13 June 2006
Budget Committee Continues Consideration of Financing for Haiti, Sudan Peacekeeping Missions
NEW YORK, 12 June (UN Headquarters) -- As the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) today continued its consideration of the financing of United Nations peacekeeping missions in Haiti and the Sudan, its members insisted on the need to provide all the resources needed to accomplish their important and difficult mandates.
Regarding the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), the representative of Brazil said that the Mission must be provided with all the budgetary and financial resources it needed to achieve simultaneous advances in the fields of security, political dialogue and institutional, social and economic development. It was, therefore, necessary to receive a detailed assessment of the possible impact of the proposed reductions of $385,300. That was all the more important considering the fact that the budget proposal before the Committee was already 5 per cent less than the budget for the previous period.
"Let us not repeat the mistake of a decade ago of failing to provide the necessary support after the holding of elections", said the representative of Guyana, who spoke on behalf of the Rio Group. The international community had a fresh opportunity to promote the continued development and progress in Haiti, and MINUSTAH has a pivotal role to play in hastening the country's brighter future. He encouraged the troop- and police-contributing countries to remain engaged in the Mission and welcomed the decision of the Secretary-General to send a team to discuss the development of the Mission's mandate with Haiti's new authorities. He also believed that MINUSTAH's mandate must be expanded beyond peacekeeping to include stronger humanitarian and development components.
Addressing the $1.08 billion 2006-2007 budget proposal for the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), Nigeria's representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed an urgent need to ensure that no impediment was placed on the Mission as it proceeded with full deployment. Noting that the proposed budget represented an 11.6 per cent increase in comparison with the current financial year and cognizant of the fact that the costs for the financing of UNMIS might be further reviewed, depending on Security Council decisions, she said such revised estimates should be submitted to the Assembly as quickly as possible. She also asked what extra efforts would be used to facilitate speedy filling of all the posts.
Speakers also stressed the importance of ensuring a greater proportion of local staff in both missions, which could foster the feeling of national ownership of peacekeeping efforts. There was also strong support for effective implementation of quick impact projects, which help to create jobs and improve the overall social conditions of the population.
Also today, Singapore's representative again addressed the Secretariat's responses to the questions that had been raised in connection with recent procurement investigations (see Press Releases GA/AB/3738 of 30 May and GA/AB/3737 of 25 May). If recommendations provided in the report of the Deloitte and Touche Consulting were important enough to be termed "immediate", why hadn't they been referred to the Fifth Committee as a matter of priority? he asked. Also, the Secretariat had not addressed the question as to which senior official had actually commissioned the Deloitte study -- a question of accountability. It was insufficient to simply state that all actions were taken under the authority of the Secretary-General. The Secretariat should "come clean" and inform Member States who had specifically commissioned the study on procurement, which had been carried out in October-November 2005 at the cost of some $500,000.
He also wondered if the Secretariat was suggesting that the Board of Auditors and the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) did not have the competence to carry out the type of study assigned to Deloitte and Touche. Did that mean that such studies would now be the preserve of external consultants? Would "independent studies commissioned by senior officials of the Secretariat" now be used to challenge the findings of the Board of Auditors and the OIOS?
All those arguments raised serious doubts about the role of the OIOS as the highest independent body in the Secretariat where staff could turn, he said in conclusion. They also called into question the independence of the OIOS and its ability to accept unvarnished information from relevant parties. "In the attempts to get senior management 'to act on draft reports and to consolidate and provide the comments received from the managers', how can we ensure that relevant information are not suppressed?" he asked. There seemed to be an inherent shortcoming in the audit process and the channelling of information. Why couldn't there be a direct line from managers to OIOS rather than the "filtering" by senior officials, in this case the Under-Secretary-General for Management?
Also participating in the discussion were representatives of Argentina, Haiti, Sudan, China, South Africa, Uganda and Japan, as well as: Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, Catherine Pollard; Director, Accounts Division, Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, Jayantilal Karia; Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, Inga-Britt Ahlenius; and Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan, Louis Frederick Reuter.
The Committee also considered its programme of work and the status of documentation for the remainder of the session.
The Committee will hold its next formal meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 14 June.
