Monday, December 24, 2018

More desperate moves by the UN Pension Board Chair to circumvent Fund Regulations in the appointment of an Acting CEO by the Secretary-General, 24 December 2018

Yesterday, the General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for “unfaltering accountability” of the UN Pension Board, and requiring that (para. 16) that “the Pension Board ensure timely and proper succession planning for the positions of Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Chief Executive Officer to allow adequate time for their competitive selection based on pre-established procedures that ensures integrity and fairness.”

Instead, the Board Chair has been working assiduously to circumvent Fund Regulations in requesting the Secretary-General to appoint an Acting CEO about whom questions have been raised about competence and experience in Fund functions. Read the details in an earlier article here:

It seems that his illegal email poll of Board members (the subject of a formal appeal to the Standing Committee by a UN Participant Representative, a protest by the UN Participant Representatives, and questions from a Specialized Agency) is not the Chair’s only devious action.

In this email to Specialized Agencies (below) the Board Chair justifies his rush to push through the appointment of the Acting CEO, by illegal means as he apparently sees fit, on the basis that otherwise "no pensions can be certified for payment". The bizarre implication is that our 70 year-old Fund lacks the institutional capacity to appoint an Officer-in-Charge, as happens in every UN office to carry out such essential functions until an appointment can be made based on, as the Assembly requires, "pre-established procedures that ensures integrity and fairness."

The Chair also refers to to a three-page letter to the Secretary-General that he’s prepared for signature by Board Members in all categories, except the UN Participant Representatives “as it is clear what their view will be.”

Sunday, December 23, 2018

General Assembly resolution on the UN Pension Fund: Accountability at last. Responsibility must follow, 23 December 2018

The newly adopted General Assembly resolution, in setting the stage for sweeping governance reforms (Ian Richards' post today,, requires “unfaltering  accountability of the UN Pension Board, and calls for the Fund Secretariat’s senior management to be held accountable for its performance regarding delays in benefits processing.

But can there be sustainable change without action pertaining to the personal responsibility of senior Fund managers and Board members for any and all financial losses caused by their negligence?

UN Administrative Instruction, ST/AI/2004/3,  sets out the conditions under which UN staff "may be required to reimburse the United Nations either partially or in full for any financial loss suffered by the United Nations as a result of the staff member's gross negligence or of his or her having violated any regulation, rule or administrative instruction".

Ways must be devised to hold non-staff Pension Board members personally accountable as well for the consequences of their negligence and lack of oversight.

Here's an overview of the resolution (with relevant paragraph numbers):

General Assembly calls for sweeping reforms of how the Pension Fund is governed, 23 December 2018


(We're making progress, one resolution at a time)
- The pension system resolution was passed last night.
- It demands "unfaltering accountability" from the fund's Board members and asserts the GA's "existing prerogative…on matters pertaining to the Fund".
- It requires that conflicts of interest between the pension fund's management, the Board and FAFICS be addressed. One consequence is that the post of "CEO" will be split into "Pension Benefits Administrator" and "Secretary of the Board". Retiree representatives will now be elected.
- The resolution calls for "integrity and fairness" in selection processes, rebuking efforts by the Board Chair to recruit an Acting CEO outside the Fund's rules.
- The Board is to submit proposals on how it can be more representative of its members (currently UN staff, who account for two-thirds of all participants have only one-third of seats. IOM staff have none).
- It pushes back on efforts by the majority of Board members to remove the Board from the UN Appeals Tribunal jurisdiction, which would have led to a legal vacuum.
- It orders performance evaluation of the fund's management to be tied to how quickly pension payments are processed and requests a review of the IPAS payments system.
- Overall it vindicates the governance audit of OIOS as well as efforts of the six UN participants representatives on the Board and others, who have repeatedly pushed for integrity and equity in how the pension fund is governed. But there is more work to do in the coming year.
- Thank you for your support. It's made a difference!
Link to General Assembly resolution:

Friday, December 21, 2018

Tripping over its own feet: UN Pension Board flouts Fund Regulations in requesting the Secretary-General to appoint an Acting CEO

Whatever the results of the upcoming General Assembly resolution on the findings of the comprehensive governance audit of the UN Pension Fund by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (A/73/341), it doesn’t bode well for the Fund that those who are charged with its oversight seem congenitally unable to act with fairness, honesty and integrity.

Once more, the Board Chair is in the process of circumventing Fund Regulations as he requests the Secretary-General to appoint an Acting CEO.

The candidate is Janice Dunn Lee (a U.S. national) who served as IAEA Deputy Director General from 2012 to 2017. Dunn Lee has 40 years’ of experience in the nuclear policy and regulatory fields.

According to the recommendation memo from the Board’s Succession Planning Committee, which conducted the search (more on that below), “while Ms. Dunn Lee has rather limited technical and financial knowledge of pension funds, she demonstrated managerial mastery to oversee the UNJSPF during this transitional period”.  She would need, however, to be supported by “strengthening of the senior technical management” which “would require the timely identification of an experienced high level financial management specialist.” 

Friday, December 14, 2018

Pension Board Chair flouts Fund's Regulations - Recommends a candidate for Acting CEO leaving the Board in the dark, 14 December 2018

In their letter to the Secretary-General, the UN Staff Pension Committee Participant Representatives note an attempt by the Pension Board Chair to flout the Fund's Regulations by recommending a candidate for Acting CEO proposed by the Succession Planning Committee, leaving the Board in the dark about the candidate submitted on its behalf.

Quote: "It is essential that the Acting CEO you appoint is one that is known by the Board and one that enjoys the Board’s full confidence and support."