Search

 

Cablegate: Iaea Program Support Costs - a Budget Issue That

Usha E Pitts 11/26/2008 11:26:08 AM From DB/Inbox: Usha

Cable
Text:
UNCLAS UNVIE VIENNA 00587
CXUNVIE:
ACTION: IAEA_UN
INFO: AMB_UN DCM_UN CTBT_UN

DISSEMINATION: IAEAUN
CHARGE: UNVI

APPROVED: AMB:GSCHULTE
DRAFTED: IAEA:UPITTS
CLEARED: GPYATT, LHILLIARD, HASTWOOD, BHOFFHEINS, MSCHELAND

VZCZCUNV643
OO RUEHC RUEHXX RUEHII RUEHRO RHEBAAA RHEGGTN
RUEHFR RUCNDT
DE RUEHUNV #0587/01 3111523
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061523Z NOV 08
FM USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8639
INFO RUEHXX/GENEVA IO MISSIONS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHII/VIENNA IAEA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY 0363
RHEBAAA/DOE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEGGTN/DEPT OF ENERGY GERMANTOWN MD PRIORITY
RUEHFR/USMISSION UNESCO PARIS PRIORITY
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 1385

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 UNVIE VIENNA 000587

SENSITIVE

FOR ISN/MNSA, IO/T; DOE FOR NA-24, NA-25, NA-21

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IAEA OTRA KNNP TRGY AORC UN PREL AS CA
SUBJECT: IAEA PROGRAM SUPPORT COSTS - A BUDGET ISSUE THAT
FESTERS

1. (SBU) Summary: The IAEA has no clear policy on the
application of Program Support Costs (PSCs) to extrabudgetary
contributions. In recent months, however, the Secretariat
has dabbled with implementing a universal fee of 7 percent.
The U.S. and Australia have so far refused to pay the 7
percent, and one Australian contribution is in limbo as a
result. Australia has proposed a paper, repeated below,
which Geneva Group states are considering for presentation to
the IAEA to advance the dialogue on this issue. The letter
conforms to U.S. policy, supports the goals of the UN
Transparency and Accountability Initiative (UNTAI), and has
broad support from the Geneva Group. There is a risk,
however, that forcing the issue into the public realm will
lead to a messy repeat of past battles with the G-77. There
are also concerns among some USG agencies and IAEA technical
staff that PSCs are a thinly-veiled &money grab8 by IAEA
administrators that will divert money away from valuable
technical programs. Despite these concerns, Post supports
the broader goal of budgetary transparency and requests
authority to convey the paper, together with the UK as Geneva
Group co-chair, to Deputy Director General Waller by the
Geneva Group,s November 11 target (para 7). Text attached.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) Program Support Costs (PSCs) are loosely defined as
charges to cover the direct and indirect costs of
implementing extrabudgetary programs. A growing consensus
has emerged that PSCs should be harmonized across the UN
system, and the topic has become a focus of the UN High-Level
Committee on Management. In general, the UN and its
technical agencies charge PSCs of 13 percent, while the UN
humanitarian agencies charge 7 percent. The IAEA, on the
other hand, has no clearly-defined policy on the application
of PSCs, but began levying such expenses on a
&case-by-case8 basis beginning approximately one year ago
(the charge ranges between 0, 3, 7 and 12 percent, depending
on the donor and program). The U.S. has thus far declined to
pay PSCs to the IAEA, partly in recognition of our
significant extrabudgetary contributions, many of which
include a cost-free expert (CFE). The U.S. also objects to
the lack of any clearly-defined policy outlining how PSC
rates are determined and levied.

3. (SBU) Emerging best practice, including UNTAI, stipulates
that international organizations apply PSCs in a fair and
transparent manner in order to accurately reflect the real
costs of running programs. Attempts by Member States to
implement such a policy at the IAEA have failed in the face
of G-77 resistance (G-77 countries usually pay only 3 percent
and do not wish to see any changes to the arrangement). A
policy battle at the time of the June 2008 Board of Governors
meeting ended with the Secretariat,s agreement to conform to
the status quo and continue applying PSC on a
&case-by-case8 basis.

Turbid Policy
-------------

4. (SBU) Following the June dust up, the IAEA Secretariat
took steps to circumvent the deadlock among Member States by
apparently &universalizing8 PSCs at 7 percent. The 7
percent is charged retroactively to all projects submitted
since July 1, 2008. In partial confirmation of these rumors,
a high-ranking IAEA official told DCM that two middle income
countries (Pakistan and one of the Baltic States) had been
initially charged only 3 percent in PSCs, but that DG
ElBaradei had turned down the projects &until they agreed to
the full 7 percent.8 The official (who spoke in confidence)
did not indicate whether the policy would apply to the U.S.,
nor did he mention the U.S. refusal to pay PSCs on a recent,
USD 1.5 million DOE donation to the Nuclear Security Fund.
(Note: The Australians have also refused to pay PSCs. As a
result, funds for an Australian project have been in limbo )
sitting in an IAEA bank account ) since early this summer.
The Japanese, on the other hand, are resigned to paying PSCs,
and the European Union recently accepted that 7 percent of
its planned 5 million Euro contribution to the Nuclear
Security Fund would go to PSCs. End Note.)