This morning, the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) met to continue its consideration of the budgets of United Nations peacekeeping missions in Haiti and the Sudan (for introduction, see Press Release GA/AB/3740 of 9 May) and conclude the discussion of administrative and budgetary aspects of peacekeeping financing in general, which it took up at the beginning of its current second resumed session on 22 May.
PAULO TARISSE DA FONTOURA (Brazil) said the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) must be provided with all the budgetary and financial resources it needed to carry out its mandate and to achieve simultaneous advances in the fields of security, political dialogue and institutional, social and economic development. It was, therefore, necessary to receive a detailed assessment of the possible impact of the proposed reductions of $385,300. That was all the more important considering the fact that the submitted budget was already 5 per cent less than the budget for the previous period.
He agreed with the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) in welcoming efforts to ensure a greater proportion of Haitians in the Mission, as that would foster the feeling of national ownership and enhance its chances of success. He strongly supported effective implementation of quick impact projects as they helped to create jobs and improve the overall social conditions of the population. Every effort should be made to identify partners for the 140 quick impact projects planned for 2006-2007, including locally. The projects should be in harmony with the activities of other development and humanitarian assistance entities in the Mission area.
He said he, therefore, did not agree with the proposal that the overall amount proposed for the projects for 2006-2007 be reduced and that overhead costs should be kept to a minimum. Time limits were only indicative and the projects should be implemented as long they were necessary. One could argue that the extension of the mandate of a mission also implied an extension of the two-year limit mentioned by the ACABQ. He asked for more information on the use of outside consultancy services for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. He also wanted more information on the request for the establishment of one P-3 Administrative Officer post in the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General.
He said the elections were not an end of themselves. Elections should be perceived as the beginning of a new phase of social and economic development. There could be no military solution to the crisis and it was of paramount importance to tackle the root causes of conflicts affecting the country. In that context, he welcomed the high-level meeting on Haiti held on 23 May in Brasilia.
Speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, GEORGE TALBOT (Guyana) said that Haiti had again taken significant steps to renovate its democracy and resume social and economic recovery, but the maintenance of a stable atmosphere with increasing levels of peace and security remained an urgent prerequisite for further progress. The Group applauded the people of Haiti for their demonstrated commitment to the political process and to the maintenance of an environment of relative stability during the electoral period. He also expressed satisfaction at the fundamental role played by concerned regional and international organizations, including the Organization of American States and the United Nations through MINUSTAH. The Rio Group urged the international community to make good on its commitments to support the rebuilding process. In the ensuing period of consolidation, the sustained support of the international donor community would be pivotal.
The Group was heartened by the high-level meeting on Haiti in Brasilia on 23 May, which had agreed to the renewal of the Interim Cooperation Framework and to redirect its focus in line with President Preval's priority of addressing short-term emergency needs, while laying the foundations for longer-term efforts. The MINUSTAH now had an accentuated, though altered, role in the period of restructuring. It was important to pursue efforts to strengthen the country's democratic institutions, including the timely holding of municipal and local elections. The Mission had contributed to clear improvements in the security situation, but security still remained a difficult task. There was a need for continued deployment of United Nations forces until the national police were able to undertake that task adequately. Accordingly, he was pleased that the Security Council had seen fit to extend the mandate of the Mission with the possibility of further extensions.
With the extension of the Mission, it was necessary to assess how its mandate could best be refocused and utilized, he continued. The Government of Haiti had indicated a number of clear priorities, including working to improve the capacity of the Haiti police force. The Group welcomed the decision of the Secretary-General to send a team to discuss the development of the Mission's mandate with Haiti's new authorities. He also believed that MINUSTAH's mandate must be expanded beyond peacekeeping to include stronger humanitarian and development components. The international community must retain the Mission for as long as it would take to establish Haitian security forces capable of taking on the duties of restoring security and stability.
Continuing, he insisted that the Mission must have all the resources to accomplish its mandate. The budget that had been presented for 2006-2007 was 5 per cent lower than the one for 2004-2005. A related concern was about the impact that the reductions proposed by the ACABQ would have on the Mission, especially in view of the fact that even the electoral process had not yet been completed. He agreed with the Advisory Committee that there had been overall improvements in the presentation of the budget and commended the Mission for having abolished many posts without detriment to the implementation of the mandate. Further, he welcomed the recruitment of national staff as interpreters, rather than outsourcing. However, he would like to receive more information on the use of consultancy services for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. The Group supported the strengthening of the public information component of the Mission.
