Thursday, 30 June 2011

Ban Ki-Moon 'tries to censor criticism of UN'


By Jon Swaine, New York

A damning report on Ban Ki-Moon has suggested he is overly secretive, tries to censor criticism and allows backroom deals to dictate who gets some top UN jobs, days after he was granted a second term.

A damning report on Ban Ki-Moon has suggested he is overly secretive, tries to censor criticism and allows backroom deals to dictate who gets some top UN jobs, days after he was granted a second term.

Mr Ban, who was eased into a second term earlier this month with no opposition, has not increased transparency in hiring practices, a report by the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) found Photo: REUTERS

The UN Secretary-General is accused of presiding over an "opaque" system, in which senior officials are hired after vacancies are not properly advertised and applicants' backgrounds are not always checked.

Mr Ban, who was eased into a second term earlier this month with no opposition, has not increased transparency in hiring practices, a report by the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) found.

When confronted with its findings, his office attempted to make changes that "simply eviscerate the entire report" and demanded that their comments on it be kept secret, it said.

The JIU, a team of up to 11 inspectors elected by the UN general assembly, examines various aspects of the UN with the aim of "enhancing the efficiency" of its international operations.

It was asked almost two years ago to investigate the "effectiveness, coherence, timeliness and transparency" of hiring in the UN Secretariat, the executive body headed by Mr Ban.

It looked at the appointment of 150 top-ranking officials, such as Under Secretaries General and Assistant Secretaries General. The jobs are eagerly sought by member states despite being supposedly neutral roles.

It found that, to some member states, the Secretariat's hiring practice "is seen as opaque, raising many questions as to how the process actually works".

While they acknowledge Mr Ban's considerable power in making appointments, concerns were raised about the behind-the-scenes selection process and the fact that "not all vacancies are announced or known to all member states".

"Discretionary authority does not mean that the Secretary-General has carte blanche to avoid the process that he has established," the report said.

"Discretionary authority should not be used as an excuse to avoid transparency".

Mr Ban denies giving out favours but concedes there are "political realities that he must reflect in the organisation", which the JIU described as "tantamount to reserving jobs for member states".

Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, said: "The growing culture of transparency and freedom of information has not reached the UN. Getting information from it is often like pulling teeth".

Farhan Haq, Mr Ban's spokesman, said secrecy was sometimes necessary to protect candidates' privacy.

"There are a number of useful things in the report that we are studying," said Mr Haq. "We believe the process can be improved".

Monday, 27 June 2011

U.N. Leader Ban Ki-moon Slammed for Secretive Hiring Practices and Stonewalling

Fox News - Fair & Balancedclick here for story


As Ban Ki-moon begins his second term asUnited Nations Secretary General, he has come under withering criticism from within the world organization over the way he hires and replaces top managers.

In a remarkably harsh report, a special U.N. investigative unit has charged that the way Ban chooses his most important managers is shrouded in excessive secrecy, that he keeps U.N. member states in the dark about top job vacancies, that he has created elaborate and arcane titles and functions, and skimps on detailed reference checks that could determine whether top officeholders are qualified to do their jobs.

Moreover, the inspectors say, the selection process has become so cumbersome that “appointments are not always made on time,” there is “almost no overlap between incumbents,” and that “ positions are vacant for long periods of time.”

They also charge that Ban’s methods are a step backward from the ways of his predecessor, Kofi Annan, who had promised to shed more daylight on the hiring process.

The two authors of the report, members of a small, elite U.N. evaluation team known as the Joint Inspection Unit, apparently had first-hand experience with Ban’s secretive habits.

They charge that Ban’s executive office stonewalled them in their mandated investigation of his hiring practices, refused them access to personnel files, proposed changes to their recommendations that would, as they put it, “simply eviscerate the entire report,” and contrary to normal practice refused to allow the authors to publish the Secretary General’s comments on their report.

In an extraordinary pushback against Ban’s tactics, the JIU inspectors encouraged U.N. member governments, for whom, in theory, Ban works, to ask the Secretary General to disgorge the withheld information for their own examination.

Click here to read the report.

In complaining about the “opaque” hiring process, the JIU authors, in typically ponderous U.N. prose, declared that “discretionary authority does not mean that the Secretary-General has carte blanche to avoid the process that he has established [for hiring]; discretionary authority should not be used as an excuse to avoid transparency in that process.”

The JIU report was apparently handed over to Ban and U.N. member states in April.

The JIU is a specialized watchdog unit whose members are elected by the General Assembly, and is the only branch of the U.N. that is mandated to assess and improve the efficiency and coordination of the U.N. worldwide, across its entire sprawling array of organizations, funds, programs and agencies.

The inspectors who prepared the report on Ban’s hiring were especially noteworthy, given the document’s complaints about Ban’s adversarial treatment. They were the JIU chairman, Mohamed Mounir Zahran, and the unit’s sole American member, M. Deborah Wynes, a former senior U.S. State Department official who at one time managed all of Washington’s efforts at budgetary and management reform of the U.N.

This time, the unit has taken aim at one of the Secretary General’s most important patronage powers: the selection of the top-ranking Under Secretaries General and Assistant Secretaries General who run the U.N.’s various divisions and departments, and wield effective power in the bulky bureaucracy, as well as a variety of special envoys.

