What is a forecast?
Forecasts are submitted twice a year (1 April and 31 October) to cover the following six-month period.*
DMS uses the forecasting model in gDoc as a management tool for the forward planning of all documentation (pre-session, in-session and post-session, and publications), including: the scheduling of the slotting (i.e. the agreed submission date) and issuance dates of reports; and, crucially, in calculating the workload capacity of all services concerned within the specified time frame in order to ensure the timely issuance of documentation. Forecasts contain: the title of the document; its legislative mandate, citing the specific source (resolution/decision/other); estimated word count; original language and target language(s); projected date of submission and requested date of issuance; and the name and date of meeting for which the document is needed.
What is slotting?
On the basis of the information in the gDoc forecasting module, in order to ensure the smooth processing and timely issuance of pre-session documents, DMS and the submitting offices, by mutual agreement, commit to specific slotting dates – or deadlines - for their submission and issuance. DMS expects that these dates will be respected; documents received after the agreed slotting date is considered as late submissions. It should be noted that documents received on time will be given priority over late submissions.
How is the forecast evaluated?
DMS reviews forecasts in order to facilitate capacity planning within the services concerned within the time frame requested. To that end, DMS:
• Verifies that all required information is accurate and complete.
• Requests clarification or amendments to the forecast, as required.
• Shares forecasting information with the processing units so that they can plan their work.
*Submission dates are made on the basis of the 10-4-6-week rule (submission 10 weeks before a meeting; 4 weeks for processing; issuance 6 weeks before the meeting), unless an 8-4-4 pattern has been adopted by the body concerned.
Submission of forecasts
Forecasting, the first step in the documentation management process, is the responsibility of the submitting office. Twice each year, by 1 April and 31 October, all projected documentation, including parliamentary documents (pre-session, in-session and post-session) and publications anticipated in the following six-month period, must be entered in the gDoc forecasting module. Forecasts are reviewed by DMS to ensure that they contain the following elements: (a) a clear legislative mandate (symbol of resolution/decision or specific mandate set out in the narrative of a report); (b) document title and subtitle, as required; (c) symbol series and distribution: (d) within-limit word count; (e) target languages; (f) correct category (A/B/C or D)**; and (g) budget status. For ease of workflow, a staggered submission of documents is suggested for meetings of 3 weeks or more. If the forecasts meet all of the aforementioned requirements, are within established word limits and are scheduled within the time frame agreed upon with the submitting office, they are approved by DMS. The approved forecasts are forwarded to the processing units in order that they may plan their work.
Once approved, forecasts are considered to be an agreement between DMS and the submitting offices and are used for future workload projections.
Importance of timely submission of pre-session documentation
The smooth processing and timely issuance of United Nations documentation depends on the punctual (“on-time”) submission of documentation. Assigned dates for the submission of pre-session reports (slotting dates) are monitored. In order to avoid confusion, and any possible duplication of work, it is critical that author departments use the approved forecast link established in gDoc when submitting their reports. Pre-session documents which are not submitted by the deadline and which have not been negotiated for late slotting, that is, before the deadline [link to DMS Information Note on NLS] will be considered as being late submissions. As such, these reports will be processed using DMS resources on an “as available” basis and they will require a late submission footnote setting out the reason for the delay. Precedence in the processing chain will be given to on-time submissions.
In-session forecasting and in-session reports
An in-session forecast should be finalized in gDoc no later than 3 weeks before a scheduled meeting. DMS requires 48 hours to process an in-session document. Exceptionally, on the penultimate day of a meeting, documents may be processed in 24 hours. No documents will be accepted for processing on the final day of a meeting.
To ensure the timely issuance of post-session reports, their submission for processing should be made as soon as possible following the date of the conclusion of the meeting, and no later than two weeks after that date.
Role of the DMS Planning Unit
Assisting in the planning and submission process for parliamentary documentation, the DMS Planning Unit:
• Provides advice to submitting offices on the planning and preparation of their forecasts, including the amendment of such forecasts, if required.
• Negotiates submission deadlines (slotting dates) with submitting offices, including the staggering of voluminous documentation.
• Analyses forecasts, including mandates, standard word count limits, and submission and requested issuance dates.
• Compiles a list of mandates extracted from the resolutions and decisions of the intergovernmental bodies.
• Reminds submitting offices of forecast and submission deadlines.
• Provides statistical data and reports on documentation, including compliance with submission, processing and issuance dates.
• Provides the chairs of intergovernmental bodies with up-to-date documentation service reports in advance of each session in order to ensure transparency and accountability to Member States.
• Reports on the timely submission of forecasts, slotting and issuance in: (a) document service reports for the chairs/presiding officers of meetings; (b) quarterly reports for submitting offices; and (c) the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on Documentation Management for the information of the Secretariat and Member States.
