Management reform

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Shifting the management paradigm in the United Nations is one of three elements of Secretary-General António Guterres's United to Reform agenda.

The adoption of the reforms by the General Assembly resulted in the implementation of a new, decentralized approach to delegation of authority and the change from a biennial to an annual programme budget, as well as the reorganization of the previous Department of Field Support and Department of Management into the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance and Department of Operational Support.


On 12 December 2016, upon taking the Oath of Office, Secretary-General designate António Guterres outlined his priorities for reform of the United Nations, saying:

The third key area is management reform. We will build on existing efforts and implement the recent initiatives that were approved. But, looking at United Nations staff and budgetary rules and regulations, one might think that some of them were designed to prevent, rather than enable, the effective delivery of our mandates.
We need to create a consensus around simplification, decentralization and flexibility. It benefits no one if it takes nine months to deploy a staff member to the field. The United Nations needs to be nimble, efficient and effective. It must focus more on delivery and less on process; more on people and less on bureaucracy. A culture of accountability also requires strong performance management and effective protection for whistle-blowers.[1]

The Secretary-General established an internal review team on management in 2017 which undertook wide-ranging consultations and a review of previous examinations of the Secretariat management system to identify six priority areas for improvement:

  1. slow, unresponsive service delivery
  2. fragmentation in management structures
  3. a weak performance management culture
  4. a trust deficit with Member States and with staff
  5. inadequate resourcing of and ineffective implementation of mandates
  6. lack of transparency and accountability

Legislative history

SG report ACABQ report Resolution Notes
A/72/492 and Add.1 A/72/7/Add.24 72/266A First SG report on management reform outlining vision for paradigm shift, with addendum on proposed programme planning and budget process
A/72/492/Add.2 A/72/7/Add.49 72/266B SG proposal to establish new DMSPC and DOS
A/73/366 A/73/411 73/281 SG report on placement of human resources structures

72nd session

The Secretary-General submitted a vision for a new management paradigm for the Secretariat (A/72/492) based on three main principles: simplification of the policy framework, decentralization of decision-making to the point of delivery and delegation to align the responsibility for mandate delivery with the authority to manage resources. The General Assembly, after considering the report of the Secretary-General and the associated report of the ACABQ (A/72/7/Add.24) welcomed the commitment of the Secretary-General to improving the ability of the United Nations to deliver on its mandates through management reform in its resolution 72/266 of 24 December 2017. The Assembly also approved, on a trial basis, the proposal of the Secretary-General to change from a biennial to an annual budget cycle (A/72/492/Add.1) on a trial basis beginning with the programme budget for 2020.

At the request of the Assembly, a comprehensive report on implementing a new management architecture (A/72/492/Add.2) was submitted in May 2018, upon which the ACABQ made its own recommendations (A/72/7/Add.49). The General Assembly, in its resolution 72/266B of 5 July 2018, approved the reorganization of the existing Department of Management and Department of Field Support to the new Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance and the new Department of Operational Support, which will be established on 1 January 2019. These new structures are not the objective of the reform, but rather the vehicles by which to support empowered senior managers across the Secretariat under the new decentralized management paradigm.

73rd session

During the 73rd session, the Secretary-General submitted a report on the placement of human resources structures in the new management architecture (A/73/366) requested by the General Assembly in its resolution 72/266B. That report, and its associated ACABQ report (A/73/411) was considered by the General Assembly, which endorsed the approach of the Secretary-General in its resolution 73/281 of 22 December 2018.

74th session

The Fifth Committee began Q&A on the report on the proposed funding model for DMSPC and DOS, A/74/761, during the second part of the resumed session.

75th session

The report on progress in the implementation of management reform, A/75/201 was introduced in the Fifth Committee on 28 October 2020. The Fifth Committee also resumed its consideration of the report on the proposed funding model and began consideration of report A/74/852 on budgetary procedures and practices (referred to as the "sequencing report"). The Assembly took no action on the reports on implementation and the funding model[2], and therefore there currently are no active requests for further progress reports on the implementation of management reform.

In its decision 75/553 of 31 December 2020, the Assembly deferred consideration of the sequencing report to the main part of the 76th session.

The Board of Auditors included a dedicated section in its report A/75/5 (Vol.I) (section II.E) on the implementation of management reform, which the General Assembly took note of in its resolution 75/242.

Key documents

  • A/72/492 Shifting the management paradigm in the United Nations: Ensuring a better future for all (and ACABQ report A/72/7/Add.24)
  • A/72/492/Add.2 Implementing a new management architecture for improved effectiveness and strengthened accountability (and ACABQ report A/72/7/Add.49)
    • A/73/366 Human resources structures (and ACABQ report A/73/411)
    • A/74/761 Funding model for the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance and the Department of Operational Support (and ACABQ report A/74/7/Add.32)
  • A/75/201 Review of progress in the implementation of management reform (and ACABQ report A/75/538)

See also


  1. A/71/PV.60 General Assembly official records, 71st session: 60th plenary meeting, Monday 12 December 2016
  2. A/75/683