Information and communications technologies (ICT)

(1)     At its 89th session (February 1999: ACC/1999/6, paras. 36-38 & annex III) a presentation was made to CCAQ(FB) by the Director of ICC on contingency planning for the Year 2000 (Y2K) who reported that various reputable outside organizations, including the OECD, had carried out risk-assessment exercises of critical system failures showing the degree of Y2K exposure and extent of Y2K compliance. The consensus appeared to be that there was a greater degree of exposure to critical failure of non-compliant systems in a large number of developing countries in which UN system organizations carried out activities. Even in the countries most highly rated with regard to Y2K compliance in key sectors, there was a risk of some critical system failures. Thus Y2K problems could be expected to impact Headquarters as well as field operations. The Committee agreed that, while each organization should make its own assessment of risks and the degree to which it was prepared to invest resources in contingency planning, it was essential that the UN system have an orchestrated approach to the issues and plan a coherent overall response. Activities in the financial area that could be coordinated were listed in annex III. The Committee recommended that discussions at the meeting of the High Level CCAQ to consider the Y2K issue should include the question of which body or bodies should be allocated responsibility for coordinating system-wide contingency plans. It also strongly recommended that the responsibility be allocated primarily to operational management rather than to information technology specialists.

(2)     At the same session (ibid., paras. 39-40) the Committee had an exchange of information on various computer-based management information systems, including the United Nations IMIS, the use of SAP software by UNICEF, WFP and ITU, FAO's Oracle-based software, IAEA's Agresso project and the ATLAS travel system acquired by IAEA and subsequently by FAO and WHO. IAEA also suggested that a User Group be set up for the ATLAS travel system and, noting that the involvement of several organizations in developing systems based on software from one vendor had produced considerable benefits arising from exchange of information and experience, the Committee strongly encouraged this kind of collaborative system development wherever possible.

(3)     At the same meeting (ibid., para. 35) UNDP briefed the Committee on its concerns about security of instructions given by electronic mail and its plans in this area.

(4)     At its 90th session (April 1999: ACC/1999/5, para. 32) CCAQ(PER) expressed its appreciation to the Secretary of ISCC for the presentation of developments regarding (a) the UN system ExtraNet project, (b) the new search engine of the CCAQ Web site and (c) the PAMS project and commended the CCAQ and ISCC secretariats for the work which had been achieved through their collaboration on the development of the Web site.

(5)     At its 91st session (July 1999: ACC/1999/13, para. 9) CCAQ(PER) strongly supported the concept of a core human resources information management policy but considered that it would be essential to undertake an examination of which databases already existed in the common system. Its further considerations are reported in section 15.4, para. (22).

(6)     At its 90th session (August-September 1999: ACC/1999/14, paras. 25-26) CCAQ(FB) held a session dedicated to Computer systems and information technology covering FAO's ORACLE-based system, UNICEF and WFP's SAP-based projects, the United Nations' IMIS project and IAEA's new system using Agresso software. Views were exchanged on the different methodologies organizations had used in selecting the principal software on which their new systems were based, the various methods of managing projects and the costs of developing the systems, as well as amounts budgeted for on-going operating and maintenance expenditures. Training staff on the new systems was a challenge as was recruiting good information system specialists. Participants also discussed their experience of moving from old systems to new, including the timing of the move in relation to the closure of a financial period and the time necessary to prepare "clean data" to feed in as initial balances in the new systems. UNICEF's progress report on its strategy and investments in information technology and other documents made available at the meeting were incorporated into the CCAQ(FB) web site. One common theme that emerged was the complexity of United Nations system rules and regulations, particularly pertaining to entitlements and Payroll, such as the need to calculate retroactive salary increases and contributions to the Pension Fund. This was leading to high costs of systems implementation, as available commercial software packages could not meet these requirements without costly additional programming. The high costs of such programming and consequential delays might be reduced significantly if a simpler and more standard approach to administrative procedures were adopted. CCAQ(PER) had suggested that joint work by FB and PER be undertaken with regard to entitlements and it was agreed that the Chairmen of FB and PER should discuss how to proceed, giving this issue a high degree of priority. The Committee was again briefed on the current state of the CCAQ(FB) web site and made suggestions for its development, in particular with respect to the development of a "chat room" section.

(7)     At its 91st session (August-September 2000: ACC/2000/6, paras. 14-17) CCAQ(FB) was briefed by representatives of UNICEF, ITU and WFP on their SAP-based projects, including lessons learned from successful implementation of complex new Enterprise Resource Systems (ERP). IAEA made a presentation on the process of implementing its new system using Agresso software. It was suggested that a joint project might be considered for the development of a SAP-based HR module that would allow processing of United Nations system payroll and entitlements. FAO discussed its experience in implementation of an ORACLE-based system and the United Nations announced that it had completed the development of IMIS with its last component, Payroll, being implemented at Headquarters in September 2000, which provides full payroll capability for all categories of staff at all duty stations, full retroactivity (individual personnel actions and changes of reference tables affecting groups of staff), disbursements in all currencies and reporting in US dollars as well as rental subsidy, insurance and automated end of service entitlements processing.

(8)     Principal lessons learned from the implementation of complex integrated systems included the necessity for top management support and full involvement and "ownership" by users; the need for up-front commitment to realistic funding of the total costs of the project, based on detailed estimates and with adequate planning for contingencies; the importance of well defined responsibility for project management with commensurate authority to take decisions and resolve issues; the need for rigorous monitoring and control of costs and progress; the key role of planning for migration from legacy systems, in that absence of a detailed plan for data clean up and migration could lead to disaster; the timing of staff training, with the need to avoid training too early in the process. The complexity of United Nations system rules and regulations, particularly those covering entitlements and Payroll was leading to high costs of systems implementation. It was thus important whenever possible to change internal procedures to bring them in line with commercial practices rather than go for expensive alterations to commercial packages. While very complicated to plan and implement, a "Big Bang" implementation of an integrated ERP was preferable to on-going operational headaches associated with interfaces with other systems.

(9)     WFP briefed the Committee on its arrangements with the International Computing Centre as provider of technical and operational support services for its new SAP-based system and ITU reported that it had made similar outsourcing arrangements with Compaq and suggested that there might be an opportunity for greater use by organizations of such outsourcing, possibly on a joint contract basis to obtain the benefits of economies of scale. WIPO made a presentation on its recent investment in high speed document scanning and printing systems which, together with a move to publishing on CDs (and later on DVDs), had provided major benefits with regard to the cost and speed of processing of international applications for intellectual property protection. WIPO also briefed the Committee on its success in implementing a new system for the handling of incoming payments and the subsequent electronic processing of payment information. UNRWA reported that it had recently commenced implementation of Payroll/HR and Financial Management systems, using Microsoft Windows-based software developed by an Indian company. UNRWA's approach had been to minimize customization by changing its business processes and procedures in line with prevailing business practices. IMO announced that it had chosen the ATLAS travel processing system that had been successfully implemented at IAEA and FAO. This system was first demonstrated to the Committee when it met in Vienna; it was gratified to see the longer term results and benefits of such information sharing as reflected in this choice.

(10)     At the same session (ibid., paras. 18-19) the Committee was invited by the Secretary of the Information Systems Coordination Committee to the special session on "ERP lessons learned," to be held during the ISCC Annual Meeting in October 2000 in Geneva. He also briefed the members on the success to date of the ISCC-sponsored "UN Consortium for Electronic Information" that had negotiated joint licenses for access to commercial information sources. He invited further participation in the Consortium, which already had 41 participating organizations. A presentation by the Director of ICC on "Information Technology Issues for Executives" was made available to members in hard copy. Relevant extracts from UNICEF's report on its strategy and investments in information technology were provided to the Committee as background material for the discussion. It was agreed that these and similarly relevant documents from other organizations should be provided to the Secretary to be incorporated into the CCAQ(FB) web site.

(11)     Also at this session (ibid., para. 20) the World Bank made a presentation on the concept of knowledge sharing, how it was being implemented in World Bank, and what lessons learned from the World Bank's experience might be relevant to organizations in the UN system. Top management commitment had been an important factor, as had been the designation of specific staff members to act as "guides" or facilitators for "thematic groups" or "communities of practice." The groups should themselves decide what, where and how to share, and with whom. It was important to ensure that material on electronic "Bulletin Boards" was current and that any lessons learned or best practices be summarized on a regular basis. So-called "virtual communities," whose members only met electronically, had not been as successful as those where members met at least once to get to know each other and then continued knowledge sharing electronically. Participants discussed the extent to which organizations might apply some of the knowledge sharing concepts within their own organizations and how best to apply these to the Committee's own activities, given existing resource constraints. The Committee was also briefed (ibid,. para. 21) on recent development of the CCAQ(FB) web site, covering the information available for consultation on screen or for downloading. Documents for the present session had been provided in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format, as would all future documents and there was an ever-increasing number of previous session reports and documents and other material provided by organizations on subjects of interest made available for reference on the web site, together with links to other sites such as those of the Panel of External Auditors and the JIU.

(12)     The Committee, recalling that at its last session it had decided that a "chat room" section of the web site should be developed to enable inter-sessional discussion by Committee members of subjects of interest, was informed (ibid., para. 22) that it had become available with the establishment of a dedicated CCAQ(FB) Bulletin Board, to be maintained by the Secretary. It was agreed that, to take full advantage of this new facility for exchanging information and discussing subjects of interest, there should a pilot phase during which work would be undertaken to identify thematic groups for which dedicated pages would be set up on the Bulletin Board. It was suggested that the most likely initial group would be one made up of accounting specialists, building on contacts made during meetings of the Working Party on Accounting Standards. This group would naturally wish to have a focus larger than that of accounting standards. It was important to identify a lead agency to act as facilitator of the work and to agree at the outset the group's mandate.

(13)     Participants (ibid., para. 23) noted that organizations' representatives had been requested to bring updated material on reform initiatives for the June 2000 meeting of the High Level CCAQ. An example of documentation produced by UNHCR for that meeting had been provided to the Committee in a Conference Room Paper. As there had been insufficient time at that meeting to review this and similar material from other organizations, participants were requested to provide any such material available in electronic form to the Secretary, to enable updating of the Productivity Improvement pages of the FB web site. Other documents such as those covering Results-Based Budgeting initiatives and other subjects of interest to members should also be provided to the Secretary, preferably in electronic form.

(14)     At its 4th high-level meeting (July 2000: ACC/2000/21, paras. 1-2) CCAQ-HL warmly welcomed the report of the ad hoc inter-agency working group which it considered provided a good mapping out of the current issues related to the coordination of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the United Nations system and was timely in developing further steps organizations would have to pursue in becoming "learning and knowledge-sharing organizations." The Committee noted that the report was not intended to be a review of the ISCC but an attempt to provide CCAQ-HL with a view on how improved coordination and innovative use of ICT would be beneficial to the UN system. It endorsed the thrust of the recommendations put forward by the working group subject to a number of considerations. The Committee was unanimous in underlining the importance and urgency of strengthening ICT coordination across the UN system. It took note in particular of the call made to international organizations in the Ministerial Declaration of the High Level segment of ECOSOC "to ensure coordination and synergy among programmes and activities of individual organizations of the United Nations System."