• Solicits feedback from the intergovernmental bodies in order to identify shortcomings and improve documentation servicing.
*Pre-session documents must be submitted 10 weeks before the meeting to which they pertain, for distribution 6 weeks before the meeting, unless an 8 week advance schedule, for distribution 4 weeks before the meeting, has been adopted by the body concerned.
**A: Secretariat documents (8,500 words); B: non-Secretariat documents (10,700 words); C: communications from Member States; D: draft resolutions/decisions.
DMS is responsible for ensuring that all parliamentary documents:
• Are submitted through gDoc in conformity with their corresponding agendas and with official document forecasts, and in line with the established regulations of the General Assembly on the control and limitation of documentation.
• Have clear legislative mandates, which must be identified in the summary and/or introductory section.
• Are within agreed-upon word limits: category A: 8,500 words; category B: 10,700 words.*
• Bear the correct masthead and correct symbol (checking for duplication).
• Bear the correct session number and correct dates for the session.
• Bear the correct titles and subtitles.
• Are formally organized in a clear hierarchical pattern with respect to headings, subheadings, paragraphing structure, annexes, appendices, enclosures and footnotes.
• Are submitted electronically in Microsoft Word in Times New Roman, 12-point type.
• Are submitted with all relevant reference materials, as indicated in the gDoc forecast.
• Contain a summary, an introduction and consolidated conclusions and /or recommendations in boldface type.
• Are clearly identified, if they are to be paid for by extrabudgetary funding, by account-code.
• Bear a late-submission footnote if the document has been submitted late.
*United Nations documents are categorized as:
A: Documents originating in the Secretariat;
B: Non-Secretariat documents;
C: Communications from Member States;
D: Draft resolutions/decisions.
• Forecasting for in-session documents should be submitted in final form in gDoc at least three weeks before the start of the meeting.
• Forecast information should include: mandate; document title and symbol; date and time of submission and of requested issuance; number of words; language of the original and target languages.
• Forecasts are prepared keeping in mind that no more than 3 in-session documents should be submitted for processing on a given day. The submission of more than 3 documents will require negotiation with DMS.
• All document forecasts will be reviewed by DMS in the light of available translation capacity and to determine whether, owing to exceptions in the standard number of words and/or the timing of the submission, adjustments may be required.
Word count and deadlines
• Documents should be kept as short as possible in order to ensure optimal processing and issuance. For sessions of one week or more, documents should not exceed 3,300 words; for sessions of less than one week, documents should not exceed 660 words.
• Both submission and processing should, whenever possible, be staggered. If there is an overlap, commitment for issuance dates must be negotiated in advance with DMS.
• For sessions of one week or more, a minimum of 48 hours is required for the issuance of standard-length submissions in all six official languages. If for any reason the time given for processing is reduced, document length should not exceed 1,650 words.
• No documents will be accepted for processing on the final day of the meeting. Subject to negotiation with DMS, documents within acceptable word limits may be processed within 24 hours on the penultimate day.
Corrections to already submitted documents will not be accepted. Corrections/changes should be made in the final version of the document.
Submission of Publication Forecasts
Publication forecasts, which are the responsibility of the submitting office, should be completed on a yearly basis, using the gDoc forecasting module, and should include all of the projected publications for the upcoming biennium based on the list of publications approved by the Publications Board and registered in the DMS database. In preparing such forecasts, submitting offices must ensure that:
• The symbol of each publication is unique and assigned in such a way as to avoid creating a gap in the publications numbering sequence.
• The legislative mandate for each publication, whether a resolution or decision of the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council or a request from an intergovernmental body, is clearly indicated in the mandate box in the gDoc module.
• The budget type (regular budget/RB or extrabudgetary/XB) is indicated, including the budget line (Account No.) for extrabudgetary publications.
• The number assigned to the request in the Publications programme is shown in the gDoc module (in the Publication Information entry).
• ISBN and eISBN numbers are requested for all United Nations sales publications through DMS in Geneva (see UN sales publications/press runs on the DMS contacts list) and listed in the “Sales Publication” section of the gDoc forecasting module.
• ISSN and eISSN numbers for serial publications are requested directly from the ISSN International Centre (http://www.issn.org) and provided in the gDoc request.
• “Workarea”, “Manuscript Pages” and “Printing and Production” specifications in gDoc requests are filled out completely and correctly, including information on roll figures, which should be specified in the “Remarks” box.
