Is the U.S. picking up the tab for overly handsome United Nations salaries?

posted at 2:41 pm on May 31, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

My knee-jerk reaction to the headlining question would usually be an emphatic “yes,” but the Obama administration called out the United Nations on Friday for possibly dishing out salaries that are too high, by their own standards. They just released on audit on the oh-so-august international body calling for “greater clarification” on how they determine employee salaries that are significantly higher than the ones paid out by the U.S. federal government so that member states can better “provide oversight” of their budget management. The Hill reports:

The comments come in response to a U.S. audit that faulted the U.N. for allegedly failing to “clearly state” how it calculates the salaries for the more than 12,000 professional-level employees of the U.N. Secretariat, which is headquartered in New York. The member states have agreed to pay staffers between 110 percent and 120 percent of U.S. federal salaries, but the Government Accountability Office raised concerns with the U.N.’s assumptions. …

The report found that U.N. salaries officially increased from 113.3 percent of U.S. federal salaries in 2010 to 116.9 percent in 2012, still below the 120 percent threshold that could trigger a salary freeze; however, using different assumptions – such as taking into account cost-of-labor adjustments that the federal government uses when comparing New York to Washington, D.C. — the GAO came up with a figure of 126.7 percent.

“Our recommendation is that State and the U.S. Mission to the U.N. should work with other member states to make sure that they can get the information they need for effective oversight of ICSC’s process,” the GAO report concluded.

The U.N. defends its practice of paying its employees more than federal workers by pointing to a lack of job security and limited options for promotion at the U.N., as well as the increased costs of living incurred by people who work in a foreign country. In its response to the GAO audit, the U.N. defended the transparency of its process and ruled out shifting to cost-of-labor instead of cost-of-living adjustments when calculating U.N. salaries.

Is the Obama administration, albeit gently, actually suggesting that a sprawling globalist-progressive bureaucracy might be getting a little generous with its salaries when its no skin off of their nose not to do so? Who’s ever heard of such a thing! The United Nations would obviously find plenty of reasons to justify what look like flouting their own stated standards with potentially bloated salaries, but you’ll remember that the United States provides the biggest share of the UN’s funding by a long shot. I’d say we’re hardly overstepping ourselves asking for a few more details, no?

But, lest I allow you to get too excited about the Obama administration’s handling of the United Nations, Brett Schaefer at NRO reports that even figuring out exactly how much we spend on the United Nations is a pretty difficult task, and that the oversight on that issue in and of itself isn’t doing too hot, either:

Although most U.S. contributions come from the State Department, hundreds of millions of dollars also flow from other parts of the federal government. Thus, relying on State Department data fails to capture the full picture. …

That 2006 report was an eye-opener. The OMB calculated that U.S. contributions totaled $4.115 billion in 2004 and $5.327 billion in 2005. By comparison, the State Department had estimated 2004 contributions at “well over $3 billion” — far short of the actual amount reported by the OMB.

Five years later, the OMB reported that FY 2010 contributions the U.N. system exceeded $7.691 billion — more than $1.3 billion higher than the previous record, set the year before. Indeed, 2010 marked the third consecutive year in which U.S. contributions had reached a new high.

So, the amount we contribute to the United Nations regularly increases, but we are no longer required to keep a record of said contributions? I call shenanigans, and a couple of Republican Congresspeople have introduced legislation to try and fix that glaring problem, thank goodness.


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Close it and give them all the boot.

bsinc1962 on May 31, 2013 at 2:45 PM

Well, at least it’s money well spent. Paying the powdered wig set to come here and bad mouth America while working to undermine everything we stand for, doesn’t come cheap.

I mean jeez, you can’t get a decent meal in Manhattan for under $100 a plate, how do we expect these poor dears to survive?

NoDonkey on May 31, 2013 at 2:48 PM

“Hey! If I’m not able to steal make that much money, it’s unfair that you can!”
– Obama

Liam on May 31, 2013 at 2:48 PM

U.S. outta U.N.,and vice versa.If I gotta see that Iranian swine running us down on our soil again, I’ll don the suicide vest…

SMACKRUNNER on May 31, 2013 at 2:50 PM

The Obama Administration is currently talking about capping salaries for the top management of government contractors. Perhaps, they should consider treating the UN the same way.

J_Crater on May 31, 2013 at 2:50 PM

“All the money that’s fit to grift”

VegasRick on May 31, 2013 at 2:51 PM

The UN can always say that their salaries are based on the liberal American model of Affirmative Action.

