Air Transport World

What's wrong at ICAO? A hefty budget shortfall that has crippled sections of the U.N. organization has member states angry with the leadership. (United Nations. International Civil Aviation Organization; includes related article)

A hefty budget shortfall that has crippled sections of the U.N. organization has member states angry with the leadership.

The budget, not the highly publicized issue of noise restrictions on subsonic jet aircraft, was the most important agenda item at ICAO's recent extraordinary session, at least to the organization.

For ATW, the story began late last October, when delegates of the ICAO session descended on the Montreal headquarters to find a way to cover a whopping $2.3 million shortfall in the organization's 1990 budget. It seemed that ICAO's finance committee badly miscalculated the organization's budgetary requirements in 1989, when budgets for 1990-93 were passed. Why ICAO waited a year to extricate itself from an embarrassing and difficult situation is unknown. But the cash shortfall has resulted in a variety of problems for an organization that most aviation-industry experts thought to be one of the better-managed branches of the United Nations.

Because of the funding shortage, ICAO is critically short of staff in its translation and technical-assistance departments. Working papers and publications that are produced in English, French, Spanish and Russian are months behind. Morale is at an all-time low. One high-level official resigned in protest over the lack of funding, which has left 22% of positions unfilled. As of last Oct. 31, ICAO employed 817 people.

According to David Newman, U.S. member of the governing council, the budget for 1990 was "seriously under the mark. It was grossly insufficient to fund even core activities," he said candidly.

To alleviate the problem, ICAO sought and received supplemental appropriations for 1990-92 during the extraordinary session. …

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