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28 February 2018 - FICSA flash news N°1 on the current ACPAQ session in New York

The fortieth session of the Advisory Committee on Post Adjustment Questions (ACPAQ) is currently meeting at the United Nations in New York where the report of the ICSC consultant relative to the review of the post adjustment index methodology is being discussed.

On the opening day (Monday, 26 February), and following opening statements, remarks and questions, the ICSC consultant spent the rest of the day presenting his 85-page report and the 64 recommendations contained therein.

Tuesday (27 February) is dedicated to reviewing those recommendations in the hope of identifying the ones which are considered by the ACPAQ participants as useful.  Following that determination, the recommendations considered to be useful will then be sorted into at least two groups:  1) The recommendations which can be implemented immediately, or urgently; and 2) Those recommendations which, in the view of the ACPAQ participants, require further study and eventual modelling.

The opening statement as delivered by the FICSA President, on behalf of both FICSA and CCISUA, is reproduced below for information purposes.


(Delivered to the ACPAQ meeting on 26 February 2018)

Mr. Chairman,

For purposes of this specific intervention I will be speaking on behalf of both FICSA and CCISUA.

At this moment I will be making a few general remarks of an introductory nature on the understanding that the Chair will subsequently take us through the consultant’s report section by section at which time the senior statisticians who are serving jointly on the FICSA and CCISUA delegations will provide this Committee with their expert views on each of the elements contained in the consultant’s report.

Firstly, allow me to begin by saying that, although we are disappointed that the commitment made at the July 2017 session to create a tri-partite working group was not respected by the ICSC secretariat, we will nonetheless be fully participating in the discussions of this week.

Concerning the post adjustment methodology and its application, it is important to point out that whatever may be recommended by this Committee and eventually decided by the ICSC, the Executive Heads of the organizations will then need to be consulted as it is a fundamental principle of international civil service law that the organizations are bound under law to check that the decision of an authority external to the organizations is legal before incorporating it within their own legal order.  This requirement has been reiterated repeatedly in numerous ILO Administrative Tribunal judgments.

In this respect, it will be necessary as we go through each item in the consultant’s report to determine what would be an improvement for the future and what would be the correction of an error relative to the 2016 round of surveys including, but not limited to, those items which may not be aligned with accepted and agreed common statistical standards and principles.  We must recall that the conference room paper prepared and presented by the HR Network and its senior statisticians to the July 2017 session of the Commission consistently referred to flaws or errors in the methodology and its application during the 2016 Geneva survey.  This being the case, the only acceptable solution would be to begin by correcting those flaws in the 2016 surveys.  Once those corrections have been made, we can then focus on the future.  This will be crucial if we are to find a way forward.  I say this in all knowledge of the fact that hundreds of legal appeals have already been filed by staff in those Geneva-based organizations where the related ICSC decision has been implemented this month, and knowing that hundreds of staff in the other organizations where the ICSC decision may be implemented next month will be filing appeals at that time.

It is also clear to me that we will not be able to discuss the consultant’s report in isolation given the events leading up to the present review.  As we discuss this report, we shall need to concurrently look at all the issues raised in an earlier conference room paper and which has been provided as a background document for this meeting.  I am specifically referring to document ICSC/85/CRP.9 entitled "Considerations regarding cost-of-living surveys and post adjustment matters, Note by Geneva-based organizations."  For that purpose, we are fortunate to have participating in this meeting two of the senior statisticians who had been heavily involved in the review of the 2016 Geneva survey, Mr. Kieran Walsh and Mr. Steve MacFeeley, in addition to Mr. Kimberley Zieschang, an expert statistician who, amongst many other assignments, has worked as Advisor to the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC and currently works with the University of Queensland.   On behalf of both FICSA and CCISUA, Steve and Kim will be intervening on the more technical aspects of this review.

Mr. Chair, we thank you for your attention and look forward to your guidance on how you intend to proceed in order to address all of the issues.