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In Darfur, Lockheed is Late and Poor Performer, UN Admits of No-Bid Contract

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

UNITED NATIONS, July 16 -- Lockheed Martin in Darfur is "far behind schedule and has not performed as expected," the UN's Ban Ki-moon admitted in a report released this week. This comes eight months after Ban awarded Lockheed's PAE subsidiary a no-bid $250 million contract to build peacekeeper bases for the hybrid UN African Union Mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID. Faced with questions about why competition rules were waived and the aura of corruption, Ban insisted to Inner City Press that PAE was the only company that could do the job, as did the United States' special envoy for Sudan, Richard Williamson. Now Ban's July 7 report, released to the public this week, states

"37. A major support issue that will have a significantly negative impact on UNAMID deployment relates to the commercial contractor which is constructing accommodations and other critical infrastructure for the Operation. The contractor is far behind schedule and has not performed as expected. In order for it to meet its obligations and complete critical preparations for deployment, a major acceleration of its work will be required. Otherwise, there will be serious negative consequences for our deployment efforts, including a reduction in the Operation's capacity to absorb new military and police units, as well as civilian staff."

  Lockheed's "poor performance" in "constructing accommodations" was noted in another recent review of conditions for those deployed along with UNAMID. Inner City Press' visit to UNAMID's El Fasher base last month found rows of trailers, Internet barely working, complaints everywhere.

June 2008 visit to Lockheed's El Fasher base, poor performance not shown

  PAE's failure to deliver value for the money the UN has paid it could have been and was predicted. PAE previously overcharged the UN for airfield services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and for breakfasts in Darfur, click here for that.

Both UN Peacekeeping and its Procurement Division, as well as Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, have been under fire since October 2007, when the no-bid contact with Lockheed was announced. At first, the UN Spokesperson said that Lockheed had been selected through a competitive process, then retracted the claim. It was said that the contract would be made public, but that has still not taken place.

   Inner City Press obtained and published letters from Jane Holl Lute, whose husband is U.S. President George W. Bush's war czar for Iraq and Afghanistan, pushing for Lockheed to be given a no-bid contract each before the Security Council approved the Darfur mission in July 2007. Further back, there were inquiries about the contract from Condoleezza Rice, click here for that. These revelations were cited in the General Assembly's budget committee in December when it called for greater use of local vendors and formally demanded an investigation of the Lockheed contract, which the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services has still not completed. The report of poor performance on the no-bid contract sure can't help.

Footnote: On another Darfur issue, the suspension of deployment of peacekeepers, Inner City Press asked the UN Spokesperson's Office on July 11 and July 15 to confirm what Australian defense minister Joel Fitzgibbon told Inner City Press and a few other reporters on July 11, that nine military officers would not be going to Darfur, pursuant to UN policy. On July 11, associate spokesperson Farhan Haq told Inner City Press he would prefer not to answer, since the head of Peacekeeping Jean-Marie Guehenno who be takin questions at the stakeout. But Guehenno's appearance was subsequently cancelled, as Inner City Press reported.

   On July 15, Inner City Press asked deputy spokesperson Marie Okabe to confirm the suspension of deployment. "If DPKO is listening, they should answer you," she said. Apparently they weren't listening. Inner City Press re-asked, but hours later was told to keep on waiting. Now another reporter who interviewed Fitzgibbon has reported it. And on July 16, again Guehenno's press availability was cancelled, for another farewell lunch. It's said he will take questions before he leaves and Alain Le Roy arrives. We'll be here.  Watch this site. And this --


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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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