UNESCO Programming and Budgeting Need Greater U.S. Attention

ID-79-12: Published: Sep 14, 1979. Publicly Released: Sep 14, 1979.

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is one of the fastest growing United Nations (U.N.) agencies. Although the budget resources allocated to individual program objectives are in line with specific plan targets projecting an overall 6-percent biennial growth rate, additional offsets for inflation, currency depreciation, increased administrative costs and other nonprogram expenditures have combined to produce a much higher rate of budget growth. The approved budget for 1979-80 represents a 35 percent increase over the prior biennium and more than a threefold rise since 1971-72. As with other U.N. agencies, one consequence of the rise in the budget has been the proportionate increase in the cost of U.S. participation in these international organizations.

Recent emphasis by UNESCO on medium-term program planning, standardization of program and budget presentations, and assessment of results should make possible more effective coordination and strengthened financial discipline in planning and implementing its programs. However, there has not been any perceptible slowdown in the rate of budget growth thus far. The United States, by virtue of its preeminence in UNESCO fields of competence, can do more to exert a strong influence on agency program activities and their cost than what it is presently doing. There is an overall need for the United States to participate earlier and more actively in the development of the UNESCO program plan and budget. The officials responsible for representing U.S. interests in UNESCO have been handicapped by an overriding concern with political matters, by an inadequate system for identifying program goals and priorities, and by a shortage of qualified staff to analyze the budget and emerging new issue areas. If the United States and member governments participate more fully in planning and management activites of U.N. affiliated agencies, progressive results will be measurably increased.

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