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UN Threats Against Dubai Corruption Whistle-Blowers Pose Test for Ban Ki-moon

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN

UNITED NATIONS, March 28, updated 7 pm -- The UN's written policy of protecting whistle-blowers appears to be ignored by the chief executives of some UN funds and programs, particularly when they are subject to scrutiny or investigative reporting.

            Last month Inner City Press published an article about mismanagement and abuse at the Dubai regional office of the UN Office of Project Services, which is engaged in procurement for Iraq and Afghanistan. Central to the article were detailed complaints by UNOPS staff, provided on a whistle-blowing basis to Inner City Press, which among other things described UNOPS and its Dubai office as so inept as to be losing radios and other communications equipment.

           On the morning of March 27, Inner City Press was informed that the Executive Director of UNOPS, Jan Mattsson, had sent an email to all UNOPS staff, referencing the Dubai expose and threatening the "severest disciplinary action" against any individuals who shared this whistle-blowing information with the media. This year alone, Inner City Press has seen similar gag orders issued within the UN Joint Staff Pension Fund, including by Chief Executive Officer Bernard Cocheme, and has seen UNDP take serious retaliatory action.

            Later on March 27, Inner City Press asked Alicia Barcena, UN Under-Secretary General for Management, about the Pension Fund, whistle-blower protections and the UN Ethics Office which is supposed to enforce them, and about the UNOPS gag-order email. Ms. Barcena expressed surprise that such an email could have gone out, and said that the UN is in the process of recruiting a new director for the Ethics Office. Asked about recent statements at the Ethics Office to staff that the Office is "understaffed" and that complainants should return another day, Ms. Barcena said that is not, or should not be, the case.

UNOPS Jan Mattsson, in shadows behind the UN's blue flag

            At the noon briefing of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson on March 27, clarification and action was sought. From the transcript:

Inner City Press: ...question is about whistle-blower protection in the United Nations system.  I've recently become aware of a UNOPS [United Nations Office of Project Services] e-mail sent by Jan Mattsson to all staff, saying anyone who speaks to the press will face the most severe repercussions.  And I've seen similar communications within some other funds and programs.  Does the Secretary-General's bulletin on the protections for whistle-blowing apply throughout the United Nations system?  Only the Secretariat?  And what does the Ethics Office do to implement these rights?

Associate Spokesperson:  Well, the Ethics Office is there to hear of any complaints... If someone, for example, believes that their rights as a whistle-blower are being violated, they can always take that to the Ethics Office.  And yes, the Secretary-General's bulletin is applicable.  And whistle-blowers are protected in the system, as is underscored by the Secretary-General's bulletin. 

Question:  But I mean, if the e-mail sent to staff in order to chill communications to the press is presented either to the Secretary-General or someone else, what happens?

Associate Spokesperson:  I don't have any details about that particular email.

            The Associate Spokesperson said he would meet later Tuesday afternoon with people at UNOPS.  Late Tuesday he emailed:

Subj: Your question on UNOPS 

Date: 3/27/2007 3:56:14 PM Eastern Standard Time

From: [Associate Spokesperson] @un.org

To: Matthew Russell Lee

Hi Matthew -- Just in your response to your question about an email, purportedly by Jan Mattson of UNOPS, asking staff not to speak to the press -- I checked this afternoon with UNOPS, who say they are unaware of any such communication. UNOPS staff can simply follow existing procedures in terms of press communications.

            It should be noted that UNOPS has no press officer, and that questions put to Jan Mattsson in writing about the Dubai complaints and other matters, including irregularities in UNOPS shift of headquarters to Copenhagen and in the payment of Daily Sustenance Allowance and relocation bonuses to senior UNOPS officials, have not been responded to. Both of those stories also resulted in threats from UNOPS, including to the whistle-blowing sources conferred with during the reporting.

   Mr. Mattsson previously declined to answer questions from Inner City Press while attending this year's Executive Board meeting of UNDP and UNOPS. When a television network asked who UNOPS press contact is, there was no answer. This is not just inattention or arrogance. As reflected in Jan Mattsson's email below, UNOPS's current senior management "will stop at nothing" to stop leaks to the press, including whistle-blowing about corruption:

From: Jan MATTSSON

Sent: Tue 3/13/2007 5:42 PM

To: UNOPS - ALL STAFF

Subject: Confidentiality protection

Dear Colleague:

Recently an irresponsible blog included an alleged email exchange about a personal matter of a staff member. This posting, although embellished with edits by the blogger, is a serious breach of the confidentiality afforded staff for resolving such personnel issues.

