UN Threats Against Dubai Corruption Whistle-Blowers
Pose Test for Ban Ki-moon
Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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
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:
question on UNOPS
3:56:14 PM Eastern Standard Time
[Associate Spokesperson] @un.org
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.
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:
3/13/2007 5:42 PM
To: UNOPS - ALL
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Wednesday's UN noon briefing, the issue was again raised:
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
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
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
UN Office: S-453A,
UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439
(and weekends): 718-716-3540
UNOPS, Fight for Control of Dubai, Hub of Harassment and Deals for Iraq and
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
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
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.
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
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.
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.
UNOPS MOVCON Dubai Office
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Deputy Executive Director, UNOPS
Midtermolen 3, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
And then --
Subject: I was Harassed abused and
From: [Name redacted in this format]
To: ' email@example.com '
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...
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:
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
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
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.
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
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.
UNOPS head Jan Mattsson previously served as the head of the UN Development
Program's Bureau of Management, where as Inner City Press has
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.)
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."
could this Guatemalan kids do with Vitaly V.'s Daily Sustenance Allowance? See
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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."
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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