(15)     In reviewing the recommendations of the working group (ibid., paras. 3-13) the Committee considered that the first recommendation that: "In light of the increasing amount of expertise in the UN system, broad knowledge sharing should be a primary activity of ICT coordination activities, and participation in this activity should be expanded to the broadest expertise available in the UN system. The challenge will be to determine how best to tap this expertise." took the form of an objective against which all other recommendations should be seen. The main concern was to determine how ICT knowledge would be shared among ICT technical staff, programme managers relying on ICT and other ICT users. The sharing of knowledge should include best practices (as well as practices which had not succeeded) and ICT knowledge-sharing must take account of the extent to which ICT activities had been decentralized within offices (e.g. to line managers and to country offices) in which connection, reference to Resident Coordinators reports would prove a useful starting point. However simple or complex a system of knowledge sharing were devised, it would require on-going costs for its initial set-up and ongoing operations. The Committee considered that "knowledge-sharing" went beyond electronic exchanges. It was also necessary to consider exchanges of personnel, inter alia, between organizations and a statement should be prepared for Executive Heads to circulate among all staff emphasizing the importance of encouraging staff to participate in inter-agency ICT knowledge-sharing. The recommendations included the preparation of an annual report on the use of ICTs in the UN system to highlight innovative uses of ICT, the identification of facets of ICT where a shared vision could bring value to the organizations, such as the dissemination of information by the organizations and protocols for information exchange, the possible extension of the UN inventory system to the whole UN system, the standardization of formats for the exchange of data, a feasibility study and project plan for a UN System Information Portal as well as recommendations for the organizations in their efforts to strengthen the coordination of ICT. The Committee's detailed comments provided the basis for the implementation of the recommendations of the working group.

(16)     At its September 2001 session (ACC/2001/12, paras. 8-9) HLCM was given two presentations: (a) by the World Bank on its Program Performance Assessment Monitoring System and (b) by the United Nations on its Key Items Management Report system. After an exchange of views, the Committee expressed its appreciation to the representative of the World Bank for the presentation on the integration of numerous databases into one data warehouse and to the representative the United Nations for the presentation on the managerial use of a consolidated and already integrated database. The Committee noted the willingness of the presenters to provide whatever further information and collaborative efforts organizations might wish to pursue with them.

(17)     At the same session (ibid., paras. 10-11) the Committee agreed to include the following projects in its work programme: (a) an inventory of systems in use – in respect of electronic mail, central database management, desktop software, local area networks, ERP, and other applications - along with a "user satisfaction" analysis; (b) an inventory of systems planned for introduction by organizations, giving details of the business activity which each system is meant to serve and the product(s) to be used, (c) the second phase of the PAMS project, which will involve refining data requirements, surveying potential commercial products, fund-raising (to finance software purchase and license agreements) and tailoring and installing the new system, (d) a survey of commercial web-based hiring-management software and analysing their potential application (pros and cons) in the UN family and providing where possible on-line demonstrations of hiring-management and other management systems to HLCM members in their offices and (e) a feasibility study on extending umbrella contracts for joint purchasing, bringing together representatives of internal auditors with procurement and IT specialists. Based on the conclusions it had reached in December 2000 (see section 1.2, paras. (48)-(50)), the Committee confirmed that it was important to retain strategic ICT concerns as a focal point of future agendas, in particular in relation to elucidating a vision for ICT over the coming 5 to 10 years that would be relevant for all organizations of the system, whatever their current stage of ICT development.

(18)     At its March 2002 session (CEB/2002/3, paras. 4-13) HLCM, in the context of its decision to pursue work in the priority area of Capitalizing on Technology, reviewed proposals put forward in respect of developing a vision for ICT. It welcomed the overview provided by the ILO in respect of the proposals which provided a positive, pragmatic approach which could be developed by the System to manage technology in the coming years. It also welcomed presentations on the UN's ICT strategy and on the composition, work and vision of the UN Secretary-General's ICT Task Force. The first presentation highlighted the value of the presence of one or more ICT Manager/Chief Information Officer at each HLCM session. The Committee therefore reconfirmed the decision made at its first session that ICT issues should be a standing item on the Committee's agenda and that whenever possible two or three ICT Directors/Chief Information Officers should be present for discussion of these issues.

(19)     The second presentation highlighted the importance of maintaining close links, within the ICT framework, with other entities whose work was clearly complementary to that of the HLCM. It concluded therefore that links should be established and maintained with the Secretary-General's ICT Task Force and requested the CEB secretariat to ensure, by electronic means, that HLCM was kept informed, as appropriate, of ongoing work in the ICT Task Force and of any areas where, by working together with the ICT Task Force, greater synergies or effectiveness might be attained.

(20)     The Committee took note of the ILO proposals and, noting that organizations had different levels of funding and were at different stages of ICT development, concluded that the CEB secretariat should report to the next session of HLCM, or if possible earlier by electronic means, on the following initiatives: (a) the development of a Compendium of good ICT practice across the UN system, which should reflect the implications of the use of ICT for programme delivery and include: (i) guidelines for inter-agency consultation, (ii) guidelines for good practice on key hardware, software, and networking issues, (iii) guidelines for the development, in conjunction with HLCP, of key performance indicators (kpi's) and systems to track such kpi's and (iv) methods for identifying and justifying the risks, rewards and costs of ICT infrastructure development and business innovations; (b) disseminating details of best practice in respect of work being undertaken across UN system organizations leading to more secure and robust information services to cope with the increasing risks of cyber-attacks and the like; (c) exploring, in collaboration with information and programme managers, the feasibility, and cost/benefit of developing an inter-agency search facility across the public web sites of all UN System organizations based on customized commercial software similar to the "Google" service; (d) improving information sharing among staff of UN system organizations by developing an expanded UN Extranet, about which the Committee wished to be updated regularly and (e) compiling and maintaining an inventory of framework agreements and working with appropriate procurement groups to support expansion of appropriate joint purchasing through framework agreements, and volume discounts for ICT hardware, software and services.

