STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE GROUP OF 77 AND CHINA BY MS. MEGAYLA AUSTIN, MINISTER COUNSELLOR OF THE PERMANENT MISSION OF GUYANA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, ON AGENDA ITEM 135: PROGRAMME BUDGET FOR 2020: STATUS OF IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY OF THE UNITED NATIONS, AT THE FIRST RESUMED PART OF THE 74TH SESSION OF THE FIFTH COMMITTEE OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY (New York, 2 March 2020)
1. I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on agenda item 135: Programme Budget for 2020: Status of Implementation of the Information and Communications Technology Strategy for the United Nations. The Group thanks Mr. Patrick Carey, Acting Secretary- General for Office of Information and Communications Technology, Ms. Parama Sen, Director of External Audit (India) and Chair, Audit Operations Committee and Mr. Abdallah Bachar Bong, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, for introducing their related reports.
2. The Group of 77 and China continues to appreciate the importance of information and communications technology (ICT) in strengthening oversight and accountability within the Organization, especially in the context of ongoing reform initiatives.
3. The Group also continues to recognize the important role played by ICT in facilitating efficient and effective deliberations within intergovernmental bodies.
4. In appreciation of the Organization’s five-year plan to simplify and optimize the benefits of technology as a transformational tool whose use would enable a successful delivery of mandates, the Group welcomes improvements made to the ICT landscape Secretariat-wide.
5. In the context of the fifth and final progress report on the Implementation of the ICT Strategy, the Group welcomes the milestones achieved in the areas of ICT infrastructure and architecture; ICT operations and service delivery; support for the deployment of Umoja, including extension two; the security of other enterprise systems; reductions in the number of legacy applications; the global wide area network; and the deployment of solutions to support the substantive work of the Organization and critical systems to support peacekeeping operations.
6. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 70/238 B and in provision of an examination of the implementation of the strategy, the Board of Auditors has conducted an audit and submitted its third annual report on the implementation of the ICT strategy. The Group, as always, is appreciative of the Board’s hard work and diligence in preparing such detailed reports.
7. Notable among key recommendations of the Board during the present reporting period are:
(a) Ensuring the operationalization of the governance framework for the implementation of the ICT strategy and immediately establishing a new governance framework, if envisaged, to strengthen the governance mechanism;
(b) Prioritizing the preparation and putting in motion of the Umoja mainstreaming plan;
(c) Enhancing the information security programme.
8. With regard to implementation of the Board’s recommendations since its first audit in 2012, the Group notes that the Board has made 50 recommendations since that first audit. As at 31 December 2018, 36 recommendations had been accepted, and 1 partially accepted. Of the 50 recommendations, 10 have been assessed by the Board as fully implemented and 1 overtaken by events. A total of 39 outstanding recommendations are still under implementation.
9. The Group wishes to reiterate that the rate of implementation is rather abysmal given that only 20% of recommendations have been fully implemented with others either being contested or at various stages of the implementation process.
10. The Group underscores the need for the Secretariat to implement the Board’s recommendations urgently and in full, particularly in the areas of governance, delegation of authority, performance management, information security and Umoja mainstreaming.
11. We look forward to receiving further updates on progress made in respect of the implementation of the Board’s recommendations during informal consultations.
12. With regard to identified defragmentation of enterprise application centres and ICT units, the Group notes that, though there has been some progress, the ICT units of 27 United Nations entities, offices and departments at Headquarters, offices away from Headquarters and regional commissions are yet to be harmonized.
13. The Group expects that the lack of progress in reducing fragmentation in the ICT environment will be addressed as a matter of priority, particularly given that this was one of the key objectives of the ICT Strategy. The Group opines that a successful reduction of fragmentation would establish the necessary platform for OICT to improve interoperability and simplicity as well as address information security issues in a more comprehensive manner.
14. The Group of 77 and China cannot overemphasize the need to harness the potential of ICT to support the work of the Organization in the areas of peace and security, development, including sustainable development, human rights, and international law, thus our continuous commitment to the implementation of the Strategy.
15. We welcome the delegation of procurement authority framework instituted by the Secretary-General which brings decision-making authority closer to the point of delivery. In this regard, the Group encourages the Secretary-General intensify his efforts to increase procurement of ICT goods and services from developing countries while ensuring the most cost-effective use of resources and economies of scale.
16. The Group believes that it’s necessary to establish a clear record of the situation at the beginning and end of the implementation of ICT strategy. In this regard, the Group encourages the Secretary-General to conduct an inventory to establish a baseline of all ICT resources so that Member States could analyse relevant data and take decisions in the future.
17. In being consistent with this demonstrated commitment, the Group wishes to assure you of its readiness to engage constructively on this agenda item with the aim of having a successful outcome this time.
I thank you.