He also expressed concern over the suggestion of the ACABQ to reduce or question the resources for the quick impact projects, which were crucial for the success of peacekeeping missions and improving the feeling of ownership of the Mission. They enhanced the image of the Mission. Thus, the Group would be very reluctant to accept reductions in that area.
In conclusion, he said that the international community had a fresh opportunity to promote the continued development and progress in Haiti. "Let us not repeat the mistake of a decade ago of failing to provide the necessary support after the holding of elections. MINUSTAH has a pivotal role to play on behalf of the international community in hastening Haiti's brighter future." He encouraged the troop- and police-contributing countries to remain engaged in the Mission.
ALEJANDRO TORRES LEPORI (Argentina) welcomed the considerable improvements in the presentation of the budget. He said his delegation had always believed that there could be no safety and security in Haiti without lasting and sustainable development. He, therefore, wanted more information on the reductions proposed for quick impact projects and the approach to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
STEPHEN DEJOIE (Haiti) thanked the members of the Committee who, for several years, had seriously considered the Haiti issue and had shown great patience and understanding. With the support of MINUSTAH and the international community together with the determination of the people of Haiti, the country had joined the family of States with elected governments, as on 9 June the new Government had been installed.
He said he had been moved by the statement of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), including the invitation to his country's President to participate in the upcoming meeting of Heads of Government. He also expressed appreciation for the remarks made on behalf of the Rio Group. That Group had never missed any opportunity to explain the situation in Haiti and to seek sustainable solutions.
He asked for clarification regarding the progress of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme in view of news from the capital that groups holding illegal weapons continued to wreak havoc. He further expressed the hope that more attention would be given to increasing French-speaking staff in the Mission.
NONYE UDO (Nigeria) supported the position of the Rio Group and CARICOM and expressed hope that the Committee would move expeditiously to take a decision on the budget of MINUSTAH. She noted that there had been an improvement in the presentation of the Mission's budget and joined those who had supported the important role of the quick impact projects in the country. Every effort should be made to strengthen those projects. She also believed that the use of local staff increased the people's ownership of the Mission.
Director of the Peacekeeping Financing Division, CATHERINE POLLARD, thanked the delegations for their interest in MINUSTAH and their support for the Mission. She also noted the comments regarding the improvement in the presentation of MINUSTAH's budget -- "a work in progress" -- and said that she had taken careful note of all the questions posed in the debate, including those on the quick impact projects. Additional information requested would be provided to the Committee.
United Nations Mission in Sudan
Ms. UDO (Nigeria) speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the budget document had been prepared barely three months after the adoption of Assembly resolution 60/122. It was, therefore, too early for the Secretariat to reflect all Member States' requests. She would appreciate an initial assessment of the extent to which the guidelines of the Assembly could be implemented even within the limited time, including the initial difficulties encountered, if any.
Paying tribute to all those who had contributed to the success of the African Union-led Inter-Sudanese Peace Talks in Abuja, she said it had afforded the opportunity to establish a framework for a resolution of the conflict in Darfur. She also commended the efforts of the African Union for the successful deployment of the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). The African Group expressed satisfaction with the latest development in Darfur, where factions had now signed a pledge to abide by the principles of the Darfur Peace Accord. The Mission should seize that window of opportunity.
Noting that the 2006-2007 proposed budget contained an 11.6 per cent increase in comparison with the 2005-2006 budget, and cognizant of the fact that the costs for the financing of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) might be reviewed, she said such revised estimates should be submitted to the Assembly as quickly as possible. She asked for a preliminary analysis of the impact of the Advisory Committee's recommendations on the already submitted budget proposal. There was an urgent need to ensure that no impediment be placed on the Mission, as it proceeded with full deployment. In that regard, she asked what extra efforts would be used to facilitate speedy filling of all the posts.
