Room for improvement
The United Nations Development Programme’s office in Barbados is being run in a “satisfactory” manner, an audit of its operations has found.
But while giving the entity, which also serves other islands in the Eastern Caribbean, the highest possible rating coveted by UNDP postings across the globe, the organisation’s Office of Audit and Investigations is advising the Barbados country office to take some “important” steps to ensure it “is not exposed to significant risks”.
It also cautioned that failure to take action on recommendations, principally those related to strengthening cost recovery, fully implementing a more harmonised approach to cash transfers, enhancing project review and approval, and using purchase orders more appropriately, “could result in negative consequences for UNDP”.
In a March 26, 2013 report following the November 12 to 23, 2012 audit of the UNDP Barbados and the OECS office, specifically the $19.8 million spent between January 1, 2011 and June 30, 2012, Director of the UNDP’s Office of Audit and Investigations Helge S. Osttveiten, said the findings represented general good news for UNDP Barbados.
“OAI assessed the office as satisfactory, which means that ‘internal controls, governance and risk management processes were adequately established and functioning well. No issues were identified that would significantly affect the achievement of the objectives of the audited entity’,” the official stated.
The office here received the highest possible ratings generally under the categories of governance and strategic management, UN system coordination, programme activities, and operations.
Within these broad areas, however, there were partially satisfactory rankings in the areas of financial sustainability, harmonised approach to cash transfers, procurement, which under the ratings system used meant that “internal controls, governance and risk management processes were generally established and functioning, but needed improvement”, in addition to the fact that “one or several issues were identified that may negatively affect the achievement of the objectives of the audited entity”.
Osttveiten said there were seven related recommendations and that “the Resident Representative accepted all the recommendations and is in the process of implementing them”.
Auditors advised UNDP Barbados to: strengthen its cost recovery, fully implement the Harmonized Approach to Cash Transfers modality, ensure that projects are only started once all applicable criteria have been met, improve its monitoring of cash advances to nationally implemented projects and ensure timely liquidation of long outstanding balances.
Other recommendations were for UNDP here to “ensure that purchase orders are raised for all applicable procurement activities in compliance with the UNDP Programme and Operations Policies and Procedures and for the full amount of the contractual obligation when contracts are signed”, “ensure compliance with the policies and procedure governing the individual contractor modality”, and “ensure proper, complete and timely recording of assets in Atlas by requesting assistance from Global Shared Service Centre to update assets previously acquired but not yet recorded or disposed of but not yet removed”. (SC)