Fifth Committee delegates examine cost savings and efficiency as supply chain chief unveils plan to revamp operational logistics support to peacekeeping missions – World

GA/AB/4835
SEVENTY-SIXTH SESSION, 17TH MEETING (afternoon)
MAY 10, 2022

Delegates to the Fifth Committee (Administration and Budget) today demanded details on cost savings and efficiency as the Organization’s senior supply chain management official unveiled the plan for the Secretariat to restructure the way the Department of Operational Support manages and delivers equipment and services to peacekeeping missions around the world.

Christian Saunders, Assistant Secretary-General for Supply Chain Management, provided Member States with a comprehensive briefing on the new concept of Strategic Deployed Solutions, which revamps the existing concept of Strategic Deployed Stocks to deliver more efficiently and more efficiently supplies and services to these missions. At the same time, it would not increase the share of the United Nations Logistics Base budget related to these activities.

With the new supply chain plan, the United Nations Logistics Base in Brindisi, Italy, could even expand its services to meet the equipment and service needs of special political missions and humanitarian operations, Saunders said. The logistics base is also known as the United Nations Global Service Center. “It will make the UN more effective at all levels,” he said. “And that will give member states a much better return on investment.”

For example, one problem the new concept would address is the depreciation, or even obsolescence, of peacekeeping operations equipment, such as bulldozers and other earth-moving machinery, used in missions. Rather than sitting idle with a mission after completing its job, the equipment would be brought back to a central location, refurbished, and then sent to another mission as needed, he said. This would allow more efficient and cost effective use of the equipment.

The Department would also get better prices by placing orders for vehicles, vaccines and even blood well in advance through a central procurement mechanism rather than waiting for each mission to place and pay for an order.

When the floor was opened for questions, the representative of Italy asked for more details on the factors affecting the estimated duration of the project implementation of three to five years. Mr. Saunders said that many factors could affect the schedule and explained that the Ministry would start the application of the new supply chain system with one or two of the 40 categories of supplies, perhaps supplies of engineering and medical.

Responding to the question from the delegate of Mexico on the financial implications, he said that the only implications would be those described. During his presentation, Mr. Saunders had mentioned the reclassification of a P4 post of Logistician to a P5 post of Senior Logistician, and the creation of a P4 post of Movement Controller. This person would manage the additional elements of strategic deployment solutions and the increased workload of inbound and outbound shipments. Costs would not increase for clients or missions.

In response to a question from the speaker from the United States on how savings will be tracked and reported to Member States, and how a benchmark cost – on which to base these savings – will be presented, Mr. Saunders stated that the costs and corresponding savings can be tracked but the process has become more complicated as inflation has raised prices. The data will be tracked and the Global Service Center will initially research some solutions and present the results to the Fifth Committee. He noted that peacekeeping missions, not the United Nations Logistics Base, will accumulate the savings. Missions will also save time through more efficient deliveries.

The representative of Japan, noting the interconnectivity and commonality of stocks in Brindisi, Entebbe and various missions, asked how strategic deployment, regional deployment and mission stocks will be balanced. Mr Saunders said these missions and Brindisi and Entebbe will work hand in hand to improve the delivery of equipment. For example, placing inventory in regional warehouses, such as Entebbe, can then be used to supply missions in remote areas more quickly. These remote missions then make it possible to reduce their stocks, resulting in less waste and obsolescence.

Responding to the UK delegate on how expanding a customer base will impact efficiency, Mr Saunders said the UN aims to reduce duplication. To do this, the Organization must be considered as one family. An example of how Strategic Deployment Solutions has already supported the entire UN family is in Ukraine, he said, where it has provided armored vehicles to many UN agencies, allowing them to implement their programs quickly. Vehicles in Brindisi were driven by volunteer drivers to the Polish border. Some were brought back; others stayed. He said the presentation of a progress report on the concept of strategic deployment solutions to the Fifth Committee after 48 months will be important and will create value.

The representative of Cameroon, speaking on behalf of the African Group, underscored the importance of inventory management, as this issue is linked to those of supply, personnel and sustainable development. Also emphasizing the importance of circularity, which enables economies of scale and the efficient use of resources, he pointed out that a recent field visit revealed that the cost of shipping some vehicles to Africa station from Brindisi exceeds the cost of these vehicles. He said cost-benefit discussions will be followed in the future.

On this point, Mr. Saunders said that the use of regional warehouses will allow greater purchases from local and regional suppliers, a more efficient use of resources. It will also reduce the transfer of goods over long distances, which will reduce the pollution created by ships and planes.

The speaker of Iraq thanked the Assistant Secretary-General for his proposal and expressed the hope that it would guide the Fifth Committee in allocating the necessary resources for the United Nations Logistics Base and other United Nations entities.

Giovanna Ceglie, Director of the United Nations Global Service Centre, highlighted that the resources requested to implement the concept of strategic rapid deployment stocks — namely the creation of a new P4 post and the upgrading of a P4 post existing in P5 posts — will also be used for other purposes. The new P4 position is required to implement a digital transformation of supply chain operations. Much of this is currently done manually, and such transformation is needed for critical operations such as budget spending, contract governance, compliance procedures and automatic shipment scheduling, she explained. The P5 position reflects the increased skills required to adopt innovative solutions for strategic deployment and to rethink global sourcing solutions. She added that this reclassification is also necessary to improve the structure of the section, which has been unbalanced for several years.

The Fifth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 12 May, to fill a vacancy on the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ), discuss the financial situation of the United Nations and consider other matters of financing the maintain the peace.

For news media. Not an official record.

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