Press Releases

    ORG/1365
    5 November 2002

    OVERSIGHT REPORT HIGHLIGHTS AREAS OF CRITICAL CONCERN
    TO UNITED NATIONS; RECOMMENDS SAVING OF $56 MILLION

    Introduces New Initiatives to Heighten Quality of Oversight Services

    NEW YORK, 4 November (OIOS) -- The United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has released its eighth Annual Report (document A/57/451), highlighting areas of critical concern identified during the 12-month period ending 30 June 2002. The OIOS’ achievements include recommending actions which, if implemented will result in savings of $56 million; assessment of the viability of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW); a further step towards results-oriented performance reporting; investigations into allegations of sexual exploitation in United Nations peacekeeping operations and refugee operations; and on-site audit coverage of the Repatriation and Reintegration Programme of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries.

    During the reporting period, the OIOS issued 2,357 recommendations to improve internal controls and overcome obstacles to organizational efficiency and effectiveness. More than 50 per cent of those recommendations, which resulted from OIOS internal audits, inspections, evaluations and investigations, have already been implemented by management.

    Statistical Highlights

    • Some 30 per cent of all OIOS recommendations were classified as critical to the Organization. These recommendations called for management actions and have far-reaching consequences such as major improvements to productivity, significant savings and recoveries, and strengthened accountability against fraud, waste and abuse.
    • As of August 2002, over 50 per cent of all recommendations (and 46 per cent of critical recommendations) had already been implemented. The slightly lower implementation rate for critical recommendations reflects their more complex nature and the longer time frame needed for their implementation.
    • The OIOS’ oversight recommendations, if implemented, could result in savings and recoveries estimated at approximately $56 million. Based on the OIOS’ recommendations, the Organization has realized expenditure reductions totalling $27 million and recoveries of $1.1 million during the current year. The actual savings and recoveries will depend on the concerted efforts of programme managers and often extend over several years.

    Highlights of Oversight Achievements

    During the reporting period, the OIOS focused on the following oversight priorities: peacekeeping, humanitarian and related activities, human resources management, procurement and problems associated with establishing new bodies. Key oversight achievements are discussed below.

    • A follow-up review of mission subsistence allowances at United Nations peacekeeping missions showed that the implementation of OIOS’ audit recommendations resulted in projected annual savings of $25.5 million.
    • With its enhanced qualitative assessments of programme performance, the Secretary-General's report on Programme Performance of the United Nations for the Biennium for 2000-2001, produced by the OIOS, was an important step towards implementing results-based reporting in the Organization.
    • An audit of United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund contribution remittances by member organizations revealed that more than $33 million in contributions were under-remitted or remitted late during 1999 and 2000, resulting in lost interest income of over $400,000.
    • An investigation into allegations of sexual exploitation of refugee girls and women by aid workers and peacekeepers in United Nations refugee camps in West Africa confirmed that such exploitation existed, but was not widespread. The information gathered suggested that young female refugees resorted to prostitution or sexual relationships with aid workers as a result of extreme poverty. There were also cases of rape and other involuntary sexual contact with refugees.
    • The OIOS has commenced on-site audit coverage for the $270 million UNHCR Repatriation and Reintegration Programme in Afghanistan and neighbouring countries. Given the risks involved in the operation, the UNHCR has agreed to the OIOS providing advice on effective internal controls.

    This year’s Annual Report also presents a forward–look at new OIOS initiatives aimed at heightening the quality of internal oversight services to further enhance accountability in the Organization. Among these initiatives, the OIOS will apply a risk assessment methodology for its 2003 work programme and develop an organizational integrity strategy aimed at strengthening the prevention of fraud and other malfeasance in the Organization. This will help the OIOS to plan and carry out oversight assignments more effectively in the face of its growing oversight responsibilities. The OIOS is also applying its internal management consulting resources to meet new demands for services and strengthening its support for self-evaluation activities carried out by programme managers.

    As requested by the General Assembly, the Annual Report provides analytical information on internal oversight activities to improve United Nations operations and programmes. The OIOS audits, inspections and investigations addressed such areas as management inefficiency, administrative bottlenecks, poor deployment of staff and the improper use of resources. Evaluations undertook broader assessments of General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and ECOSOC Support and Coordination subprogrammes; and the Legal Affairs subprogramme.

    To learn more the OIOS, its mission and mandate, visit the OIOS Web site at

    http://www.un.org/depts/oios/index.html

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