(1) At its 58th session (March 1983) CCAQ(FB) examined a suggestion by the Secretary, which had already been noted by CCAQ(PER), that member organizations should explore possibilities of electronic text-transmission between themselves and with the CCAQ secretariat.
The Committee considered, after review of this suggestion, that means of access to central data banks in the system should be investigated with reference to information that was constantly required but was maintained separately in different organizations and offices. The secretariat was requested to ascertain what computer-based, machine-readable data existed that might be of common interest (ACC/1983/11, paras. 73-75).
(2) At the 59th session (September 1983) CCAQ was informed of the results of further exploration of this question by organizations and offices in Geneva, assisted by the secretariats of ACCIS and ICC. These organizations and offices had found that arrangements for access to central data files should provide for automatic transmission of data to participating organizations, the possibility of integration of these data into payroll and other systems and, at a later stage, on-line use of central programmes for frequent calculations. CCAQ also noted a list of priorities as regards the data to be made available. It appeared that the system would be a relatively simple one, and fairly inexpensive to operate. It was agreed tht responsibility for the input of information should rest exclusively with the offices which originated the data. Given the general interest in the arrangements, ICC was requested to prepare a demonstration of means of having access to existing files at the next session (ACC/1983/21, paras. 44-48).
(3) The demonstration at the 60th session (March 1984) having shown that the system would need adaptation to meet organizations' operating needs, UN, UNDP and UNFPA undertook to be in touch with the ICSC secretariat (some of whose files were expected to be computerized in the near future) and the ILO and WHO with ICC, with this in view (ACC/1984/10, paras. 56-59).
(4) At the 61st session (September 1984) the Committee took note of the results of these consultations. A tentative timetable for on-line availability at central computing services of files of high priority was drawn up, concerning the following subjects:
Responsible central secretariat
Operational exchange rates
Rates of daily subsistence allowance
Post adjustment classifications (including rental subsidy thresholds)
Duty stations classified according to conditions of life and work
Fellowship stipend rates
General Service salaries
Rates for short-term conference staff
To be added to the subjects to which priority had been assigned were files of country information (comprising such elements as security conditions, travel restrictions and the situation regarding local hotel accommodation), data in the Directory of Resident Representatives and information on UNDP staff movements. It was also agreed that the agendas of future sessions of CCAQ should provide regularly for reviews of the status of development of systems related to the central data base and of action by individual organizations to take advantage of such systems (ACC/1984/17, paras. 58-61).
(5) At the 62nd session (March 1985) the Committee noted progress in the development of the central data base. UN undertook to resolve the difficulties which had arisen in obtaining access to its computerized file of operational exchange rates through ICC (ACC/1985/7, paras. 50 and 51).
(6) At the 63rd session (September 1985) the Committee was informed of further progress in the development of the central data base, notably through the establishment of a facility in New York (UNDICS) that could be used for the storing and transmission of all the files under consideration. The Committee thought that the arrangements in general should already be operational and producing usable data, and agreement was reached that an ad hoc working group should be convened in Geneva, comprising representatives of the originators and users of the data and the staff of computer services, to investigate means of arriving at this position. The working group was to report back at the Committee's next session (ACC/1985/17, paras. 47-49).
(7) The Committee was informed at the 64th session (March 1986) of the computerized files that had been established or were in the final phase of establishment: these corresponded to the totality of the subjects to which CCAQ had attached priority importance, with the exception of duty stations classified according to conditions of life and work and rates for short-term conference staff, on which systems work was well advanced. The Committee was also informed of the outcome of the meeting convened by ILO in Geneva as requested at the last session. The organization representatives at the meeting had found that the available files contained the data that they needed on the subjects considered, but not in a form that they could use. Individual organizations thus would have to take measures to adapt the data to their needs, which involved the timely incorporation of changes into their data bases, taking account of any necessary conversions of currency, country and location codes, as well as the possibility of easy browsing by staff. This was in accordance with a position already taken in CCAQ that the outputs of the system should be in a standard format. It was pointed out that the development of an interface was a small problem in comparison with the advantages that would result in terms of the avoidance of repetitive data maintenance, the reduction of errors in data transfer, the elimination of manual controls and faster access to the latest information (ACC/1986/4, paras. 48-54).