(21)     In all these projects, HLCM concluded that it would need the advice and support of the ICT Directors/Chief Information Officers. To this end, the secretariat was requested to ensure that the network of ICT Directors/Chief Information Officers were provided opportunities, by electronic and other means, to interact and work together which would enable this group further to exchange information on issues of common concern. In addition, Task Forces could spur forward developmental work in each of these areas. The Committee would determine, on the basis of progress reported at or before its next session, whether to establish such Task Forces and to determine their composition. Arising out of the discussion, the Committee also saw the need for the secretariat to facilitate: (a) the establishment of additional thematic "Special Interest Groups," along the lines of the Inter-Agency Telecommunications Advisory Group (ITAG) for knowledge sharing and the development of best practices on specific topics, such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to help ensure that large projects were coordinated to the extent possible and (b) extended possibilities for joint procurement of ICT hardware, software, and services.

(22)     At its October 2002 session (CEB/2002/5, paras. 5-10) HLCM welcomed the efforts of the task forces in the priority areas established in March 2002. Although the establishment of an extranet infrastructure had been under review for several years, difficulties had repeatedly been encountered in ensuring security for the exchange of information over an "extranet". Organizations had been concerned that the security of their own systems could be made more vulnerable if they linked up too closely with others. This hurdle had been overcome through the evolution of technology and in particular the use of virtual private networks (VPNs). As a result, the United Nations had established the extranet infrastructure on which one software application currently exists, the Directory of Senior Officials. The implementation was successful and many organizations who had already joined the extranet had access to the Directory. Noting the positive progress, HLCM confirmed its support for a system-wide Extranet which it considered to be a valuable tool in meeting the goal of maximizing exchanges of information among UN system staff.

(23)     At the same session (ibid., paras13-15) HLCM was briefed by the United Nations, the lead agency, on progress in studying the feasibility and cost/benefit of developing an inter-agency search facility across all the public web sites of all UN system organizations. On this basis, HLCM: (a) requested that detailed proposals of the costs and time frame for the implementation of a system wide search capability be presented to a future session taking into account experience gained by the UN and its collaborating partners; (b) endorsed the concept of a search engine for the UN system as a whole; (c) noted that based upon a full technical analysis, the United Nations considered that "Google" fulfilled the search engine requirements for the UN; (d) expressed its gratitude to the United Nations for the work accomplished and for the opportunity offered to organizations, if they were in a position to do so, to participate with the United Nations in piloting the search engine at no cost; and (e) urged organizations to complete the "clean up" of their public web sites as soon as possible in preparation for a possible implementation of the system wide search engine.

(24)     Further at the same session (ibid., paras. 16-17) in response to HLCM's request for the development of a compendium of good ICT practice, the ICT network had focused on four areas and HLCM considered that the actions already undertaken in three of these should be pursued by those actively engaged therein. These were: (a) the guidelines for inter-agency consultations within which framework, an SAP user group had been created to coordinate UN system experiences and to transfer knowledge of SAP applications; (b) the development of a number of quick guides for senior management on key hardware/software and networking issues (the first of those related to IT Infrastructure Library Service Management); and (c) the methods for identifying and justifying risks, rewards and costs of ICT infrastructure development and business innovations. In this context the UN, as lead agency, had determined that the three basic concepts underpinning a common methodology for preparing budget proposals for ICT were: (i) the clear alignment of ICT investment with the core activities of the organization; (ii) the demonstration of return on investment through three possible approaches: total positive economic impact, qualitative return indicators and opportunity costs; and (iii) the separation of infrastructure costs from development projects.

(25)     In connection with the development of key performance indicators (kpi's) and systems to track those indicators, HLCM acknowledged that the implications of its request to the ICT managers were vast and took note of the proposal put forward by the task force. The Committee requested the CEB Secretariat to broaden the scope of this exercise by consulting with other organizations that had made considerable progress in developing kpi's both in management and programme areas and share this information on organizational good practices in respect of kpi's with organizations of the system. HLCM also agreed to task a task manager (ILO) to look at the commonality of achievement and programme effectiveness which had resulted from introducing results based budgeting and make recommendations to the Committee at a future session.

(26)     At the same session (ibid., paras. 18-20) HLCM received, from a working group set up by the ICT managers a road map for managing information security and an outline of the processes involved. HLCM expressed its thanks to the working group for the comprehensive report and endorsed, in its entirety, the working group's recommendations that: (a) organizations intending to improve the security of their information should follow a four-stage, ongoing process comprising: (i) risk assessment; (ii) policy development; (iii) implementation; and (iv) monitoring and review; (b) in order to enable, facilitate and monitor this process, each organization should set up a group dedicated to the purpose (an "Information Security Oversight" body); (c) policy enforcement was essential to maintain integrity of the process and protection of information assets; and (d) a specialist in Information Security should be appointed in organizations where assets and risks warranted the need.