We condemn any invasion of privacy in the strongest possible terms and are currently investigating the specifics of this online posting. When we learn the identity of the individual(s) involved in any breach of confidentiality, we will apply the severest disciplinary action available in line with UN Staff Rules and Code of Conduct. Nothing is more important to us than the integrity of our mechanisms for dealing with staff needs in a manner that guarantees staff privacy.

Meanwhile you should know that preliminary researching into this event confirms that our system for communicating confidential allegations of harassment and other sensitive issues remains secure. There are only two individuals in UNOPS with direct access to such communications. We therefore have full confidence that our email system retains its integrity and offers complete security against unauthorized intrusion.

Regrettably, the weakest link in communication such confidential matters -- and one was cannot control -- is the sharing of those matters at the source. It is therefore incumbent on staff with sensitive issues to consider carefully how widely to discuss their concerns with others... The existing system is completely secure for exchanging confidential information require for resolving private matters. However, should you feel more comfortable with an alternate mechanism, we have established a non-UNOPS email address to which you may also send confidential messages (if you do so from your private, home computer using a non-UNOPS email account -- either hotmail, gmail, or an account on some other domain -- you will circumvent all UNOPS colleagues). In addition, you may phone Monika Altmaier, Vitaly Vanshelboim, or Jan Mattsson directly to discuss your situation, which leaves no email trail. Lastly, if you have a different preference for securing your privacy, we encourage you to discuss this, too, directly with Monika, Vitaly, or me.

Please rest assured we are totally committed to protecting the privacy of staff -- regardless of title, contract type, duration of service, or responsibilities -- and will stop at nothing to ensure the confidentiality of our process for resolving personnel issues.

Warm regards, Jan

Jan Mattsson, Executive Director, United Nations Office for Project Services, Midtermolen 3, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

            Despite Mr. Mattsson's attempt to characterize the staff member's written complaints about mismanagement at UNOPS' Dubai office as a "personal" and "confidential matter," his March 13 gag-order email, the existence of which UNOPS personnel denied to Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson's office on March 27, speaks for itself. What action will be taken on it?

At Wednesday's UN noon briefing, the issue was again raised:

Inner City Press: I have a couple of questions but I'll just do one and see if there's more time. I asked you yesterday about the whistleblower policy and since I've obtained this UNOPS email that references a story that Inner City Press wrote about [the] Dubai operations of UNOPS and says 'when we learn the identity of the individuals involved in any breach of confidentiality, we will apply the severest disciplinary action.' So, I'm wondering again, what is the position of Ban Ki-moon on whether UN agencies can threaten staff members for speaking to the press about alleged corruption at the UN?

Associate Spokesperson: Well, first of all, I checked after the briefing with UNOPS, who said they were unaware of any email joining, prohibiting anybody from communications. And they reaffirmed, by the way, in their discussions with me, that their personnel, as with all UN staff, are free to speak within the regular rules for all UN personnel.

Inner City Press: They donít have a Press Officer, UNOPS doesnít. But Iím going to give you the email but Iíd like...

Associate Spokesperson: There's actually a person who handles their communication and what I can do is put you in touch with that person and he can talk to you further. But I...

Inner City Press: Because it's a Ban Ki-moon question and he's the top of the agency. I tried to ask Ms. Barcena yesterday about it. It seems to me like he needs to have a...  what is his position on whether the head of agencies saying to the press, you shouldn't speak to the press is legitimate or not?

Associate Spokesperson: Well, I don't know about the validity of that email. Like I said, the people who I talked to, deny that there was anything beyond...

Inner City Press: I just want to be clear. There's two different things. Thereís as it applies to this email, and that's one thing. And then there's two, there's just this policy question. What is Ban Ki-moon's policy on whether staff can be disciplined for speaking with the press about alleged corruption at the UN?