Regarding disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, she said that the request for $49.78 million, although significant, was formulated in response to the Mission's mandate. In conjunction with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Mission had established a joint disarmament, demobilization and reintegration unit. She asked for information on progress made so far in that regard, as well as on demining. She also asked for assurances that the quick impact projects proceeded as planned. She also wanted further information on the concept of a national volunteer programme started recently, as well as an update on the challenges facing the Mission in its employment of both air and riverine modes of transportation. What plans were envisaged for cost-sharing arrangements with other United Nations agencies operating in the area for the utilization of its air assets? she asked.
KHALID MOHAMMED OSMAN SIDAHMED MOHAMMED ALI (Sudan), aligning himself with the position of the African Group, said that his Government was making great efforts to implement the historic peace agreement that had been signed last January. He welcomed the report of the Mission and expressed gratitude for its work in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions. The United Nations Mission in the Sudan was considered to be the biggest one in terms of the geographical area it covered and the complexity of its mandate. Its proposed budget had now reached over $1 billion. In that connection, he agreed that it was necessary to focus on accountability and the efforts to bring about the objectives of the Mission in a transparent and clear manner.
He agreed with the comments of the ACABQ in paragraph 26 of its Sudan report, where it welcomed the launching of the 2005 workplan as an important coordination and harmonization mechanism for the provision of humanitarian assistance and supported the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement through targeted recovery and development programmes. The Committee also encouraged the efforts to obtain the resources required for the funding of the 2006 workplan. He also emphasized the importance of absorbing local staff in the Mission, which, as the ACABQ had pointed out, contributed to capacity-building and transfer of skills to the local population. It was important to promote confidence between the Mission and local people. Thus, training programmes, capacity-building and development of skills were of great importance.
He also emphasized the importance of effective coordination between the Government and the Mission, particularly in terms of quick impact projects, demining and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in order to make the best use of resources and provide services to the greatest number of people. More resources were needed for the revitalization and development of the country, as well as return of displaced persons. Also important were the issues of safe drinking water and provision of basic services, which could help to bring about stability.
Turning to the peace agreement signed in Abuja on 5 May, he said that many efforts were being made now to bring in "the other factions", which had agreed to the major principles of the agreement. Many factions had already joined in the efforts to restore stability in Darfur. The evaluation and assessment mission was still continuing its work at the moment. Therefore, the time had not yet come to talk about the new framework for the Mission or the budget required for the mandate that was yet to be set up. He expressed gratitude for the efforts of the United Nations in the Sudan and looked forward to a constructive dialogue on the Mission's budget in informal consultations.
WANG XINXIA (China) said the United Nations peacekeeping operations played an important role in the maintenance of world peace and regional stability, and their influence had been growing over the recent years. Africa was the continent where currently the United Nations deployed the greatest number of operations, which were firmly supported by China.
She said that as one of the biggest existing peacekeeping operations, UNMIS had played an important role in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. She sincerely hoped that UNMIS would continue to play an active role in promoting the full implementation of the Agreement, stabilizing the situation on the ground and assisting in post-conflict reconstruction. She requested the Secretariat to implement the budget strictly and carry out internal oversight scrupulously, so that the valuable resources contributed by Member States could be utilized in an optimal manner for the effective implementation of the mandate.
KAREN LOCK (South Africa) said her country supported the peacekeeping activities of the United Nations in the Sudan and Haiti. It further supported the recent decision by the Peace and Security Council of the African Union for concrete steps to be taken to effect the transition from the African Union Mission in Sudan to a United Nations peacekeeping operation. The Assembly should stand ready to take immediate action on the related resource requirements once the transition had been formalized. She was encouraged by the concrete measures that UNMIS and MINUSTAH had undertaken to ensure the implementation of Assembly resolution 59/296 regarding effective management of financial and human resources.
She said each peacekeeping operation was unique and should be treated as such. She reiterated in that regard that caution should be exercised against attempts to use cross-cutting resolutions in order to affect reductions in the resource requirements of peacekeeping operations, in particular where the impact of such proposals on the functioning of specific operation might not be clear.
She stressed her delegation's full support for the continuation of the quick impact projects beyond the two-year framework, in particular where the situation on the ground and the change in mandate might necessitate those projects. It would, therefore, not support reductions in the proposed requirements.