(27)     At its June 2003 session (CEB/2003/3, para. 33) HLCM, taking note of the briefing from the UN as lead agency of the ICT Extranet project, HLCM invited organizations to review the UN system ICT Extranet with a view to proposing more precisely what should be incorporated into the ICT Extranet system on both the strategic/policy (linked to the HLCM's work plan) and purely practical/information levels, taking into account that the ICT Extranet could be a one-stop "quick" reference point for staff in all organizations of the system. It encouraged the UN as lead agency to implement the search engine project with all urgency and invited organizations to provide reports on their experiences with both of these sites to the Committee's next session.

(28)     At its 6th Session (October 2003: CEB/2003/5, para. 23) HLCM, following a briefing by the Chairperson of the September 2003 meeting of the ICT Network: (a) noted with appreciation the progress made by ICT managers on a number of projects, including the UN system Extranet and the search engine, and looked forward to further reports on their successful development; (b) encouraged all organizations of the system, that had not done so, to join the UN system Extranet so that it could truly become a system-wide tool for communication; (c) noted that: (i) with regard to information security and, in particular, divulging of information concerning staff members, the CEB secretariat would bring together a group of HR and ICT managers and legal officers to prepare the elements for a common policy which could be adopted by organizations of the system; (ii) with regard to costs of ICT, recognized the importance of developing common approaches and methodologies for costing ICT expenditures in order to arrive at a common understanding of non-discretionary and discretionary ICT resources, and requested that the ICT and FB Networks urgently undertake further work on the issue; (iii) with regard to software assets and purchasing agreements, the CEB secretariat would promote the sharing of information; (d) encouraged all organizations of the system to exchange policies on hardware replacement, including the possibility of donating obsolete hardware to not-for-profit organizations; (e) supported increased interaction between ICT managers and programme managers as part of the development of a system-wide ICT strategy; (f) noted the useful work accomplished by the Inter-Agency Telecommunications Advisory Group and the Working Group on Emergency Telecommunications and asked the CEB secretariat to work with these and other forums to eliminate duplication and build synergies; and (g) also noted the work of the Knowledge Sharing and Information Management Group and supported the recommendation that organizations make available their publications and databases to UN system members on a reciprocal basis.

(29)     At its 7th session (March 2004: CEB/2004/3, para. 39) HLCM noted with appreciation the progress of the work (CEB/2004/HLCM/R.8) being undertaken by the UN Information Technology Services Division on the implementation of the pilot project for the UN system search engine, which was intended to provide a single entry point to UN system information. This had entailed working with the web masters of the CEB organizations to "clean up" UN system public web sites and links. This process would need to be undertaken with related organizations and other UN system entities. It was noted that the United Nations had set aside a major portion of the Google search appliance it had purchased for this pilot project, a total of 15 million pages, and it was hoped that by cleaning up the public sites it would be possible to fit the whole system onto the three collections already allocated. This process, including internal testing for appropriate search results, might be completed within the next six months, at which time the search engine would be opened to the public. The goal was to provide users with the option of searching an individual organization's site and/or all other UN system sites in a single query.

(30)     At the same session (ibid., paras. 40-42) the Committee, was informed that all but four organizations were now connected to the Extranet (CEB/2004/HLCM/R.9), and two were in the process of connecting. Demand for the use of the Extranet in order to host applications had grown, and its content had expanded substantially to the point where a content management tool was required. It was noted that all the work undertaken so far on the Extranet had been done by the lead agency, the UN Information Technology Services Division, working with the CEB secretariat. Considerable resources had been invested by the Division to establish the Extranet, but in order to maintain and further its development, dedicated resources would be required, which were not available in the present CEB secretariat budget. The Committee: (a) thanked the UN Information Technology Services Division for its contributions to establishing the Extranet platform and agreed that the project should be further developed; (b) agreed to the creation of a P 2/P 3 post for support of the Extranet project in the Division, with a budget of up to $100,000 per annum, for the 2004 2005 biennium. The agreement was reached on the understanding that the overall budgetary requirements for the Extranet project would be presented to the fall session of the Committee, within the context of the presentation of the total CEB secretariat budget for 2006; and (c) decided that, in future, the CEB budget would be presented at the fall session one year before the end of the preceding biennium, so as to provide organizations time to include their cost sharing responsibilities within their own budgets and to avoid later, significant add ons; at the request of some organizations with different budget cycles some preliminary indications of the amounts and related cost sharing implications would be forwarded by June.

(31)     At the same session (ibid., paras. 43-44) the Committee was informed that the issue of information security, in particular that pertaining to the disclosure of information regarding UN system staff members, had been discussed recently at a meeting of UN system legal advisers. It was their view that a common policy would not be practical but they would stand ready to assist the Committee in this matter. In the first instance, it could be useful to undertake a survey of what policies existed in various organizations of the system. It was also noted that the UN Secretariat was in the process of elaborating such a policy statement, which could be used as a guide for other organizations in the future. The Committee: (a) requested the CEB secretariat to undertake a survey of existing policies in the area of information security and to continue to pursue the matter with ICT and HR managers with the assistance of the legal advisers and (b) also requested the CEB secretariat to follow up on the Chairperson's request for the establishment of a list of focal points in each organization who would be responsible for disseminating messages from the UN Secretariat in cases of emergency.

