Improving Financial Management in the United Nations by Strengthening Audits and Evaluations

ID-79-56: Published: Sep 24, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 1979.

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Rapidly increasing budgets of the United Nations (U.N.) system have increased the need for greatly improved financial management. Improved financial management will increase efficiency and economy in U.N. operations at all levels and will permit a greater portion of the available funds to be applied directly to programs. These needs can be accomplished only with active support of the member governments, including the United States and U.N. officials at the highest levels.

External auditing in the U.N. system is carried out by the U.N. Board of Auditors and the external auditors of the specialized agencies. The review of the audit reports showed that the Board of Auditors and other external auditors have been adopting more modern practices in their reviews. The adoption of system-based auditing and increased emphasis on administrative and management aspects should increase the effectiveness of their reviews and help management and government bodies in their deliberations of ongoing and future operations and programs. Internal audits in the U. N. are carried out through the Internal Audit Service and by other internal audit units in several related and subsidiary agencies and the specialized agencies. Internal audit reports are not made available to member governments, thus, GAO has not been able to review the internal audit reports and cannot state whether these reports have accomplished their purpose. External evaluations throughout the U.N. system are conducted by the Joint Inspection Unit, a body of 11 inspectors, and support personnel. The Joint Inspection Unit has noted that improvements in evaluations in the U.N. system have taken place during the last couple of years, but that much more needs to be done.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should instruct the U.S. mission and U.S. delegates to the U.N. to work with member country delegates in establishing a professionally qualified audit group, headed by an Auditor General who would be responsible for conducting the external audit of the U.N. and its related or subsidiary organizations. The Secretary should: stress the need for appropriate U.S. personnel to review all external audit reports in the U.N. system, and to prepare a U.S. position on the report's findings and recommendations; make every effort to see that appropriate assembly or committee meetings have a discussion of the audit reports and that a U.S. position for action is put forth at these meetings; emphasize to his personnel the need to become aware of the general scope of internal audit units in the U.N. system and where appropriate support efforts at making these units more effective; and working through his representatives in the U.N. system and in conjunction with other member government representatives to continue active support of effective evalution methods and procedures in each organization of the U.N. system.

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