22 September 1998
Original: Spanish/English


(Documents prepared by the General Secretariat and the Staff Association)

September 1998


I have the honor to transmit to Your Excellency the General Secretariat document on personnel policy for consideration by the member states.

This document was prepared to provide background information for the discussions of the Special Joint Working Group of the Permanent Council and the Inter-American Council for Integral Development on the process of strengthening and modernizing the OAS and in compliance with the mandate given in General Assembly resolution AG/RES. 1596 (XXVIII-O/98). The document is part of a package on institutional reform to which I referred in the note I sent you this past July 31.

The General Secretariat also sent a copy of this document to the Staff Association whose comments are enclosed.

Accept, Excellency, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration.

C�sar Gaviria
Secretary General

His Excellency
Ambassador Antonio Mercader
Permanent Representative of Uruguay
to the Organization of American States
Chair of the Permanent Council
Washington, D.C.


Personnel Policy Reforms

This paper is one in a series of documents on organizational reform which the Secretary General is presenting to the Special Joint Working Group of the Permanent Council and the Inter-American Council for Integral Development. These documents are being submitted according to an outline contained in a letter of the Secretary General to the President of the Special Joint Working Group, dated July, 30, 1998, and in compliance with AG/RES.1603 (XXVIII-O/98), "Modernization of the OAS and Renewal of the Inter-American System".

This particular document is also submitted in compliance with AG/RES.1596 (XXVIII-O/98), "Personnel Policy", which requires the General Secretariat to:

  1. Improve the Organization's existing employment mechanisms where necessary, focussing in particular on increasing transparency and simplifying the various hiring mechanisms of the Organization.
  2. Keep the Permanent Council updated on the implementation of the new performance evaluation system.
  3. Assist the Permanent Council to prepare a study with recommendation on the career service policy of the General Secretariat.

Personnel Policy Reforms

Through resolution AG/RES.1596 (XXVIII-O/98), "Personnel Policy", the General Assembly instructed the General Secretariat to undertake a series of reforms to the personnel policy of the Organization. These include: working towards improving the Organization's existing contracting mechanisms in order to simplify and speed-up the hiring process; implementing the proposed Performance Appraisal System; and undertaking a study on the career service.

The General Secretariat is pleased to present below, a series of suggested reforms in compliance with the instructions of the member States. The document contains suggestions for modifying the contracting mechanisms of the Organization, including support staff away from Headquarters; information regarding the implementation of the Performance Appraisal System; some notes on the study for a new career service; ideas for a standing early separation plan; and other initiatives.

Some of the changes contained in this document are wholly within the purview of the General Secretariat's authority and will soon be implemented. Others, will require decisions of the member States and the modification of certain rules and standards, which only they have the authority to change.

The reforms contained in this document, if adopted, will not affect the rights of current members of the career service, nor will they change the terms of existing employment contracts.

1. Reforms to the Contracting Mechanism:

As the Secretary General has already stated on several occasions, several elements of the OAS compensation system were designed many years ago to focus on those who decide to make a career with the Organization instead of those who are hired for a relatively short period of time to lend their expertise to specific short-term assignments. Perhaps that bias in the system made sense at a time when the functions of international organizations were relatively unchanging and long-term employment practices were the norm in the labor marketplace.

Today, the situation has changed. The mandates of the Secretariat are dynamic and under constant revision. New talents are needed in those areas where old skills no longer serve. To remain responsive, the Secretariat must be in a position to provide a contracting and compensation system that is flexible and attractive to persons who know they will not have the opportunity to make a career with the Organization and who, unlike career staff, do not have the realistic option of deferring compensation early in their careers in exchange for the expectation that they will one day receive that compensation significantly enhanced by compounding upon retirement.

The General Secretariat presents below a series of changes to the contracting and compensation systems of the OAS which are designed to remove the bias in favor of life-long employment in the Organization. The Secretariat's goal is to establish and define more clearly a mechanism tailored to contract and reward short and medium term staff running alongside a career system with related benefits tailored for life-long employment with the Organization.