(32)     At its 8th session (October 2004: CEB/2004/6, paras. 50-51) HLCM was informed that, pursuant to General Assembly resolution 57/295 requesting that the Secretary General, in his capacity as Chairman of CEB, develop a comprehensive ICT strategy for the UN system, the ICT Network had tasked a working group to develop a draft ICT strategy for the UN system for consideration by HLCM and HLCP so that it could be presented by the Secretary General in his report to the General Assembly at its 59th session. In setting out the terms of reference for the Working Group, the ICT Network had identified the following goals for an ICT strategy for the UN system: (a) Set out a vision for harnessing the totality of the investment in ICT by the UN system, for the benefit of its stakeholders and the civil communities at large; (b) Harmonize efforts, promote and achieve standardization and cost effective investments, to avoid duplication, which would lead to significant system wide savings; (c) Promote individual organizational objectives and a UN wide dimension to ICT investment; and (d) Contribute to achieving of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to bridging the digital divide.

(33)     At the same session (ibid., paras. 50-54) HLCM received a presentation by IMO, the convenor of the ICT Network, and FAO, the coordinator of the working group, on the ICT strategy for the UN system for the Committee's endorsement. It included a UN system ICT Charter, underpinned by a strategy comprising 15 main initiatives and next steps and actions required of HLCP and HLCM. At its recently concluded session, HLCP in its consideration of the document had expressed its appreciation and strong support for the strategy. The strategy sought to ensure that ICT investments were aligned with the programmes of the organizations; it should generate value added service or improvement in the delivery of activities. The value of a system wide strategy resided in the capability of the UN system as a whole to agree on common ICT policy initiatives, and the programmatic focus of the strategy would be on areas that were common to all UN system organizations. The governance structure of the UN system would shape the pace and direction of the strategy. At the same time, it was noted that executive heads were responsible to separate and distinct legislative bodies that established and approved their programmes of work and allocated their funding. The Committee: (a) thanked the ICT network, IMO and FAO for their leadership, and congratulated the ICT Network for the work, (b) endorsed, in general, the ICT Charter and strategy which provided an excellent framework of principles for inter organization collaboration, (c) agreed that future work should focus on measures to address the governance and organizational constraints, on the development of the business cases, including cost/benefit analyses and return on investment, and proposals on a prioritized and coordinated implementation plan, and (d) requested the convenor of the ICT Network to provide HLCM for its next session with an 'options' report, which would further develop the business case for the strategy on the basis set out in sub-paragraph (c) above, including resource implications to enable HLCM to decide on the implementation of a UN system wide ICT strategy.

(34)     At its 9th session (April 2005: CEB/2005/3, paras. 27-32) HLCM reviewed a report of the ICT Network on the elaboration of the United Nations system ICT strategy, to which a number of external specialists had contributed. A consistent theme was the importance of support from senior management for the business changes necessary to realize any long-term potential savings from additional ICT investment. The need for effective governance from the business leadership of all the organizations was also emphasized. The Committee expressed strong support for the work of the ICT Network and recognized the potential of ICT to produce substantial savings through the increased efficiency and effectiveness of management practices and programme delivery. Noting that information technology systems did not operate independently of the business of the organizations, it was considered that business processes might need to change for savings to be achieved. The Committee endorsed the business case selection methodology and the following eight selected priority areas: (i) ICT services sourcing strategy; (ii) ICT development network; (iii) Common application solutions; (iv) Knowledge-sharing; (v) Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems; (vi) ICT governance and best practices; (vii) Business case development and costing; and (viii) ICT training. The Committee also agreed: (a) to establish a small ICT strategy steering group, composed of representatives of the members of HLCM, HLCP and the ICT Network, to provide oversight and direction for further work on the development of the ICT strategy framework: and (b) to fund the development of business cases under the strategy, beginning with $200,000 for the ICT development network.

(35)     At its 10th Session (October 2005: CEB/2005/5, paras. 35-38) HLCM was informed that the ICT Network at its September 2005 meeting had carried out an assessment of the current progress on the eight priority initiatives contained in the ICT strategy and had established working groups for each of the eight priority initiatives which would report back to the ICT Network at its next meeting. Significant cooperation existed within the ICT arena among organizations, particularly in the areas of ERP’s and Payroll. When implementing ERP’s, organizations consulted with each other on a regular basis, especially among those with the same ERP system: examples included UNICEF, WFP and IMO for SAP, FAO and ILO for Oracle and UNDP and UNHCR for PeopleSoft. The Committee: (a) expressed its continued support for the work of the ICT Network in advancing the UN System ICT Strategic Framework and endorsed its report; (b) noted that the true cost of large ICT-based systems was not only in the cost of the software licenses, which typically accounted for only a fraction of the cost, but development costs (configuration and customization), training and other implementation costs; (c) noting the value of global purchasing agreements, decided to establish a task force comprised of both ICT and procurement specialists, facilitated by the CEB Secretariat, to document any existing global software licensing purchasing agreements and explore possible new ones for the major ERP software products currently in use throughout the UN system.

(36) At the videoconference of the FB Network in February 2006 (CEB/2006/HLCM/6, paras.10-14), it was reported that the FB Network website was now fully operational, being close to its objective of being efficient, comprehensive and user-friendly.  Documentation available referred, but was not limited to, the activities of the FB Network working groups.  There were plans to develop the site from a platform for the sharing of information to a broader communication tool.  The FB Network expressed its appreciation of the CEB Secretariat for carrying out this work.  

(37) At the eleventh meeting of HLCM (CEB/2006/3, paras.20-28), the CEB Secretariat’s Advisor on Information Management Policy Coordination introduced the report of ongoing activities of the ICT Network. The Network had made progress, particularly on global network and knowledge sharing. At the request of the HLCP, the secretariat was finalizing terms of reference for a task force to develop an inter-agency knowledge-sharing framework, as the topic of knowledge sharing was becoming evermore important. One emerging issue was the role that not only technology, but also management policies play in enhancing participation in the knowledge economy that existed across the system.

