Thank you Mr. Chairman.
I am pleased to take the floor at the 44th session of Working Group A and I look forward to a productive meeting under your leadership.
The United States has consistently advocated for a program-driven budget as the best way to ensure that the PTS has the resources necessary to accomplish the myriad tasks associated with carrying out its mandate. We also believe that such a budget is the best way to protect the significant investment that has already been made by States Signatories in the Treaty’s verification regime. Along these lines, there are several issues impacting the budget that may appear to cost more in the near term, but will better protect our investment in the long term.
The first of these is the implementation of the Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP). While we acknowledge that the increased costs of implementation are troubling, to turn away now would be even more costly as it would involve starting from scratch with no guarantee that the resulting system would have lower running costs.
It will also protect States Signatories’ investment in the Organization for the PTS to take the correct course of action regarding the development of a new storage area network, or SAN, by purchasing this new storage capability. The U.S. National Data Center (NDC) has conducted a study of storage options and determined that leased, offsite storage in the “cloud” was both significantly more expensive
than dedicated local storage, and markedly less efficient for operations.
At the most recent session of WGB, the Acting Chair, in collaboration with the WGB Task Leaders, undertook an assessment of how well WGB accomplished the tasks it set for itself. It would be equally useful for WGA to undertake such a self-assessment of past performance, as we look forward to the Chair’s proposal for a new three-year program of work for WGA. We need to ensure that we have accomplished what the PrepCom has tasked us to undertake, and not left some business unfinished.
When conducting such a self-assessment, WGA should examine whether it is properly structured to efficiently and effectively accomplish its work. First, I would like to address the proposal to establish Vice Chairs for this Working Group. Regarding the notion of having these positions rotate yearly, my delegation has serious concerns about the potential impact such frequent changes of leadership could have on the work of this body. There are serious issues remaining to be addressed by WGA, such as multiyear funding and any financial rule changes needed for IPSAS implementation. A continued shuffling of Chairs and Vice-Chairs would impede the ability of WGA to be usefully and substantively involved in these issues. The ability of the PrepCom to do good work with its rotating annual slate of Chairs and Vice-Chairs leans heavily on steady, high-quality performance from the Working Groups. Therefore, it would be better for a longer-term commitment to be expected of anyone serving in WGA leadership roles.
And second, lacking the structure of Task Leaders that WGB possesses to track specific issues, it seems all too often that WGA marches through its agenda without a thorough examination and discussion of the items on that agenda, especially as it takes up the recommendations of the Advisory Group. To better prepare WGA delegations to engage on issues, and indeed to better prepare the Advisory Group, delegations would benefit from the posting of relevant Information Papers and presentations onto the Experts Communications System. These papers and presentations should, in general, be available preferably four weeks in advance of the sessions of WGA to permit proper consideration of the contents. These papers should provide for greater transparency into the rationale for recommendations made by the PTS to WGA on relevant issues.
On August 20, the PTS distributed its Midterm Strategy for the period of 2014-2017. As it defines “new strategic priorities that will help to define the work programme and activities of the PTS over the next four years in consideration of guidance provided by the Policy Making Organ (PMO) and its subsidiary bodies,” it deserves a thorough review by WGA. We want to ensure that WGA, WGB and the PTS are in sync on these strategic priorities to ensure that the guidance and, importantly, the resources the PrepCom provides, support the strategic priorities to which we all agree.
And finally, Mr. Chairman,
The Advisory Group has concluded that it would in principle be logical to include a maximum assessment rate of 22 percent for the CTBTO PrepCom adjustment of the UN scale of assessments. Leaving aside
whether this question is most appropriately addressed in the Advisory Group, the United States has consistently supported this view. For some time the Advisory Group has concluded that it would not be advisable to introduce a 22 percent maximum “while the amount of unpaid assessed contributions remained so large.” My delegation notes, however, that the amount of unpaid assessments has dropped dramatically in recent years, in particular, with our payment in full this year of our assessment arrearages. To this end, the United States intends to propose a change to the Financial Rules at the next session of the PrepCom.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.