Programme budget presentation

(1)     For the development of a panel of objects of expenditure at the lst and 4th sessions of CCAQ for use as a standard budget annex, see Section 16.5.

(2)     At the 5th session (April 1949: CC/A.5/SR.1 and CO-ORD-PREP/118, section B.4) the Committee approved a revised standard summary of budget estimates, agreeing to add statistics on the number of established posts and a summary of appropriations approved and contributions received. These summaries were to be annexed to the budget of each organization.

(3)     At the 11th session (April 1951: CC/A.11/SR.4 and CO-ORDINATION/R.93, section C.VI) CCAQ agreed on the desirability of the Secretary-General's annexing to the UN estimates an overall summary of extrabudgetary funds available for use by the various agencies:

     (a)     Summary of the cost of projects (main activities): Agencies undertook to furnish the UN secretariat with the necessary information to enable it to prepare the summary of estimated costs of projects in the budgets of UN and the agencies.

     (b)     Identification of costs: The Committee considered the question of the extent to which it was possible to calculate indirect costs in computing project costs and agreed that the objects of expenditure to be identified in the overall summary would be personal services (including common staff costs); travel and transportation; and contractual printing.

     (c)     Identification of projects: Regarding this question, the Committee, in view of the difficulties experienced in attempting to define "project", recommended that the summary be entitled and considered a "Summary of costs of main activities".

     (d)     Relation of summary to standard budget summary: The Committee expressed the view that the new summary of costs of main activities might be regarded as constituting a substitute for the existing information annex summarizing budgets by objects of expenditure.

(4)     At the same session (CC/A.11/SR.4 and CO-ORDINATION/R.93, section C.VI) the Committee asked the UN representative to consult the ACABQ on the possibility of substituting for the budget summary the cost of main activities. It also revised the common panel of objects of expenditure (see Section 16.5).

(5)     At the 12th session (April 1952: CO-ORDINATION/R.124, section II.A.2) the Committee agreed that in the absence of a policy directive from governments on the character of uniform budget presentations desired it was not profitable to attempt a standard format. The Committee therefore decided, subject to ACC's approval, to defer indefinitely the item "Form of the budget". Instead the Committee would give more attention to the Secretary-General's annual information annex with a view to increasing its usefulness for inter-agency comparisons.

(6)     The      information annex to the UN budget was further discussed at the 12th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th sessions, during which the form and content of the annex were revised. At the second part of the 17th session, (April 1956: CO-ORDINATION/R.224, section B.10) it was agreed that in future the annex should embrace the same type of data, in the same form, as the 1956 annex.

(7)     At the 30th session (March l969) CCAQ agreed the form of a budget annex (CO-ORDINATION/R.733, para. 97) to show the cost of conferences and meetings as requested by the Ad Hoc Committee of Experts to Examine the Finances of the UN and the Specialized Agencies in its second report (A/6343).

(8)     A special session of CCAQ in September 1969 (see CO-ORDINATION/R.762) gave preliminary consideration to a report (the "McCandless report") commissioned by ACABQ on programme and budget presentation. CCAQ reached an initial conclusion that:

     (a)     Uniform budget presentation was not immediately feasible; much further study of the problem was needed;

     (b)     It would be feasible for organizations to provide information about their budgets in compatible form.

(9)     At the 31st session (March 1970: CO-ORDINATION/R.799, paras. 5-22) CCAQ discussed the report of a working group on programme and budget presentation. It had before it the McCandless report (A/7821) and a JIU report (JIU/REP/69/7). CCAQ felt that the programme structure tentatively suggested in the former report should as a first step be used as a pattern for the ACC report to ECOSOC on expenditures in relation to programmes (see Section 17.6). CCAQ noted that several organizations had already accepted the principle of programme budgeting advocated in the McCandless and JIU reports. It felt that it would be helpful if UN could adopt programme budgeting on a biennial basis. It agreed also that programmes and budgets of all organizations should give information on activities financed from all sources of funds.

