United Nations:

Personnel Compensation and Pension Issues

NSIAD-87-53: Published: Feb 11, 1987. Publicly Released: Feb 11, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the salaries and pensions of the United Nations' (UN) professional and executive employees and U.S. efforts to influence them, including: (1) a comparison of UN and U.S. employee compensation and benefits; (2) the basis for determining UN compensation levels, and the International Civil Service Commission's (ICSC) role and methodology in determining those levels; and (3) U.S. initiatives on UN compensation matters.

GAO found that: (1) since 1978, UN compensation has increased 21.3-percent more than U.S. compensation; (2) in December 1985, the General Assembly established a target margin of approximately 15 percent to limit compensation until the gap is within the desirable range; (3) although UN pension benefit accumulation rates were similar to U.S. rates, the UN base for calculating the pensions was higher than the U.S. base; (4) UN based its compensation levels on a salary schedule that it applied uniformly by grade worldwide and on a post-adjustment allowance that varied according to local costs at each office; (5) ICSC intends to exclude U.S. senior executive service bonuses and awards from the compensation comparison and will no longer adjust the margin for cost-of-living differences between New York City and Washington, D.C., which will lessen the prospects for near-term UN pay increases; and (6) since 1984, the United States has rejected the ICSC-recommended 9.6-percent post-adjustment living increase for New York City and has focused more attention on compensation and pension issues. GAO believes that the Department of State should closely monitor future compensation and pension actions to ensure that they are consistent with fair and equitable compensation and pension systems, as well as U.S. cost control objectives.

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