The High-level Committee on Management strategic plan for 2013-2016 identifies harmonization and simplification of business practices as a core activity of the Committee. In this context, the plan focuses on common and shared services, improved common procurement practices, and other initiatives to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the United Nations system. The actions under this priority area respond to General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review mandates on rationalization of business operations, inter-agency frameworks, establishment of common support services and greater collaboration in procurement. The feasibility study on enterprise resource planning inter-operability launched under the aegis of the Information and Communications Technology Network also falls under this priority area and is a direct response to relevant provisions in the quadrennial comprehensive policy review. 

Several initiatives are under way in the area of common treasury services, which continue to deliver concrete results in the four focus areas of banking services, investments (including risk management), foreign exchange and payments. Negotiations are under way with the four largest banks with whom the United Nations does business to put in place global agreements that seek to gain benefits from increased economies of scale. Work has also commenced on negotiating new common banking agreements in large-volume and large-fee countries.

The High-level Committee on Management Finance and Budget Network has launched a project to develop common definitions of operating costs, paying due attention to the different business models of United Nations system organizations, in direct response to the quadrennial comprehensive policy review mandate in this respect.

The High-level Committee on Management Procurement Network has initiated a number of projects on the enhancement of common services, such as the common procurement of vehicles as well as the location-based procurement collaboration in Geneva, Rome, New York and Copenhagen. The High-level Committee on Management Procurement Network also continued its work to develop tools and methodologies to facilitate joint and common procurement at the country level. In collaboration with the United Nations System Staff College, the High-level Committee on Management has also supported the development of local capacity in United Nations country teams to implement the new approaches on joint procurement that these initiatives have delivered, including through train-the-trainer programmes. 

In 2013, a new vendor registration system for procurement was introduced on the United Nations Global Marketplace, the common procurement portal of the United Nations system of organizations (https://www.ungm.org). This new system is expected to increase access to United Nations procurement by vendors from developing countries and from countries with economies in transition. Furthermore, it streamlines United Nations procurement processes, which reduces time and increases efficiency. 

Recognizing the particular importance of support to operational activities for development, High-level Committee on Management and the United Nations Development Group continued their close cooperation to improve organizations’ business models and make management and administrative processes more coherent and compatible across the United Nations system, to generate cost efficiencies while improving the quality of delivery, and to pursue the behavioural and cultural changes that are needed to modernize the work environment.

In this respect and in response to the request in General Assembly resolution 67/226 on the quadrennial comprehensive policy review to further pursue higher-quality, more effective and cost-efficient support services in programme countries, the United Nations Development Group piloted a common business operations strategy as a medium-term strategic planning framework for advancing consolidated support services in 11 countries. The strategy framework utilizes the harmonized rules and regulations delivered by the High-level Committee on Management to develop integrated support services at the country level and focuses on cost reduction and quality improvement in the areas of procurement, information and communications technology, logistics and transport, human resources and building management.

The High-level Committee on Management and the United Nations Development Group also assumed joint leadership in the design of an integrated business service centre and launched a joint United Nations system service facility in Brasilia. The facility, which is expected to be operational in 2015, will generate significant savings from increased efficiencies and reduced transaction costs. 

Finally, under the leadership of the Department of Safety and Security of the United Nations Secretariat, CEB continued to make progress on issues relating to staff safety and security, in particular through the review and endorsement of new and updated policies developed with the active engagement of all members of the Inter-Agency Security Management Network.