5 March 2007Describing the United Nations Department of Management as the “backbone” of the world body, the top UN management official today outlined her priorities for the coming year, namely implementing reforms to improve the organization’s efficiency and accountability, as she also stressed the need to maintain the highest standards of integrity. Under-Secretary-General for Management Alicia Bárcena, who has now been in the post for two months, also told reporters that 98 per cent of those UN staff required to disclose their financial assets under the Ethics Office’s Financial Disclosure Programme have already done so, while the remaining two per cent would have their contracts terminated if they failed to comply. This initiative is also aimed at greater accountability.“The Member States have given us a big amount of tasks already since last year…they approved quite a lot of reforms and that’s why one of the main things that we have to do is implement them. So the major focus of my work at least for this year will be basically implementation,” said Ms. Bárcena at UN Headquarters in New York.“And one of these priorities…is how do we keep the highest possible standards of integrity, ethics, transparency, conduct in this organization, that’s the number one priority for everyone and for that we have to do so many things, from the internal justice system that we are discussing now…the other element of this implementation of the reform is all the area of accountability…how do we become better in terms of accountability?”She emphasized the importance of the Ethics Office, noting also its training role, and also added that new senior managers who come to the UN – including herself – will have to sign an agreement with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, outlining their commitments and roles so that people can measure their performances. She said these would also be made public.Submitting timely budgets and budget proposals is also key for her Department, she said, while also highlighting progress made on the Capital Master Plan, which is aimed at renovating the world body’s New York Headquarters, buildings that for the most part were completed in the early 1950s.Turning to human resources management reforms, she stressed the priority of improving the “administration of justice,” noting that the system currently operating was designed in 1945 for 1,000 or so people, but now there are 55,000 staff. Ms. Bárcena also spoke about the Secretary-General’s emphasis on staff mobility, adding her Department was looking into this.“We know that there are two elements that we need to ensure good mobility, and that is, the conditions of service have to be more or less homogenous so people can really move from one place to the other. And of course, the harmonization of contracts, and that’s a problem that we still have and we hope the Member States will make good decisions…[on this] in the General Assembly.”Further, she said her Department was working closely to assist in the debate with Member States regarding the realignment of peacekeeping operations as proposed by Mr. Ban, and it was also close to hiring a chief to head the information technology office at the UN.
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