Associate Spokesperson: You know what the whistleblower's policy and the Secretary-General's bulletin is. And that policy stands. Staff who are whistleblowers are free and are protected in terms of their communications.

Inner City Press: So, if an individual gets suspended by a UN agency, and goes to the whistleblower policy, he's already suspended, so what happens is that then he has a two-year case through the justice system of the UN -- which is admittedly broken. So, I guess I'm just seeking from you some statement, doesnít have to be right this moment, but sometime today, what the position is of Ban Ki-moon on whether staff can speak to the press about alleged corruption at the UN? It seems like, I hear the policy there, but if you could just say it, that would be great.

Associate Spokesperson: That policy is clear, that if staff have any reason to believe any corruption or any mismanagement, they are free to speak. There are whistleblower protections and again, I can show you what the bulletin is. The text of that still stands.

On Wednesday afternoon, U.S. Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, involved in review of UNDP's North Korea program (click here for today's story) provided this on-the-record comment to Inner City Press: "The U.S. strongly supports real whistleblower protection.  Too often we have seen the UN bureaucracy hunker down to protect itself from criticism rather than taking the real steps to reform itself.  The US stands by any legitimate and truthful whistleblower and calls on all UN entities to take steps to ensure their protection."

 Also Wednesday afternoon, Associate Spokesman re-inquired with UNOPS, with its at-least named press person, Mark Bender. But as of 7 pm deadline, no response was received. Developing.

    Because a number of Inner City Press' UN sources go out of their way to express commitment to serving the poor, and while it should be unnecessary, Inner City Press is compelled to conclude this installment in a necessarily-ongoing series by saluting the stated goals of the UN and UNOPS and many of its staff. Keep those cards, letters and emails coming, and phone calls too, we apologize for any phone tag, but please continue trying, and keep the information flowing.

Feedback: Editorial [at] innercitypress.com

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At UNOPS, Fight for Control of Dubai, Hub of Harassment and Deals for Iraq and Afghanistan

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, February 19 -- Unbeknownst to most in the UN system, a controversy has arisen regarding who will head the lucrative Dubai hub of the UN Office of Project Services.

            This office makes purchases for Iraq and Afghanistan, and is alleged in recent, written staff complaints to be so inept as to be losing radios and other communications equipment.

            Documents have come to light revealing mismanagement to the highest levels of UNOPS, an agency which despite the volume of money flowing through it does not even have a press officer or media contact.

            To investigate this staff complaint for Dubai, UNOPS director Jan Mattsson, rather than bringing in the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services, has hired on a short term contract his own consultant, Kevin Curtis, seeming to UNOPS insiders to sweep the problems under the rug .

    Now Mr. Mattsson has reportedly flown to New York for a meeting on Tuesday regarding the Dubai leadership controversy. Mr. Mattsson is said to have a short-list, and to by fighting for continued unfettered discretion. The bigger picture controversy is whether UNOPS should even exist, particularly in light of Ban Ki-moon's proposal that a peacekeeping unit will offer procurement services to other UN agencies. With little scrutiny and no real oversight, UNOPS is engaged in a fight to continue its operations in the shadows.

            Inner City Press has obtained a series of communications regarding irregularities at UNOPS in Dubai. A week ago, Inner City Press sent questions about UNOPS - Dubai to the head of UNOPS, Jan Mattsson, who previously fled from questions in the hall of UN Headquarters. Eight days later, with no answer, this new report is filed. Because we respect the privacy of victims, the name of the long-sentenced complainant is redacted, but we include the nitty-gritty of the email chain below, to give a sense of the too-infrequently covered UN agency, UNOPS --

Subject: RE: Protection Mechanisms for UNOPS and its Staff

From: [Name withheld in this format]

To: Jan MATTSSON

Cc: Vitaly VANSHELBOIM

Sir, I was harassed and abused, but I could not go through the UN procedures because I was afraid of losing my job, because the person who was harassing and abusing me was having direct support of higher management. I have also a document which proves I was abused... Sir please guide me to who I can talk and in detail and explains the critical situation I was in.