Attention was drawn to current work on regional coordination that could create further opportunities for co-located organizations to consider sharing support capabilities and potentially data-center consolidation.  Multilateral, informal knowledge sharing was proceeding through the ICT Network.  The Committee endorsed the progress report (CEB/2006/HLCM/R.5).
The Committee also endorsed the documents involving guidelines for the work of the ICT Network and the International Computer Centre (ICC) to enhance coordination. It was noted that the Chairperson/Convener of the ICT Network, Mr. Roger Jones, had retired and the Committed requested that Susana Malcorra, Deputy Executive Director of Administration to WFP act as Chairperson/Convener.  
(38) At its twelfth meeting in New York in 2006 (CEB/2006/HLCM/17, paras.50-51), the HR Network agreed, the proposed transfer of the Inter-Agency Mobility Programme (IAMP) website from UNDGO to the CEB Secretariat, along with the sharing of maintenance costs that would be amount to US$ 700-1,000 per year and organization, subject to a review of a specific proposal.  

(39) At the HLCM videoconference in July 2006 (CEB/2006/HLCM/R.9, paras.7-15), the Chair of the Committee recalled that the CEB secretariat had conducted a survey on ERP systems across the UN system in preparation for the Business Practices Workshop. The Senior Advisor on Information Management Policy Coordination reported that 23 organizations had responded to the survey. It was clear that most organizations that had ERPs were using either one of two systems (Oracle/Peoplesoft and SAP). The main components in use were financial and accounting, planning and budget, procurement, human resources, payroll and asset management. A number of organizations had indicated that the ERP implementation required significant change management that had been, in some cases, underestimated. The Committee agreed that the harmonization of business practices was critical. UNFPA reported on its positive experience with regard to its collaboration with UNDP in the implementation of their ERP. The USG for Management of the UN briefed the Committee on the status of its plans to acquire an ERP, which would replace IMIS. The adoption of IPSAS had been a strong driver for this planned replacement. This implementation of the new accounting standards by 1 January 2010 would not be possible without a new ERP system. While the General Assembly had not yet approved a replacement for IMIS, the UN would have a good perspective of the alternatives under consideration, given the good work done by UNDP, which had negotiated a great contract with Peoplesoft and the negotiations carried out by UNICEF on behalf of the UN with SAP. A conservative cost estimate was USD 120 million. Data migration and training would be most expensive. The Under-Secretary-General also noted that the adoption of IPSAS would have a huge impact on increasing managers’ accountability. The Director of the Information Technology and Systems Division of the UN informed that a fully implemented ERP was required by 2009 in order to be fully compliant with IPSAS by 2010. This was underscored by the fact that the peacekeeping missions would also be incorporated. WHO expressed that it had selected Oracle in part because it better met the programme management needs of a technical organization such as WHO, while SAP may be more appropriate for organizations who are less human resources intense and more focused on procurement for example. To conclude the Committee (CEB/2006/HLCM/R.9, paras.7-15):

    (a) Agreed that there was much scope in the system for providing technical assistance and creating partnerships in the areas of ERP evaluation, selection and implementation.
    (b) Recommended that organizations that were planning to select an ERP consider one of the systems used by most organizations in the system (Oracle/Peoplesoft and SAP).
(40) At the twelfth session of HLCM (CEB/2006/5, paras.69-75), the ICT Network presented sets of studies for two key initiatives (CEB/2006/HLCM/R.12): ERP systems and Payroll, alongside ICT Training.  In relation to the ERP systems, agencies warned the ICT Network not to focus on a single platform (SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft), while work was underway on the assessment.  The Committee endorsed the proposals enshrined in document (CEB/2006/HLCM/R.12) and asked the ICT Network to prepare a proposal for the development of business cases for high impact ICT projects by October 2006.  The proposal was to include a clear business case to justify investment and a detailed implementation plan for common ICT services in data centres and communications along with appropriate delivery vehicles.  This would allow the case for funding for further projects – potentially made possible through the commitment of Member States to a unified ICT approach – to gather momentum through discussion in November 2006 with further discussion of business cases in spring 2007.  

(41) At the videoconference of the HLCM in November 2006 (CEB/2006/HLCM/R.19/Rev.1, paras.12-15) In response to the Committee’s request (CEB/2006/5) that the ICT Network produce a proposal for business plans concerning high-impact ICT systems, the Chair of the ICT Network presented, a budget of $500,000 needed for studies to determine the value of consolidating data centres and data communication facilities across the UN system. The Committee agreed in principle with the proposal, but asked for further detail, particularly around timelines and specific usage of funds.  The revised proposal would also need to include the governance mechanism overseeing the project and was to be submitted as soon as possible, prior to the spring session 2007 of the Committee, for which the ICT Network would prepare a detailed report; interim reports would be sent via email to the Committee. Delivery of outcomes was expected prior to the autumn session 2007 of the HLCM.  

(42) At the March 2007 session of the HLCM (CEB/2007/3, paras. 65-71) and following its video conference of 22 November 2006, the ICT Network presented the detailed proposal to study the value of common services, focusing on data centers and common global telecommunications. These two studies were outlined in document CEB/2007/HLCM/6.
The Committee thanked the ICT Network for the progress made and approved the project proposals as outlined in document CEB/2007/HLCM/6.
The Committee encouraged all organizations to formalize their pledges for the two studies, on the basis of the normal apportionment criteria used for HLCM projects.

