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UN Belatedly Suspends Indian Enron Satyam, Puts Contracts Under Assessment, No Accountability on Oracle Yet

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

UNITED NATIONS, January 14 -- The UN has belatedly suspended as a vendor Satyam, and has put under review the ongoing contracts of this so-called Indian Enron, including a $6 million deal reached long after the World Bank first suspended the company. On January 13, Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Michele Montas to explain how Satyam got this contract, why the UN's Inter-Agency Procurement Task Force process, meant to share contractor information throughout the UN system, had failed. Ms. Montas said she was unaware of the controversy. Video here.

   Hours later, Inner City Press asked Assistant Secretary General Warren Sach about the scandal. He said that UN affiliated agencies are supposed to inform others of their suspension, by correspondence and through databases, which the World Bank appears to have failed to do.

  On January 14, the Spokesperson's Office answered Inner City Press' question-

Subj: Your question yesterday on Satyam
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at]
To: Matthew Lee [at]
Sent: 1/14/2009 10:04:28 A.M. Eastern Standard Time

Satyam has been suspended from the UN Secretariat vendor database. The information has been communicated to the UN procurement system and the UN Global Marketplace. Ongoing contracts with Satyam are currently under assessment.

    An ongoing five year contract between the UN Secretariat and Satyam for over $6 million began on July 18, 2008, for "talent management software." It is time for the UN to provide further information on how this happened, what will be done and who will be held accountable.

UN's Ban and computers, Satyam not shown, even in suspension database

  In late December 2008, Inner City Press exposed that the UN purchased 30,000 licenses from Oracle to a computer program called Seibel, a so-called Customer Relations Management (CRM) system, and has left them unused.

    That contract is for $7.5 million, of which over $3 million have already been paid to Oracle. But the licenses have never been used, according to UN computer system personnel. These whistleblowers, outraged at the waste and of accountability they say is pervasive, have directed Inner City Press to the documentary evidence of the phantom contract.   In the UN's online Procurement database, the information about the Seibel purchase from Oracle is substantially less detailed than from other purchases. For other purchases, the specifications of the procurement are online, often dozens of pages. For this purchase from Oracle, there are no online specifications.

    Internal whistleblowers tell Inner City Press that worse than the mis-management that led to the purchase of 30,000 licenses well before they would or even could be used is the cover-up that has occurred afterwards. They also identify as problematic the UN's contracting with EMC Corporation to purchase licenses for a program called Documentum, ostensibly to replace the UN's Official Document System for the UN's "Enterprise Content Management" system, ECM.

The flawed contracting began under the tenure of Eduardo Blinder, who has since migrated to the even less overseen International Computing Center, to which the UN Secretariat outsources much of its work and procurement.  More recently, the person responsible for the waste is the Officer in Charge who replaced Blinder, Chandramouli Ramanathan.

  In the UN's basement, Ban Ki-moon's Secretariat's CRM and ECM are being considered for the UN's Fifth (Budgetary) Committee. But the Committee members have never been informed of the waste that has occurred.  Nor has the Office of Internal Oversight Services, embroiled in its own scandal, done anything.

  In a draft of the pending resolution provided to Inner City Press by a budget committee source, the Secretary-General is criticized for proceeding with CRM and ECM before making any proposal to the General Assembly. 

  Inner City Press has asked Ban's spokesperson Michele Montas about this critique from the General Assembly. Video here. Ms. Montas said she would have no comment at all until after the Assembly vote on the resolution which she said might not take place until Christmas Eve.  But there has still been no comment. Watch this site.

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

Click here for Inner City Press Nov. 7 debate on the war in Congo

Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

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

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