The JIU report covers no fewer than 153 top officials at the Secretariat. Those assignments are eagerly sought by national governments on behalf of their citizens who are ostensibly neutral international civil servants, both for the prestige, and because they give favored nations an important, albeit indirect, role in setting U.N. policy.

(For many years, for example, the top post in the U.N.’s Department of Management was held by a U.S. citizen. Now, it is held by a German.)

The JIU report does not intend to upset the appointment apple-cart. “Both the Member States and the Inspectors recognize the explicit discretionary power of the Secretary-General in making senior manager appointments,” the report declares.

The JIU watchdogs made clear, however, that both the number and the nature of Ban’s senior appointments was questionable. “The Inspectors discovered during this review innumerable Under-Secretary and Assistant Secretary-General positions and titles,” they declared, “and sought definitions from the [executive office] in an effort to provide an understanding and clarification among them.” Even after they got the information, “the Inspectors believe there is a clear need to rationalize and streamline the number and title of these positions.”

Along with the number and nature of his hires, the inspectors also took issue with Ban’s “implementation of the process,” which is so circumspect that “many question how the process actually works.” They also fear that the behind-the-scenes selection process makes the U.N. vulnerable to hiring candidates, as the report delicately puts it, “whose qualifications may not be suitable for a particular vacancy.”

That wording is extremely diplomatic compared to a previous JIU report on the hiring of the very top bosses of U.N. organizations, issued in 2009, which felt the need to suggest that U.N. organizations should prohibit “unethical practices such as promises, favors, invitations, gifts, etc., provided by candidates for the post of executive head or their supporting governments during the selection/election campaign, in return for favorable votes for certain candidates.”

In this most recent report, the inspectors note that candidates for top jobs are not screened through a normal human resources process, but instead are interviewed by panels of Ban’s closest advisors, with occasional outside help, which produce three-person short lists for Ban’s final selection. The high-level panels are too august to perform basic screening tasks, such as reference checks, and the inspectors recommended that lower-level human resource professionals take up those tasks in advance.

Another complaint is that Ban’s office is apparently selective in letting various nations know what positions are available, and some have complained that they did not receive notice for each vacancy. Ban’s office contests that view, but the Inspectors found that the complaints were accurate when it came to high-level positions outside New York headquarters.

As one remedy, the inspectors suggested that Ban’s office create, in effect, a “Help Wanted” website to announce vacancies and “convey information on senior appointments to Member States and potential candidates.”

The JIU officials pointed note that Ban’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, promised “a framework and process for the open and transparent nomination and selection procedure for senior management positions,” and that a U.N. budget committee “considers that insufficient progress has been made in implementing this approach.”

What Ban and his executive office explicitly thought of those ideas is not known—precisely, the JIU inspectors say, because of the office’s extraordinary insistence that even its reaction to the JIU’s ideas be kept secret.

But even if all the details of Ban’s reaction are under wraps, it’s not hard to get the general idea. Among other things, the report says, “the Inspectors must point out their regret that, overall, the day-to-day cooperation of the Executive Office of the Secretary-General (EOSG) was not good. A number of submissions in response to the team’s requests were incomplete, ignored or simply were not provided despite numerous reminders.”

The inspectors recount that various personnel files, intended to be viewed as samples, were kept out of their hands until the JIU prepared to note the fact in their annual report to the General Assembly.

Then Ban’s office suddenly decided that the files could be “made available to the Geneva-based Inspectors in a designated room in New York”—provided the inspectors paid for the trip to view them.

That treatment clearly left the inspectors unhappy. The Secretariat’s behavior “serves the Secretary-General poorly and gives credence to the notion that there is a culture of secrecy,” they observed.

But as the report made clear, Ban’s office did not intend to do anything about it—except, perhaps, impose more secrecy. In rejecting his office’s still-secret comments on their report, the inspectors said only that they would “take the Secretariat back to square one and maintain the status quo.”

As for the demand that Ban’s comments also remain secret, the inspectors said they would honor it even though they could find “nothing” in the comments that warranted such treatment, nor any rationale even in the Secretary General’s own published guidelines for handling sensitive material.

Ban’s office was queried by Fox News about the report late last week, but at the time this story was published, had not sent a reply.

George Russell is executive editor of Fox News and can be found on Twitter @GeorgeRussell.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

U.N.-DESA is being led by ASG's with expired contracts



Internal sources at office of EOSG inform Reform UN-DESA that all three Assistant Secretary Generals of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, have their contract expired and are currently seating in their positions without a valid contract.

The most flagrant cases are those of Jomo S Kwame (ASG Economic Affairs) and Rachel N. Mayanja (Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women) whose contracts have already expired since 31 December 2010 (6 months ago).

While Thomas Stelzer (ASG for Policy Coordination) had his contract expired since 3 Mar 2011, and as of now he is being paid out of Extra-budgetary resources of UN-DESA as if a consultant.

Sources say that also Sha Zukang (USG Head of UN-DESA) has his contract due to expire at 30 June 2011. While they say that there is a formal request from China to have him extended, this is not the case for Jomo, Rachel and Thomas.

In the case of Thomas, one source also indicated that he has already been told to "look around" for other "available positions".