FRANCIS MUMBEY WAFULA (Uganda) aligned himself with the statement by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group and said that the Sudan's statement had touched on some issues that would form the focus of his intervention. The UNMIS was of particular importance to his delegation and any progress made in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement bore directly on the security situation in the southern Sudan and northern Uganda, by denying negative forces an area of operation. He commended and welcomed the efforts of all those who had been involved in the negotiations and the signing of the peace agreements to bring Darfur in the fold to ensure the return of total peace and tranquillity to the whole of the southern Sudan and Darfur.
On its part, Uganda was constructively engaged with the United Nations and core group of countries aimed at eliminating negative forces operating in northern Uganda, southern Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. His delegation had endorsed a proposal for the Secretary-General to appoint a regional envoy to address that concern, among others. The total elimination of negative forces operating in the region -- like the Lord's Resistance Army -- would facilitate a safe environment for the implementation of the mandate of UNMIS. His delegation supported the budget proposals and would remain constructively engaged in the negotiations on the matter. He also reiterated his delegation's commitment to facilitate the regional logistics base in Entebbe to ensure efficient air and road services to UNMIS and Darfur.
Mr. TARRISSE DA FONTOURA (Brazil) stressed the need to provide the Mission with adequate resources that would allow it to implement its difficult and important mandate. It was clear that a peaceful solution for the Sudanese conflict would be a positive step for the entire African continent. For that reason, his country provided military and police contingents for the Mission. However, Brazil remained concerned over the slow pace of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. He was also distressed over the new violence in Darfur and problems on the Chad border. All parties must abide by their commitments. At the same time, he expressed satisfaction over the fact that the faction that had not signed the accord had indicated a willingness to abide by its principles.
His delegation would like to receive more specific information on the impact of the budget recommended by the ACABQ on the operational capacity of the Mission, he continued. For instance, the creation of the post of Deputy Force Commander could be very important for the Mission. The United Nations had sent a technical assessment team to the area, which might result in the review of the budget of the Mission for the coming financial year. Brazil would continue to contribute to the Mission, which was essential to peace in the Sudan and on the entire continent.
Mr. TORRES LEPORI (Argentina) said he shared many of the concerns expressed by Nigeria on behalf of the African Group. The success of the Mission was key for the stability of the whole region. The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration components and quick impact projects were essential for the stability of the country and the future of the nation.
HITOSHI KOZAKI (Japan) said would not make a political statement, but would ask technical questions during the informal consultation.
CATHERINE POLLARD, Director, Peacekeeping Financing Division, said she had taken note of all questions raised and would provide information in informal consultations. She informed the Committee that the proposed resources for 2006-2007 were limited to activities mandated by Council resolution 1590 (2005) and that no resources were proposed for any expansion of the Mission. She assured delegations that, once the Council took action, the Secretariat would make every effort to submit requirements to the Committee as soon as possible.
Mr. ALI (Sudan) thanked Ms. Pollard for the clarification concerning the mandate and resource requirements of the Mission.
Administrative and Budgetary Aspects of Peacekeeping
RAZIFF ALJUNIED (Singapore) said that it looked like a procurement officer, among the eight staff placed on administrative leave, had been mistakenly accused, or at the very least falsely identified. While the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in its report AP/2005/20 had alleged that the officer had been involved in five contract awards, the staff member in question had been actually posted overseas at the time, and could not possibly have been involved. Even more troubling was the fact that the Principal Officer in Charge and the Section Chief seemed to have been aware that he was not at Headquarters and that the allegations were incorrect. The same officer was also alleged in the OIOS report to have been involved in an improper bidding exercise at Headquarters, which took place three months before he took office. It was doubtful that the officer had been in two places at once, and he could only conclude that the allegations in the OIOS report were "rather large mistakes". Even more alarming, OIOS had not taken steps to correct those mistakes, even after they had been pointed out. That would be comical, if it was not so tragic. Those examples raised serious doubts and questions about the quality and credibility of the OIOS report.
