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Annan prepares for privatization of UN
Date: Sunday, February 19 2006

Annan prepares for privatisation of UN

By Joe Lauria in New York and Fraser Nelson
12 February 2006

Pressure from US forces Secretary General to put reforms in place

THE United Nations has drawn up plans to privatise the bulk of its staff at its New York headquarters or have their work done more cheaply overseas. The move is in response to mounting demands for reform from the United States, its biggest paymaster.

The Business has learned that Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, has commissioned a study into the outsourcing of the department for General Assembly and Conference Management, the main UN decision-making body whose officials issue about 200 documents a day in six languages.

The move comes as the UN grapples with the oil-for-food scandal in which officials have been accused of taking bribes from Saddam Hussein's regime.

Annan will report by the end of February on management reforms to the General Assembly. According to an internal UN document previewing Annan's report obtained by The Business, he will include "proposals to outsource or off-shore select administrative processes" -- suggesting its New York headquarters may shed staff.

Annan is reviewing the study conducted for the UN by US consulting firms Epstein & Fass Associates and Faulkner & Associates. Their preliminary study, which The Business has seen, makes no firm recommendations. But it examines three privatisation possibilities, from the most conservative to the most radical:

* Maintain the status quo of in-house operations, but save money and create efficiency through greater use of technology and eliminating more than 200 jobs through attrition by 2009;

* Retain a core of in-house functions while outsourcing some operations, along the lines of a similar exercise by the World Bank and IMF;

* Spin off the General Assembly department entirely as a for-profit, private company or an independent unit with some control by the secretariat.


[Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on February 19, 2006]


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