Contract Length and Competitions:

Long-term staff would continue to obtain their position through competition, as under the current rules. Nonetheless, long-term contracts could be awarded for any length of time over one year and up to a maximum 5 years, subject to termination for lack of approved funds in the Program-Budget, serious misconduct, unsatisfactory performance, incapacity, and other grounds for termination as set forth in the current Staff Rules.

The limitation of 11 months and 29 days for short-term contracts would be changed so that short-term contracts, awarded without competition, could be of any length so long as their cumulative length was less than 2 years over the life of the employee. This would apply for any combination of short-term contracts (regardless of whether the levels are different, or whether the contracts are for different types of positions, in different areas of the General Secretariat). Once a staff member, hired under this mechanism, reaches the 2 year limit, he or she will be separated from service. The lifetime maximum 2 year short-term provision would not preclude an individual from being selected for a long-term position (through competition). The current practice of a break in service will no longer be necessary.

In all cases, where a supervisor proposes the employment of a staff member under a short-term contract without competition, both the Supervisor and the Director of Human Resources must certify that the recommended candidate satisfies the minimum requirements for the position.

Short-Term Benefits:

The number, type and provisions for benefits for short-term contracts will remain unchanged. Staff members holding short-term contracts will only be eligible for short-term benefits, even if the holder of a short-term contract (or series of short-term contacts) has had such a contract for more than one year. Staff members hired under the short-term mechanism will not be entitled to the benefits of long-term contractees, unless they are given a long-term contract after having been selected for it by competition. Thus, short-term staff could participate only in the Organization's Alternative Retirement Plan more fully described below. The Retirement and Pension Fund would be reserved exclusively for long-term appointments and career staff (unlike the current system where anyone who has been a staff member continuously for more than one year automatically participates in the Retirement and Pension Fund). In addition, the limited benefits package for Special Observer Contracts will remain fundamentally unchanged.

For staff members under short term contracts, including the SOC, the termination notice period will be thirty days or whatever lesser period is specifically provided in the contract document.

Long-Term Benefits:

With the exception of a termination indemnity, and the Retirement and Pension Fund, described below, most other benefits now available to holders of long-term contracts will remain unchanged. In the case of the retirement benefits, staff members will be given the option of choosing the regular or alternative retirement plan, and the way they can receive the alternate plan.

Termination Indemnity:

Staff members holding long-term contracts whose contracts must be terminated, because of budgetary or organizational restructuring, will be entitled to a special termination indemnity. Staff holding positions of Trust will not be eligible for this benefit. This indemnity will be calculated based upon both the period of time remaining in the staff member's contract at the moment of separation as well as the number of years served. One month of basic salary will be given for each remaining year of the contract, and one week's basic salary will be given for each year served. Fractions of remaining years or of years of service equal to or greater than six months will be considered one full year for the purposes of this rule. The maximum termination indemnity under this rule will be six months of basic salary.

Long-term contract holders whose contracts expire in due course, and who are not renewed by the General Secretariat will be eligible for a separation indemnity. The Secretariat will provide a separation benefit which shall be one week of basic salary for each year served. Fractions of years, greater than six months, will be considered one full year for the purposes of this rule. Awarding this separation benefit shall in no way imply a termination for the purposes of this and other rules.

Termination Notice:

The notice period for all staff members under long-term contracts will be thirty days. This change from the current sixty day notice is necessary because of the new budget approval process which schedules approval of the proposed program-budget for late Fall. In the event that positions are not contemplated in an approved program-budget, the General Secretariat will require a more speedy notification process in order to notify staff members whose contracts expire at the end of a fiscal year (December 31). The current sixty day notification period might not allow sufficient time before the beginning of a new fiscal period, since proposed budgets would be approved with less than sixty days remaining in the year.

