Saturday, January 12, 2019

UN Pension Fund: How many rules can a Board break with total impunity? 12 January 2019

Now that General Assembly resolution A/73/274 (linked below) calls for sweeping reforms of UN Pension Fund governance, and for a Pension Board working group to “adhere to the tripartite structure of the Board, to consider the issues of participation, rotation and equitable representation on the Board” (all related to OIOS findings and recommendations rejected by the Board),  Board Chair, John Levins -- "the Chair's duties are over until the next Board meeting or intersessional Board meeting" --  is again circumventing Fund Regulations to stack the working group with some of the usual suspects to ensure the desired results of blocking any meaningful improvement in governance intended by the resolution.

The answer to the question of "how many rules can a Board break with total impunity" may have something to do with the fact that "The Chair of the Standing Committee –refuses our requests and shirks her responsibility to request the Secretary to convene  a meeting of the  Standing Committee  to discuss this important GA resolution and the way forward."

Note for information: The Chair of the Standing Committee is the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources Management.

See full note below from Michelle Rockcliffe and email to Board members from John Levins.

Note dated 10 January 2019 from UN Participant Representative to the Pension Fund Staff Pension Committee, Michelle Rockcliffe

Excerpt: “The Chair’s duties are over until the next Board meeting or intersessional Board meeting – which according to the Rules of Procedure  must be decided upon by the Standing Committee, along with the Terms of reference (TORs) for the group – which is the actual established practice. We have all already experienced the failure that occurs when a group is established without TORs – as happened in the failed selection of the Deputy CEO in 2018.”

Full message:

Title: How many rules can a Board break with total impunity?

Friday, January 11, 2019

UN Pension Fund - the "rules are guidelines" new Acting CEO, 11 January 2019

“Rules are guidelines” – Janice Dunn Lee, Acting CEO, UN Pension Fund

Responding today to Pension Fund staff concerns, including about complicity in paying a disability entitlement to the former CEO that was “not legally authorized” (reportedly approved through the IAEA SPC [Staff Pension Committee] rather than the UN SPC), the new Acting CEO Janice Dunn Lee (former IAEA) states, in effect, that rules are guidelines. And she’ll ensure staff are a good fit for the Fund. Buckle up.

Sent: Friday, January 11, 2019 6:36:26 PM
Subject: Meeting between staff representatives and Acting CEO Janice Dunn Lee

Dear Colleagues,

Today we had a courtesy meeting with the new Acting CEO, Janice Dunn Lee, in our capacity as staff representatives for New York and Geneva.

During the meeting, which was of an introductory nature, we covered the following:
· A recent history of the Fund including attempts to remove it from the UN.
· The importance for the Fund secretariat to return to being a rules-based organization that would return it to serenity after the difficulties of the past. Pension benefit administration is essentially a rules-based exercise. To this end we noted that the fact that the former CEO’s disability entitlement was not reviewed by the UNSPC meant unfair pressure would be placed on fund staff as they would be asked to calculate and make payments for a pension that was not legally authorized - in effect becoming complicit in that decision.
· The need to depoliticize the secretariat so that it would not be seen to be taking sides in Board disputes, as this called into question the secretariat’s impartiality, impacted the Board’s respect for the secretariat and had a broader demoralizing effect on staff.
· The need to restore the executive office and its staff in line with the OIOS recommendations and GA resolution. We added that duplicating the executive office was using GTA funding that could be consolidated and used to finance staff working in other areas where there may be priorities.
Ms. Dunn Lee promised to consider our points going forward. She commented that rules acted as guidelines and sometimes needed to be interpreted flexibly. It was also important to ensure that staff are a good fit for the pension fund. She added that she would demand accountability from her staff.

As this was an introductory meeting aimed more at values and vision, it was agreed that quarterly staff-management meetings would be set up in line with ST/SGB/274 ( To this end please write to us about your concerns so that we can bring them to the table.

Kind regards,

Michelle Rockcliffe, Alternate Staff Representative for New York
Ian Richards, Staff Representative for Geneva