End of debate by liberals.

Liam on May 31, 2013 at 2:54 PM

It was just as much a waste at $4.1 billion as it is at $7.7 billion.

But it is interesting that it is proof that Obama simply sends more.
Don’t matter what it is, he just spends more.

Jabberwock on May 31, 2013 at 2:54 PM

The U.N. defends its practice of paying its employees more than federal workers by pointing to a lack of job security and limited options for promotion at the U.N., as well as the increased costs of living incurred by people who work in a foreign country. In its response to the GAO audit, the U.N. defended the transparency of its process and ruled out shifting to cost-of-labor instead of cost-of-living adjustments when calculating U.N. salaries.

Excuse me, lack of job security??? Once you make it in the UN professional ranks nobody (repeat after me: NOBODY) gets fired. ‘Increased costs of living incurred by people who work in a foreign country’ – my azz, seriously, you can’t make this shit up. first off, the UN employees don ‘t pay taxes anywhere in he world, secondly, they are sent to countries where the loving costs are significantly lower than in the US and Switzerland (particularly New York) and Geneva where they are headquartered) it’s not like the UN have large operations in developed countries where the living expenses are the highest. Besides, when they are moved from one place to the other, they receive a nice relocation package, and e moving is paid for by, um, the Un, and not from their own pocket. Thirdly, these idiots get pension for life if they serve 20 years with the UN and their offsprings get free education at any university in the world, yeah, Ivy League universities included. So, yeah, Un, stop the lies and the spin, it’s ludicrous.

jimver on May 31, 2013 at 2:58 PM

U.N. salaries are not taxable by the United States. Most countries don’t tax overseas income. 115% of pretax federal salaries in New York is towards double aftertax salaries. The U.N. is a great gig if you can get it.

levi from queens on May 31, 2013 at 2:58 PM

The ‘living costs’ that is :)…I don’t know about the ‘loving costs’, those should be also lower in third world countries, no? :)..

jimver on May 31, 2013 at 2:59 PM

We’ve picked up the tab for this anti-American, anti-freedom organization long enough.

Consign it to the scrap pile of history, along with the democrat-run IRS.

CurtZHP on May 31, 2013 at 2:59 PM

should audit the IRS…

equanimous on May 31, 2013 at 3:00 PM

The U.N. is a great gig if you can get it.

levi from queens on May 31, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Outside of Obama’s Chicago, the UN is the only place where a rapist, thug, or murderer gets applauded. Standing O if you’re all three.

Liam on May 31, 2013 at 3:02 PM

The UN.
A great example of the Law Of Diminishing Returns.

TimBuk3 on May 31, 2013 at 3:02 PM

We’ve picked up the tab for this anti-American, anti-freedom organization long enough.

Consign it to the scrap pile of history, along with the democrat-run IRS.

CurtZHP on May 31, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Simply put it, get the heck out of here..I have a friend who works for the WHO (which is UN basically) and he told me that there were serious considerations a few years to move the whole UN hq to Hong Kong. Heck, yeah, I’m all for it, pack and get the heck out of here.

jimver on May 31, 2013 at 3:03 PM

This to happen today at 5:00p.m.

Fool former astronaut wants the UN to work on preventing/helping against…hah, there goes your next leftist tax hole…just like “climate change”.

Schadenfreude on May 31, 2013 at 3:06 PM

What a joke. Turn it into low-rent housing.

CurtZHP on May 31, 2013 at 3:11 PM

So, they get paid *more* than other folks who work around there? You know, THIS is a great reason to repeal the 16th Amendment and return the source of revenue for the national government to the states.

GWB on May 31, 2013 at 3:18 PM

All you need to know about the UN.

Plus, that Alger Hiss was the first General Secretary at the founding meetings in San Francisco.

Akzed on May 31, 2013 at 3:18 PM

We need to get OUT of the UN!

GarandFan on May 31, 2013 at 3:18 PM

“I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money”…Sir Comrade

hillsoftx on May 31, 2013 at 3:18 PM

This to happen today at 5:00p.m.

Fool former astronaut wants the UN to work on preventing/helping against…hah, there goes your next leftist tax hole…just like “climate change”.

Schadenfreude on May 31, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Is that what’s on the progressive agenda next? :)… asteroid prevention, with NASA as the enforcement agency :)… Oh, boy…they never cease to amaze me, these people on the left…I think they suffered a gene mutation somewhere along the way that we cannot begin to comprehend, no natter how hard we try…

jimver on May 31, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Any amount of money is too much spent on these fools.