Sha Zukang re-election speech has nothing to do with his vision of DESA rather with China's "Hand in global Governance"

Senior diplomat: China gaining growing hand in global governance

Editor's note: The rapid development of the emerging market economies, represented by China, has gradually become a major driving force behind global economic growth. China's further participation in global economic governance will benefit the development of the world economy. Given Sha Zhukang's 40-year diplomatic career and his position as the U.N. under-secretary-General for economic and social affairs, the many events he has experienced reflect China's increasingly high status in the global economic system as well as its growing capacity to participate in global economic governance.

China should and can actively increase its participation in formulating rules and regulations

Reporter: Have you experienced any events that can prove the rise of China's global economic status since you became the U.N. Under-Secretary-General?

Sha Zukang: Economic and social affairs are part of the United Nation's three pillars: security, development and human rights. My appointment as the U.N. under-secretary-general for economic and social affairs by the U.N. secretary-general was mainly due to China's development, and it implies the rise of China's international status.

I have attended all of the U.N. climate change conferences and witnessed the entire process of negotiations during the U.N. Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen since I became the U.N. under-secretary-general and a consultant to U.N .Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. China declared to the world prior to the Copenhagen talks that it would boost its energy efficiency by 40 percent before 2020. China has adopted a series of strong measures, made enormous efforts and paid a heavy price at home to meet the target.

China had only a small amount of carbon dioxide emissions before its reform and opening-up, and some of its emissions have increased since. Despite the increased emissions, China's per capita emissions are only one-fifth as much as those of the United States. Western countries pressured China during the summit in Copenhagen, forced China to assume obligation and unreasonably criticized China, which was absolutely groundless. Although China made the greatest contributions to emissions reduction, it has become the most criticized country. Dialectically speaking, the climate change conference in Copenhagen also implies higher expectations held by the outside world on China as well as China's increased influence.

Reporter: What do you think the changes in the world economic governance system should be like?

Sha Zukang: The goal of the reform in world economic governance is to promote the world economy to develop towards a more fair and reasonable direction. Fair and reasonable is a subjective judgment. What is fair and what is reasonable? I am afraid that a country has different views when in different stages of development. However, we are all in favor of developing toward a fair and reasonable direction because the situation now is not very fair and reasonable.

China has been very exemplary in complying with international rules for a long time, though many rules are unfair to developing countries. International rules are formulated by strong powers rather than the weak. History has also proven this. The Charter of the United Nations was also written by the victors and not the defeated nations. Of course, they certainly considered the interests and needs of defeated nations. China should and can participate in the formulation of the international rules more actively.

Most developed economies that engage in trade protectionism have become the most frightening thing

Reporter: After the international financial crisis, what is the opportunity and means of China's participation in world economic governance?

Sha Zukang: First, China actively promoted the development of the multilateral trade system in a more balanced and win-win direction, and firmly opposed all forms of trade protectionism. Everyone opposes trade protectionism when talking about it. However, it is actually those countries that most strongly oppose trade protectionism that are engaged in it under the pretext of financial crisis and domestic difficulties or in order to win votes. The most frightening thing is that the most developed economies are also engaged in trade protectionism.

China is making efforts to promote the WTO Doha Round negotiations for an early, comprehensive, and balanced outcome. China has adhered to the principle of equal consultation, and has taken effective measures to handle trade differences and to promote the establishment of a free, open, fair, and just international trading system with a sincere attitude.

Second, China and other major developing countries have gained greater voting power in the IMF and World Bank, which reflects the international recognition of the great progress these countries have made. However, wide-ranging reforms involving the international monetary system still need to be carried out, and simply increasing the voting power of developing countries is not enough to fundamentally change the unfair system because the United States still has veto power in the IMF. The international monetary system cannot be regarded fair unless the United States’ veto power is removed.

China is actively promoting the reform of international financial organizations including a fair, open, and merit-based leadership selection process, and the reform of the international monetary system including a stable reserve currency system with an adjustable total volume. It is also taking part in formulating unified international financial regulations including financial regulatory standards, accounting standards, and guidelines for credit rating agencies. In addition, it has established 14 free trade areas with other countries since 2000.

In brief, the global financial crisis and the rise of emerging economies have underlined the backwardness of the international financial system, and made the need for reforms more urgent. As a key member of the G20, China will grasp opportunities to play a greater role in global economic governance.

China has a wealth of experience and lessons to share with the world

Reporter: Where does China’s confidence come from when participating in international economic governance?

Sha Zukang: China has its own unique conditions when playing its role in the international economic governance.

First, China is a country with an ancient civilization that has made significant contributions to mankind in history. Chinese culture focuses on friendliness and harmony and values the concept of harmony as the most precious. Chinese culture can certainly play a greater role in international economic governance.

Second, China has the largest population in the world and is also the largest developing country worldwide. China has developed regions with the most advanced technologies in certain fields, but also has medium-developed regions and underdeveloped regions. We can see all kinds of problems that the world has faced just within China. China can understand the concerns of developed countries because its developed regions are also faced with the same problems, and China can also understand the concerns of underdeveloped countries because China also has underdeveloped regions. In regards to geographical conditions, China has arid regions, inland areas and many islands. Therefore, China is able to share the feelings of land-locked countries and small island countries. China is also a natural disaster-prone country. It can be said that China itself is a world, and China has a wealth of experience and lessons to share with the world.