(10)     At the 33rd session (March 1971: CO-ORDINATION/R.864, paras. 18-25) CCAQ continued its consideration of compatible budget annexes. It accepted the following:

     (a)     A standard annex showing expenditures broken down by main activities or budget sections, cross-analyzed by object-of-expenditure categories;

     (b)     A manning table for established posts;

     (c)     An organization chart.

(11)     At the 35th session (March 1971: CO-ORDINATION/R.930, paras. 17-20), CCAQ reconsidered the question of the budget annex to show the cost of conferences (see para. 7 above). Some organizations expressed doubts on the utility of the table agreed in 1969 and CCAQ felt that the question of producing a standard annex on meetings costs should not be pursued for the time being.

(12)     On the recommendations of its Task Force on Harmonization of Programme Budget Presentation, CCAQ agreed at its 42nd session (September 1975: CO-ORDINATION/R.1114, paras. 4-16 and annex B) that organizations should include four standard annexes, developed by the Task Force, in their next budget documents as a separate and distinct group of tables under the standard heading "United Nations system - standard budget tables". These tables were to show

     (a)     regular budget expenditures by appropriation line and by CCAQ object-of-expenditure categories;

     (b)     expenditures by appropriation line and main sources of funds;

     (c)     regular budget increases and decreases as compared to current appropriations; and

     (d)     manpower resources in man-years, by appropriation line.

Consideration was also given to means of responding to recommendations for the provision in budget documents of improved information on extrabudgetary resources.

(13) A      second report of the Task Force was endorsed by CCAQ at the 43rd session (March 1976: CO-ORDINATION/R.1146, paras. 4-10 and annexes B and C). The Task Force had:

     (a)      Identified and defined a hierachy of four levels for subdividing the over-all programmes of the organizations (major programmes, programmes, subprogrammes and programme elements), while recognizing that not all organizations would need to use all four levels;

     (b)      Recommended that detailed programme narratives should include at least a reference to or summary of the objectives described in the medium-term plan, and proposals for work plans, together with supporting justifications, for activities during the budget period that would contribute to meeting the medium-term objectives. The detailed justifications should include an indication of the means of action (meetings, publications, research, training, etc.) and forecast the anticipated output; estimates of the cost of the activities in terms of money and manpower should be given at the second or third level of the programme hierarchy. Narratives at this level should indicate changes of direction or emphasis as well as referring to new activities. As much and as detailed information as possible should be included on the expected volume and nature of extrabudgetary activities, but field activities were to be shown as an integral part of the programme in which they were included;

     (c)     Considered that organizations should describe administrative and support activities in whatever way they found most suitable, and that they should be related to the substantive programmes wherever possible. Wherever possible the programme narratives should include quantitative information on the volume of services to be provided.

ACC subsequently reported on the work of the Task Force to ECOSOC in its annual report for 1975-1976 (E/5803).

(14)     At the 46th session (March 1977: CO-ORDINATION/R.1211, paras. 2-5 and annex III) the Committee endorsed the third report of the Task Force, which had reviewed the progress made by the organizations in implementing its recommendations (see paras. 12 and 13 above). For action in the areas of medium-term planning and evaluation, see Section 16.1.

(15)     At its 48th session (March 1978: CO-ORDINATION/R.1279, paras. 4-8, annex III and annex IV, paras. 1-28) CCAQ agreed the draft text of an ACC statement on the harmonization of programme budgets and medium-term plans, on the basis of findings at the second session of its Working Party on Programme Planning, Budgeting and Evaluation. The text dealt with a request made by ECOSOC in part III of its resolution 2098 (LXIII), bearing in mind also the implications of General Assembly resolution 32/197 on the restructuring of the economic and social sectors of the UN system. After outlining obstacles to harmonizing programme budget presentation, the statement went on to describe a series of measures - some of them new - which in the view of CCAQ should contribute to further progress in that direction, particularly with reference to the budgets of UN and the four larger specialized agencies, and the administrative and programme support budget of UNDP. In brief, they were:

      - agreement on a common basic structure for programme budgets:

     (a)     Table of contents

     (b)     List of abbreviations

     (c)     Introduction by the executive head

     (d)      Explanatory notes

     (e)     Summary tables

     (f)     Draft appropriation resolution

     (g)      Programme narratives and tables

     (h)     Information annexes.

