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UN chief proposes ‘sweeping’ management reform to budget committee

Flags outside the UN Secretariat building.
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
Flags outside the UN Secretariat building.

UN chief proposes ‘sweeping’ management reform to budget committee

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday proposed sweeping management reform to Member States in the General Assembly’s main administrative and budgetary body, including the adoption of an annual budget cycle, the granting of the power for him to redeploy resources within the approved budget, and the elimination of duplicate functions currently undertaken by different departments.

“Reform is not an end in itself. The purpose of reform is simple and clear: to best position the United Nations to do the work that Member States ask us to do,” said Mr. Guterres in his remarks to the Fifth Committee.

He said that his reports to the General Assembly outlined reform of the peace and security architecture, development system reform and management reform aimed at simplifying procedures and decentralizing decisions, with greater transparency, efficiency, agility and accountability.

Elaborating on the management reform, Mr. Guterres proposed moving from a biennial to an annual budget, and shortening the planning and budgetary cycle from five to three years.

He also asked Member States’ support to grant him additional authority to redeploy resources up to 20 per cent of a section within the budget parts, not between parts. This would enable the UN Secretariat to better respond to changing demands while preserving the principle that resources allocated for particular pillars of the Organization should be used for those pillars.

The UN chief also proposed that the scope of the commitment authority for “unforeseen and extraordinary expenses” be broadened to cover unforeseen events in the areas of development and human rights, beyond peace and security.

As for the duplicative functions undertaken by different departments, he proposed establishing a Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance with a clear policy, strategy and compliance role, which will be complemented by a Department of Operational Support focusing on operations, services, transactions and surge support to entities in weak environments.

Regarding the Umoja enterprise resource planning system and the global service delivery model, he proposed that these functions be carried out in two or three centres and to undertake a strategic assessment of locations.

He also proposed streamlining and simplifying human resources rules, processes and procedures to ensure timely recruitment, deployment and staff development.

Mr. Guterres stressed that achieving gender parity and increasing geographical diversity are important aspects of his reforms.

He said within his Executive Office, gender parity has been achieved in professional position while geographical diversity has also been substantially increased.

“This shows that the two goals are not mutually exclusive but reinforcing. It also shows what I am able to do with greater managerial authority,” he said.