Retirement Benefits:

The element of the compensation which most reflects the bias in favor of long-term employment is the OAS Retirement and Pension Plan. The full benefits of membership in the Plan do not vest with a staff member who joins the plan until he has been a member for seven years. This prejudices those staff members who come to the Secretariat for a lesser period and who join the Plan.

The Secretary General proposes to establish an alternative retirement benefit ("the Alternative Retirement Benefit") for contracted staff -- short and long term alike -- and trust appointees, which is consistent with current labor practices and the requirements of the current market-place. It will enable trust and contracted staff members to receive the full benefit of the monies contributed by the Organization for their retirement, regardless of the length of their service and it will give them a choice on how they intend to save and invest for their retirement. The mechanism will be designed to be portable -- that is, they can take their retirement savings with them and will also be designed so that it does not cost the Organization any money in excess of what it pays now for each staff member's retirement.

Prior to the implementation of this item, the General Secretariat will analyze the proposed benefit, as well as possible effects on the regular Retirement and Pension Plan, to ensure that the proposed system as conceived is feasible from the point of view of the various applicable laws, both internal and external to the Organization, that implementing the system would not entail additional expenditures for the Organization, and that it will not adversely effect the existing Retirement and Pension Plan.

Performance Contracts ("CPR"):

The changed short and long-term mechanisms described above do not alter the policy for the use of CPRs in the Organization. The General Secretariat will continue to use CPRs, to hire independent consultants who are providing a short-term, specific, well-defined service or product to the Organization. CPRs will not be used to contract persons to perform functions or duties which are considered regular functions of the Organization and for which a staff member should be hired.

The Secretary General will encourage the various areas of the Secretariat who have a need for some types of services for which positions are unavailable and for which the CPR mechanism in inappropriate to obtain those services through third party companies. Before the General Secretariat enters into contracts with these third parties, it must be assured that the company is providing its employees with certain minimum benefits. The Secretariat will also select the providers of these services through competitive process.

Objects of Expenditure:

It no longer makes any sense to have two objects of expenditure for personnel costs. When first devised, Object 1 was intended to finance only those posts which were considered "permanent" in nature within the Secretariat. Object 2 was for temporary posts and overtime.

It has become increasingly more difficult to define the difference between permanent and temporary functions. Moreover, there are currently positions financed under Object 1 which appear to be temporary, and there are posts financed by Object 2 which are permanent in nature. Indeed, in the practice, the distinction between the two Objects has all but disappeared.

It is clear that the yearly process of budgeting for Object 1 and Object 2 posts separately no longer reflects the reality of the staff structure of the Secretariat. Thus, for the purpose of reflecting that reality and introducing greater transparency and simplicity into the process of budgeting personnel costs, the Organization should redefine Object 1 to include all recurring personnel expenses -- i.e., the cost of all posts and positions staffed with employees.

Similarly, the Organization should redefine Object 2 to include only nonrecurring expenditures, such as overtime, training, and moving and travel expenses connected with recruitment and repatriation. If these new definitions are adopted, there will no longer be any Object 2 posts or positions.

Advisory Committee on Selection and Promotion:

The Secretariat is taking measures to streamline and introduce economies into the recruitment process. One is to shorten the time periods in the Staff Rules for responding to recruitment notices. Another is to establish, on a trial basis, a special sub-committee for the selection of general services level recruitments. This Sub-committee will consist of three members: the Director of Human Resources (or a Senior Specialist assigned to the case by the Director), the President of the Staff Association (or the President's assignee), and one member of the Advisory Committee on Selection and Promotion selected by lot for each case. This sub-committee will make its recommendations to the Assistant Secretary General in each case. If the Assistant Secretary General agrees with the recommendation, he will forward it to the Secretary General. Otherwise, the Assistant Secretary General will convene a meeting of the full Advisory Committee on Selection and Promotion to consider the case.

