The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

S3i action plan

Latest updates

This page details progress towards addressing all recommendations.

Under the guidance of its Executive Board, UNOPS is working closely with relevant stakeholders to address all recommendations related to the Sustainable Investments in Infrastructure and Innovation (S3i) initiative.

In June 2022, following reported failures associated with the Sustainable Investments in Infrastructure and Innovation (S3i) initiative, UNOPS Executive Board issued a set of decisions to address the situation, from which a subsequent action plan has been developed.

The Board also created a working group to assess the root causes and institutional vulnerabilities within UNOPS that led to the failures, with a view to making further recommendations to the Executive Board, specifically looking into:

  1. options for the appropriate use of UNOPS reserves;
  2. options to increase transparency around UNOPS management fees and costing structure, with a view to limiting the accumulation of UNOPS reserves;
  3. any other matters deemed appropriate by the Board for the working group to discuss.

This working group has two appointed representatives from each regional Group (Antigua and Barbuda, Bangladesh, Finland, Georgia, Mexico, Pakistan, Ukraine, United States).

In September 2022, UNOPS Executive Board issued a progress report on actions addressing the situation concerning the S3i initiative in decision 2022/21.

This page details progress towards addressing all recommendations.


A1: Outstanding recommendations


Description                                          Requests that UNOPS review and develop a timeline to implement all outstanding recommendations of the United Nations Board of Auditors, the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions, and the Joint Inspection Unit, and to present this to the Executive Board at the second regular session 2022.
Ownership

UNOPS

Status

Ongoing

Report to Executive Board on Oversight Recommendations (22 August 2022)

A2: Recover S3I funds


Description                   The UN Office of Legal Affairs (OLA) will lead efforts to recover funds related to S3i. Throughout this process, the OLA will be supported by legal expertise as required, with associated costs to be covered by UNOPS.
Ownership

OLA

Status

Ongoing (status determined by the OLA)


A3: Freeze further S3I investments


Description                   Freeze all further S3i-related investments not already contractually committed by UNOPS.
Ownership

UNOPS

Status

Completed (July 2022)


A4: Consolidation of reserves


Description                   Transfer into the operational reserve any balance not committed to projects from the growth and innovation reserve, accumulated surpluses, and the S3i reserve.
Ownership

UNOPS

Status

Completed (July 2022)


A5: Freeze operational reserve


Description                   Freeze all further transfers of money out of the operational reserve into the growth and innovation reserve, the S3I reserve, accumulated surpluses, or for any purpose other than daily operations.
Ownership

UNOPS

Status

Completed (July 2022)


A6: Support the work of the working group in developing options for use of reserves, transparency, and limiting accumulation of UNOPS reserves


Description                                          Requests that the working group focus its work on a) options for the appropriate use of UNOPS reserves, b) options to increase transparency around UNOPS management fees and costing structure with a view to limiting the accumulation of UNOPS reserves, and c) any other matters.
Ownership

UNOPS

Status

Ongoing

Report of the Working Group on UNOPS (22 August 2022)


A7: Review of the oversight mechanisms that existed for S3i


Description           A third-party review of the oversight mechanisms that existed for S3i investments.
Ownership

Working group
UNOPS

Status

Ongoing

Public tender for consulting services (28 July 2022)
Terms of reference
Awarded contract (25 August 2022)

A8: Review of UNOPS internal control systems


Description                   A third-party review of UNOPS internal control systems, risk management and overall governance structures, including an assessment of the integrity of the wider UNOPS portfolio and a review of UNOPS cost structures.
Ownership

Working Group
UNOPS

Status

Ongoing

Public tender for consulting services (28 July 2022)
Terms of reference 
Awarded contract (25 August 2022)

A9: IAIG Independence assessment and S3I update


Description                   

Requests the Director of the Internal Audit and Investigation Group (IAIG) to provide at the second regular session 2022 a comprehensive assessments on the independence of each office, containing reflections on (but not limited to) the degree to which each respective office can determine freely: (a) how and when to report to and brief the Executive Board; (b) the scope of audits and investigations; (c) what and who to audit or investigate; (d) what assessments to make; (e) how to utilize available funds; and (f) its relationship with the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS); and requests them to also provide suggestions and pathways on how to further strengthen the independence of each respective office as well as their budget estimates required for the execution of the full mandate;

Requests the Director of IAIG to provide an update to the Executive Board on the status of investigations related to S3i irregularities at the second regular session 2022, or at an earlier date, as needed.

Ownership

IAIG

Status

Ongoing

Assessment of the independence of the UNOPS Internal Audit and Investigations Group (18 August 2022)

Operational Directive Internal Audit and Investigation Charter updated (23 August 2022)


A10: Ethics Independence assessment


Description                   

Taking note of the continuously growing caseload [...] and requests to ensure respective offices can adequately execute their mandate.

Requests an independent review of the ethics function to ensure the independence and impartiality of the work.

Urges the Director of the UNOPS Ethics and Compliance Office to demonstrate and assure the Board of its full functionality and independence;

Urges UNOPS to ensure that a strong whistle-blower function and protection against retaliation system is in place to ensure the protection of individuals that report wrongdoings and risks related to weaknesses within the UNOPS management and control systems, and requests UNOPS to finalize and publish an updated whistle-blower policy, to be presented to the Executive Board at the second regular session 2022;

Requests UNOPS to update and make public its ethics website and to provide all information in an easy-to-access format for all UNOPS employees;

Requests the Director of the UNOPS Ethics and Compliance Office to report at the second regular session 2022 on the constitution of the office and the actions taken to strengthen the independence of the Office and whistle-blower protections.

Ownership

Ethics Office

Status

Ongoing

Protection against Retaliation (19 August 2022)


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