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06USUNNEWYORK1953 2006-10-12 16:48:00 UNCLASSIFIED USUN New York
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DE RUCNDT #1953/01 2851648
P 121648Z OCT 06
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 001953 



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: The Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS)
has conducted a review (A/61/61) of the program and
administrative management of the Economic and Social
Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). OIOS notes that ESCWA
consistently uses results-based management, and is one of the
most advanced entities in the UN Secretariat in that regard.
OIOS also highlights five challenges that impact ESCWA's
ability to be more effective and makes 20 recommendations to
address these challenges. The five challenges are: a) the
organizational structure has to be normalized; b) the
Statistical Division needs to be reestablished; c) the
comparative advantages of ESCWA have to be reassessed and its
collaborative networking with regional partners strengthened;
d) information and knowledge management must be advanced to a
qualitatively new level commensurate with the regional role
of ESCWA; and e) it is necessary to make the executive
management culture more consistent, objective, and
transparent. ESCWA management only agrees with two of these
five challenges and none related to the management of the
commission. END SUMMARY.

2. The OIOS report states that ESCWA management has
introduced a "team" concept to promote multidisciplinary
collaboration and in doing so, replaced the conventional
structure of "branches," "sections," and "units." OIOS
recalls that in established management practices,
multidisciplinary teams are created to deliver a concrete
output and are disbanded once the objective has been
achieved. In addition, normal reporting and organizational
structures remain to ensure clear reporting lines and
accountability. In the case of ESCWA, there is a blurred
line due to the discontinuation of normal structures and
authority is often unclear. OIOS believes that it is time to
reconsider the organizational structure.

3. OIOS notes that ESCWA disbanded the Statistics Division
in 2003 and redeployed the staff to the substantive
divisions, in order to bring the statisticians and experts
closer together. OIOS found that the experts and
statisticians were working more closely, but the synergy
between statisticians had been lost. While a Statistical
Coordination Unit does exist, OIOS notes that there has been
uneven staffing and an unclear mandate for the Unit. The
result has been some duplication of efforts and the lack of
timely and comprehensive collaboration with the Statistics
Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs and
other statistical entities. OIOS recommends that a
Statistics Division should be reestablished. ESCWA notes its
intent to review the situation.

4. With regard to staff capacity and training, OIOS observes
that the training plans did not reflect any meaningful
efforts to adjust the knowledge base and skills of staff that
had been redeployed during the previous restructuring. Also,
there was poor planning with regard to training opportunities
and not enough thought was given to group training vs.
individual training, where the former could be more
productive and less costly. In addition, actual expenses for
training often exceeded allocations and proper internal
consultations did not occur with regard to reallocation of
funds. This leads to a question as to how overspending for
training was accommodated within the approved budget for

5. With regard to ESCWA's regional role, OIOS found that the
Regional Coordination Group, which ESCWA chairs and is meant
to serve as a way for all of the regional commissions to
coordinate, does not meet expectations. The Group has not
led to better collaboration and there is still no reliable
method to monitor and organize implementation of joint
programs. In addition, the Group's page on the ESCWA website
is out of date and does not offer much valuable information.

6. ESCWA has made improvements to its website overall,
though, OIOS reports. The website has enhanced its
visibility and outreach, though information sharing via the
Intranet is still a work in progress. On information and
communication technology (ICT) overall, OIOS observes that
there is not an overall ICT strategy focused on return for
investment. For example, ESCWA has nine systems in place and
fragmented ICT reporting lines, resulting in duplication and
dilution of resources. OIOS therefore recommends the hiring
of an information master. OIOS also believes that ESCWA's
ICT resources must be increased, as the standard for ICT
staff resources in the UN Secretariat is five percent and
ESCWA is at four percent. ESCWA agrees with the
recommendation, but notes that it is difficult to implement
the recommendations under a zero growth budget.

7. OIOS also comments on knowledge management, noting that
information voids exist and there is a need to fully realize
the potential of the Intranet for organizing and sharing
internal information. OIOS notes with concern that there are

USUN NEW Y 00001953 002 OF 002

not yet fully developed shared local area network folders.
OIOS also sees that other resources for information, such as
the UNDP National Human Development Report, are not fully
utilized. OIOS recommends the creation of a dedicated post
of knowledge manager. ESCWA agrees with this recommendation,
but again points out that it is nearly impossible to
implement without additional resources.

8. OIOS states that ESCWA's administrative procedures need
to be streamlined and modernized (for example, hard copy
formats are still used for many items, such as phone billing
and travel approval). OIOS also raises concerns regarding
human resource management and recalls instances where
established policies and procedures were not followed by
management, such as with contract renewal. OIOS praises the
Executive Secretary for enhancing ESCWA's regional profile
and for his active support of staff. They suggest, however,
that more effective advisory mechanisms are needed, as the
current Cabinet is too large to do this job effectively.
They also suggest better utilizing the post of Deputy
Executive Secretary. ESCWA does not agree with any of the
recommendations in this area and actually rejects the
recommendation to "ensure that the norms of transparent and
effective oversight are adhered to by observing established
reporting lines and addressing accountability issues in a
consistent and fair manner."

9. In conclusion, OIOS notes that the strength of ESCWA is
its multidisciplinary experience and knowledge of the
specificities of the region. Its weaknesses are
micromanagement and lapses in transparency, insufficient
information sharing and difficulties in mobilizing
extrabudgetary resources.

10. COMMENT: USUN recommends that the U.S. follow established
practice and join consensus in a resolution that "takes note"
of the inspection report. Many of the management issues that
OIOS raises should be addressed in the context of the
2008-2009 biennium budget and after further information is
provided by ESCWA with regard to its implementation of the
OIOS recommendations. END COMMENT.