Briefings held on new delegation of authority with heads of entity

To establish a dialogue with heads of entity who received enhanced delegated authority from the Secretary-General on 1 January 2019, the Under-Secretaries-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance (DMSPC) and for Operational Support (DOS) co-chaired two regional briefings, with support from their Assistant Secretaries-General in late January. At the time of the workshops, most heads of entity had accepted their delegation of authority via an online portal.

“Enhanced accountability should not be seen as an additional burden, but as an opportunity to innovate our business models and to redesign our processes,” said Jan Beagle, Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance. “Now is the time to transform.”

Infographic: Cycles of Delegation of Authority

The briefings included an overview of the framework and discussions of the new authorities in each functional area. In budget and finance, the discussion included the redeployment of funds and certifying and approving authority. Questions on procurement included local procurement authority for strategic goods and services, and the use of exceptions to formal methods of solicitation. In property management and human resources, key topics included the use of service providers for physical verification and disposal of assets, the execution of decisions, and other transactional activities.

Frequently asked questions along with other resources for managers will be made available to help managers in exercising their new delegated authorities. DOS is available to help managers with advice and guidance on the exercise of delegated authorities. DMSPC, particularly the Business Transformation and Accountability team, is committed to working with managers globally to ensure compliance and accountability in this new paradigm of de-centralized decision-making.

“We are in the process of learning and I have to say how excited we are,” remarked Alicia Barcena, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. “I believe that we are entering into a thoroughly improved process of administration because now we will be closer to the way in which we are delivering on our mandates and we will be able to hold accountable those to whom we are sub-delegating.”

All heads of entity are expected to sub-delegate to qualified staff via the online portal, which makes tracking delegations and reporting more transparent. Heads of entity include, among others, heads of mission, departments, offices away from headquarters, regional commissions, and resident and regional coordinators.


The Secretary-General has signed the first Statement on Internal Control for all operations of the Secretariat for 2020, marking an important milestone towards achieving greater accountability for results.  The Statement on Internal Control is a public accountability document that provides reasonable assurance that the Secretariat operated under an effective system of internal control during 2020.

The UN MEDEVAC Mechanism serves as an example of a successful One UN partnership between numerous entities to design, resource, and implement a system-wide medical evacuation framework in the face of the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. Complementing First Line of Defense (FLOD) activities, COVID-19 MEDEVAC is a last resort, which provides life-saving support for severely ill COVID-19 patients who require a level of care not available at their location. This ensures that UN personnel, partners, and their dependents can continue to stay and deliver.

The global human resources strategy of 2019-21 set a goal to become “simplified, decentralized, flexible, and field-oriented” in order to drive strategic human resources management and empower managers. 

Then COVID-19 exposed an overreliance on physical paperwork and signatures in our human resource management. Adopting electronic signatures and migrating paper-based forms into digital systems will help the United Nations strengthen its ability to manage human resources in an ever-changing world.