The Independent Oversight Advisory Committee (IOAC) formerly known as the Audit Committee, serves in an expert advisory capacity to assist the Executive Board and the Executive Director in exercising their governance responsibilities for financial reporting, internal control arrangements, risk management processes and other audit related matters. The membership of the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee is wholly independent and external to the WFP Executive Board Secretariat and the Board.
See the Revised Terms of Reference of the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee (revised in November 2021)
See the latest Annual Report of the Independent Oversight Advisory Committee (June 2023)
Mr. Robert Samels (Chairperson - Canada) - 01 March 2019 to 28 February 2022** - Appointment and CV
Ms. Margaret Dezse (Hungary) - 30 July 2023 to 29 July 2026 – Appointment and CV
Ms. Bettina Tucci Bartsiotas (Uruguay) - 15 November 2022 to 14 November 2025 - Appointment and CV
Mr. Darshak Shah (Kenya) – 15 November 2021 to 14 November 2024 – Appointment and CV
Mr. Veerathai Santiprabhob (Thailand) - 15 November 2021 to 14 November 2024 – Appointment and CV
1984 – The AC was created as an entirely internal management committee. WFP was among the first United Nations organizations to establish such a committee, followed by UNESCO and UNFPA in 2004.
Following the 2003 and 2004 reviews of best practice mechanisms for governance and oversight presented to the Executive Board, the Executive Director proposed new Terms of Reference and the AC composition included five members: three external (including the Chairperson) and two internal.
2005 – For the first time, the AC’s report to the Executive Director was presented to the Executive Board for information.
2007 – For the first time, the AC was comprised entirely of external members, making WFP the first United Nations agency to have an AC with such composition.
2009 – The AC reporting line was revised to include both the Executive Director and the Executive Board.
2010 – The mandate of the AC was reinforced to include advice to WFP management on evaluation of operational risks, assessments of audit programmes and consultation on the appointments of the Inspector General, as well as the Director of Internal Audit and the Director of Inspections and Investigations.
2011 – The role of the Executive Board was enhanced to periodically review the Terms of Reference, nominate candidates for AC membership, and have the AC selection panel report its recommendations to the President of the Executive Board in addition to the Executive Director.
2017 – The Terms of Reference were revised twice to reflect the latest best practices among which are WFP's strengthened oversight activities, including advice by the AC on the performance of the Inspector General; comments for consideration by the External Auditor in the independent determination of the External Auditor's work plan and reports; advice on ethics; extending cooling off periods for ex members of the Audit Committee and of the Executive Board as well as WFP staff; and reconstituting the selection panel for the appointment of Audit Committee members to five Executive Board representatives, one from each of the electoral Lists.
2018 – In response to recommendations in the Joint Inspection Unit review of audit/oversight committees in the United Nations system (project number A.434), the Terms of Reference were revised to include a sentence in paragraph 27 (As part of its rules of procedure, the AC shall conduct an annual self-assessment of its performance and report thereon to the Executive Board and the Executive Director.) and a sentence in paragraph 38 (As part of onboarding activities, incoming members shall receive a one-day induction, similar to that arranged for new Executive Board Members and Observers, prior to their first meeting.)
2021 – In response to recommendations in two reports issued by the Joint Inspection Unit in 2019 and 2020, the Terms of Reference were revised further. Additional changes include to update the frequency of the meetings and the position of the board secretariat within the structure of the organization. Based on the inclusion of all internal oversight functions the revised title, Independent Oversight Advisory Committee, more accurately reflects its responsibilities and activities.
The WFP IOAC has been acknowledged as a benchmark for implementing all the best practices recommended by the Good Governance in the Public Sector Framework, as outlined in the Special Report No 27/2016: Governance at the European Commission – best practice of the European Court of Auditors:
Role/Composition of Audit Progress Committee and selected audit committees compared to best practices recommended by Good Governance in the Public Sector Framework
 Sources: World Food Programme: Terms of reference for the Audit Committee of the World Food Programme (November 2011), European Investment Bank: Audit Committee Charter (June 2007), World Bank Group: World Bank Resolution Standing Committees (2009), Annex A Terms of Reference of the Audit Committee, United Nations: Terms of reference for the Independent Audit Advisory Committee and strengthening the Office of Internal Oversight Services (June 2007).
 Source: ECA. The APC Charter also refers to external audit (see paragraph 30).
3rd Meeting of UN System Oversight Committees
On 11-12 December 2018, the 3rd meeting of Oversight Committees from the United Nations system took place in New York. Mr. Suresh Kana, the Chairperson of the WFP Audit Committee since 2017, joined the meeting.
The agenda included, among others, the following items:
• Assessing organizational culture, including in the context of digitalization, and how oversight committees can stimulate the discussion of purpose and future orientation of an organization;
• The role of oversight committees in supporting and overseeing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; and
• Statement on internal control framework and how oversight committees can add value, including identifying the indicators of significant control or risk management deficiencies.
2nd Meeting of UN System Oversight Committees
On 12-13 December 2017, the 2nd meeting of Oversight Committees from the United Nations system took place in New York. Mr. Suresh Kana, the Chairperson of the WFP Audit Committee since 2017, joined the meeting.
The agenda included the following items:
- Addressing new and emerging risks, in particular, cyber-security, and digitalization;
- Examining the role of oversight committees in the United Nations system setting, including its relationship with external auditors;
- Discussing good practices and challenges in addressing the performance and resourcing of the internal oversight function; and
- Briefing from KPMG on the outcome of the global survey pertaining to the role of audit committees.
All of these issues have been noted in recent reports of the WFP Audit Committee and are thus of great relevance for the organization.