Third, China’s economy experienced a rapid growth over the past 30 years and its economic power and comprehensive national strength are also rising. Its GDP ranks second in the world. In particular, China made the greatest contribution to the world economic growth from 2009 to 2010 after the international financial crisis, and has become the top global economic engine in these two consecutive years. The international community also hopes China can make greater contributions.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Richard Clarke: China is Planting Digital Bombs Throughout the U.S. Power Grid

The U.S. government is doing little to protect American interests from cyber threats, claims Clarke in an op-ed

By Clay Dillow
The U.S. Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command The U.S. military and intelligence arms are already defending the nation from cyber attacks. DARPA hopes to give them another tool.

The cyber-security cat is slowly slinking out of the bag, it seems. It’s been a big month in cybersecurity news, ranging from some high-profile hacks at companies like Lockheed (home to sensitive American defense technologies) and a declaration from the Pentagon that cyber attacks perpetrated by foreign governments can be considered acts of war and dealt with accordingly. Now we’re hearing more war metaphors and cautionary talk from Richard Clarke in this morning’sWall Street Journal, where he argues that China-backed hackers are systematically attacking America and meeting no resistance when they do so.

Clarke worked in various high-level security roles for every president from Reagan to G.W. Bush, leaving the White House in 2003 with the title Special Advisor to the President on cybersecurity. That is, he’s got some background on the topic at hand. And his assessment is pretty bleak: Senior U.S. officials know--and have known--that Chinese hackers are systematically infiltrating our networks, stealing source code, valuable R&D, and trade secrets from corporations while probing our power grids and other critical infrastructure for weaknesses, leaving behind easy access for themselves should they ever need to return and carry out more malicious acts.

Google, he says, has had the stones to stand up and admit it when its networks have been breached. But other companies, usually out of fear of being labeled “not secure,” haven’t done so. Therecent RSA Security breach says it all; Chinese hackers--with government support--are walking all over us digitally, and the U.S. government is doing little to protect jeopardized American interests that aren’t on a .gov or .mil server.

How do we know the Chinese government is behind these hacks? The Chinese claim attacks originating on their soil are rogue hackers, not government-backed cyber warriors. But, Clarke says, cyber criminals breach companies for financial gain, swiping credit cards or otherwise making away with funds. There’s no money in hacking the U.S. electrical grid, yet President Obama himself has admitted that the grid has been thoroughly probed by hackers. Says Clarke:

“What would we do if we discovered that Chinese explosives had been laid throughout our national electrical system? The public would demand a government response. If, however, the explosive is a digital bomb that could do even more damage, our response is apparently muted—especially from our government.”

Tough words from a former cybersecurity czar. The op-ed is worth a read if you’re staying current on cyber threats and the larger geopolitical situation. Click through below for the whole story.


DESA fellows - How many poor people did you save today? ....None? ...Well don't worry cheer-up and let's watch Sha Zukang's latest invention ...RIO !

Screening of the animated feature film entitled “Rio” (to mark the one-year countdown to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) (co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Brazil and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA)

From 6.30 to 9 p.m. in Conference Room 2 (NLB).

[All are invited to attend. For registration and further information, please contact Ms. Simona Chindea, DESA (tel. 1 (212) 963-8791); or Ms. Chia-Yin Chiang, Rio+20 Secretariat (tel. 1 (917) 367-2884).]

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

DESA's AE/JPO Programme a total "fiasco" - Italian Mafia in DESA derailed the programme in last 10 years

OIOS - Internal Audit Division

Assignment No. AN2010/512/01 - Audit of the Governance and Monitoring of the Delegation of Authority for the Administration of Associate Experts/Junior Professional Officers (AE/JPO) Programme

The appointment of AE/JPOs was to be restricted to work directly connected to activities in support of technical cooperation in Africa or other developing regions. However, the appointment of AE/JPOs at the UN Headquarters duty stations has become an ongoing practice, rather than an exception. Table 2 shows this increasing trend:

Table 2. AE/JPOs by Region of Duty Station and Selection Years

Major Scandals continue in DESA's Rome Office - read here exclusively OIOS report on UN-DESA Rome office performance




DESA's management of the Advisory Services and Operational Support for the Development and Management of Human Resources and Capacity Building for the International the Cooperation Project Office in Rome

A workflow analysis of the identification and selection process to recruit Associate Experts and Junior Professional Officers could significantly reduce the recruitment time

19 August 2010 Assignment No. AN2009/540/03


The Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) conducted an audit of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ (DESA's) management of the Advisory Services and Operational Support for the Development and Management of Human Resources and Capacity Building for the International Cooperation Project Office in Rome. This audit was conducted because management of technical cooperation projects is inherently a high risk area where project resources could be exposed to possible waste, abuse, or loss. The overall objective of the audit was to assess the adequacy and effectiveness of internal controls over governance, financial, administrative and human resources management of the project Office in Rome in compliance with UN regulations and rules. The audit was conducted in accordance with the International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing.

OIOS found that:

There was a need to inform the Government of Italy of changes in the project’s priorities;

There were unclear reporting lines between DESA-Headquarters and the project Office in Rome;

The composition of the selection panel was not guided by a governing policy;

There was a need to conduct work flow analysis to identify enhanced methodologies to improve the current pre-selection process of Associate Expert/Junior Professional Officer (AE/JPO) candidates;

There were no periodic impact evaluations of the AE/JPO project in Rome;

There was a need to strengthen the internal controls over IT security; and

There were no written operating procedures.

