Annan Outlines Radical Plans for Reform of UN

UNITED NATIONS -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan outlined on Tuesday a radical overhaul of UN procedures, recruitment and training, prompting protests by staff on proposed outsourcing from New York headquarters.

In a long-awaited report on management reform, Annan sought more financial oversight, simplified hiring and reporting procedures, staff buyouts and a modern information system. The cost is estimated at $500 million.

Annan said the shake-up was necessary because the United Nations had to cope with 80,000 peacekeepers and civilian staff in the field and its "regulations and rules do not respond to current needs." His report is a direct result of scandals in the oil-for-food program in Iraq and fraud in awarding contracts.

While UN diplomats were cautious in their first response, UN staff met in a raucous session with Annan asking for accountability for previous failed reforms.

Moving part of the United Nations' six-language translation services, now done by 312 people, out of New York, perhaps to Asian nations, could save some $35 million annually.

Annan also said printing and publishing could be outsourced, along with some administrative services, such as payrolls.

Many of the proposals are controversial, including one that would give the secretary-general more power to allocate and consolidate jobs without asking the General Assembly.