(8) In the course of the status review held at the 65th session (September 1986) the Committee agreed that the main problem still outstanding in respect of the central data base arrrangements was the prompt and reliable transmission of updates to UNDICS by originating secretariats. These were urged to take whatever action was necessary to attain this objective (ACC/1986/12, paras. 62 and 63).
(9) At the 66th session (March-April 1987), on the basis of a report by the secretariat which dealt notably with the proposals of individual organizations on the future of the computerized files and the problems encountered in making use of them on a current basis, it was noted that the most common problems had to do with the timing of updating of the files for daily substance allowance and exchange rates. The Committee agreed that the first priority should be to perfect existing files; thereafter the introduction of additional files could be pursued. The secretariat was requested to work with the originating secretariats, with ICC and with user organizations to attain these objectives (ACC/1987/6, para. 38).
(10) At the 67th session (September 1987) it was noted that the full UNDICS facility had become available at ICC as well as NYCS. Attention having been drawn to continuing problems in respect of the completeness, accuracy and timely updating of the computerized files for daily subsistence allowance and post adjustments, the Committee reiterated that all information in the data base must be totally reliable if it was to be integrated into organizations' operating systems and the distribution of hard copy gradually discontinued. The Chairman of the Committee was requested to convey its concern on this subject to ICSC, which originated this material. It was agreed that a new review of organizations' experience would be held at the next session. Pending fuller utilization of the available files, work on subjects envisaged for computerization which had not yet been completed (fellowship stipend rates, duty stations classified according to conditions of life and work) would not be pursued (ACC/1987/12, paras. 44 and 45).
(11) The observations of ten organizations were considered by CCAQ at the following (68th) session (March 1988). They showed that substantive and systems problems subsisted which undermined the credibility of the data base and would prevent its use from being regarded as a serious option until solutions had been found and confidence established. The Committee expressed its determination to perfect the facility. It agreed that organizations should bring directly and regularly to the attention of the originating secretariats - notably that of ICSC - problems in using their data; in the meantime CCAQ would bring together representatives of user organizations in Geneva to establish a consolidated statement of the problems encountered. The statement would then be circulated to organizations in Paris, Rome and Vienna and could serve as a basis for discussions with ICSC (ACC/1988/5, paras. 48-51).
(12) At the 69th session (September 1988) the Committee considered a report by a systems analyst, prepared at the request of participants at the Geneva meeting referred to above. The Committee endorsed inter alia two key recommendations of the report: recognition by CCAQ of UNDICS as an official vehicle for the supply of administrative information, and recognition of the UNDICS Co-ordinator as the focal point for work on behalf of CCAQ on matters relating to the facility. Other recommendations were accepted subject to subsequent comments by organizations, and it was assumed that in the meantime implementation of non-controversial technical recommendations would proceed (ACC/1988/13, paras. 66-70).
(13) At the 70th session (March 1989) the ILO called attention to payroll problems arising from late receipt from ICSC of information on post adjustment multipliers derived from operational exchange rates, a subject that had been touched upon at the two previous sessions (see above). Some organizations, in the ILO's view, might not be able to meet their March payroll, and others would incur substantial extra overtime costs. The ILO made suggestions for ensuring that the information reached the organizations earlier. The Committee finally asked UN to press the ICSC secretariat for transmittal of the multipliers not later than 24 hours after operational exchange rates had been established (ACC/1989/7, paras. 32-34; see also ACC/1988/5, para. 51, and ACC/1988/13, para. 68).
(14) At the same session CCAQ also noted follow-up action on the recommendations referred to in paragraph (12) above, and agreed to examine the situation in greater detail at its 71st session (ACC/1989/7, para. 64). In fact it had only brief discussions of UNDICS at the 71st and 72nd sessions. At the 73rd session (September 1990) the UNDICS Co-ordinator confirmed that the facility had been centralized at the New York Computing Service. He undertook to investigate ways of authenticating the transmission of files from UNDICS to user organizations so that they would not need to check them against hard copy (ACC/1990/12, paras. 60, 61).
(15) At the 71st session (September 1989) the Executive Secretary of ICSC informed the Committee that most of the problems of late receipt of post adjustment multipliers (see para. (13) above) would be solved under the terms of recommendations arising from the Commission's comprehensive review of conditions of service for the Professional and higher categories. In the meantime the Commission secretariat would no longer delay promulgating multipliers if the necessary operational exchange rates were not received in time; it would simply continue to use the rate for the previous month. As for the organizations in Geneva, they would be informed in advance of the multipliers that would apply in the event that one of a likely range of exchange rates was adopted (ACC/1989/15, paras. 40-43).