OIOS made eight recommendations to strengthen the internal controls in the governance and project management of the AE/JPO project in Rome. DESA accepted all the recommendations and has initiated action to implement them.


A. Governance and management control

Project document included outdated criteria

9. The renewed Project Document signed with the Government of Italy, effective 9 May 2006 outlines certain activities that the DESA Office is responsible for carrying out to implement the Italian AE/JPO programme. A review of the Office’s compliance with the Project Document revealed that 14 of the 16 agreed human resources activities were being carried out. The Office did not consistently publish studies and newsletters, and did not maintain a website for networking with prospective applicants, current AE/JPOs and former AE/JPOs. Further, the Office did not prepare and circulate a quarterly newsletter to provide information to potentially interested circles, including public and private firms, bodies, professional associations, etc. According to the Director, some of these activities were no longer applicable to the programme, and therefore were not being carried out. For example, the AE/JPOs maintain their own online communities through free websites, such as Facebook, and use these media to network. Maintaining a separate online community, therefore, would be redundant and costly. In light of the current realities and the changes in priorities in the programme, DESA requires a revision of the Project Document in consultation with the Government of Italy.

Recommendation 1

(1) The DESA Administration should inform the Government of Italy of the cancellation of the newsletter output as outlined in the Project Document.

10. The DESA Administration partially accepted recommendation 1 and stated that the audit noted that 14 out of the 16 defined HR activities in the project document were implemented, while two activities (website for networking, and quarterly newsletter) were not implemented. With regard to the two “outstanding” activities, DESA has to state that the project has an operational website which contains all information for prospective applicants and clients, which is continually updated. The output as defined in the project document is the “establishment, updating and use of a dedicated website for information sharing and networking on all the activities carried out by the office, as well as to receive AE/JPO/APO applications through the use of new technologies.”DESA acknowledges that the project has not produced a quarterly newsletter. However the non-delivery of this output, which was largely compensated by the existence of the web-site, does not require a review/revision to the project document. DESA will advise the Government of the cancellation of this output during the next budget revision exercise. Recommendation 1 remains open pending submission of DESA’s notification to the Government of Italy of the cancellation of the newsletter output as outlined in the Project Document.

Unclear reporting lines between DESA-Headquarters and the Office

11. In the absence of updated guidelines, the Manual for the Chief Technical Advisers, 1992, governs the accountability of the Chief Technical Adviser (CTA) of technical cooperation projects. Accordingly, the CTA is required to report and be accountable to a backstopping officer within the relevant supporting substantive division in DESA. The role of the backstopping officer is to monitor and measure the substantive progress and achievement of the stated project objectives, as well as to provide substantive guidance to the project. In the case of the Italian AE/JPO programme, the Director of the Office is the CTA. The Director, therefore, is required to report to DESA-Headquarters on the results of both the substantive and financial implementation of the project. At the Headquarters level, the newly established Capacity Development Office (CDO) is both the substantive, and financial and administrative support office for the project.

12. The CDO took over the management of the project from the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM) in April 2009. However, in the changeover, the reporting line between the Director of the Office in Rome and the CDO overseeing the project had not been clearly defined. For example, according to the 17 June 2009 e-mail that the CDO sent to the Director, all financial and administrative requests should be routed through the Head, CDO, to the Finance Management, Programme Support Service. The substantive reporting line, however, was not spelled out. As of the date of the audit, no further clarifications on the Office’s substantive reporting lines had been provided by the CDO, and a technical backstopping officer had not been assigned.

Recommendation 2

(2) The DESA Administration should clearly define the reporting lines for the DESA Office in Rome, as well as appoint a technical backstopping officer to monitor the Associate Experts and Junior Professional Officers Programme in Rome.

13. The DESA Administration accepted recommendation 2 and stated that with the transfer of the project’s management from DPADM to CDO, the substantive reporting lines for project activities have been directly to the Head of the CDO. This arrangement ensures senior level oversight of the project’s activities, and separation of roles and responsibilities between the substantive management of the project, and the administrative clearances provided by the Programme Support Service of CDO. The reporting arrangement was outlined in the 17 June 2009 communication from CDO to the Project (as noted in the audit report). After a period of hands-on experience, and further assessing the requirements of backstopping the project, the Head of the CDO delegated the day-to-day backstopping responsibilities of the project to a Programme Officer in CDO. This revised arrangement was communicated in a message by the OIC of Programme Support Services to the Head of the Rome Project. Based on the explanations provided, recommendation 2 has been closed.

The composition of the selection panel was not guided by a governing policy

14. Within the framework of the initiatives carried out by the Office, a three- member panel supports the pre-selection of candidates for interview on the basis of the profiles indicated by the UN and the specialized agencies and approved for sponsorship by the Italian Government. The panel is headed by the Chief, Human Resources Management, Programme Support Service (the Chief), CDO, and is assisted by two adjunct members. The members of the panel are required to have extensive experience in selecting AE/JPOs for the UN system. The panel reviews all job descriptions and specific requirements from international agencies, screens candidates, evaluates curricula of applicants and pre-selects candidates for interview.

