U.S. Participation in International Organizations:

An Update

ID-79-26: Published: Aug 10, 1979. Publicly Released: Aug 10, 1979.

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GAO examined changes in the policies and procedures for the management of U.S. participation in the U.N. since its 1977 report. In that report it was recommended that the President reaffirm the importance of U.S. participation in the U.N., give the Secretary of State responsibility for formulating and directing U.S. policy for such participation, and establish a cabinet-level advisory committee to aid the Secretary of State in carrying out those responsibilities. The Developmental Coordination Committee (DCC) subcommittee on the developmental programs and budgets of international organizations has been designated by the State Department as the cabinet-level advisory. The International Development Cooperation Agency (IDCA), established in July 1979, is to serve as the focal point for all U.S. economic assistance affecting U.S. relations with developing countries, including budget support and policy concerning U.S. support of the U.N. developmental programs. GAO also made recommendations to the Secretary of State for strengthening the management of U.S. participation in international organizations.

GAO believes that the DCC subcommittee has the potential to accomplish its earlier recommendations. The IDCA offers promise for relevant decisionmaking and increased U.S. ability to coordinate foreign development activities, and that it addresses the executive branch problems previously identified. Through its director, a single U.S. official is given the responsibility for directing U.S. development policy in international organizations and the authority to ensure consistency in U.S. programs affecting development.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should coordinate the policy management process with the Director, IDCA, when he assumes office so that both bilateral and multilateral development at the policy implementation levels can be considered. The Secretary of State--in consultation with the Director, IDCA, when he assumes office, especially where he has lead responsibility for policy and budgets for developmental organizations--should develop a plan to devote the necessary resources to ensure an increased capability in dealing with the United Nations and its affiliated agencies, programs, and budgets. To implement a policy to improve the quality of employees at all management levels in U.N. organizations, it is recommended that the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizational Affairs identify key management positions in each international organization; recruit qualified Americans as candidates for vacancies in those positions; aggressively support U.S. candidates to assure that they are adequately considered in the selection process; assign the responsibility for the placement of Americans in New York to a U.S. official of ambassadorial rank at the U.S. Mission and centralize Mission personnel activities; and continue to emphasize, in appropriate international forums, the importance of placing top quality candidates in U.N. organizations and that considerations of geographical representation are of secondary importance.

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