(43) At its 14th session (CEB/2007/6, para.103), the Committee agreed to allocate the full budget originally estimated for the two studies on data communications and data centre operations to the study on common data communications, while pursuing the study on data centre operations through the Business Practices proposal process. The Chair of the ICT Network reminded the Committee that the data communications study requires funding before it can proceed and urged all agencies to quickly come forward with their contributions.

(44) At its fifteenth session (CEB/2008/3, paras. 103-106), the Committee encouraged organizations that have adopted the same ERP systems to intensify the sharing of information and experiences on implementation challenges and process and business issues. This would provide an opportunity for organizations, which were advanced in the setting up of the ERP systems to provide advice and support to those who are beginning this process; therefore possibly save time and costs as well.

The Committee called upon the ICT Network to identify potential member and leading organizations for the project on: “Harmonization of ERP operational and administrative practices and processes” within the HLCM Business Practices Plan of Action, so that all three major software packages (SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft) are best leveraged for maximum synergies across the UN system.

(45) At its sixteenth session (CEB/2008/5, para. 126), the Committee thanked the ICT Network for its work and encouraged all agencies that have not already done so to more closely examine their ICT services with a view of utilizing the International Computer Centre (ICC) more fully.

(46) At the same session (CEB/2008/5, para. 146), HLCM thanked WHO, ILO and FAO for sharing their experiences and expressed the need to continue this practice. The Committee reiterated that moving to a single ERP system was neither practical nor necessary, and that the way forward in the inter-agency ERP arena involved the development of common practices as specified in one of the initiatives included Plan of Action for the harmonization of business practices. In light of this discussion, the Committee recalled its decision at its 15th session to have this initiative led by agencies with experience in each of the three main ERP solutions (WFP for SAP, ILO for Oracle and UNDP for PeopleSoft) along with the UN Secretariat.

(47) At its seventeenth session (CEB/2009/3, paras.43-45), the Committee discussed, on the basis of the paper presented by the UN Secretariat, the expected challenges and risks of its planned ERP implementation and endorsed in principle the proposal for Intranet shared access as well as requested the ICT Network to present a common technical solution for securely connecting all agency intranets, taking into consideration the experience already developed in similar exercises by some member organizations, as well as the experiences of the Delivering as One pilots.

The Committee also requested all HLCM Networks to discuss and report back their findings on the sharing of information in their respective areas normally contained on agency intranets, with a view to creating policy guidelines that allow for maximizing information and knowledge sharing.

It further acknowledged and commended Ms. Susana Malcorra for her exceptional leadership in guiding the ICT Network in the past years, and unanimously appointed Ms. Angela Kane, Under Secretary-General for Management of the United Nations Secretariat, as the new Chair of the Network. The Committee saluted both the departing and newly elected Chairs with a warm applause.

(48) At its eighteenth session (CEB/2009/6, paras.64-66), the Committee supported the establishment of a special interest group of the ICT Network to put forward proposals to further awareness, develop common policies and procedures and explore a common incident monitoring and response capability; Discussed the importance of common approaches to ICT Services, including data communications, and welcomed the update on the Data Communications Study, which highlighted opportunities for shared approaches in this area and; Took note with appreciation of the work carried out by the ICT Network, especially in the areas of information security, data communications and common ICT services and requested the Network to continue its efforts to develop system-wide ownership and action in these critical areas, taking into account the advice of the Legal Network on issues where needed.

(49) At its nineteenth session (CEB/2010/3, paras.74-76), the Committee took note, with appreciation, of the results of the data communications study; asked the Network to explore how the system can leverage the services of the International Computer Centre for this project; and supported the action plan proposed by the ICT Network, i.e.:

    a.    To form small working groups to focus on four areas that together address all of the recommended initiatives:
        (a) interoperability standards;
        (b) UN core gateway;
        (c) multi-agency procurement; and
        (d) shared city-based networks.
    b.    To coordinate work on achieving coherence in data communications with activities undertaken within the context of the Delivering as One process at the country level by the UNDG Task Team on ICT.
    c.    Agencies involved should proceed with developing a project for inclusion in the HLCM Plan of Action on the Harmonization of Business Practices.

(50) At its twentieth session (CEB/2010/5, paras.114-121), the Committee took note with appreciation of the report on the status of the common directory project, reiterated the value of a system-wide contact service, and called upon all members to make participation in the Directory a priority; Took note of the continuing work of the ICT Network, particularly in the area of information security; Called upon the ICT Network to work closely with the Procurement Network to develop proposals for common procurement in the ICT area and; Requested that at the next HLCM meeting a discussion be organized on social networking tools, including the legal, technical and public relations aspects of their use, and relevant agencies’ experiences.

(51) At its 21th session in Paris (CEB/2011/3, paras. 110-118), the Committee was informed that the Joint Inspection Unit intended to conduct a study on ICT governance in the UN system. The ICT Network would work closely with the inspectors on this study and looked forward to a valuable report on this critical subject.
Highlighting the relevance of these projects to emerging priorities under discussion, including the need cost efficiency, modernization of practices and improved transparency, HLCM took note with appreciation of the report on the status of the activities of the ICT Network and encouraged all organizations to participate in priority activities of the Network.

(52) At its twenty second session in Washington D.C. (CEB/2011/5, paras.156-160), the Committee called on organizations to take steps to protect systems against cyber security threats and to participate in and support cyber security activities.

(53) At the same session (CEB/2011/5, paras.161-165), the Committee took note with appreciation of the report on the status of the activities of the Network and asked the ICT Network to prepare an update for the next HLCM session on the scope and efficiency of ICC services, as well as on other possible sources of common benefits related to ICT services in the UN system.

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