Logistic Assistant

UNOPS MOVCON Dubai Office

Dubai, UAE

  And then --

From: Vitaly VANSHELBOIM [mailto: Vitalyv@unops.org ]

To: [Name withheld]

Subject: Protection Mechanisms for UNOPS and its Staff

 What you need to do now is send a message detailing your situation to harassment@unops.org  

Vitaly Vanshelboim

Deputy Executive Director, UNOPS

Midtermolen 3, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark

    And then --

Subject: I was Harassed abused and humiliated

From: [Name redacted in this format]

To: ' harassment@unops.org '

Sir, As per my Email below these are the details. I was harassed, humiliated, abused, I was in a situation which can lead a normal person to a nervous breakdown or make a person mentally ill. I joined UNOPS officially 01 Sept 04. On daily wages, official contract on 01st Feb, 2005. There was some attitude problem with Ivano Ianelli who was Head Of  Operations, which caused these situations, he always want people to listen to him and do what he wants and should not follow any law, just listen to him, and this was the reason which started a conflict between our supervisor Hiren and Ivano as he was Head Of Operation he used to do things in his own way, and if someone argued with him that this is not according to UN Rules he humiliated that person threatened that person  that if they do not listen to him, he would write a report against them and your contract would be terminated and nobody said anything to him because he was favorite of Gary. As I joined UNOPS, after two months I realized his attitude but just kept quiet because I was just listening to his words and was not saying anything, which always makes him happy, but I saw there were some conflicts between Hiren our supervisor and Ivano, and I saw him shouting on her more than one time and I saw her crying more than one time.

Not only Hiren, I saw Thushanti who was working as Liaison Officer at that time and Meron working as Junior Procurement officer and Nadia IT officer crying because he humiliated all of them on different times and occasions,  and now in UNOPS most of the people don't like him, they really hate him, he loves power, if anyone challenges him, he makes sure to destroy their career.

Things started getting worse when OSU staff shifted from UNOPS Airport office to DHC, Dubai Humanitarian City in May 2005. The person who was left behind was Hiren our supervisor Rafeek Driver and I and Mr. Lauri from UNAMA [re Afghanistan.]

      Ivano always used to issue order to do different tasks with out complete documents was asking to move cargo, he used to verbally order to move a cargo to Kabul, Afghanistan I asked him many times, to please provide requisition or a shipping LPR or any project number so when we can close our operational advance, which we spend on freight he said don't argue with me what I said is correct and just do it, and this is final instruction from my supervisor not to send anything anywhere with out documents I refused to send the shipment until I received all the relevant documents, actually there was some personal effects also, which was supposed to travel along with this official cargo and that was not for the first time it used to happen before and kept on happening personal effects was sent under UNOPS expenditures, Ivano got upset on me and said why you are not obeying my order, and he got upset on me and shouted on me on the phone.

Things were normal and again it got worse when Alicia PSO came to Dubai and was interviewing every one in UNOPS DSO, and she was supposed to Visit MOVCON UNOPS Airport office in Dubai same day when Alicia PSO was suppose to visit our office the same morning before Alicia came, Ivano came to me in Airport office and said to me not directly but in round words to say things against Hiren and he would help me in future, which I did not do and he was internally upset from me that I did not listen to him.

After the Interviews I don't know what happened we were informed by Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director - Middle East Regional office that Mr. Lauri Hukkanan, is our supervisor who was working for UNAMA but was just having a office space in UNOPS MOVCON Airport office this info was done officially now I was again in a situation I was suppose to work under 2 supervisors one was official (Hiren) and other from Mr, Phil Lewis ( Mr. Lauri Hukkanan, but I tried my best and continued my job for 3 months it went like this and one day we heard from Mr/ Lauri Hukkanan that his contract will expire and he will go back home, now again there was only one supervisor Hiren.

As soon as Mr. Lauri Hukkanan left after a week we all were told by Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director - Middle East Regional office that we have no budgets so UNOPS MOVCON Airport office will close down and we got termination letters with prior notice of 30 days, and that was a result of working hard was an appraisal to work hard and better in one year I coordinate for the movement of approximately  853,686 KGS  of cargo and use to sleep in the office because of the work load we could not go home and tried my best for UNOPS and more then one time I got appreciated by Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director - Middle East Regional office that I was doing very good Job and we all in MOVCON got termination letter and that was so sudden and we all were shocked, after that termination letter I received a call from Ivano from DHC that not to worry he will help me and Feroz who is working as Logistic Associate and he only wanted HIREN to be terminated from MOVCON and he will start Logistic from DHC warehouse and will take us (me and Feroz ), at that time we got satisfied ok we will have job.