The Sub-committee will begin functioning on October 1, 1998. After five months, it's progress will be evaluated in light of its purpose -- simplifying and reducing the expense of the recruitment process while at the same time guaranteeing the due process and preference rights afforded career staff and other staff members in the selection process.

2.Support Staff Away from Headquarters:

The Personnel System of the Secretariat is ill equipped to handle the requests for temporary electoral and human rights observer missions, de-mining, and related activities which began to come in during the late 1980s and have since accelerated. Those missions and activities require the Secretariat to recruit rapidly large numbers of international and local personnel who will work intensively for several months, and sometimes for periods up to a year or more.

The General Secretariat currently employs temporary local support personnel in observer missions, offices, and projects away from headquarters paying them fewer benefits than those paid to other employees of the General Secretariat and, in some cases, no benefits at all. Those persons perform regular general services functions. They include, inter alia, secretaries, drivers, clerks, bookkeepers, and technicians.

The contracting mechanisms currently used for hiring temporary local support personnel are the CPR, the daily conference contract, or in some cases, no written contract at all. The use of those contracting mechanisms for hiring temporary personnel is, however, highly irregular. There are several options for normalizing the employment of temporary local support personnel. One is to provide them with fixed term contracts and the corresponding benefits under the Secretariat's general employment system. The other is to contract them in accordance with local conditions.

The Secretariat recommends the second option for the following reasons: First, under its general employment system, the General Secretariat does not make contributions to national social security systems on behalf of staff members. Thus, for the purpose of enabling temporary local support staff to maintain continuity and seniority in national social security systems, it is generally better that they remain covered by those systems in accordance with local conditions. Second, the lower cost of contracting temporary local support staff in accordance with local market conditions and practices will enable the Secretariat to remain competitive in requesting financial support from outside donors for the electoral missions and other temporary projects which employ such personnel.

The implementation of a policy for employing temporary local support staff in accordance with local conditions requires a change in the General Standards and Staff Rules which will recognize temporary local support staff as a separate class of personnel and which will exclude them from the international benefit and salary system applied to other staff. The rules governing that class of personnel would define them as "persons contracted by the General Secretariat to provide non-professional level support services to temporary projects, observer missions, and other temporary activities carried out by the General Secretariat in the Member States normally funded by the Voluntary and Specific Funds." Those rules would further provide that the salaries of temporary local support personnel would be no lower than those required for work of a similar nature under the corresponding national legislation of the duty station, and no greater than salaries of a similar nature paid by the United Nations Development Program for similar services to temporary local project and mission support staff at the duty station. They would also require that the Secretariat provide those staff members with the social security benefits required under local law, or if otherwise impracticable, an extra payment each month equal to the estimated cost of those benefits. Finally those rules would provide that any Director or Project Manager who contracts with such personnel in violation of these requirements must indemnify the Secretariat for the resulting damages.

One of the key elements of human resources management is the Performance Appraisal System. A pilot program, began in selected areas of the Secretariat on August 1, 1998, with General Secretariat-wide implementation to begin January 1, 1999. The essence of the System, created by a joint working group of the General Secretariat and the Staff Association, is to develop measurable goals, which each staff member is expected to accomplish in a defined period of time. These measurable goals are agreed upon by both the staff member and the supervisor at the beginning of the appraisal period. In this way, both parties know in advance what is expected of the staff member.

This system places a great deal of emphasis on ensuring that staff are well prepared to perform their duties and meet their goals in an effective and timely manner. It is expected that one of its most important outputs will be the systematic identification of training needs and development potential of staff members, integrated with work requirements of the General Secretariat, culminating in the development of an annual training and development plan for General Secretariat staff. This plan should be costed and approved for implementation on a yearly basis. In essence, this performance appraisal system is designed to identify deficiencies thus allowing the General Secretariat to provide appropriate training to staff to help them meet the requirements of their jobs, thereby providing for continuous improvement in performance and increased employee satisfaction. The System also provides a means of identifying continuously weak performers.

