Director-General met members of UNESCO Oversight Advisory Committee
On 29 June 2016, the Director-General met with the members of the UNESCO Oversight Advisory Committee (OAC). The OAC is a standing committee, comprising external independent experts, that advises the Director-General in fulfilling her oversight responsibilities. The Committee also reports annually to the Executive Board. The meeting with the Director-General followed an extensive review by the OAC from 27 to 29 June of key oversight matters of the Organization including risk management, budgeting and financial reporting, IT security, programme management, evaluation, oversight, ethics and accountability.
During the meeting with the Director-General, the OAC recognized the importance placed by the Director-General on several elements of internal accountability and were very much encouraged by steps she had taken to strengthen measures regarding compliance with ethics policy, strengthening the process for investigation of allegations of wrong doing, and follow-up on internal audit and evaluation reports. However, the OAC noted that efforts to revive the Organization’s risk management had stalled and that a new injection of effort was necessary, a view that the DG concurred with and noted she looked forward to a forthcoming advisory report from IOS. The OAC drew attention to the importance of a well-functioning risk management framework to assist in decision making around UNESCO priorities for the forthcoming budgetary cycle discussions with Member States. In the view of the OAC, the present financial situation of UNESCO there is a need to act very strategically in prioritization of future programs as UNESCO risks becoming too thinly spread.
Concerning the Internal Oversight Service (IOS), the OAC commended the Organization’s progress in advancing its evaluation strategy and decentralized evaluation, and communications plans as important sources of learning and performance information to guide decision-making. The Committee also noted with satisfaction that the internal audit service had undergone an external quality assessment in June and achieved the highest of three available ratings regarding its conformance to professional standards, a good basis on which to build. The OAC endorsed the conclusions of the quality assessment regarding specific opportunities to better engage the Director-General and the governing body in its periodic risk assessment and planning processes, particularly in light of current resource constraints across the Organization.
The OAC also led an Information Meeting for Member States on 29 June in which they made a presentation and answered questions on the Scope and Purpose of Audit and Risk Committees. The OAC provided background information on assurance and risk management mechanisms, explained the functions of Audit and Risk Committees and responded to questions on the presentation as well as certain aspects of UNESCO’s approach to this. Member States expressed their appreciation for this opportunity to interact with the OAC.
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