United Nations:

U.S. Participation in the Children's Fund

NSIAD-89-204: Published: Sep 27, 1989. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed various aspects of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), focusing on: (1) views of the United States and other major UNICEF donor countries on the effectiveness and efficiency of UNICEF programs; (2) UNICEF project monitoring and oversight; (3) UNICEF accounting practices and other financial information; and (4) the level of U.S. influence in UNICEF and the prospects for maintaining that level of influence.

GAO found that: (1) the Department of State and the Agency for International Development viewed UNICEF programs favorably and, like representatives of other major donor countries, believed that UNICEF had well-managed and effective field programs; (2) U.S. officials believed that UNICEF should collaborate more with other agencies and do more to help recipient governments sustain UNICEF programs; (3) there were program and project deficiencies at some UNICEF projects that could be resolved through improved UNICEF oversight; (4) while 1985 and 1986 audits showed significant problems with certain UNICEF financial practices, UNICEF took corrective actions and subsequent audit statements were acceptable and unqualified; (5) overall, other major donor countries expressed satisfaction with UNICEF programs, but one major donor country was concerned that UNICEF was expanding its programs to areas not directly related to women and children; and (6) the extent of U.S. influence over UNICEF may be declining, and two countries contributed more to UNICEF than did the United States in 1987.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: State Department officials have met with the Executive Director, UNICEF, and have emphasized the importance of oversight and field monitoring of UNICEF-assisted projects. State also said that it has encouraged the UNICEF Executive Board and management to intensify efforts in the areas of monitoring and oversight.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of State should direct the Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs to intensify efforts to encourage the UNICEF Executive Board and management to increase the level of field monitoring and oversight of governments' implementation of UNICEF-assisted programs.

    Agency Affected: Department of State


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