The General Assembly adopted at its last session resolution AG/RES 1596 (XXVIII-O/98), Personnel Policy, which freezes the number of vacant slots in the career service pending the completion of a study of the role of the career service in the Secretariat by the Permanent Council and its consideration by the next regular session of the General Assembly. Only four career service competitions have been held since the inception of the career service in 1983, and as a result of not reducing career service slots as Regular Fund posts were eliminated over the last fifteen years, the number of career slots now exceeds the number of Regular Fund posts by about 260.

However, the Secretariat believes that no study of the career service should proceed without the active participation of the representatives of the staff. In this context, the Secretary General appointed, last year, a Working Group of senior staff from the Administration and Staff Association to study the issue of the career service and to make recommendations, if necessary, for change.

As the Secretary General has already informed the President of the Staff Association, it is the view of the Secretariat that any changes in the career service must: take into account the need to establish and maintain an employment system for the Secretariat; recognize the staff's interest in relative job security and advancement through training and merit; and establish and maintain the institutional flexibility, expertise, and efficiency necessary to respond to the changing mandates of the Member States. Both the Administration and the staff representatives recognize that these interests are not necessarily adverse to one another; rather, they are complementary. There can be no meaningful job security in the Secretariat unless the Organization remains effective and efficient relative to other international organizations, governmental agencies, and NGOs which wish to provide similar services to the member States. And, at the same time, the efficiency and effectiveness of the Secretariat will depend largely on whether it can maintain a fair employment system with the proper mix of incentives to attract and retain dedicated, loyal, and competent staff.

The Committee formed last year to study the career service will continue its important work and will soon report to the Secretary General. Taking into account that report, the Secretary General will submit his recommendations to the Permanent Council as requested by the General Assembly.

The need for having an Early Separation Plan so soon after the 1996 Plan stems in part from the orientation received via the Second Summit of the Americas. While the General Secretariat has attracted new talent since 1996, additional skills, not currently available in-house in sufficient numbers, are required to meet new mandates, particularly in information technology, education, civil society, hemispheric security, drug abuse prevention and human rights. A limited early separation package, financed within existing budgetary resources is proposed. This plan, once established, would also be available for future requirements.

In the proposed Plan, requests for early separation will be accepted only after a careful review of the merits of each case to assure that the separation is in the best interests of the organization. Separation benefits would be modeled closely upon the 1996 Early Retirement Plan.

Given the financial outlook of the General Secretariat, up-front cash availability to finance the Early Separation Plan, might be might provided with a loan, with servicing payments made using the economies from frozen posts.

The Department of Human Resources, in conjunction with the Staff Association, will establish a policy and guidelines to rationalize the use and distribution of support staff. This will help to correct imbalances in the number of support staff by area which currently exist.

The absence of any restrictions on the hiring of members of the missions immediately after leaving the service of those missions is fertile ground for the generation of unhealthy appearance of conflicts of interest and does not necessarily serve the interests of the Organization. Other organizations, like the Inter-American Development Bank, have adopted regulations which place reasonable limitations upon the hiring of former mission staff in order to curb the appearance of abuses that characteristically arise out of an unrestricted "revolving door" policy. The General Secretariat recommends that the Member States amend the conflict of interests provisions in the General Standards to prohibit the hiring of persons within one year of their leaving the service of a mission to the OAS.

In order to help staff move towards a more technologically advanced OAS, the Department of Human Resources will develop a comprehensive training scheme to transition staff from the "old" OAS to the "new" OAS. The Department, in conjunction with the Department of Management Systems and Information Technology has, for some time, been conducting a series of desktop computer software classes for the staff of the General Secretariat. The success of this effort has encouraged us to plan the new round of training which will be more comprehensive, involving training in the new core systems of the organization, as well as providing continuing classes of increasing complexity so that staff may make optimal use of the tools available.