Why do we pay to give tyrants and despots a world stage? Surely we can let them pay for that on their own dime, no?

ajacksonian on May 31, 2013 at 3:23 PM

“I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money”…Sir Comrade

hillsoftx on May 31, 2013 at 3:18 PM

“I do think at a certain point you’ve made stolen enough of our money, now get the fvck out!”… America

VegasRick on May 31, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Is the Pope Catholic?

NotCoach on May 31, 2013 at 3:27 PM

Any amount of money is too much spent on these fools.

Why do we pay to give tyrants and despots a world stage? Surely we can let them pay for that on their own dime, no?

ajacksonian on May 31, 2013 at 3:23 PM

barky just now, here at HA, found out about this.

VegasRick on May 31, 2013 at 3:27 PM

but where else will Obama go when he wants to lie about and bash the USA on its own soil? MSNBC I guess…

For the trolls, yes, Obama went to the UN after Benghazi and said the embassy attack was a random act of violence due to a video released many months earlier.

kirkill on May 31, 2013 at 3:41 PM

‘Liberal Activist’ Admits to Bugging Mitch McConnell’s Office

Resist We Much on May 31, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Is given a box of chocolates and told not to be naughty again.

CurtZHP on May 31, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Tell me again, why we are subsidizing these thugs and idiots?

ultracon on May 31, 2013 at 4:16 PM

The United Nations was FDR’s dream. It has become a both a nightmare and a farce. Move it to the Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. ………………. I understand that religious tolerance and the night life are great./s

SC.Charlie on May 31, 2013 at 4:19 PM

secondly, they are sent to countries where the [living] costs are significantly lower than in the US and Switzerland (particularly New York) and Geneva where they are headquartered)

jimver on May 31, 2013 at 2:58 PM

Actually, the UN has over 5,000 employees in New York, 1,600 in Geneva, 1,100 in Vienna. Yes, they have lots of employees in the developing world too, but they still have thousands of employees in some very expensive cities. They wouldn’t need a 39-story building in New York if they didn’t have a lot of employees there.

If the UN were headquartered in a less expensive city to live in, their staff costs would likely decrease accordingly.

J.S.K. on May 31, 2013 at 4:27 PM

J.S.K on May 31, 2013 at 4:27

Do you even believe your own nonsense…. what part of ‘the U.N. defends its practice of paying its employees more than federal workers by pointing to a lack of job security and limited options for promotion at the U.N., as well as the increased costs of living incurred by people who work in a foreign country’ – you don’t understand??

Federal workers live in NY too, as far as I know, and they pay taxes ,unlike the UN employees. How is it more expensive for a UN employee who gets a tax-free salary to live in, say, NY? As I said their relocation packages are pretty good and they are not responsible for moving their household, in other words their organization pay for it. Those expenses are on top of and separate from the salaries they receive. Then explain to me again, how are their cost of living higher than a NY federal employee’s ? Yeah, I thought so….as for your last statement, then what the heck are hey still doing in NY then (or Geneva), if it’s so expensive to live there,, off to the third world (which they pretend their service) with their hq…

jimver on May 31, 2013 at 4:43 PM

They service that is…

jimver on May 31, 2013 at 5:10 PM

The last I heard UN employees do not pay taxes

E9RET on May 31, 2013 at 5:33 PM

The last I heard UN employees do not pay taxes – E9RET on May 31, 2013 at 5:33 PM

From what I understand they don’t pay parking tickets either.

SC.Charlie on May 31, 2013 at 5:55 PM

Just checked ……………. delegates to the UN owe NYC over $18 million in unpaid parking tickets.

SC.Charlie on May 31, 2013 at 5:59 PM

I doubt cost of living in the NY area is any higher than any other major cities where they could put the UN. So, why should we foot the bill?

Blake on June 1, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Move the thing to Nigeria. Plenty of parking there.

Nigeria owes NYC more than any other member in unpaid parking tickets.

TimBuk3 on June 1, 2013 at 10:42 PM

Is it just me, or isn’t this the IRS/Issa thread? What’s all the talk about the UN doing here?

UpTheCreek on June 2, 2013 at 9:41 PM

Oops, sorry. Something strange just happened with the threads, but all better now. My apologies!!!

UpTheCreek on June 2, 2013 at 9:45 PM