Statement by Bruce C Rashkow United States Representative to the Fifth Committee On Agenda Item 118: Program Budget: 2008-2009 - Capital Master Plan in the Fifth Committee

U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
March 4, 2009


Mr. Chairman,
My delegation would like to thank Mr. Michael Adlerstein, Executive Director of the Capital Master Plan, the Controller, Mr. Jun Yamazaki, Mr. Imran Vanker of the Board of Auditors, Ms. Susan McLurg, Chairperson of the ACABQ, and Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services Ms. Inga-Britt Ahlenius, for their respective reports on the Capital Master Plan. The information contained in these reports is essential to this Committee in deciding what action to take during this resumed session.
The United States offers its continued support for this important project and acknowledges the significant progress made to date. We appreciate the dedicated efforts of the Office of the Capital Master Plan and Assistant Secretary-General Adlerstein in working to bring this enormous undertaking on track.

My delegation shares many of the views expressed by the ACABQ in its analysis of the Secretary-General’s sixth annual report on the implementation of the CMP (A/63/477). We agree with the Committee that a revised global cost estimate for the project should be provided to Member States as soon as possible, and should take into account changes associated with the adoption of the accelerated strategy and the value engineering process. We also urge that everything possible continue to be done to avoid further slippage in the schedule. Lastly, we are particularly concerned with the Secretary-General’s request related to associated costs. There is firstly the matter of what actually meets the definition of associated costs and, secondly, the best way to pay for those costs.

We recognize now that not all costs associated with the CMP are included in the approved CMP budget. Some of these costs are legitimately associated with the project; however, we think that others are more questionable, such as those for the proposed new broadcast facility (representing $33.8 million of the total $176.5 million request), that are instead capital costs that should be addressed separate from the CMP. We also agree with the ACABQ’s opinion that expenses related to temporary relocations should be limited by using existing resources to the maximum extent possible and avoiding duplication. As the ACABQ did, we also urge the Secretary-General to present Member States with a viable solution, even a temporary one, for the back-up data center that will ensure that the data migration that is on the critical path for the CMP will not result in delays to the project. We believe there are short-term solutions that can meet the needs of CMP execution.

We also agree with the Committee’s conclusion that with the construction phase just beginning, it is not possible to know whether these costs can in fact be absorbed within the approved project budget as urged by the General Assembly. We are guardedly encouraged by the current favorable bidding climate.

Mr. Chairman,

We do not concur with the Secretary-General’s proposal on how to cover the associated costs for the CMP in the current biennium. The Secretary-General has requested approval to suspend regulations 3.2(d), 5.3 and 5.4 of the Financial Regulations and Rules of the United Nations and use up to $30,272,400 in surplus funds from the approved program budget to cover those costs. These funds have already been identified for return to Member States. We are concerned that it would set a precedent for using regular budget funds that might otherwise be refunded to Member States.

While we agree that the matter of associated costs must be addressed, we believe there are other ways to do it. The General Assembly, in its resolution A/62/87, called on the Secretary-General to make every effort to absorb associated costs within the approved Capital Master Plan budget. Although additional funds may be needed at some future point to cover associated costs, the Capital Master Plan currently has sufficient funds on hand to cover the anticipated associated costs for the current biennium. Member States will have to consider approving additional funds for associated costs as part of a future biennium budget as the project progresses, but we do not see the need to do so at this time.

I would like to reiterate my delegation’s full support for this project. We are hopeful that the remaining hurdles will be overcome and that it will be completed on time, on budget, and serve the best interests of all concerned.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


PRN: 2009/040