Moving on to the Secretariat's responses to procurement questions in the handouts dated 1 June, he noted that the Secretariat had taken action on some of the recommendations of the Deloitte report that were termed "immediate". However, if the recommendations were important enough for that, why had they not been referred to the Fifth Committee as a matter of priority? It would appear that the Secretariat was now seeking the Committee's endorsement for its actions after the fact.
The Secretariat had not addressed the question as to which senior official had actually commissioned the Deloitte study, he continued. That was a question of accountability. It was insufficient to simply state that all actions were taken under the authority of the Secretary-General. The Secretariat should "come clean" and inform Member States who had specifically commissioned the study on procurement, which had been carried out in October-November 2005 at the cost of some $500,000.
There had also been an attempt by the Secretariat to link the case of eight staff members with the Volcker report, but the pages cited from that document pertained to transactions under the auspices of the Security Council and the High-Level Steering Committee. The Procurement Division had carried out only a few purchases on behalf of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs in the mid-1990s. Most of the purchases thereafter had been conducted by UNDP and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). The Volcker report also clearly stated that the selection of BNP had been carried out by the then Controller, Mr. Takasu, not the Procurement Division. On page 18, the report mentioned that the selection had been made "accommodating the concern of the United States about the selection of a Swiss bank" and that "decision makers are influenced by a need to reconcile political concern of some Member States". On page 110 of the interim report of 3 February, the Volcker panel stated that "formal financial regulations and rules set out by procurement officials were repeatedly and knowingly short-circuited and violated without a clear and written rationale". Procurement officials could hardly be blamed when they were acting under the direction of a High-Level Steering Committee. The use of the Volcker report by OIOS was selective and out of context.
Regarding references to the Yakovlev case, he said that it should be borne in mind that Yakovlev was not investigated as a result of the Volcker report. In fact, the interim report contained a glowing account of his performance. The Procurement Service found out about his son's internship with a vendor in July 2005. The Assistant Secretary-General for the Office of Central Support Services had informed the Chef de Cabinet, the Under-Secretary-General for Management and OIOS of the matter, even before Fox News broke the story. The investigations had followed that revelation. Incorrect and misleading information was not helpful to the process.
On the assignment of responsibility, he said that a senior official in the Office of Central Support Services had been taken to task, while senior officials in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had not, even though they had oversight responsibility for procurement. The remark that "nobody has been blamed or disciplined" might be true in the technical sense that no charges had been filed, but the statement failed the test of common sense. By virtue of selecting eight staff members for administrative action, the Secretariat had, in reality, been attributing suspicion of wrongdoing upon them. Each passing week reinforced that perception and further tarnished the reputations of those individuals. That had been aggravated by the comments of the Under-Secretary-General for Management to the media, suggesting that corruption was pervasive at the United Nations. To add salt to the wound, the names of the eight staff members were listed in the draft report that had been leaked to the press.
Both the Department of Management and Member States were responsible for the understaffing of the Procurement Service, he continued. There was only a 12 to 20 per cent approval rate for staff increases requested by the Service. There should have been more support for the Procurement Service, and the question also arose as to why the audit observation had been written in such a way as to pin the blame on the Procurement Service for the lack of staff.
In connection with another question, he wondered if the Secretariat was suggesting that the Board of Auditors and OIOS did not have the competence to carry out the type of study assigned to Deloitte and Touche. Did that mean that such studies would now be the preserve of external consultants? Would "independent studies commissioned by senior officials of the Secretariat now be used to challenge the findings of the Board of Auditors and OIOS? The Secretariat's response also suggested that the Deloitte report was the basis for the comprehensive procurement report to be submitted to the Assembly. However, there had not been a thorough and comprehensive review of the audit by Member States. He also wanted to know about actual comments of the Department of Management to OIOS, and asked for further elaboration on what Deloitte and Touche had found on the issue of "internal controls". It seemed somewhat hard to believe that United Nations employees constituted the only control in the Procurement Service, as the Deloitte study had stated. Another question was what OIOS had been doing all those years with its audits on procurement, if it was not looking into controls.