• Original language and target languages versions are indicated in the language information section: (a) if the “Printing only” option is chosen, the number of pages of the original language should be indicated; (b) if translation is requested, the total number of words should correspond to the number of estimated pages in the Publications programme; (c) if translation is requested into languages other than those used by the body concerned, the mandate for such translation must be clearly identified – lacking a clear mandate, such requests will be considered as extrabudgetary and will be submitted for review by DMS.
All publications should be registered in gDoc. Publications that are not registered in gDoc are not considered to have official United Nations status and they should not carry the UN symbol.
All publications must be included in the publications programme approved by the Publications Board. No changes may be made without the authorization of the Publications Board. Submitting offices wishing to add titles to their publications programme must submit a detailed request to the Board for its approval. Submitting offices wishing to delete a title from their programme must inform the Board of such a decision.
Given the prohibitive production costs, publications require an audience of 500 copies in the original language and 1,000 copies in the translated versions. If the audience is considered to be too small to justify a full-fledged print-run, manuscripts should be issued as working papers, which should be:
• Formatted by the submitting office.
• Simply presented, with minimal layout and only and black and white cover page.
• Issued electronically in the original language only.
• Uploaded on the website of the submitting office.
• Bear a UN copyright and be identified as working papers.
Publications listed on the Publications programme should be submitted for processing by the end of each biennium, by 31 December. Submission received after 31 December will be disregarded. Exceptions will be made only in cases where translation services have been pre-encumbered in IMIS.
Print-on-demand documents issuance usually covers from 1 to 500 copies of a given document, on an as-needed basis.
Obsolete titles and language versions that remain in the translation queue for more than two years will be removed from the processing chain.
The issuance of pre-session documents in categories A and B (Secretariat and non-Secretariat reports that - owing to circumstances beyond the control of the Secretariat - force majeure - cannot be submitted for slotting in time to meet the established forecast pattern (10-4-6 or 8-4-4, depending on the arrangement that has been adopted by the body concerned) may be eligible for a negotiated late slotting process through DMS provided that:
• The documents are within established word limits: 8,500 for category A; 10,700 for category B.
• Requests are entered into the gDoc forecasting module or made to DMS as soon as the submitting department becomes aware of the situation - at the latest ten days before the forecast deadline (10 or 8 weeks, as agreed upon with DMS).
• Requests for the issuance of a number of documents for the same meeting clearly indicate to DMS the order of priority for processing.
• Delayed issuance owing to late submission will have no negative impact on statistics related to processing compliance by DCM.
• The negotiated issuance date ensures that the document will be available in time for its consideration, in accordance with the agenda of the meeting; all such documents should be scheduled for issuance at a minimum of ten days before their date of consideration.
• Late slotted documents should bear an explanatory footnote in line with General Assembly resolution 53/208. Text for the footnote is suggested as follows. This [document] [report] was scheduled for publication after the standard publication date owing to circumstances beyond the submitter's control.
Documents that are submitted too late for timely issuance and are not part of a negotiated late slotting arrangement will be processed using capacity on an “as available” basis and their timely issuance cannot be guaranteed. In addition, all documents submitted late must include a footnote stating the reasons for their late submission so that Member States and management may be informed of the circumstances that prevented their timely issuance.
State party submissions to human rights treaty bodies are the responsibility of the State itself. The text is not edited.
When such submissions are accepted for processing:
• The cover page is checked to ensure that all elements are correct and in line with United Nations templates.
• The formatting is checked. Obvious formatting errors are corrected.
In view of the approach taken for such documents, the following footnote is included on the cover page:
“The present document is being issued without formal editing.”
Colleagues in the Documents Management Section and the Editing Section/Languages Service are available to provide additional guidance.
United Nations documentation consists, in large part, of reports submitted by the Secretariat of the Organization for the consideration of one of its main bodies or subsidiary bodies in response to a formal request, or mandate, from the body concerned in relation to a specific item on its agenda.
Official Records of the United Nations are issued annually for the sessions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. In addition, the principal organs, the 10 treaty bodies, the main committees of the Organization, the International Civil Service Commission, the specialized agencies and the Board of Auditors, among other bodies, report to the General Assembly at each annual session. The Official Records of the General Assembly include the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization and parliamentary documents containing the resolutions and decisions of the main bodies. The organization of United Nations documentation is explained in full in the United Nations Documentation Research Guide issued by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library (http://research.un.org/en/docs/symbols).
United Nations publications are produced by the Organization and its key agencies in a range of formats, including print, eBooks and apps. The Publications Board is responsible for authorizing the issuance of all publications, in whatever format, bearing the United Nations symbol [https://iseek-newyork.un.org/m210dept2070].
Official United Nations documents are classified for distribution as:
• General: used for reports submitted to the sessions of the main bodies of the Organization, and for the reports for meetings of main subsidiary bodies and for major conferences or summits.
