News

Welcome to the new JIU website

 Welcome to the revamped website of the Joint Inspection Unit of the United Nations  system, launched in February 2018. The site provides our visitors with information about the Unit and its contribution to the United Nations system and keeps them informed about the release of the reports and notes published by the Inspectors. This website also includes more examples of the work conducted by the JIU, clustered by themes such as management and administration, human resources, procurement, RBM, oversight etc. The website is released in English and French, with other official languages being shortly added to maintain access to all JIU products in the six official languages of the United Nations. Your feedback is welcomed at jiu@unog.ch.

 

Review of Air Travel Policies in the United Nations System: Achieving Efficiency Gains and Cost Savings and Enhancing Harmonization  (JIU/REP/2017/3)

The Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) has recently issued a report on air travel policies in the United Nations System that reviewed and assessed relevant air travel regulations, policies and practices and examined their implementation across the United Nations system organizations. The report was undertaken following calls from the General Assembly to improve the management of air travel and the effective and efficient use of air travel resources, as a matter of urgency. The report aims to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of travel management among JIU participating organizations, increase accountability and transparency for managers who approve travel, increase coordination and cooperation among United Nations system organizations and promote harmonization of procedures and processes, where appropriate, by identifying good practices and lessons learned. The United Nations system is one of the largest consumers of air travel services among international organizations, due to the global presence of its offices and programmes. Travel expenditure is, not unexpectedly, one of the largest budget components, after staff costs and has increased over the past decade, despite efforts to reduce costs and make more use of technology tools such as video conferencing. On the basis of data provided by 24 United Nations system organizations, the overall expenditure on air travel and travel-related expenses totaled approximately $4 billion for the four-year period from 2012 to 2015. This figure does not include travel expenditure incurred by peacekeeping operations, political missions and the organizations that did not respond to the JIU’s request for information. In a period of increasing austerity, there is a clear justification for carefully assessing air travel regulations, rules and policies. Reviewing the standards of accommodation that each entity is currently applying for air travel, for example, provides a basis for determining whether and how greater cost effectiveness and efficiency can be achieved through changes in policy and practices that are being successfully applied in some other organizations. The report contains nine formal recommendations. Three of which are addressed to the executive heads and six to the legislative body of the participating organization, including the General Assembly. These recommendations include elimination of first-class travel, increasing the investment in communications technology as an alternative to travel, enhancing accountability in the management of air travel, strengthening the planning, monitoring and budget oversight for air travel and other practical measures to reduce the expenditure on air travel.

 

Review of Management and Administration in the Universal Postal Union (UPU) (JIU/REP/2017/4)

The Joint Inspection Unit recently issued a report reviewing the management and administration of the Universal Postal Union (UPU). It articulates the highly complex environment in which the organization operates and the multiple challenges that it faces, mainly generated by economic and technological developments, fundamental market changes and an erosion of its financial base. During the past years the organization has undergone several reforms to secure its operational capacity and relevance in the postal market. The JIU review aims to support the UPU in adjusting to this evolving environment and in achieving its goals. The Inspector made 10 formal recommendations (six are addressed to member countries through the Council of Administration and four are addressed to the Director General of the International Bureau, the secretariat of the organization). These recommendations, complemented by a series of other suggestions (informal recommendations), are primarily intended to promote good governance, oversight and accountability and reinforce the management framework of the UPU, as well as to contribute to enhancing the financial sustainability of the organization. UPU has operated under a zero nominal growth budget for two decades with adverse effects on the organization’s operability. Specific areas, such as the ethics function or internal oversight, but also training of staff, have suffered from this situation. The review of the organization’s financial development over recent years confirmed these challenges. In this respect, the high volume of liabilities, mainly due to the organization’s Provident Scheme and after-service health insurance, is of particular concern. The review identifies several shortcomings in the internal management of the organization and calls for reviewing the frameworks of the management, institutional, and other committees and boards, including their working procedures, to ensure synergy and complementarity. Attention should also be given to the management of human resources, notably by finalizing a corporate HR strategy and by improving the reporting modalities on HR matters to member countries. The review makes a number of suggestions to improve the oversight framework of the organization, including a formal recommendation to study the feasibility of establishing an independent audit committee by drawing on similar structures in place in other United Nations specialized agencies. The Inspector will introduce the report at the next session of the Council of Administration which will take place in Bern during the week of October 23, 2017.

 

Donor-led Assessments of the United Nations System Organizations (JIU/REP/2017/2)

As extrabudgetary or voluntary contributions have become essential for most United Nations system organizations to pursue their mandates, donors are increasingly undertaking their own assessments of these entities and their programmes to ensure that their funds have been used efficiently, and for intended purposes and with the expected levels of accountability. These bilateral assessments have been proliferating in recent years, giving rise to expressions of concern from the management and oversight bodies. Many organizations view them as a challenge requiring them to devote resources and staff time; they also lead at times to duplication and overlap, despite the value perceived as inspiring introspection and reform. The report reviews the various approaches, arrangements and practices in place regarding donor-led assessments in the United Nations system, identifies areas of common challenges and concerns, and makes recommendations as appropriate. Ways should be explored to enhance donor confidence and their reliance on the oversight reports by further strengthening of the organizations’ oversight and evaluation functions and bridging the assurance needs of donors with the work performed by the existing oversight bodies. Equally, organizations should work closely with donors to increase the understanding of donors’ requirements, expectations and needs. This should include an effort to apply better reporting on results, and participation in initiatives such as the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). The report calls for better sharing of donor assessments that would help to reduce the risk of overlap and duplication among them. It would also provide to the stakeholders concerned a broader evidence base for their assessments. The Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) should evaluate its methodology to assess its rigour and utility in providing the expected levels of information and determine its effectiveness, in view of further reducing the degree of duplication and level of transaction costs. The report recommends establishing a central function for coordinating the multiplicity of assessments, including for managing the information provided to donors, ensuring consistency and tracking the follow-up action on assessment findings and recommendations. Such a measure will also allow for organizational learning and improvement. The report advocates initiating and sustaining a high-level dialogue with donors to determine shared priorities and define a multi-stakeholder assessment platform with a robust framework and methodology to reduce the need for additional bilateral assessments. The report contains six formal recommendations, three of them addressed to the legislative organs/governing bodies and three to the Executive Heads of the United Nations system organizations.