15. OIOS reviewed the composition of the pre-selection panel and found several gaps in the controls. For example, the requirement for the competitive selection of consultants in accordance with the UN Staff Rules was not enforced until 2009, and the same consultants had been engaged during 2006-2008. For example, in 2009, the cost of one consultant amounted to $5,560 for one week. Further, there was no justification for utilizing consultants rather than regular UN staff members on the panel. In 2007 and 2008, the post of the regular staff designated to serve as the third panelist was at the P-3 level, one grade above the AE/JPOs post level. In 2006-2008, the same members, including one consultant, served on the panel. According to the Chief, these practices had been established by the former substantive unit, and had not been reviewed by CDO once it took over the administration of the project. In OIOS’ view, for the purposes of ensuring the proper discharge of its delegation of authority over human resources management of the project, there is a need for DESA to establish a policy to govern the composition of the selection panel.

Recommendation 3

(3) The DESA Administration should establish a policy governing the composition of the selection panel including representation by a gender focal point, term limits and use of consultants.

16. The DESA Administration accepted recommendation 3 and stated that as clarified during the audit briefing, the composition of the Pre-Selection Panel is determined by the Head of the CDO (previously Director, DPADM) and composed of human resource specialists from the UN Secretariat and/or agencies, who are familiar with the HR requirements of these organizations. The Panel is chaired by the Chief of Human Resources, CDO (previously the Chief of Project Personnel Services, TCMS), and depending upon available staffing resources, includes one Human Resources Officer from CDO. The third member of the Panel is selected from HR Officers from the UN Secretariat, specialized agencies, and/or a consultant who has had experience in human resources in an international organization. The Panel is constituted on an annual basis, and serves only for the duration of the mission to Rome (ranging from one to two weeks.) While DESA attempts to have gender balance in the Panel’s composition, this is not always feasible due to non-availability of Panel members. Therefore, while the 2009 Panel did include a female representative, the 2010 Panel did not. In sum, the Department feels the process for defining the Panel is well established and that no further policy is needed. Although not specifically a requirement for this Panel, to ensure a proper gender balance, the Department will endeavour to make every effort to include at least one female representative in future Panels. The use of consultants who have proven HR expertise is acceptable, particularly if there are insufficient human resource officers available in the CDO to be released simultaneously for mission. In adherence to past audit observations on documenting the competitive selection process for consultants, the use of P.104A form to reflect 3 competitors was adhered to for the consultant, and has been in place for the 2009 and 2010 assignments. Based on the explanations provided, recommendation 3 has been closed.

B. Management of the Italian AE/JPO programme in Rome

No analysis of the effectiveness of pre-selection process was conducted

17. The Office conducts preparatory work concerning the analysis of vacancies and job descriptions, as well as the preliminary evaluation of all candidates who applied for the positions by the specified deadline. The aim of the screening and evaluation process is to assign at least a final list of 7 to 8 applicants for each approved job profile. The pre-selection process involves the validation of applications, an initial evaluation and a second evaluation. At the start of each cycle, just after the application deadline, the names of applicants and their related personal data, such as date of birth, address, phone numbers, etc., are entered into the human resources database for validation and processing. Data concerning repeat applicants are also reviewed and updated. On a selected basis, the Office checks the appropriateness of the respective degrees prior to validating them. By the end of the year, a final list of candidates meeting the requirements is generated from the database, and the list is sent to DESA-Headquarters and the donor.

18. The Office conducts an initial evaluation of all the candidates, and verifies their credentials through a scoring system embedded in the database. The system scores the candidates based on pre-determined parameters, including academic degrees and other qualifications, languages, and professional experience. The process can take place parallel to the validation of the applications, provided that a critical mass of applicants have already been entered and reviewed in the database. At the end of the first evaluation, the database automatically ranks the candidates by degree from the highest to lowest score, facilitates searches across different fields, shows the full database profile of each candidate and shows the full application history of the candidate for candidates previously applying for the positions. The validation and initial evaluation of the candidates are done prior to the consultations with the Italian Government on the positions to be sponsored. The second evaluation of the candidates is conducted after the positions and terms of reference have been established, which is done in conjunction with the positions identified, the tools used, and the criteria applied. The panel, which has the authority to review all candidates with both high and low scores, and can use the database to make its own assessment, is presented with the evaluation undertaken by the Office on all suitable candidates. At the end of the process, the panel identifies final pre-selected candidates, who are then entered into the database and assigned to each approved position. DESA subsequently sends the final list to the Italian Government for approval.

19. The pre-selection process takes, on average, six to seven months. OIOS also assessed the merit of the scoring system, which is primarily used to pre- select the candidates during the initial evaluation. The complexity of the pre- selection process and the use of internal tools developed by the Office to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and transparency of the evaluation carried out for applicants are noteworthy. While the scoring system helped the Office to rank the candidates in terms of suitability, OIOS was not able to assess the effectiveness of evaluating the candidates in the first instance without knowing which positions would be available for actual placement. On average, the elapsed time for the first evaluation was about two months, and it takes two full- time staff to conduct the first round. According to the Office, it had never conducted a cost-benefit analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of the process.

Recommendation 4

(4) The DESA Administration should conduct a workflow analysis to identify enhanced methodologies to improve the current pre-selection process.