  But in eight days we were informed by Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director - Middle East Regional office that now OSU is changed to Middle East Regional Office so UNOPS MOVCON office will not close down and the termination letter which we received from Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director - Middle East Regional office will be terminated and we should resume on our jobs back , and that time I felt like a FOOTBALL anyone can kick us anywhere, and I start felling that this job is not secure and I can not work in such environment of uncertainty and I start looking for a new job but during that time I was again promised by Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director - Middle East Regional office that I am doing a very good job and I will get salary rise and promotion and by this I had some hope and continued my job in UNOPS.

Suddenly after getting re-appointed, all MOVCON staff were interviewed by Alicia PSO who is doing what after that interview I was asked by Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director - Middle East Regional office to be temporarily to be transferred to DHC for UNDSS project and I should be in DHC with in 2 days same day when I received a email from Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director - Middle East Regional office that I had to be transferred to DHC warehouse I received a call from Ivano and he asked me to come directly to him when I will transfer to DHC and when I went directly to him he said, I had helped you so much and gave you this job now if you will join my team I will give you  warehouse manager post and a salary raise and said MOVCON will close down and Hiren will be terminated  and you better don't think to go back to airport office and stay in DHC warehouse and you will be manager here.

   I got an idea that he is just playing with me and quietly I just continued my job in warehouse for UNDSS with in first month I realized that there is nothing for me to do in this warehouse for UNDSS vehicles he started ordering to me to do things which were actually a job of warehouse helper he asked me to put tiles of whole two floors removed from DHC Bldg on pallet by hand, clean warehouse and toilet, drive forklift pack cargo load and unload cargo, I quietly did all the things by killing my self-respect because I was afraid I will not do it he will fire me and when I tried to talk to him that the job which you are asking me to do are not a job of  Logistic Assistant he got upset from me he said how can you disobey your Supervisor I will write a report on you which will result in losing your Job, and when I insisted that I am  Logistic Assistant  he said no you are a warehouse Assistant you have to do these things and when I refused he got upset and started shouting on me saying I did so many favors for you I helped you getting your family in Dubai I helped you to raise your salary I helped you to get this job and now you are returning me in this way you want to go back to Airport office forget it because Hiren will be terminated and UNOPS MOVCON will be closed down soon and you and Hiren will cry on each others shoulders and kept on shouting I heard all that and at last he said you just go back to warehouse and come to me after 2 hrs when I came back to him he gave me a new TOR and he signed it and gave it to me and said to me if I will not do these duties I have to give my resignation now.

   When I read that new TOR those duties were all for a warehouse Assistant when I said Ivano I can do much more than these duties which you are asking me to do, he said no we will have other people to do that, we don't need your services you have to then resign I said I will not he took me to HR Ms, Kim and asked her to make me understand I have to do these duties or I have to Resign and when I informed Ms, Kim about the whole situation, she gave me a suggestion that I should write an Email to Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director requesting him to review my new TOR which was directly given by Ivano and not HR, even Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director was aware of, when I send an email,  I received a supportive email from Mr. Phil Lewis Deputy Director that he is the only one who can amend any of TOR and he cancelled my new TOR given by Ivano and after some days he sent me back to UNOPS-MOVCON office in Airport office.

I was stressed after all what happened to me during that time I was in DHC warehouse temporarily I had 3 minor accidents and because of that stress I had an accident on duty I was on my Motorbike and I broke my left Leg and till date I can not walk normally.

This was not the end when I came back from hospital after an surgery after 1 month I received a call from Ivano that he want all the movement details of the Motorola Radios and Codon Radios, I said to him Ivano, Hiren is the one who moved all the radios and I was not in office that time and Hiren is out of country on her contract break and she will be back after one week, I would give him  the complete detail Ivano start shouting and said I don't want to listen to anything I want all the details along with the serial numbers by the end of the day, then I start gathering all the details and went to him along with the documents and there were some mistakes because I was not having all the details and then Ivano started shouting you MOVCON always do things wrong, you don't know how to do things I will ask my operation team to handle all complete Logistics  you people are no good and kept on saying things.