5. (SBU) Contrary to what we have heard from the Secretariat,
other rumors indicate that a tiered structure remains in
place whereby G-77 Members pay 3 percent for government
cost-sharing projects, OECD countries pay 7 percent, and
contributions for junior professional officers (JPOs) are
charged 12 percent. For example, a Mexican diplomat (and new
participant in Geneva Group meetings) questioned the high
rate charged on a Mexican JPO, given it amounted to &free
labor8 for the IAEA. Canada and the U.S. are in a similar
position.

6. (SBU) In addition to the confusion over PSC rates, rumors
allude to internal dissension at the IAEA, with some
high-level officials pushing for universal PSCs, and others
adhering to tiered structures. Even the DG,s supposed
support for universal PSCs has not been put to the test
publicly. A number of Member States, notably Japan and
Australia, are irritated by the obfuscation and have
encouraged other Members to support them in pressuring for a
policy that is fair, universal and transparent.

Request for Guidance
--------------------

7. (SBU) Australia has recently drafted a paper requesting
clarity on the PSC policy (sections of the document are
lifted from a previous U.S. statement on the issue). In an
UNVIE-hosted meeting of Geneva Group members November 5,
there was near-consensus that the paper should go from the
Geneva Group as a whole to Director General David Waller.
Post requests authority to convey the paper, together with
the UK as Geneva Group co-chair, to DDG Waller by the Geneva
Group,s November 11 target.

8. (SBU) Comment: Two issues affect the decision to co-sign:
1) If donor countries force the Secretariat to &admit8
publicly to a universal PSC policy, it could lead to G-77
pushback and a potential showdown at the Board of Governors
that merely repeats past struggles. In other words, we could
win the battle of transparency, but lose the war of
establishing a fair PSC policy if the DG ultimately caves in
to G-77 pressure for a lower rate for some projects. 2) U.S.
support for universal PSCs could increase the proportion of
resources going to IAEA administration (PSCs on top of CFEs)
and decrease the remainder available for priority programs in
the areas of safety and non-proliferation. (Canada is in the
same position and has stated off the record that universal
PSCs would likely end their CFE program.) Skeptical
observers within the USG and even the IAEA go so far as to
suggest that the move to levy PSCs amounts to little more
than a &money grab8 by IAEA administrators that will siphon
money away from the real work of the Agency. Recognizing
these risks, post recommends signing the letter as a means to
advancing our long term goal of transparency in international
organizations. End Comment.

9. (U) Australian Draft Letter to DDG Waller

The Geneva Group supports in principle the application of
Programme Support Costs (PSCs) to extrabudgetary
contributions.

In June 2008, the Board debated a Secretariat document
setting out a specific policy on the application of common
PSCs to extrabudgetary contributions.

Several Geneva Group countries (as well as the EU as a group)
indicated they still had some concerns about the precise
modalities of how the charge would be applied, and requested
the Secretariat to delay broader implementation.

Several members also emphasised that any such mechanism could
only be applied in an equitable and non-discriminatory
manner. In The Geneva Group's view, if a program support cost
policy is to be implemented, it should be transparent and as
consistent as possible.

We are concerned at indications the Secretariat has been
moving to make acceptance of extrabudgetary contributions
received after 1 July 2008 contingent on the levying of a 7
per cent PSC, despite its statement at the June Board that
"it would continue to apply Programme Support Costs on
extrabudgetary contributions on a case-by-case basis, as is
currently the practice."

We note that there are a number of issues to be clarified
regarding how the Agency intends to implement the policy,
including:

- effects on extrabudgetary activities for which funding
for management and administration is already available;

- confirmation that the introduction of a common PSC
policy will be cost-neutral, e.g. that it would not lead to
an augmentation of MTBF (budget and finance) staff levels
simply to administer the PSC mechanism itself;

- advice of the quantity of funds already raised through
the levying of PSCs, the purpose to which these funds have
been put (or will be put), and the point at which such funds
may begin effectively subsidising - or creating savings in -
the Regular Budget.

We also note that some Member States continue to suggest a
discriminatory approach whereby certain lines of
extrabudgetary funding should be exempted from the common PSC
policy.

Our understanding of the Secretariat's reference at the June
Board to "a case-by-case basis, as is currently the practice"
was based on paragraph 3 of its "Policy on the Application of
Programme Support Costs", according to which PSCs have been
applied in the case of a few voluntary contributions in
agreement with donors, or otherwise arranged through the
provision of cost-free experts."

Based on discussion at the June Board, it was our expectation
that streams of extrabudgetary funding previously subject to
PSCs would continue to have PSCs applied, and that PSCs could
be charged on new streams of extrabudgetary funding subject
to the agreement of the donor (n.b. Rule 108.02 of the
Agency's Financial Rules provides that the Agency may charge
PSCs only with the agreement of the contributor).

We also understood that the Secretariat "could even find
itself in the position of having to decline extrabudgetary
funding" if administrative resources were not available in
specific cases.

However, until such time as Member States can see an
official, transparent and equitable PSC policy applicable
across the Agency, the Secretariat should not make its
acceptance of new extrabudgetary contributions contingent on
donor agreement to PSCs.

In this context, we note that several donor agencies have
already approved certain extrabudgetary contributions on the
understanding that the entirety of the contribution would be
used for direct project costs such that the retrospective
application of PSCs would require administratively burdensome
re-approval of the contribution.

The Geneva Group is prepared to continue working with the
Secretariat toward a fair, equitable and transparent common
PSC policy.
SCHULTE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC