The General Assembly, in its resolution 64/289, on system-wide coherence, encouraged the United Nations system to continue its efforts to harmonize business practices. CEB supported system-wide efforts to achieve significant progress in that area during the reporting period, both at the country and headquarters levels. Many harmonization activities across the United Nations system fall within the joint United Nations Development Group/High-level Committee on Management implementation plan, which addresses country-level bottlenecks in business practices and was developed following the joint high-level mission in 2010, and the High-level Committee on Management Plan of Action for the Harmonization of Business Practices. The Plan of Action is a package of harmonization initiatives that has received voluntary funding from the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. As of March 2011, the Plan of Action had received $10.5 million, with commitments at the end of 2010 of approximately $3.7 million.
Business practice harmonization projects, both those funded by the Plan of Action and those initiated by CEB as part of the regular agenda of its subsidiary mechanisms, namely, the High-level Committee on Management and its functional networks, have proceeded at both the country and global levels and in every administrative area: procurement, human resources, finance and budget and information and communications technology.
To more fully identify bottlenecks in business practices at the country level, the Chairs of the United Nations Development Group and the High-level Committee on Management commissioned a high-level joint mission during the second quarter of 2010.
The inter-agency Procurement Network completed the first project funded under the Plan of Action, led by UNDP, which resulted in a Model Policy Framework for Vendor Eligibility for system-wide use. The procedure, which has been reviewed and approved by the inter-agency legal advisers, allows for the introduction of a common decision mechanism for the handling of suspect vendors. The Model Framework, which responds to the need for improved transparency, accountability and effectiveness in procurement, was approved by CEB at its spring 2011 session.
The Human Resources Network completed two projects focusing on harmonization that are funded by the High-level Committee on Management Plan of Action. The first, a comparative analysis and review of the human resource management policies and practices of the organizations of the United Nations system, contains recommendations on recruitment and selection processes, performance management and job grading and classification.
The Finance and Budget Network has completed the first stage of a project, due to be completed, on common treasury services. The project, which is funded by the High-level Committee on Management Plan of Action and led by the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Health Organization (WHO), will provide detailed estimates of savings and specific proposals for harmonization in the area of treasury operations, with a focus on banking services, payments, currency management, investment management, external costs and fees and risk management.
The Information and Communications Technology Network commenced a project, funded by the High-level Committee on Management Plan of Action and led by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, to establish common standards and benchmarks for information and communications technology services and investments. That project will allow organizations to calculate their total cost of information and communications technology services, and in a manner that will provide for benchmarking of those services.