Friday, June 10, 2016

Backlog in pension payments (the 61 per cent gap): OIOS must investigate the real extent and cause, 10 June 2016

 In an Intranet (iSeek) message dated Monday, 6 June 2016 (below), the Department of Management stated that the Fund has reported that 97 per cent of the backlog in pension payments to new retirees and survivors has been cleared as of 31 May 2016 and the remaining 3 per cent will be completed in June.

In an iSeek response dated Wednesday, 8 June 2016 (also below) the CCISUA President estimates that by adding new cases from the last three months as staff leave or retire, the Fund has cleared only 36 per cent of the backlog, not 97 per cent as reported (a 61 per cent gap)  and calls for an OIOS audit.

Agreed performance indicators: Recall that on 1 March 2016 (iSeek message), the USG for Management agreed with the Fund Secretariat CEO on performance indicators that projected to eliminate by 31 May 2016 the massive backlog in pension payments to new retirees and survivors. 

Looming discrepancies: There have been indications for some time, from both an open letter from the former Chief of Entitlements of the Fund dated 9 April 2016 (who stated that the figures for the backlog reported by the Fund were 'selective and deceptive'), and from the CCISUA President, that the Fund's reporting of the extent of the backlog and progress toward eliminating it contains gross inaccuracies.

FAFICS/AFICS.NY leaked email: OIOS recently initiated an audit into the backlog, which readers will recall the FAFICS/AFICS.NY leadership attempted to thwart in a leaked email to OIOS dated 1 June 2016.  Our article dated 8 June 2016  calls for a request to the UN Ethics Office “to carry out an investigation into the efforts of AFICS/NY leadership to at the very least weaken if not obstruct the OIOS audit”, and the UN Staff Unions Facebook post dated 9 June 2016 “strongly urges OIOS to proceed with its investigation” (both posted on the blog and link to the Staff Unions Facebook article here):

OIOS investigation into the backlog and mismanagement: The scope of the OIOS investigation should include not only the real extent of the backlog, but also the full extent of the causes of the crisis in the first place, which has resulted in untold hardship and suffering for retirees and survivors -- each 'file' representing a human being, colleague and his or her family, most waiting for at least six months for their first payment, and some as long as a year and more

CCISUA President's Assessment, Wednesday, 8 June 2016 

iSeek. Submitted by IRICHARDS on Wed, 06/08/2016 - 08:53 
Interesting use of maths here. The fund reports that it has cleared 97% of the backlog. However, it also reports new cases coming in, as people leave or retire. In the last three months and putting it all together: There are 95 cases from the original backlog pending. There are also 1519 new secretariat cases (2584-1065) and 570 new agency cases (833-263) in the backlog, according to what is reported above. This means the backlog now stands at 2184 out of a reported starting backlog of 3436. If we go with the figures, the fund has therefore only cleared 36% of the backlog and not the unverified 97% it claims. Hopefully OIOS can conduct an audit of all of this. 
UN iSeek Message, Monday, 6 June 2016: "Pension and Separation Payments: Current Status and Way Forward" 
Clearing the backlog in pension and separation benefits has been a source of concern for newly separated/retired staff members and the Management. As reported earlier on iSeek, the UN Management and the Pension Fund decided three months ago to establish performance indicators as a way of objectively monitoring progress in eliminating backlog accumulated as of 1 March 2016 (1,706 cases for the UN Secretariat and 1,730 cases for UN Specialized Agencies) by the end of May 2016.
The Pension Fund just reported to UN Management that as of 31 May 2016, 97% of backlog has been eliminated as a result of dedicated efforts by the task force. The remaining 3% (95 cases) are in progress to be completed in June.
The UN Management is equally concerned about a major increase in the number of new cases received by the Pension Fund during March, April and May 2016. The Fund has been systematically addressing those cases as a top priority. As of 31 May 2016, the Fund processed a total of 1,065 (41%) of the 2,584 new cases for the UN Secretariat and 263 (32%) of 833 new cases for UN Specialized Agencies. In addition, a number of special cases were also processed, bringing the total of processed and paid benefits in the month of May to 1,272 (survivor benefits, residual settlements, child benefits, among others).
To address effectively a higher than average monthly inflow of separation cases, UN Management is working closely with the Fund to take necessary measures that prevent these cases turning into another backlog. A series of exigent measures have been put in place to increase the Fund’s processing capacity. A second Task Force is currently being established to deal with the current and an upcoming surge of separation cases expected from peacekeeping missions in the third quarter of 2016.
In addition, the Pension Fund and UN Management decided to initiate jointly an end-to-end review aimed at simplifying and streamlining the processes from separation to benefit payment with the goal of all newly separated staff/ retirees receiving their separation benefit/ first pension payment within 30 days of separation.
UN Management will continue to support and work closely with the Pension Fund and meet with its leadership team on a monthly basis to assess the progress made; outcome of which will be communicated to staff."

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