In addition, the General Secretariat will shortly be hiring a Training and Human Resources Development Officer. The principal purpose of this position will be to develop programs that meet the training needs of staff identified through the new Performance Appraisal System. The General Secretariat is committed to giving staff the training and skills they need to perform their jobs effectively and efficiently.

In an effort to conserve resources, to reduce the administrative burden of the General Secretariat as well as to follow general business practice trends, the General Secretariat will no longer administer the transportation of household effects for staff members (Staff Rule 108.19). Instead, the General Secretariat will pay internationally recruited (professional-level) staff members, a pre-determined sum of money in lieu of managing and administering the move. The sum will depend on the geographic area from which or to which a staff member is travelling. The General Secretariat will not pay for repatriation or recruitment within the same country in which a duty station is located. For existing staff with transportation entitlements, the Secretariat will, on a case by case basis, move the household goods or pay a portion of the cost in cash to the staff member. The General Secretariat will develop a detailed matrix with additional regulations before this item is implemented.

As of January 1, 1999, the home leave benefit will cease to be available to contracted staff members hired subsequent to that date; staff who enter the career service after the date in question will be eligible for the benefit. All staff members of the General Secretariat hired before the date in question, who currently are entitled to home travel, will continue to receive the benefit according to the regulations currently in force.

1889 F St.,N.W. Suite 860-B Washington D.C.,20006

(202) 458-6231 
(202) 458-3466

SA-10/98 15 September 1998

Mr. Secretary General:

I have the honor of writing to you in order to transmit the observations of the Staff Association concerning the document of the General Secretariat on personnel policy issues to be submitted to the Special Joint Working Group of the Permanent Council and the Inter-American Council for Integral Development on Strengthening and Modernization of the OAS.

The staff representatives acknowledge with appreciation the opportunity afforded them to comment on the document and to clarify items contained therein.

As stated in the attached document, the observations of the staff representatives were undertaken in the spirit of constructive dialogue while seeking to avoid actions inconsistent with a common system of salaries, allowances and other conditions of service that might otherwise contribute to the creation of various classes of staff with inequities built in to the conditions of service.

During the discussions on the issues we are available for any clarifications that may be desired.

Yours sincerely,
Linda J. Poole

Mr. C�sar Gaviria
Secretary General
Organization of American States
Washington, D.C.



General Considerations

The Staff Association understands that the purpose of the modernization and reform process underway at the Organization of American States is to strengthen an indispensable institution and prepare it to meet the challenges of the future. Reform is not intrinsically an exercise in cutting costs or reducing staff; rather it is an exercise to assure the relevance of the Organization in a changing world and to ensure that those mandates that are given to it by its member states are performed effectively and efficiently within the resources that are appropriated for those ends.

The Staff Association welcomes this opportunity to comment on the document of the General Secretariat and is pleased to note that many of the items mentioned constitute improvements on the present system. The review conducted and the observations made by staff representatives were undertaken in the spirit of constructive dialogue while seeking to avoid actions inconsistent with a common system of salaries, allowances and other conditions of service that might otherwise contribute to the creation of various classes of staff with inequities built in to the conditions of service. The ultimate result of such a system is lower productivity and morale.

Article 113 of the OAS Charter provides the Secretary General with certain authority to implement matters related to the functioning and staff of the General Secretariat that are circumscribed by the General Standards and budgetary appropriations approved by the member states./ Many of the reforms proposed by the General Secretariat are well within the purview of the authority of the Secretary General and may be implemented almost immediately. Others contain changes in benefits that may distort the concept of the common system; the Staff Association is in discussions with the Administration on these matters and is confident of a positive outcome. This dialogue is particularly important in what must necessarily be understood as a transition stage as new elements of a system come into play.

A truly independent international civil service in the terms envisioned in the OAS Charter and the General Standards must rely on objective and transparent standards free from political pressures and expediency and the Staff Association trusts that these principles will guide any discussion that may ensue on this matter.


