.  Nicolas Michel, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Shaaban Shaaban, Under-Secretary-General of the Department for General Assembly and Conference Management, and a management expert from the United Nations Funds and Programmes were also members.

Answering questions on whether the compacts would be made public, Ms. Bárcena said the first step was to make them known to staff, however, there was nothing that precluded the information from becoming public.  Her office had prepared a report on access to public information and was currently consulting with Member States about applying uniform standards.

Regarding financial disclosure, she noted that those who had not complied with financial disclosure guidelines had been sent to her department by the Ethics Office for disciplinary measures.

For last year’s financial disclosure, which covered 2005, 12 people had been charged with not disclosing information, she said, none of them at the Assistant Secretary-General or Under-Secretary-General level, as disclosures pertained to those with fiduciary or procurement responsibilities.  Of those 12 cases, eight had filed their disclosures since being charged on 18 October; four cases were being considered for disciplinary measures and decisions would soon be taken on them.

As to how “integrity” would be measured, Ms. Bárcena replied that the compact was a mechanism within the accountability architecture by which a senior manager established programme objectives and performance measures.  Describing her own mandates as a senior manager responsible for projects that extended beyond this year -- such as the Capital Master Plan, the administration of justice and the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system -- she said her compact outlined her 2008-specific priorities for which she was accountable.

The compact also covered managerial responsibilities, such as managers’ relationships with staff, and a look at whether they were spending budgets correctly, Ms. Barcena said.  Human resource management performance indicators showed how well departments adhered to gender and geographic distribution requirements.  Another section dealt with conduct, which addressed the integrity dimension.  That considered, among other things, the number of oversight recommendations managers received and how they had handled them.  Her department would show how existing elements of the integrity pillar -– the Ethics Office, the Ombudsmen and the Mediation Office, for example -- were building a more accountable Secretariat.

As for whether employees could post comments about management, Ms. Bárcena said it was up to senior managers to determine how those issues were handled, but she would welcome such comments.  No single methodology had been decided for capturing feedback.  The Management Performance Board would meet four times this year to assess progress and determine systemic problems.

Taking a query about the use of the United Nations north lawn by retailer Gucci for a possible commercial enterprise, she said her office had received and approved the request from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for the event.  She was responsible for loaning United Nations premises to honourable partners, such as UNICEF, and had agreed that it was important to look into use of the premises for commercial purposes.  She directed other questions about a 6 February event involving the Raising Malawi organization to UNICEF.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.