WIPO Works Out Plans For Staff Separations, Financial Disclosure19/06/2009 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 1 CommentShare this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)IP-Watch is a non-profit independent news service, and depends on subscriptions. To access all of our content, please subscribe now. You may also offer additional support with your subscription, or donate.After months of private consultations, it was perhaps no surprise that the World Intellectual Property Organization Coordination Committee – the 83-member executive body – easily approved the director general’s new cabinet this week, albeit with a few notes for the future. And a previously prepared plan for financial disclosure by upper staff also sailed through. But the bulk of discussions over the intense two-day meeting were on details of a proposal by the director general to encourage a reduction in staff in the face of the global economic crisis, which members approved after long consideration and some modifications. The WIPO Coordination Committee met in a special session from 15-16 June.The committee reached agreement on a programme of voluntary separation and early retirement after promises to answer some questions by members by late September, and adding a change that could allow staff who take the severance package to return some years later. Some details of the programmes are available on the committee meeting website (above).The committee approved Director General Francis Gurry’s proposal to change staff rules until 30 June 2010 to implement a voluntary separation programme, according to the chair’s report, available on the meeting website. The secretariat will produce detailed responses to questions raised by members by the Coordination Committee’s regular annual meeting in September 2009, and the separation scheme will remain on the committee’s agenda until the scheme is over. The WIPO Staff Council also was invited to give its view for the next meeting.It appears there is an allocation of CHF30 million Swiss francs for the programme. “The Committee took note of the fact that the financing of these measures would be charged to the existing provision for separation from service and medical benefits following separation from service, up to a maximum amount of 30 million Swiss francs,” the chair’s report said.Changes were made in the meeting based on African Group proposals, prepared by the secretariat and available here in draft form [doc] as circulated during the meeting. The African Group may be sensitive about the issue of departures as it was the strongest backer of the previous director general, Kamil Idris, who stepped down early under a lack of confidence in his ability to lead the organisation.One change was to add the WIPO Audit Committee to those with oversight of the separation policy implementation. The director general’s proposal, which was accepted, was that applications be examined by the departments of human resources and finance before submission to the director general, who has the final say. This line was added to the original proposal: “The implementation of this program will be reviewed by the Audit Committee, which will report on its review to the General Assembly.”Another change was to add a provision to the pre-retirement and voluntary separation schemes to allow the possible re-employment by the director general of a staff member “under exceptional cases” and after a minimum of 7 years, if he or she “judges that such action is in the interests of the good administration of the organisation.” Any such cases would be reported to the Coordination Committee.According to the African proposed amendment, the African Group sought a length of 5 years before being able to return, and according to a participant, one or more developed countries sought a length of 10 years.Among other discussions during the meeting, according to participants, was a concern raised about the possibility of basing the need for a voluntary separation scheme on a 2007 report on WIPO employment by consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, as there were some concerns about the original report among some members. This was ameliorated by the secretariat’s emphasis that the staff reduction effort was mainly to address falling fees for WIPO services in light of the economic crisis, a participant said.The committee also approved, according to sources, an incremental plan to require senior WIPO officials to disclose any interests, financial or otherwise, in issues of consideration at WIPO. The secretariat proposal would apply to the “director 1” level and above, of which there are currently 54 people, as well as personnel in the financial sections of the organisation.The WIPO declaration also would require staff to disclose any gifts, honours, political or other activities outside the organisation, and forbids staff in the International Bureau from seeking or accepting instructions from any government or other authority outside the bureau.Also at the committee meeting, members approved four new deputies director general and took note of three new assistant directors general all recommended by Gurry. Intellectual Property Watch reported on the appointments here (IPW, WIPO, 15 June 2009).Finally, the committee designated Dominick Devlin as the chair of the WIPO Appeal Board.Share this Story:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)RelatedWilliam New may be reached at email@example.com."WIPO Works Out Plans For Staff Separations, Financial Disclosure" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.