United Nations:

More Can Be Done To Strengthen the U.N. Joint Inspection Unit

NSIAD-86-141: Published: Jun 17, 1986. Publicly Released: Jun 17, 1986.

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GAO reviewed the effectiveness of the United Nations (UN) Joint Inspection Unit's (JIU) role as an independent evaluation unit, focusing on: (1) whether it functions as intended and fulfills the evaluation role Congress expected; (2) assessing the Department of State's actions to monitor JIU activities and improve JIU effectiveness; and (3) identifying ways to enhance JIU effectiveness in evaluating UN programs.

GAO found that: (1) 76 percent of JIU-issued reports failed to meet State's quality assurance standards; (2) JIU needs to develop written standards to improve report quality; (3) JIU inspectors lack the necessary qualifications and experience to ensure quality performance; (4) many JIU recommendations were not implemented because they were inadequate or vague; (5) some sound JIU recommendations were set aside without substantive action; (6) JIU should develop a multi-year work program to identify high-priority issues and ensure systematic coverage of UN system activities; (7) JIU failed to develop an evaluation plan to determine activities' relevance, effectiveness, and impact; (8) JIU should develop a systematic procedure for following up on the status of report recommendations; and (9) although State has supported JIU, it has not proposed measures to establish a multi-year work program, develop comprehensive standards, or establish a recommendation follow-up system.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: No action on this recommendation is likely unless JIU is restructured. There is no indication of this occurring in the near future.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should have the Department take the lead to develop ways to strengthen the inspector selection process and place more emphasis on the nomination and selection of candidates competent in inspection and evaluation skills.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State prepared comprehensive instructions, including talking points and strategy statements, to the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York. All of the recommendations herein, except one, are covered by this action and are addressed individually in the instructions. The intent is to gain member support and introduce resolutions before the UN General Assembly, outlining actions needed.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct his representatives to closely review the JIU budget request and use the UN budget review process to question and hold the JIU more accountable.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The actions taken satisfactorily address the requirements of this recommendation, therefore, should be closed. The efforts made and preseverence shown by the Bureau of International Organization Affairs in attaining adoption of the resolution, intact, in an international body such as the UN are commendable.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should instruct U.S. representatives to work with other member nations to increase General Assembly guidance and oversight and to propose changes in JIU procedures, including requiring JIU to establish a formal recommendation follow-up system and expand the JIU annual report to include sections on follow-up and JIU accomplishments.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State informed GAO that this achievement had been reported to the appropriate congressional oversight committees. GAO later obtained a copy of this document which identifies the recommendations and actions specified by the resolution. GAO has also requested a copy of the resolution and will provide this for the file.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should instruct U.S. representatives to work with other member nations to increase General Assembly guidance and oversight and to propose changes in JIU procedures, including requiring JIU to develop and implement comprehensive written guidelines for conducting inspections and evaluations and for drafting reports.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State informed GAO that a resolution had been adopted by the United Nations 42nd General Assembly which, it believes, meets the requirements of the recommendations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should instruct U.S. representatives to work with other member nations to increase General Assembly guidance and oversight and to propose changes in JIU procedures, including requiring JIU to provide the General Assembly with: (1) a multi-year medium-term work program that shows how JIU will allocate its resources among UN activities and issues over a specified time period; and (2) a JIU annual work plan prior to implementation.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On April 15, 1988, GAO called State's Bureau of International Organization Affairs to inquire about the current status of the actions on the recommendations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should establish a comprehensive strategy for strengthening JIU that identifies short- and long-term approaches for enhancing the quality of JIU reports.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State is working through formal channels in the UN General Assembly to influence UN consideration of the recommendations. Final results will not be known until the General Assembly adjourns in December 1987.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should instruct U.S. representatives to seek support for UN efforts to require JIU to: (1) devote more resources to evaluation, to include continued emphasis on UN system organizations' internal evaluation systems as well as JIU external evaluation efforts; (2) provide governing bodies with information on the external evaluations JIU plans to conduct; and (3) document its evaluation activities, including external evaluations and efforts to promote internal evaluation, in its annual report.

    Agency Affected: Department of State

 

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