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Behind Lockheed's No-Bid UN Contract, Condi Rice and UN's Guehenno in Late 2006

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

UNITED NATIONS, December 5 -- The head of UN peacekeeping was urging that U.S.-based military contractor Lockheed Martin be given a no-bid UN contract in Sudan as far back as December 2006, documents obtained by Inner City Press show. This calls into question the UN's defense of the $250 million "sole source" contract with Lockheed's subsidiary Pacific Architects & Engineers (PAE) that the UN announced on October 15, claiming that the UN Security Council's July 31 resolution to send peacekeepers to Darfur required scrapping any competitive process to find the lowest bidder. In fact, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote to the UN in November 2006 that

"The U.S. has already provided AMIS $300 million in in-kind assistance, primarily for the construction, operation, and maintenance of 34 troop camps -- the backbone of the AMIS mission. Unfortunately, the U.S. is not currently in a position to provide the 'urgent additional material and financial assistance' you requested for AMIS in your October 7 letter... The financial situation of AMIS and its voluntary partners only underscores the need for rapid transition of AMIS to a UN peacekeeping mission."

            (Click here for the Rice letter, and then-Ambassador John Bolton's cover letter). The "in-kind assistance" of the U.S. was money paid by the U.S. State Department to American contractor PAE. The U.S. General Accounting Office had criticized the State Department for its contracting with PAE, and requested the work to be bid out. Instead, Secretary Rice wrote to the UN urging a "transition" from AMIS to the UN. Two and a half weeks later on December 4, the head of UN peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno wrote to UN Controller Warren Sach urging "sole source" to PAE:

"Currently, PAE Government Services contracted by the US State Department provide all camp support to AMIS in Darfur and have deployed significant logistic and engineering capabilities to Darfur to enable them to do this. DPKO has already sought US approval to extend the PAE contract to include support to the UN Light Support Package offered to AMIS. However, it is likely that the US State Department will only agree to sanction the Letter of Assist under which PAE will provide support to the UN for a period of four months. Therefore, it is crucial for the UN to engage PAE directly in order to ensure that they are available to continue to provide the support required and if necessary, extend it to enable to delivery of the Heavy Support Package.  The specific area requiring immediate action is the need for an accelerated sole source bidding procedure to be put in place for an engineer and camp management contract between PAE and the UN... In addition to the PAE contract, we will need to follow the same procedure to outsource a contract management capability to supervise all aspects of the running of the PAE contract."

            Already in the UN's budget committee, the Russian Federal has asked why before the Security Council voted on July 31, 2007 to create the UN mission to Darfur, it wasn't told of moves already afoot to award a no-bid infrastructure contract to Lockheed Martin. The question was based on an April 17, 2007 memo, previously obtained and published by Inner City Press, in which the head of the UN's Department of Field Support (DFS) Jane Holl Lute wrote to Controller Sach urging "sole source" with PAE. Other member states, including Singapore, Canada and Angola on behalf of the African Group, also expressed concerns about this timing. Now it becomes public that the move to sole source with U.S.-based PAE began in 2006, triggered by a letter from U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. There were already questions to be answered, to the UN's Fifth Committee.

Condi Rice and Ban Ki-moon, Lockheed's no-bid contract not shown

            At Wednesday's UN noon briefing, Inner City Press asked spokesperson Marie Okabe:

Inner City Press: When you said, maybe it's more than a week ago now... that either someone from Procurement or the Department of Field Support would be coming to talk about the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur sole source contract.  When is that going to happen?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I think we've made that request, and Michele has mentioned to you that as soon as the Fifth Committee deliberations were over, they were prepared to come here.  So I can follow up on that for you.

            Just after this exchange, in a Q&A not included in the UN transcript, the General Assembly spokesman said that questions remain in the Fifth Committee, and that he could not provide a date when deliberations would end. That is, there is still no date for the UN to provide any public answers to the questions that have arisen about $250 no-bid award to Lockheed Martin. We will continue on this story.

* * *

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

  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 agencies and many of their 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]

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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UN Office: S-453A, UN, NY 10017 USA Tel: 212-963-1439

Reporter's mobile (and weekends): 718-716-3540