Press Releases

     

    ORG/1398

    17 October 2003

    UNITED NATIONS INTERNAL OFFICE REPORTS POTENTIAL SAVINGS
    OF $37 MILLION IDENTIFIED IN WORK OF ORGANIZATION

    Annual Survey for 12 Months from 1 July 2002 Describes

    Impact on Accountability, Efficiency and Quality of Management

    NEW YORK, 16 October (UN Headquarters) -- The impact of the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) on the accountability, efficiency and quality of the management of the Organization during the past 12-month period was broad and far-reaching, according to the annual report of the Office released today. The Office identified recoveries and potential savings to the Organization amounting to some $37 million, of which more than $15 million has already been recovered and saved. The Office also collaborated with the European Union Anti-fraud Office to investigate a misappropriation of $4.2 million by a former senior staff member of United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), which led to a successful prosecution of the staff member by national authorities.

    The Oversight Office issued some 2,700 recommendations, calling for improvements to productivity and accountability for fraud, waste and abuse. Half of them have already been implemented.  The number and range of the Office’s recommendations show the multifaceted nature of its oversight work, and its impact on the Organization. The identified potential savings also suggest that good management practices and controls can yield large dividends in terms of reduced expenditures and recoveries for the Organization. The actual savings and recoveries depend on the concerted and sustained efforts of programme managers, which can often extend over several years.

    The report highlights the new approach of the Office in identifying key risk areas for its oversight activities.  In order to prioritize and target oversight assignments more effectively, the Office this year applied its Risk Management Framework to its annual work plan.

    The areas that expose the Organization to the highest risks include safety and security, procurement and peacekeeping.  The Framework is part of the Office’s overall strategy to take a more holistic approach to enhancing the effectiveness and impact of its oversight activities.

    Under-Secretary-General Dileep Nair said the ultimate challenge for the future was to gain acceptance for the practice of risk management, to enable managers throughout the Organization to identify and mitigate the most serious risks facing their operations and programmes.  He said the Office uses the combined knowledge and expertise of its audit, inspection, monitoring, evaluation, investigation and management consulting to examine problem areas, challenges and overarching trends that could threaten the Organization’s activities, assets, and reputation.  It is hoped that this approach could be used in collaboration with Member States and other oversight bodies to guide the selection of oversight assignments.

    The OIOS is also spearheading the Organizational Integrity Initiative, together with other United Nations departments and Offices, including the Office of Human Resources Management.  The Initiative is a comprehensive programme aimed at reinforcing integrity and professional ethics in the Organization.  Through ethics training, staff perception surveys and communications and outreach activities, the goal is to get integrity-building on the radar screen of the United Nations and to convey a positive message on ethics and integrity in the workplace.

    Under-Secretary-General Nair noted that a related objective is to enhance the profile of the United Nations integrity-building and corruption-control efforts, as Member States gather in Mexico to sign a United Nations convention against corruption in December 2003.  “The United Nations itself must lead by example and ensure that integrity and professional ethics guide all its work”, he said.

    Among highlights of the Office’s oversight activities and achievements indicated in the report for the period 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003 are: 

    -- OIOS undertook change management consulting assignments for Department for General Assembly and Conference Management (DGACM), Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) and Department of Public Information (DPI).  The Office assisted the DGACM in ensuring a successful implementation of its reform agenda; supported the OHRM in its transition from an administrative, transaction-based operation to a more strategically focused human resources management service; and supported the DPI in identifying and validating departmental and divisional goals and developing a new planning process.

    -- An investigation of allegations of sexual exploitation of refugees in West Africa (A/57/465) produced evidence that, although not as widespread as alleged, there were cases of exploitation, including of very young refugees.  Recommendations included referral to national authorities for prosecution of implicated individuals and better camp management.

    -- The audit of the United Nations Information Centres (A/57/747) emphasized the need for an urgent rethinking about the role and impact of those centres. The DPI has already begun implementing many of the recommendations of the OIOS to more strategically align the work of the information centres with the Department's goals.

    -- Audit recommendations on liquidation of peacekeeping missions; the procurement of goods and services for peacekeeping missions from governments; and recruitment of staff for Department of Peacekeeping Operations resulted in a series of improvements in the management of these critical logistical and administrative areas.

    -- As recommended by OIOS, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) introduced changes in project agreements with international non-governmental organizations.  This resulted in more reliable 

    financial information and competitive procurement, as well as greater transparency in project spending.

    To learn more about the mandate and activities of the OIOS, please visit

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

    or

    contact Helene Thorup-Hayes, tel.: (212) 963 5241.

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