Background

The HLCM Vice-Chair (WHO) introduced this agenda item recalling that at the second regular session of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination last October Executive Heads had welcomed the HLCM plan of action for the harmonization and reform of business practices in the United Nations system and had endorsed its methodological framework and implementation modalities.

The plan of action had been developed by the relevant HLCM Networks, under the guidance of a Steering Group led by the HLCM Vice-Chair and composed by the Chairs of all HLCM Networks, and had received the approval of the Network membership, where all organizations are represented.

Following CEB’s approval, the plan of action had been packaged for resource mobilization on an extra-budgetary basis and had been shared with Executive Heads with a view to reconfirming their support to this initiative in order to allow the submission of the Funding Proposal for such plan of action to all Member States, to inform them about the launch of this initiative and to solicit extra-budgetary contributions.

The Secretary-General, in his capacity as Chair of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination, had agreed kindly to transmit the Funding Proposal to Member States. He would do so shortly after receiving the Executive Heads’ confirmation to go ahead.

The Committee was also informed that the HLCM Chair had been invited informally to brief the General Assembly on this initiative during the GA’s second resumed session in the spring. This would present a valuable opportunity to provide Member States with greater detail on each initiative and to raise awareness in as open and transparent a manner as possible.

Discussion

A number of refinements regarding working modalities and governance mechanisms for the implementation of the HLCM plan of action were suggested and agreed upon. Corresponding conclusions and action points are summarized below.

The staff representatives and the Vice-Chair of the ICSC participated in the discussion, appreciated the work done by the Committee as an important step towards enhanced coherence for better programmatic delivery of the UN system organizations, and assured their support and commitment to the implementation of this initiative.

A number of organizations offered their availability to take a primary role in some of the projects still to be assigned to a lead agency. Such offers were appreciated by the Committee and would be formalized following consultations within the relevant HLCM Network and the Business Practices Steering Group, as per normal procedure.

Action

The Committee approved the launch of the HLCM plan of action for the harmonization and reform of business practices in the UN system, as outlined in document CEB/2008/HLCM/4, integrated with the points that follow.

Recognizing the critical role that UN organizations with strong field presence have for the successful achievement of the objectives outlined in the plan of action, the membership of the Steering Group, currently led by the HLCM Vice-Chair and composed by the Chairs of the HLCM Networks and by the Director of the CEB Secretariat, would be expanded to include HLCM representatives of UNDP and UNICEF.

HLCM organizations can voluntarily commit their participation in any of the proposed initiatives (cluster approach). Working groups of interested organizations are then formed around the lead agency, which carries ultimate responsibility for delivery of results and retains financial authority over and accountability for the resources allocated to the project for which it is responsible.

Financial support for the Plan of Action as one package would be sought from all Member States.

The Steering Group, based on input from the full membership of HLCM, gathered in the Networks, would identify “quick win” projects and determine the prioritization and sequencing of all initiatives included in the plan, according to financial resources provided by Member States, with a particular attention to the relevance of projects for the field level. The Plan of Action would evolve to include projects that have not yet been developed, such as the creation of an independent system-wide capacity for evaluations and initiatives that would be proposed by the Legal Network.

The HLCM Procurement Network would submit its contribution to the Plan of Action by 4 April, for review and endorsement by the Steering Group.

Projects would be grouped in the Business Practices Funding Proposal in three categories: 1) projects ready for implementation; 2) feasibility studies leading to the implementation of one of the alternative options that the study will identify; and 3) feasibility studies whose outcome would determine whether to proceed to any implementation phase or to decide for alternative solutions.

The Funding Proposal would highlight its direct link with the mandates outlined in the “Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review (TCPR) of operational activities for development of the United Nations system”.

The channeling of contributions towards the HLCM plan of action would be arranged through the establishment of a separate Trust Fund for Business Practices, administered through the United Nations Secretariat. As an exceptional measure for this particular fund raising initiative, a programme support cost rate of 7% would be applied by the United Nations for the recovery of all indirect costs in connection with the administration of this Trust Fund, as opposed to the regular 13% rate, and with the understanding that all direct costs would be charged to individual project budgets.

For projects whose management and implementation would be assigned to a lead agency other than the United Nations or the CEB Secretariat, funds would be channeled through the Trust Fund for Business Practices and then allocated to the lead agency. The United Nations would charge, on an exceptional basis, a pass-through rate of 1% as “administrative agent”, with a common rate of 7% to be applied by the lead agency for the recovery of all indirect costs. Project budgets included in the final Funding Proposal would be adjusted to reflect the US dollar depreciation.

The CEB Secretariat would retain responsibility for central oversight, coordination and reporting for the complete package of projects included in the Business Practices plan of action, preserving unity of direction and central accountability to the CEB membership and to the Member States providing financial support.