  I felt very humiliated and got up from the chair and with my broken leg I was Limping and went out of his office Ivano came behind me and said stop and listen to him and if I don't he will write an report against me and fire me, that day I went directly to HR Ms  Marlize and told here every thing and I was crying because of humiliation and she asked me not to worry and she will take an action on it and Ms Marlize HR asked me to write a detail report so she will take an action on it, but I knew if I do so I will be in trouble because Ivano is the Favorite of Mr Gary and my complaint will go in Gary's dustbin so I did not file any report against him and continued my job as a dead man with out a self respect and start looking for a job as I have lot of personal responsibilities and my family to support, I can not continue working within such environment of uncertainty and where people who listen to Ivano are given good positions and good salaries, there are 3 persons who are Ivano's special team, and people who actually work hard, get humiliated and terminated.

Hope will get support...

Logistic Assistant

UNOPS MOVCON Dubai Office, UAE

 (See attached file: MEMORANDUM.pdf) (See attached file: NEW TOR.pdf) (See attached file: PRV TOR.pdf) (See attached file: Termination letter.pdf)

            Following all this, the complaining employee has not been helped but only retaliated again. After inquiries, Mr. Mattsson has hand-picked his own short-term investigator, Kevin Curtis, on a short-term contract. Why not OIOS? And what is the rationale for UNOPS' continuing opaque activities? Developing -- watch this site.

At UNOPS, Side Deals for Danish Relocation, Mattsson and Dalberg

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, January 23 -- The UN Office of Project Services is two years late in certifying its financial statements. As new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls for an "urgent, system wide and external inquiry into all activities done around the globe by the UN funds and programs," UNOPS stands out for not even having a certified audit in place.

            An investigation of UNOPS by Inner City Press has found a hotbed of favoritism, of supervisors distracting line employees from their logistical tasks in support of such efforts as mine removal, and of financial mismanagement hidden from the Executive Board.

            Last January, the Board was told that UNOPS wanted to move its "headquarters functions" from New York to Copenhagen. Bids had been selected, not only by Denmark, but also France, Germany, Italy and Spain. (Dubai later joined the bidding.) Denmark was selected, sources say, due to the inclusion in its package of a "transition fund," which UNOPS insiders call no more than a slush fund for management. The quid pro quo was a requirement that 120 jobs be moved to Copenhagen, a condition not disclosure to the Board one year ago, and resulting in disruption of such functions as mine removal now.

            Current UNOPS head Jan Mattsson previously served as the head of the UN Development Program's Bureau of Management, where as Inner City Press has reported, he handed out controversial contracts to Dalberg Global Development Advisors, whose founder Henrik Skovby worked for UNDP "both at their headquarters and in the field," and is still listed as a UNDP employee. (The lead person on Dalberg's advisory board, Sam Nyambi, lists his experience as having supervised 110 staff at UNDP and served as UNDP Resident Representative in Ethiopia.)

            Now it emerges that once Mattsson took over at UNOPS, he has also handed this agency's money to Dalberg. In an August 16, 2006 email to all UNOPS staff, Mattsson announced that Dalberg would be paid to "help us build a better UNOPS."

What could this Guatemalan kids do with Vitaly V.'s Daily Sustenance Allowance? See below.

            By most accounts, and as reflected by its inability to file certified financial statements, UNOPS has been in decline for years. It began as a unit of UNDP then spun off as independent, and proudly self-supporting. Then-chief Reinhart Helmke hung a banner at a staff retreat, "UNOPS, the One Billion Dollar Agency."

            Moving from the Daily News building to the Chrysler Building, money was overspent. Soon UNOPS was paying, it claimed, $20,000 per year for each computer terminal used, not including salary or benefits. An idea arose to relocate jobs out of New York. Proposals arrived from France and Germany, Italy and Denmark, talk of the Swiss and of Dubai. One year ago, the Board was informed that "headquarters functions" would be relocated, under a business case of cost-savings.

            Behind the scenes, interim Executive Director Gilberto Flores, who preceded Jan Mattsson, had cut a deal with Denmark: 120 jobs as a quid pro quo for, among other things, a transition fund with very few restrictions.  There was only one problem: the "headquarters function" remaining in New York did not add up to 120 jobs. And so a decision was made to relocate operating units as well, including those which service mine removers in the field.

