Remarks at the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) Executive Board Meeting

Stefanie Amadeo
U.S. Deputy Representative to ECOSOC
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 7, 2017



Thank you, Mr. President. I would also like to thank the Executive Director for her statement and presentation of UNOPS annual report and express our appreciation to the dedicated staff of UNOPS for their valuable work worldwide.

We commend UNOPS for its work in some of the most challenging environments, such as Iraq, South Sudan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, building social and physical infrastructure for local communities and helping with the procurement and distribution of much needed medical supplies, contributing to the peace-building, humanitarian, and development efforts of the international community. We appreciate our cooperation with UNOPS. For example, in Haiti, UNOPS is a partner with the United States in a port rehabilitation project.

UNOPS is a unique agency within the UN family of organizations. It does not receive core funding from Member States. Instead, it derives its income from delivering services to sister agencies and member states. This self-financing model has allowed UNOPS to adapt to the changing development landscape more quickly and to be agile in responding to the demands of the international community for its services. In this regard, we are pleased to note that UNOPS has made progress in the implementation of the Board decision on impact investment by scaling up efforts to leverage a greater and wider array of investment resources for development projects.

As a self-financed agency, UNOPS has expanded its business activities when most of UN agencies have faced declining core resources in recent years. UNOPS’ total assets increased from $1.4 billion in 2015 to $1.6 billion in 2016 while net income increased from $14 million to $31 million. Its operational reserves also increased from $85 million to $116 million during the same period, a sign of good financial health.

We encourage UNOPS to continue to be innovative in making its future business plans, and in this regard, we would welcome additional information on UNOPS’ innovation work, particularly as it relates to potential partnerships and the design and delivery of development services.

We would like to thank UNOPS Internal Audit and Investigations Group for its report to the Board and also thank UNOPS management for working closely with the auditors to address their concerns and the organization’s weaknesses. We note that the audit office gave a “partially satisfactory” rating to the organization’s governance, risk management and control. In the opinion of the auditors, while these frameworks were generally established and functioning, they needed improvement.

Project management, finance, and procurement are the three areas that the audit office identified as high risk areas receiving most audit recommendations. We are pleased to hear during the audit discussions last week that management has made progress in addressing some of these weaknesses. We urge the management to continue this effort particularly focusing on the recommendations contained in Annex Six of the audit report.

Finally, we thank the Ethics Office for actions taken to improve the culture of accountability at UNOPS. It is critical that management and the Ethics Office continue to prioritize efforts in promoting an environment where staff feel free to speak up about misconduct without fear of retaliation.

Thank you.