20. The DESA Administration accepted recommendation 4 and stated that as the Government of Italy has entrusted DESA with the responsibility of carrying out the pre-selection process of potential candidates to be sponsored under the Italian AE/JPO programme, the Department must conduct a pre-selection exercise. Subject to the donor’s agreement for funding, the Department would agree to conduct a workflow analysis, with external expertise, to determine if new methodologies could be considered, which would enhance the current pre- selection process. Recommendation 4 remains open pending submission of the completed workflow analysis and recommendations to improve the current pre- selection process.

The number of AE/JPO participants from developing countries was low

21. The AE/JPO programme is open to both Italian nationals and nationals from developing countries, and participants from developing countries are encouraged to apply for the programme. AE/JPOs are initially appointed for two years, and the cost associated with their appointment is normally sponsored by their respective governments. However, on a case-by-case basis, the contracts of AE/JPOs may be extended to a third and fourth year beyond the initial appointment. In such cases, the Italian Government pays up to 12 months of the allocated costs, as applicable, at 50 per cent across the third and fourth years. In 2006-2009, the number of AE/JPO extensions requested by DESA and approved by the Italian Government totaled 50, of which 9 contracts were only granted a one-year extension on a cost-sharing basis with the Organization.

22. OIOS assessed the distribution of the posts to nationals from developing countries, particularly given the fact that a portion of the costs associated with the AE/JPOs whose contracts are extended beyond the initial period where the Italian Government sponsors 100 per cent of the cost. According to the Office, every attempt is made to solicit the interest of nationals from developing countries. However, OIOS noted that these efforts are on a limited basis, and based on the availability of funding to solicit outside of Italy. For example, the Office mainly advertised the Italian AE/JPO programme on 43 websites, circulated information on the programme through free advertisements and articles in five newspapers and magazines, disseminated information to the public through the organization of targeted public events, attendance at one-day fairs, presentations at universities and press releases and interviews. The information campaigns and solicitations were mainly focused on Italy, and efforts to inform nationals from developing countries had been limited. On average, only 3.6 per cent of all applicants were from developing countries, and only five out of the 139, or 3.6 per cent, of the approved positions were allocated to them. In 2006-20081, these efforts, therefore, resulted in the sponsorship of only 5 developing country candidates by Italy, including two who were granted extensions to the third year under cost- sharing arrangements.

23. The issue of low participation in the UN system-wide AE/JPO programme by nationals from developing countries had been raised by the JIU in 2008 in its report on Junior Professional Officer/Associate Expert/Associate Professional Officer Programmes in the United Nations System Organizations (JIU/REP/2008/2). In the report, the JIU highlighted the need for all donors to extend the programme to more candidates from developing countries as a matter of providing these nationals with training and experience in the area of international development cooperation, and enhance capacity building in developing countries. Despite the Office’s effort to attract and appoint nationals from developing countries, it is OIOS’ view that there is a need for DESA, in consultation with the Italian Government, to intensify its efforts to designate additional posts for these nationals, as well as solicit a wider interest in their participation in the Italian AE/JPO programme.

Recommendation 5

(5) The DESA Administration, in consultation with the Government of Italy, should intensify its efforts to solicit and encourage the participation of young professionals from developing countries in the Associate Experts and Junior Professional Officers Programme.

24. The DESA Administration accepted recommendation 5 and stated that in the context of its ongoing discussions with donors to the AE/JPO programme, as well as during the Bi-annual meetings of the National Recruitment Services and UN Organizations on the AE/JPO/APO Programmes, the Department strongly encourages donors to earmark posts for developing country candidates. Furthermore, in response to a recommendation coming from the 7th meeting, DESA has formulated a trust fund proposal for donor consideration to sponsor developing country candidates (DCC). Italy is one of the few donors (joined by the Netherlands) which actually sponsor DCCs by earmarking posts specifically for those candidates. These efforts are well appreciated by DESA on behalf of the UN. As the earmarking of posts is beyond the control of DESA, the implementation of this recommendation is outside its control and beyond the efforts already being made. Based on the action taken by DESA, recommendation 5 has been closed.

DESA has not recently evaluated the Italian AE/JPO programme to assess its impact

25. One of the overall objectives of the Italian AE/JPO programme is to contribute to the efforts of fostering global development, as well as to promote capacity-building activities as a way to achieving the internationally agreed economic and social goals. In so doing, the immediate objective of the programme is to follow up on current and former AE/JPOs throughout their careers to ensure maximum monitoring of the programme and achievement of the stated objectives. In 2004, the Office conducted an evaluation of the impact of the Italian AE/JPO programme for the first time since its inception in 1972. The main purpose of the study was to identify in a statistically significant manner the orientation and professional careers developed by former Italian AE/JPOs after their assignment. The evaluation also aimed to determine to what extent the Italian economy had managed, throughout the years, to employ Italian AE/JPOs who had not continued with international organizations or otherwise chosen to settle abroad. Finally, the evaluation reviewed data to identify the emerging trends of the programme. The methodology of the evaluation included a survey that solicited the opinions of 1,372 AE/JPO alumni from 1973 to 2004.