            This being the UN, a veneer of participation was demanded. While behind closed doors Gilberto Flores declared he would never break his job commitment to the Danes, Ms. Roswitha Newels, who had made the misleading presentation to the Board, emerged to dialogue with staff. Facilitators arrived, ostensibly from UNDP's Management Change Team, run by one Tina Friis-Hansen. The facilitators' names were Georges Von Montfort and Lisa Rienarz.  (As it turns out, they are employees of Mattsson's favorite consultant Dalberg, and not UNDP staffers at all.) These facilitators nodded at angry staff talked, then mis-summarized the complaints to now-director Mattsson.  A proposal emerged to relocate personnel not only to Denmark but also Nairobi.

            With the staff more and more restive, Ms. Newels decided to commission a study to resolve the matter. Such studies require at least the veneer of objectivity. But Ms. Newels issued a sweetheart contract, which she only later entered in the system, to a close friend of hers, Ivo Pokorny.  For $700 a day, Mr. Pokorny produced a barely two and a half page memo, followed by a one page, hand-drawn chart. Requests to see Pokorny's final product have been rebuffed, as have question of when UNOPS will come clean to the Board, as well as file financial statements.

            UNOPS does appear, however, in the public audits of other UN agencies. The most recent public audit of UNICEF, for example, states that

"UNICEF is supporting construction projects for schools, health centers, and water and sanitation networks in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives that represent an aggregate budget of $152.1 million. The three country offices have little experience, if any, overseeing major construction works. They entered into contracts with UNOPS (for permanent structures) and with IOM (for temporary schools in Indonesia) without clearing their clauses with the UNICEF senior advisor (Legal) resulting in the interesting of UNICEF not adequately safeguarded. For instance, the Indonesian school construction contract with UNOPS ($90 million) committed UNICEF to a set unit cost per building, over a three-year period, with no clause covering a rise in prices.... UNICEF failed to set up a consistent mechanism to follow up the implementation of the projects, monitor the work of the contractors and management the relationship with UNOPS." A/61/5/Add.2, page 42-43.

            As this interim profile of UNOPS should make clear, issues to be inquired into in the wake of the UNDP scandals should not be limited just to North Korea, or to hard currency, secondment and auditors' access. The problems at UNOPS are systematic and require full public review and disclosure, and then substantive action. This is what Ban Ki-moon called for on January 19, then appeared to turn away from on Jan. 22. With the poor and needy be served by reform and accountability of these agencies in charge of money to serve them? We'll see.

            Other UNOPS issues involve Daily Sustenance Allowance abuse and overpaying of Mattsson's deputy Vitaly Vanshelboim. Mattsson brought Vashelboim to New York, and has now sent him back to Copenhagen (where Mattsson's yet to move).  The totals paid to Mr. Vanshelboim for multiple relocations, travel and Daily Sustenance Allowance are the subject of outrage even within UNOPS staff, who says that the Board of Auditors inquiry recently announced by Ban Ki-moon should act on them.  And what does Dalberg do for Mattsson? Inquiring minds want to know. But UNOPS.org does not list any media contact, and UNDP has still not responded to Inner City Press' January 16 questions about Dalberg and related policy issues.

            Documents, however, require no comment to report. Inner City Press has obtained a copy of a January 15, 2007 email from UNDP's Arne Christensen bragging that "UNDP / IAPSO has recently placed an order for several units of thermo vision equipment installed in mini-busses (surveillance equipment) for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine... UNDP / IAPSO would be pleased to offer our expertise in procurement of material and equipment for border enhancement to other CO offices, as well as other UN offices involved in similar programs."

            Beyond the question, "what is UNDP doing buying surveillance equipment for Ukraine," we note that UNOPS in its search for survival is lobbying behind the scenes to acquire the "P" (procurement") from UNDP's IAPSO. But why would the UN system allow an agency which is so far delayed in filing its certified financials to acquire anything, or to continue to mislead its Board about a deeply flawed proposed move of core operating functions like mine removal to Denmark because of a secret slush fund deal? Developing.

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