• Limited: used for draft reports, resolutions and decisions, which, if adopted, will be reissued in finalized form for General distribution.
• Restricted: used for documents and meeting records that are not intended for broad issuance or for reading by the general public and therefore not issued on the Official Document System (ODS).
When submitting reports for processing, author departments are required, in accordance with administrative instruction ST/AI/189/Add.27, to identify text that has been taken from another source.
In following this instruction, submitting offices are responsible, in their forecasts in gDoc, for:
• Informing DMS if any part of a report is based on a compilation of text previously translated/issued by the United Nations, organizations of the United Nations system or other international organizations.
• Informing DMS if a report is a revision of a text previously issued by the United Nations, organizations of the United Nations system or other international organizations, including a clear indication of the language versions.
When submitting reports in gDoc that contain previously translated and/or revised text, submitting offices are responsible for:
• Indicating, using track-changes, passages taken from other documents, including the symbols of the source documents.
• Identifying text that has been taken from another source, whether translated or not. Publications, documents or websites used for general reference should also be listed, by symbol where possible.
Whenever elements of a document are repeated from one year or from one session to the next, it is important that those elements be reproduced exactly, including footnotes. Authors are required to download the previous version of the document from the Official Document System (ODS) (http://documents.un.org) and to use it as a base for preparing the new document. Changes and new elements in the text should be indicated by means of strike-out and boldface.
In order to accelerate the processing of documentation, including editing and translation, it is the work of the Reference Section to search documents and publications submitted for processing to ensure that they do not contain any previously translated/issued material that has not been identified by the author department.
DMS relies on the cooperation of submitting offices in this regard. Clearly marked-up texts greatly ease the overall burden of work, promote the consistent use of language and terminology and advance the timely issuance of documentation in a resource-bound and time-bound environment.
In order to provide readable texts for the visually impaired, DMS will issue a restricted body of documents embossed in Braille in the six official languages.
To that end, DMS will:
• Provide information on the symbols and issuance dates of Braille documents as soon as such information becomes available.
• Keep concerned parties informed of any changes or updated procedures.
• Send the original version of documents, indicating requested issuance dates, to the individuals responsible for their transcription, quality control and embossing as soon as such documents are registered.
• Forward translated versions of the original documents to the above-mentioned individuals as soon as they become available.
• Follow up and monitor this body of documentation through the entire production chain, including reproduction and distribution.
The production of Braille documents will be carried out in the following order:
• The original text will be transcribed and translated and sent on for embossing.
• Embossed texts will be sent back for review by the transcriber/translator, who may revise or introduce formatting changes, as required.
• Upon the approval by the transcriber/translator, the final embossed Braille text will be produced.
• Specific instructions will be given concerning the distribution of this body of documentation.
It should be noted that documents containing graphics and/or tables should be submitted in readable format; that there should be no embedded text; and that, due to their complexity, such texts require additional time for processing.
Background information regarding the distribution of official documents
Parliamentary documents are subject to simultaneous distribution as adopted by the General Assembly1 . As a result of this requirement a document will only be released once all languages versions are available. At that point, the electronic files will be posted on the Official Document System (ODS) and paper copies will be reproduced and distributed accordingly. Subsequently, electronic versions may as well be posted on other UN websites.
For more information on official documents, you may also wish to consult the information note on official documents as made available on the DCM website (https://conf.unog.ch/dms/content/official-united-nations-documents). Definitions on documents and distribution can also be read from ST/AI/189/Add.3/Rev.2.
Why request an embargo
In some specific instances, an author may wish to keep a document under embargo to ensure that no official distribution takes place prior to a given date and time even if all required languages have been completed and the document would normally be released according to simultaneous distribution rules. As long as the document is kept under embargo, the electronic files are not released on ODS and hard copies are not distributed. Requests for embargo should be formally requested by the substantive secretariat and transmitted to the Documents Management Section (DMS) for implementation.
When and how to request an embargo
The formal request should be made at the time of submission for translation and reflected accordingly as special instructions in the Global Document Management System (gDoc). As documents are subject to simultaneous distribution rules, a request for embargo can still be submitted during the processing stage of the document, i.e. until all languages are completed. A request for embargo cannot be submitted once the document has already been published.
The author should indicate at which date and time the embargo is to be lifted. For documents that are subject to a slotting agreement, the date at which the embargo can be lifted should not be set beyond the slotted issuance date. A later date would amount to late issuance. It is highly recommended to foresee embargo requirements as early as forecast stage as this may then impact slotting parameters and release date. This will be even more sensitive for documents subject to a late slotting due to force majeure as release date will then be scheduled closer to consideration date.
1 A/RES/55/222, Section III, paragraph 5