26. The results of the evaluation indicated that the programme had significantly met the stated objectives, whereby more than 40 per cent of the respondents indicated that they were still employed in the UN system or in the international cooperation discipline. The survey provided a baseline for the establishment of benchmarks and performance measurements to evaluate the programme in future periods. Importantly, the survey provided valuable feedback on improvements that could be undertaken to strengthen the programme, such as the need for further initiatives to make the programme known to employers outside the UN system. Despite the merits of the evaluation, however, there was no established policy on the frequency that such studies should be conducted. It is OIOS’ view, therefore, that such an evaluation should be conducted at least every five years in order to provide timely feedback to programme managers given the changes and the use of AE/JPOs throughout the UN system.

Recommendation 6

(6) The DESA Administration should conduct periodic evaluations of the impact of the Associate Experts and Junior Professional Officers’ programme in achieving the objectives stated in the Memorandum of Understanding between the UN and the Government of Italy.

27. The DESA Administration accepted recommendation 6 and stated the issue of evaluation of the AE/JPO programme is a broad and complex subject relevant to all donor countries, and discussed in the Bi-Annual Meetings of Recruitment Services and UN Organizations. In the context of those meetings, the Rome Project, on behalf of the Government of Italy, was given the lead in drafting a proposal for a coordinated evaluation of JPO programmes. This proposal, which was prepared by the Office in consultation with a task force made up of representatives of agencies and donors, was presented by Italy to the Chair of the Working Group (Brussels). The Project envisages conducting evaluations on a six year, not five year, cycle. DESA considers the subject of evaluation an ongoing issue related to the AE/JPO Programme (not project) which is being addressed on a continuing basis as part of the programme’s management. Based on the action taken by DESA, recommendation 6 has been closed.

C. Control environment of the DESA Office in Rome

28. OIOS reviewed the effectiveness of the internal controls over financial, procurement, and administrative functions in the Office and found, in general, that the Office had developed a sound system of internal controls over the identification and examination of posts and the provision of advice and operational support to the Government of Italy for the programme’s implementation. In particular, DESA had fostered strong donor relations with the Italian Government and had conducted successfully, on an annual basis, tripartite meetings with the government to review the status of the programme and renew programming and funding. The Office had implemented an effective fundraising strategy between 2006 and 2009, securing approximately $6.9 million in contributions for the AE/JPO programme and in excess of $14 million for the promotion of capacity building activities in DESA. The Office, however, could benefit from strengthening the following controls.

Internal controls over IT security needed strengthening

29. The Office utilizes the human resources database to validate applications, as well as to store and maintain in an electronic format all relevant personnel data on the applicants and appointees, including names, educational background, languages, assignments, duration of contracts, etc. The database also enables the Office to score and rank candidates according to pre-determined parameters embedded in the system. Furthermore, the Office is in the testing phase of an on- line application process which will be launched in 2010. Therefore, information technology (IT) security is of critical importance in preserving the integrity of the application, screening and pre-selection processes. OIOS noted that the IT control safeguards employed by the Office included onsite backups in two separate locations in the Office three times daily, as well as daily Internet backup. However, the storage of backup data in an off-site location in the same building housing the Office exposed the Office to a high risk of loss or corruption of its critical data.

Recommendation 7

(7) The DESA Office in Rome should establish and follow appropriate information technology security protocols, including periodic backup procedures and the use of off-site locations away from the Office in order to ensure that its critical data is not lost in the event of a disaster.

30. The DESA Administration accepted recommendation 7 and stated that it is reviewing possible off-site locations for data backup and has initiated consultations with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and World Food Programme (WFP). DESA added that as a result of this process, it is expected that an off-site location for data will be identified subject to financial considerations. At the same time, the call of OIOS to be continuously vigilant of technology security is well taken. Recommendation 7 remains open pending submission of the identification and evidence of use of the new offsite location to store the Office’s critical data.

No written operating procedures

31. Detailed written instructions are critical to achieving uniformity of any process within an operation. Although the Office follows to some extent the CTA manual, which was produced in 1992, the manual is outdated. Further, there are functions specific and unique to the Office’s operations that are not outlined or addressed in the manual. For example, the human resources management functions involve the advertising, screening, validating and pre- selection of candidates for the AE/JPO programme. The scoring system is also based on pre-determined criteria upon which the integrity of the system is founded. Key performance indicators and benchmarks related to the Office’s human resources management activities were also not developed and documented. Although the audit determined that the management of the Office was generally satisfactory, there were no written guidelines on the day-to-day management of the imprest account, the recruitment of Office staff and other administrative processes. According to the Director, the guidelines were in draft and he was in the process of finalizing them.

Recommendation 8

(8) The DESA Office in Rome should finalize the written internal operating procedures and disseminate them to all staff.

32. The DESA Administration accepted recommendation 8 and stated that with respect to the issue of following general office guidelines, for 2010 the Office had assigned a national officer the tasks of supporting the Head of the Office, among other issues, to develop “local guidelines and explicit procedures concerning the office management and its administration, including the area of security management” as well as to formulate “guidelines on the selection procedures of the JPO/Fellowships Programme”. The Department notes that the audit determined the management of the office satisfactory. Concerning the comment of the audit that there were no written guidelines on the day-to-day management of the imprest account or the recruitment of office staff, DESA has to indicate that the imprest account is governed by instructions issued by the UN Accounts Division, and further internal guidelines would be redundant. The recruitment of office staff follows the HR policies and procedures of the UN Secretariat, and all recruitments handled by the Capacity Development Office, DESA. Recommendation 8 remains open pending submission of the completed guidelines.