Open letter to the United Nations Chef de Cabinet, Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti
10 August 2018
Subject: Shortcomings in the search process for a Deputy Chief Executive Officer, United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund
Dear Ms. Viotti,
1. As you know, with the absence on sick leave for almost a year of the Chief Executive Officer of the UNJSPF Secretariat and the impending departure on retirement of the Deputy CEO on 31 August 2018, the management vacuum in the Fund is a matter of great concern to all Fund stakeholders.
2. I am writing to request that you kindly advise Secretary-General Guterres to resist the push from the Pension Board for the appointment of a Deputy Chief Executive Officer under conditions described by the UN internal audit (entrusted to OIOS by the Secretary-General pursuant to paragraph 8 of resolution 72/265) as containing “deviations and apparent arbitrariness”.
3. Indeed, OIOS recommends (recommendation 12) a restart of the entire process: “The Board should assess the composition and procedures of the search panel for the Deputy CEO in light of the deviations and apparent arbitrariness in the process and determine whether the search should be restarted to ensure the integrity and fairness required in a competitive exercise.”
4. Paras. 83 to 86 of the audit under the title “4. Search panel for the Deputy CEO, (a) Shortcomings in the search process”, note that the Board circumvented its own established procedures, by setting up an ad hoc search panel that “prepared the job opening without circulation to SPCs, the Standing Committee or Board members” and placed a P4 Fund staff member as secretary/rapporteur of the search panel, raising issues of conflicts of interest, according to the audit.
5. In addition to the stated irregularities in the process, based on publicly available information of the job vacancy and his qualifications, the chosen candidate appears to fall far short of the required “Over fifteen years of progressively responsible experience in a national or international pension fund or social security system with progressively growing responsibilities at a senior managerial level in at least three … pension fund management responsibilities”.
6. Further, it is reported that the search committee’s account of the candidate’s eligibility and qualifications does not jibe with the public account. Also, the Pension Board was allowed a single day to make a decision after presentation of the candidates by the search committee.
7. OIOS further notes in para. 85 (ii) of the audit that the job opening omitted mention of the Deputy CEO’s role as Deputy Secretary of the UN Staff Pension Committee, and omitted included salary benefits figure of $108, 189, but no mention of post adjustment amounting to $72,378, which may surely have had an impact on the level of candidates applying.
8. Kindly note para. 54 of the audit recalling that “the Fund disputed the discretionary authority of the Secretary-General over the appointment of the CEO and Deputy CEO and maintained that the Secretary-General was required to necessarily accept the Board’s recommendation and implementation it.”
9. Finally, I wish also to recall OIOS’ categorical statement in para. 55: “OIOS is of the view that the Secretary-General has discretion over the appointment of the CEO and Deputy CEO under Article 101 of the Charter of the United Nations which requires him/her to uphold the necessity of securing the highest standards of efficiency, competence and integrity, which are the paramount consideration in the employment of staff. If the Secretary-General receives information from other offices which report to him – such as OIOS or the Ethics Office – which may cause him to believe that the principles of Article 101 of the Charter may be compromised by accepting the Board’s recommendation to appoint or reappoint the CEO or Deputy CEO, the Secretary-General has the duty to act in a manner that upholds the principles of the Charter.”
10. I would ask that you kindly ensure that this information is brought to the Secretary-General’s attention soonest with a view to informing this important decision.
Thank you for your kind consideration.