1.1 Internal Oversight Mission
- The Internal Oversight Service (IOS) provides the Director-General with independent, objective assurance, systematic review and advice to add value and improve programme design, delivery and operations. IOS helps UNESCO accomplish its objectives by bringing a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk and results based management, control and governance processes.
- The consolidated oversight mechanism provided by IOS covers internal audit, evaluation, investigation, and other management support.
- IOS carries out its audit functions in accordance with The International Standards for the Professional Practice of Internal Auditing issued by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) and the Code of Ethics established by the IIA.
- Investigatory work is undertaken in conformity with the Uniform Guidelines for Investigations adopted by the Conference of International Investigators of United Nations Organizations and Multilateral Financial Institutions.
- IOS performs evaluations in accordance with the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG) Norms and Standards for Evaluation in the UN System as a set of guiding principles to regulate the conduct of evaluation.
2.2 Financial Regulations
- Financial Regulation 10.1 (d) on Internal Control provides: “The Director-General shall maintain an internal financial control and internal audit which shall provide for an effective current examination and/or review of financial transactions in order to ensure:
- The regularity of the receipt, custody and disposal of all funds and other financial resources of the Organization;
- The conformity of obligations and expenditures with the appropriations or other financial provision voted by the General Conference or with the purposes and rules relating to Trust Funds and Special Accounts;
- The economic use of the resources of the Organization. Note: The Executive Board at its 181st session took note of the amendments to the Financial Regulations proposed in Annex I to document 181 EX/36 and requested the Director-General to submit them for consideration and approval by the General Conference at its 35th session. (181 EX/Decision 36). The proposed amendment to the Financial Regulation Article 10.1 (d) on Internal Control provides: “The Director-General shall maintain an internal oversight function which is responsible for the review, evaluation and monitoring of the adequacy and effectiveness of the Organization’s overall systems of internal control. For this UNESCO Administrative Manual Item 1.6 purpose, all systems, processes, operations, functions and activities within the Organization shall be subject to such review, evaluation and monitoring.”
2.3 Oversight Advisory Committee
- The current Oversight Committee has a mandate through September 2009. Terms of Reference for a Standing Committee were proposed at 181st Executive Board session (Annex to document 181 EX/33). The Executive Board recommended that the General Conference at its 35th session approve the establishment of the Oversight Advisory Committee and its Terms of Reference (181 EX/Decision 33).
2.4 Evaluation Policy
- The Evaluation policy of UNESCO and its implementation is reviewed by the Executive Board which has requested the Director-General to keep it actively involved throughout the evaluation process (176 EX/Decision 27).
- Summaries of external evaluations conducted are presented periodically to the Executive Board.
3. ROLES, AUTHORITIES AND ACCOUNTABILITIES
3.1 IOS scope of work
- IOS seeks to determine whether the Organization’s framework of risk and results based management, control and governance processes, as designed and presented by management, is adequate and functioning in a manner which ensures that:
- Programmes are designed and implemented to produce results that are consistent with established objectives of the Organization;
- Programmes are delivered effectively, planned results achieved and that lessons arising from their implementation are learned, disseminate and included into subsequent policy development, programme and project planning;
- Risks are appropriately identified and managed;
- Significant performance, financial, and operating information is accurate and timely;
- Resources are acquired economically, used efficiently and adequately protected;
- Continuous qualitative improvements are included in the Organization’s processes;
- Employees’ actions are in compliance with policies, standards and procedures;
- Significant legislative or regulatory issues impacting the Organization are recognized and addressed properly;
- Allegations of irregularities (fraud, waste, abuse of authority and other misconduct) are investigated and efforts are made to promote an ethical working environment.
- In providing advisory services, IOS seeks to add value by improving the Organization’s programme delivery and operations.
3.2 IOS Authority
- When conducting assignments IOS personnel have the following authorities:
- Complete and unrestricted access to all records, documents, personnel and physical assets relevant to the subject under review at Headquarters and in UNESCO institutes, centers and the field;
- The right to communicate directly with all levels of staff and management
- The right to request any staff member to furnish all information and explanations that IOS deems necessary;
- The right to determine scopes of work, apply techniques and allocate resources within budget authorities, including the engagement of specialized consultants.
- The Director of IOS shall have unrestricted access to the Oversight Advisory Committee.
3.3 IOS ResponsibilityThe Director of IOS is responsible for the work of IOS and is required to:
- Submit an oversight strategy and work plans, including risk-based and flexible annual audit plan and a biennial evaluation plan, to the Director-General through the Oversight Advisory Committee;
- Implement the strategy and work plans and issue timely reports; implement as appropriate any additional assignments requested by management; for example when the risks attached to the proposed assignment are higher than those of other planned activities;
- Regularly inform the Director-General and the Oversight Advisory Committee of the status and results of the oversight strategy and work plan, including progress reports on the actions taken by management in response to the recommendations made by IOS;
- Adopt best practices in oversight functions, keeping management and the Oversight Advisory Committee informed of emerging trends;
- Use professionals with sufficient knowledge, skills, experience and any other competencies needed to fulfil the mission of IOS and to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the used resources;
- Liaise with representatives of the External Auditor to foster a cooperative and professional working relationship; optimise audit coverage; and share information such as strategies, work plans and all reports produced by both the IOS and the External Auditor;
- Establish a quality assurance and improvement programme that covers all aspects of IOS activities, continuously monitor its effectiveness and assure conformity with applicable Standards and Guiding Principles (see Paragraph 3.1 above);
- Provide advisory services, within IOS capacities and areas of expertise, to assist management in meeting its objectives.
3.4 IOS Accountability and Independence
- The Director of IOS is appointed by the Director-General, who may consult with the Oversight Advisory Committee on the required qualifications of the candidates. The Director of IOS reports to and is accountable directly to the Director-General. IOS operates independently from other parts of the UNESCO Secretariat. Apart from providing advice, IOS is not involved in the management of any programmes, operations or functions. The Director-General ensures that IOS is provided with the necessary resources in terms of appropriate staffing, adequate funds and appropriate training to fulfil its mission and maintain its independence.
- An annual report is prepared by the Director of IOS for the Director-General and shared with the Oversight Advisory Committee summarizing significant oversight activities, conclusions, recommendations and action taken in response. This annual report is presented by the Director-General to the Executive Board. In addition, a summary report is submitted to the Executive Board on external evaluations completed.
3.5 IOS Recommendations
- UNESCO management officials are responsible for considering IOS reports issued to them for action, providing timely responses to IOS, and implementing agreed action plans. Where management officials and IOS are unable to agree on action plans in response to IOS reports, the matter will be communicated within the Secretariat hierarchy for resolution.
- IOS is responsible for monitoring the implementation status of its recommendations and periodically reporting the status to the Director-General, with particular attention to timely communication of conditions resulting in high risk exposure.