24 October 2001
UN’S INTERNAL OVERSIGHT OFFICE LAUNCHES REFOCUSED ANNUAL REPORT AT HEADQUARTERS;
ASSESSES IMPLEMENTATION OF CRITICAL OVERSIGHT RECOMMENDATIONS
NEW YORK, 24 October (OIOS) -- The Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) has released its seventh annual report, which presents the Office’s oversight work in a new light. For the first time, the report (document A/56/381) contains overall assessments of clients’ implementation of critical Oversight Office recommendations. The intention of these assessments is to encourage heads of United Nations client departments and offices to focus on the most critical recommendations with the most far-reaching consequences for the Organization.
During the reporting period 1 July 2000 to 30 June 2001, the Office pursued the following priority areas for its oversight activities: peacekeeping; humanitarian and related activities; human resources management; procurement; and problems associated with establishing new bodies. As requested by the General Assembly, the annual report provides analytical information on the Office’s oversight activities and recommendations to improve operations and programmes. The Office’s 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 population and sustainable development programmes.
The number and range of the Office’s recommendations show the broad and multifaceted nature of its oversight work, which contributes to greater accountability, efficiency and quality management in the Organization. The recommended savings and recoveries 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 Office’s oversight activities during the reporting period resulted in more than 2,000 recommendations which, among other things, called for strengthening internal controls and improving management performance; 27 per cent of these recommendations were classified as critical to the Organization’s performance.
-- As of August 2001, over 50 per cent of the total recommendations and 46 per cent of critical recommendations have already been implemented. The slightly lower implementation rate for critical recommendations reflects their relatively complex nature.
-- The Office recommended savings and recoveries of approximately $58 million resulting from audits, inspections and investigations carried out during the reporting period. The Organization has realized expenditure reductions totalling $8 million and recovered $2.5 million based on Office recommendations made during this and prior periods.
-- An Oversight Office-led multinational task force investigated a scheme to defraud refugees seeking assistance at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Branch Office in Nairobi. This investigation resulted in the arrest of nine individuals by Kenyan authorities;
-- An audit of Mission Subsistence Allowance rates paid to United Nations staff and other personnel at selected peacekeeping missions resulted in Office recommendations, which if implemented, could potentially save approximately $45 million per year.
-- An inspection of the United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention in Vienna identified the need for managerial improvements in order to more effectively fulfil its mandate.
-- The Office recommended improvements in the recruitment practices for peacekeeping and other special missions to enhance transparency and to more effectively meet the staffing needs of these missions.
-- The Office identified potential savings and recoveries totalling $4.5 million annually relating to UNHCR’s operations. To date, $2 million has been recovered.
The annual report also describes the recent organizational changes in the Office proposed by Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services Dileep Nair to leverage the Office’s limited resources and allow for a more integrated approach to Office oversight around the globe. The monitoring, inspection, evaluation and consulting components of the Office have been consolidated into a new division -- the Monitoring, Evaluation and Consulting Division -- to provide more useful qualitative information to Member States and improved management consulting services to client departments and offices.
The Internal Audit Division has been refocused, and the scope of the Investigations Division broadened. There are now resident auditors at most major peacekeeping operations and resident investigators at peacekeeping missions in East Timor and Kosovo. The Oversight Office’s presence in Geneva has been enhanced through the establishment of an integrated Geneva office, in order to deliver more responsive and coordinated oversight services to clients in the European region.
The Oversight Office will make every effort to continue carrying out balanced and objective oversight activities that foster a partnership with Member States and managers at all levels in reaching common goals.
To learn more about the Office of Internal Oversight Services, its mission and mandate, visit the Web site at http://www.un.org/depts/oios/index.html.
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