Continuing, he asked "how it is possible that the Assistant Secretary-General of the Office of Central Support Services, as the Chief Procurement Officer under delegated authority from the Under-Secretary-General for Management, and the Chief of the Procurement Service had not been interviewed, in what was supposed to be a "comprehensive review of procurement". Worse still, he understood that they had not even been informed of the audit. He also asked whether the draft of the horizontal audit could be shared with the Committee. If not, why? He also understood that the draft was quite complimentary of the Procurement Service's performance in many areas. Could that be the reason why the draft had not been released to Member States? Also, had administrative action been taken against the subjects involved in 200 other cases? Had they been placed on special leave to avoid undue influence, as had been done with eight procurement officers? Another nagging question was whether OIOS had really been aware about the delegation of authority. If OIOS had known about the debate on the delegation of authority, why had it not reflected that crucial information in its report?
Among other things, the Secretariat had indicated that OIOS had informed the Assistant Secretary-General for the Office of Central Support Services and other staff members that their comments should be channelled through the Under-Secretary-General for Management, and that OIOS had taken all comments into account in finalizing its audit. That confirmed that OIOS expected input on its draft reports through the Under-Secretary-General for Management, in this case, Mr. Burnham.
Mr. Burnham had had no wish for the Office of Central Support Services' input to be conveyed to OIOS. It had been the Assistant Secretary-General who had forwarded the input directly to OIOS, but he had then been told by OIOS that they would only consider input submitted by the Under-Secretary-General for Management.
All those arguments raised serious doubts about the role of OIOS as the highest independent body in the Secretariat where staff could turn to, he said in conclusion. They also called into question the independence of OIOS and its ability to accept unvarnished information from relevant parties. "In the attempts to get senior management 'to act on draft reports and to consolidate and provide the comments received from the managers', how can we ensure that relevant information are not suppressed?" he asked. OIOS should be acting on all information it deemed relevant. There seemed to be an inherent shortcoming in the audit process and the channelling of information, as it promoted a conflict of interest. Why could there not be a direct line from managers to OIOS, rather than the "filtering" by senior management -- in this case the Under-Secretary-General for Management?
JAYANTILAL KARIA, Director, Accounts division of the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts, answering a question on why the recommendations of the Deloitte study that had been immediately addressed by the Secretariat had not been referred to the Fifth Committee, said that those actions had been taken within the purview of the Secretary-General. He stressed that the Deloitte study was not an audit report, but a consultancy done on internal controls within the procurement service. That study was, moreover, not the only basis for the Secretary-General's Report on Procurement Reform. He would provide more information on questions raised during informal consultations.
INGA-BRITT AHLENIUS, Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services, said that many issues raised pertained to technical issues. She would provide written comments and clarifications. She noted that many comments had been received after the Department of Peacekeeping Operations report had been finalized. The Procurement Task Force was independently reviewing that report.
Mr. ALJUNIED (Singapore) understood that responses given now were of a general nature, but asked when he would receive detailed responses to questions raised and in what kind of setting those responses would be given, as he had raised issues in a formal meeting.
The Committee's Chairman, JOHN WILLIAM ASHE (Antigua and Barbuda), announced that the item would be addressed during the next formal meeting.
Programme of Work
The Committee's Secretary introduced informal papers regarding the programme of work and the status of documentation, as well as one on the ACABQ's programme of work. Answering questions asked by the representative of South Africa on behalf of Group of 77 and China, he said that the date of submission on the informal paper on the status of documentation referred to submission reports both to Conference Services and the ACABQ. Noting that there was no outcome yet on discussions on peacekeeping operations budgets, he said that the current budgets for those operations would run out on 30 June. That date was, therefore, the last date that the General Assembly plenary could take action.
The Committee's Chairman noted in that regard that the Fifth Committee had to conclude its formal consideration of peacekeeping resolutions by 28 June.
Responding to a question by the representative of South Africa regarding the Capital Master Plan, LOUIS FREDERICK REUTER, Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan, listed intermediate funding for the Plan among the issues that remained to be discussed by the Committee. His Office had moved quickly on the previous funding authorization to keep the people working. Almost $20 million had already been put in place. Also before the Committee were the issues of the selection of a single strategy and approval of a financing plan for the project. However, even with the positive endorsement, the timing of the decision still could result in serious delay and additional expenses.
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