      - agreement on the nature and scope of (c), (d), (e), (g) and (h) above.

In particular, the statement recommended a standard format for the main summary table in programme budget documents (with a reservation on the part of UN); further refined the existing guidelines for programme narratives and the accompanying tables, using the agreed levels of major programme, programme, subprogramme and programme element; and presented three new agreed tables for inclusion in programme budget information annexes.

The statement recorded the organizations' agreement that in future the progress made in implementing inter-organization guidelines on programme budget presentation, and the implications of major changes contemplated by individual organizations, would be reviewed through the Working Party.

The substance of the statement was endorsed by ACC at its 72nd session. The final amended text, which placed added emphasis on the likely impact of General Assembly resolution 32/197, was contained in UN document E/1978/43/Add.2. However, some reservations about the main summary table were expressed at the 49th session of CCAQ (September 1978: CO-ORDINATION/R.1307, paras. 9 and 10). The full text of the ACC statement appears in Handbook annex VI. The part that deals with programme budget presentation is in paragraphs 4-27.

(16)     Also at the 48th session, CCAQ endorsed the view of the Working Party that governing bodies should be kept informed of relevant inter-organization agreements on the harmonization of programme budget presentation when considering presentational changes (CO-ORDINATION/R.1279, paras. 8 and 9).

(17)     At its 53rd session (February 1979) the CCAQ Working Party on Programme Planning, Budgeting and Evaluation took note of recent changes in presentation of organizations' programme budgets and noted that inter-organization review of major changes contemplated by individual organizations would need to be pursued (ACC/1979/R.11, annex III, para. 24).

(18)     At the 64th and 65th sessions (March and September 1986) the Committee considered means of responding appropriately to General Assembly resolution 40/250, which called inter alia for further efforts to achieve the maximum possible standardization and comparability in the budgetary and administrative practices of the organizations concerned. A text for a statement by ACC on this subject was adopted at the 65th session (ACC/1986/4, paras. 4-7; ACC/1986/12, paras. 4 and 5). The statement was subsequently issued in A/C.5/41/23.

(19) At the 67th session (September 1987), in the course of the Committee's usual exchange of information on the budgetary effects of currency instability, it was noted that the budget of WMO was to be converted from a dollar to a Swiss-franc basis from 1988 onwards, while proposals for a change from dollars to sterling as the budgetary currency unit of IMO were due for consideration in the near future (ACC/1987/12, para. 6). The latter change was approved by the IMO Assembly in November 1987, to take effect in 1988.

(20) At the 71st session (September 1989) CCAQ noted changes in the presentation of the programme and budget of UNESCO. By focusing on a higher level in the programme structure the organization had been able to reduce the published programme and budget document to one-third its previous size (ACC/1989/15, para. 11; see also ACC/1989/7, para. 68).

(21) It was announced at the fifth meeting of the FB Network (CEB/2006/HLCM/6) that in response to the World Summit Outcome Document, a working group had been established to review budgetary, financial and human resources policies. This review will result in the Secretary-General submitting a set of concrete proposals to the resumed session of the General Assembly in March 2006. These proposals were expected to focus primarily on the operational and procedural aspects of the budgetary processes with an increase in managerial authority of the Secretary General.  It was likely this would result in a standard rate of 7% being levied on Trust Funds to cover increased support costs. The standard rate could be increased by an additional 4%, based on negotiations with donors, with specific respect to earmarking, reporting requirements, and other conditions. Direct administrative costs could be included in the project budgets. Budgets should be presented with larger aggregates; budgets should be assigned to blocks of posts; and all peacekeeping accounts should be consolidated into one.  The organisations of the Network expressed interest in the definition and implementation of these measures, with a focus on harmonisation of support cost policies considered to be of critical importance.  The efforts to move towards a consolidation in budget presentation was also welcomed.  The Network expected to hear the conclusions of the United Nations review by the end of February 2006.

  • Finance & Budget Network (FBN)