The Staff Association welcomes the decision of the General Secretariat to establish the possibility of offering long term contracts on a range of a minimum of one year to five years, subject to subsequent renewals. This decision offers a modicum of stability to many staff members who are presently subjected repeatedly to the annual stress of wondering what might be happening with the contract extension.

The Staff Association further welcomes the elimination of the break in service modality that has been used to allow indiscriminate renewals of short-term contracts without recourse to competition. However, the proposal offers no justification for doing away with a rigorous competitive appointment procedure for the Regular Fund that offers the possibility of minimizing personal considerations and external pressures while maximizing institutional concerns. The paper identifies no benefit that accrues with the elimination of this procedure, other than the ability to hire staff with reduced oversight. Staff Rules and article 40 of the General Standards already provide for up to three years of appointment length without competition for external funds.

Short-term appointments should be made on an exceptional basis and not become a norm. In this sense, the UN guidelines for non-career appointments are illustrative in indicating that they are made for periods not exceeding six consecutive months for assistance in dealing with peak workloads, meeting unforeseen demands, covering essential work which, due to vacancies or absences, cannot be performed by regular staff, etc. In addition, the UN provides for appointments of limited duration which include, inter alia, peace-keeping missions, technical cooperation activities in the field, emergency assignments and special operational needs of the Organization. At the end of the appointment, a minimum break in service of one year is required before an individual would become eligible for any subsequent limited duration appointment.

The Staff Association sees no institutional value in a life-long prohibition of an individual from being appointed on a short-term basis after having completed a total of two years of similar cumulative appointments. Restrictions to eliminate potential abuse of the short-time appointment mechanism would be best addressed through forward planning in announcing and recruiting budgeted positions.

Limited duration appointments are intended for situations where the Organization has to recruit personnel, at short notice, for tasks which are clearly finite in nature. At the UN, staff hired under these conditions are not eligible for a number of benefits, entitlement and allowances, step increases, etc.

An underlying premise concerning this procedure is that this type of appointment is not intended, and may not be used, to bypass normal recruitment procedures. The Staff Association believes this same principle should apply at the Organization of American States and is confident that stricter measures will be taken to ensure that short-term appointments are not utilized a subterfuge for grooming an individual for a subsequent long-term appointment through competition.

Long-term benefits

In a transition period, present long-term staff should be able to retain those benefits which are more favorable to them, while acquiring those new benefits which are favorable. Thus, while the termination benefit will accrue, they retain, inter alia, repatriation benefits, home leave travel, transportation of household benefits as presently defined by the relevant Staff Rules. As indicated in the document of the General Secretariat, participation in the proposed Alternative Retirement Plan is voluntary, not obligatory, for holders of long-term appointments.

Termination Notice

The Staff Association has recommended against the reduction from a sixty-day notification period for long-term staff to thirty days. It places an undue hardship on internationally recruited staff and the possible change in the budgetary cycle for approval of subsequent years has not in the past been an obstacle to dealing with this matter, nor should it be an insuperable obstacle at the present.

Transportation of Household Effects

This proposal requires a modification of the Staff Rules. The principle involved, i.e., the reduction of an administrative burden on the General Secretariat by providing staff with the adequate funds to effect the transportation of household effects, is a practice followed by various international organizations. Staff representatives will continue to discuss with the Administration the specifics of the entitlement to ensure adequate and equitable coverage for all affected staff and any transitory provisions required for staff already on board, and with a view to ensuring that the OAS remains competitive with other international organizations.

Home Leave

The Staff Association strongly objects to the redefinition of staff eligibility for home leave. All other international organizations provide this benefit to staff with long-term appointments and many in excess of what the General Secretariat presently offers. The Staff Association understands that this redefinition does not apply to staff presently under long-term contract with the General Secretariat, nor will it apply to those whose contracts are extended after 1 January 1999. However, no justification other than financial has been offered for eliminating this benefit for long-term staff contracted after 1 January 1999.

