Remarks by Andrew Haviland before the UNDP/UNFPA Executive Board on the UNOPS Post Reclassification Proposal

U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
Andrew Haviland
New York, NY
January 22, 2009


Mr. President.
The United States joined consensus on this decision but would like to raise continued concerns. We would have preferred that the Board delay its decision in order to take additional time to review the proposal to raise the post classification and salary levels of a large number of positions in UNOPS. We are not convinced that haste in arriving at such decisions is a sound practice for the Board or, in this particular case, in the best interest of UNOPS.

The current global financial and economic crisis should cause us to be particularly vigilant in exercising our oversight role, especially as this sweeping reclassification will increase the organization's expenses at a time when we cannot be confident of revenue streams as development budgets worldwide are strained. We should be mindful that governments and businesses across the globe are having to freeze wages and eliminate positions. As Board members, we also need to be mindful of broader perceptions and potential consequences for the UN.

Nonetheless, in this case we understand that no other Executive Board members were willing to delay this matter for more careful consideration, but rather preferred to move forward with this proposal now. We defer to that judgment.

At the same time, it is our understanding that UNOPS management will implement this reclassification plan in a manner that reduces risks to the financial health of the organization and ensures that increased salary costs are offset by greater productivity, efficiencies and other cost savings. If this measure successfully and significantly reduces attrition rates, then it should result in discernable cost savings. We would ask that this process be carefully monitored and, as captured in the decision document, that the Board be kept informed on the actual costs or savings.

Thank you.


PRN: 2009/029