(16) Despite the above arrangements, delays continued in the promulgation of changes in post adjustment classifications and rates of DSA, and these were called to the attention of the Executive Secretary of ICSC during the Committee's 73rd session (September 1990). The Executive Secretary indicated that the pattern of entitlements arising from General Assembly resolution 44/198 had in fact turned out to involve much more complex post adjustment calculations; he accepted a UN offer of technical assistance in applying more effective techniques to calculate and transmit the data (ACC/1990/12, para. 62). At the 74th session (March 1991) the Committee was informed that despite some improvements there continued to be problems with some of the data emanating from ICSC; it agreed to discuss them with the Executive Secretary at its next session (ACC/1991/6, para. 54). However, at that session the Committee concluded that post-adjustment multipliers and rates of DSA were now being promulgated in a timely manner. It agreed not to pursue a proposal to avoid delays by advancing the date for setting operational exchange rates (ACC/1991/18, para. 67).
(17) At the 78th session (March 1993) the Committee reviewed experience with the UNDICS facility. It was informed that problems of timeliness and accuracy subsisted in the updating of modules containing rates of daily subsistence allowance, notably the machine-readable historical file, which was updated only on a quarterly basis. The Committee believed that the absence of modern input techniques, which would enable various outputs to be produced simultaneously (e.g. daily subsistence allowance telexes, monthly circulars and historical reports) lay at the root of the problem, and requested its Chairman to send a letter to the Chairman of ICSC to draw attention to this matter (ACC/1993/7, paras. 65-68).
(18) At the 79th session (August-September 1993) UN informed the Committee of the status of development and implementation of its Integrated Management Information System (IMIS), recalling that it had offered to make IMIS modules available to other organizations of the system free of charge, except for the cost of duplicating the relevant documentation. The Committee also reviewed recent experience with the UNDICS facility, noting that, as agreed at the last session, problems encountered with DSA rates had been drawn to the attention of the Chairman of ICSC. The Committee agreed to monitor developments (ACC/1993/23, paras. 66-68).
(19) At its 80th session (February - March 1994), CCAQ(FB) was seized of continuing problems with the files of daily subsistence allowance in the UNDICs facility. The United Nations recalled that queries concerning the facility should be copied to the UNDICs Coordinator at United Nations Headquarters to ensure follow-up on problems and the coordination of efforts to improve the facility (ACC/1994/5, para. 56).
(20) At its eleventh session (CEB/2009/HLCM/FB/11, paras.32-35), the FB Network took note with appreciation of the new Financial Statistics as well as of the related analysis and elaborations produced by the CEB Secretariat. The Network requested the CEB Secretariat to carry out a further process of verification and clearance of the information included in the Financial Statistics, before making it accessible externally on the CEB website.
(21) At its twelfth session (CEB/2010/HLCM/FB/9, paras.14-16), the FB Network took note of the UN System-wide Financial Statistics Database and Reporting System project and two main components at the IT technical and financial levels for the project implementation.
(22) At its thirteenth session (CEB/2010/HLCM/FB/30, paras.56-57), the FB Network noted completion of the biennial UN System Financial Statistics report for the biennium 2008-2009 and endorsed publication of the statistics on the CEB Secretariat website.
(23) At its seventeeth session in Turin (CEB/2011/HLCM/FB/21, paras.37-45), the FB Network endorsed the project and project design for the UN System-wide Financial Statistics Database and Reporting System. The project was divided into 4 streams of work, as follows: i. Design of the data model and categorization of financial statistics UN system- wide; ii. Identification of a suitable IT platform and system to host the database; iii. Mapping of individual agency accounts to the data model and determining data transfer methodology; iv. Design of a Web based graphical user interface (GUI) to showcase UN financial data.
The FB Network also requested to be kept informed of progress through the reports of the Project Manager and the minutes of the Steering Committee.
(24) At its twenty second session in Washington D.C. (CEB/2011/5, paras.130-139), the Committee took note with appreciation of the recent work in progress of the UN system Financial Statistics project.