Termination Indemnity

A termination indemnity for long-term contract staff would go far toward eliminating an egregious difference between classes of staff and the Staff Association welcomes the initiative. While the Staff Association continues to believe that more weight should be given to time served, it also recognizes the justice of including compensation based on the remaining time of a contract.

In the second paragraph under this item, it appears that part of a sentence was inadvertently omitted. The sentence should read: Fractions of years equal to or greater than six months will be considered one full year for the purposes of this rule. [Boldface type indicates the words added.] This modified wording is consistent with the previous paragraph.

Retirement and Pension Issues

The Staff Association has no objection to proposals that offer improved benefits to staff, as long as those improvements do not unduly unbalance a common system and have no negative impact on other classes of staff. Any study to be undertaken by the General Secretariat of the implications for the Retirement and Pension Fund must, of necessity, be referred to the Retirement and Pension Committee for determining if, in fact, the proposal has implications for the Retirement and Pension Fund. The members of that Committee hold a fiduciary responsibility and represent expert opinions and their input would be invaluable, including with respect to any implications for the present Plan.

It must be pointed out that the Secretary General is not obliged to place contract staff in the Retirement and Pension Plan from the outset of their appointments and already has the authority to introduce changes in the Provident Plan -- conceived for staff whose relationship with the Organization was not envisioned to be of a long-term duration -- which could be beneficial to trust and contract staff without resort to new mechanisms that may have effects not yet studied.

Performance Appraisal

The Staff Association was pleased to have had an active participation in the design of the performance appraisal system and staff representatives will, with the Department of Human Resources, monitor the application of the system. The system was designed to include a bonus component already provided for under the current Staff Rules and contemplates, as well, sanctions for supervisors who do not comply with the procedures of the system. The success of any performance appraisal system depends greatly on the commitment of Management to the objectives and ultimate goals of that system.

Training is indeed an essential element of this process and is understood to be twofold in nature: a) to provide staff with the tools necessary to deal with new systems as they are put in place in the General Secretariat, and b) to meet the development potential of staff by both enhancing contributions to the efficiency of the Organization and motivating employee satisfaction.

Advisory Committee on Selection and Promotion

The Staff Association has no objection to the creation of a Sub-Committee to deal with the selection of General Services staff and the proposal requires no amendment to the General Standards to take effect.

Career Service

Since 1995, subsequent Staff Committees have expressed to the Secretary General their concern over the continued violation of the General Standard providing for a career service competition to be held on a yearly basis. Staff Association representatives are active participants in the joint working group which has stepped up its meeting schedules with a view to an opportune report to the Secretary General and its subsequent presentation to the CAAP.

Early Separation Plan

The Staff Association has closely followed the concerns expressed by the Secretary General since he took up office with regard to staff hiring, deployment and separation, particularly in regard to activities deemed essential to the operations of the General Secretariat. The staff of the Organization, in particular those who are senior in service in the General Secretariat, are also concerned with what frequently has appeared to be an a priori judgement against their potential for contributing to the future of the Organization.

Major reorganization and redeployment strategies should provide a mechanism for allowing staff who chose to depart before retirement to do so with dignity. The provision of incentives cast in the terms of the 1996 Early Retirement Plan offers a limited incentive and its efficacy, if approved, will be best judged after implementation.

The Staff Association has noted with satisfaction that the Secretary General has not proposed a reduction in force for 1999 and hopes that the member states will support that position during the 99 budget review and approval process presently underway. There is a hidden cost generated by reductions in force that affect all staff indiscriminately and the Organization, as well.

A Revolving Door

The Staff Association fully supports the proposal to set a time period during which no member of a delegation could be hired by the Secretariat. As a corollary, exceptions to articles 29 and 30 of the General Standards are not in the best interest of the Organization.

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