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GAO
United States Government Accountability Office
Report to the Permanent Subcommitteeon Investigations, Committee onHomeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Senate
UN OFFICE FORPROJECT SERVICESManagement ReformsProceeding butEffectiveness Not Assessed, andUSAID’s Oversight of Grants HasWeaknesses
November 2009GAO-10-168
 
What GAO Found
United States Government Accountability Office
Why GAO Did This Study
H
ighlights
Accountability Integrity Reliability
November 2009
 
UN OFFICE FOR PROJECT SERVICES
Mana
g
ement Reform
s
Proceedin
g
but Effectivene
ss
 Not A
ss
e
ss
ed, and U
S
AID’
s
Over
s
i
g
ht of Grant
s
Ha
s
 Weakne
ss
e
s
 
Highlights ofGAO-10-168, a report to thePermanent Subcommittee onInvestigations, Committee on HomelandSecurity and Governmental Affairs, U.S.Senate
While UNOPS management continues to implement reforms that address keyconcerns raised by audits and investigations, the effectiveness of someimplemented reforms has not been assessed. Management efforts to improveUNOPS include (1) development of UNOPS’s project tracking system, Atlas;(2) establishment of an internal oversight office; and (3) establishment of anethics office. While changes to Atlas have improved UNOPS’s financialdocumentation, UNOPS does not systematically assess data reliability in Atlas. Although UNOPS’s internal oversight has been strengthened by thecreation of an oversight office, two phases of an investigation of activities in Afghanistan have not begun. UNOPS had no investigative capacity of its ownand had to seek out external investigators for which it is still negotiating thescope and cost. In addition, while UNOPS’s ethics office complies with mostUN requirements, no one has assessed the effectiveness of the office’sactivities. Finally, UNOPS’s Executive Board lacks full access to internalaudit reports that could provide greater insights into UNOPS’s operations.USAID has not consistently implemented its oversight policies when makinggrant awards with UNOPS and has been vulnerable to program fraud andabuse. While USAID has policies that require it to perform pre-awardassessments of Public International Organizations (PIO), such as UNOPS,USAID could not provide official documentation of these assessments for 7 of its 11 awards made to UNOPS from 2004 through 2008. In the 4 assessmentsUSAID provided, there were no statements acknowledging findings of weakinternal controls from UN audits and investigations. In addition, USAID didnot negotiate to include audit authority for 9 of these awards that would haveallowed USAID access to UNOPS project financial records. We found that anabsence of clear guidance, training, and monitoring contributed to thesefailures. USAID’s noncompliance with its policies resulted in limited access todata on UNOPS grants that were associated with findings of possible criminalactions.
UNDP Office ofA
u
dit
a
ndPerform
a
nceReview, M
a
y 2007:
200420052006200720082009
UN oversight reports with critical findings on UNOPS Dates when USAID was required to assess UNOPS’s eligibility as a grantee 
Length of the U
S
AID-f
u
nded projectNew gr
a
nt
a
w
a
rd: U
S
AID performed no offici
a
l pre-
a
w
a
rd
ass
e
ss
mentNew gr
a
nt
a
w
a
rd: U
S
AID performed offici
a
l pre-
a
w
a
rd
ass
e
ss
mentU
S
AID incre
as
ed gr
a
nt'
s
 
bu
dget
bu
t performed no offici
a
l
ass
e
ss
mentU
S
AID incre
as
ed gr
a
nt'
s
 
bu
dget
a
nd performed
a
n offici
a
l
ass
e
ss
mentUN Bo
a
rd of A
u
ditor
s
 Report, J
u
ly 2004:OIO
S
 Proc
u
rementT
as
k ForceKeny
a
, A
u
g
us
t2007:OIO
S
Proc
u
rementT
as
k Force,Afgh
a
ni
s
t
a
n,Decem
b
er 200
8
:UN Bo
a
rd ofA
u
ditor
s
 Report,J
u
ne 200
8
:UNDP Office ofA
u
dit
a
ndPerform
a
nceReview, M
a
y 2006:UN Bo
a
rd of A
u
ditor
s
 Report, J
u
ne 2007:
S
o
u
rce: GAO
a
n
a
ly
s
i
s
of UNOP
S
d
a
t
a
.
 
The United Nations (UN) Office forProject Services (UNOPS) providesnumerous services for its clients,including procurement and projectmanagement. Recent audits andinvestigations of UNOPS haverevealed alleged violations of law,weak internal controls, andfinancial mismanagement. UNOPSofficials misused some of the morethan $400 million awarded toUNOPS by the U.S. Agency forInternational Development(USAID) from 2004 through 2008.GAO was asked to (1) assess theextent to which UNOPS hasaddressed key concerns about itsinternal controls, and (2) evaluateUSAID’s oversight of UNOPS-implemented projects. To addressthese objectives, GAO reviewedUNOPS and USAID policies andgrant documentation.
What GAO Recommend
s
 GAO recommends that theSecretary of State work with othermember states to encourageUNOPS’s continued reform in areasof vulnerability identified by UNauditors and assessment of theeffectiveness of the reform effort.We also recommend that theUSAID Administrator ensure thatUSAID document its approach forassessing PIOs’ eligibility forUSAID funding and improve itsguidance, training, and monitoringrelating to the use of PIO audit provisions. State and USAID agreedwith our recommendations.UNOPS acknowledged the need foran assessment of reforms, butstated that improvements havealready been demonstrated.
View GAO-10-168 or key components. For more information, contact Thomas Melitoat (202) 512-9601 ormelitot@gao.gov.

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