March 7, 2006

UN should consider outsourcing, moving jobs: Annan

By Evelyn Leopold

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations should
consider outsourcing some work or moving it to developing
nations where it can be done more cheaply, U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan recommended as part of a broad
management overhaul.

In a report to be released later on Tuesday, Annan proposes
steps including employee buyouts, a new computer system and
taking more control over key departments, according to portions
obtained by Reuters.

Despite some savings, initial investments proposed in the
report to train staff, update technologies and dismiss
employees could cost the organization $500 million, diplomats
estimated. Staff buyouts are estimated at $100 million.

Many of the proposals including those on outsourcing are
expected to be opposed by developing nations who could lose
clout under the reorganization or whose citizens now working in
New York might be affected.

"We are particularly interested in exploring the benefits
of possibly relocating certain administrative functions to
lower-cost countries, but we will need to undertake a detailed
cost-benefit analysis in each case," the report says.

Moving the United Nations' extensive translation services
out of its New York headquarters building could save some $35
million annually and release three floors of work space,
according to a February 12 consultant's report.

The February report analyzes contracting operations to a
third party or shifting work to a lower cost location, such as
Asian nations. China is known to have an interest in this

About 4,500 people work at U.N. headquarters in New York,
where its main bodies -- the General Assembly, the Security
Council and the Economic and Social Council are located.

Annan's report was a response to a request by world leaders
at a U.N. summit in September, following scandals over the U.N.
oil-for-food program in Iraq and contract-fixing.

The United States has made progress on management reform a
condition for refinancing the U.N. budget on June 30.

The financial plan, reluctantly approved by the General
Assembly in December, has caused animosity between U.S.
Ambassador John Bolton and many poor nations who feel rich
countries want to cut programs and jobs that benefit them.

Tuesday's report also asks the 191-member General Assembly
to give the secretary-general more power to allocate and
consolidate jobs within the often bureaucratically entangled
global body. For example, at the moment there are nearly 40
separate peacekeeping accounts.