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Inner City Press Podcast --

At UNDP, Computers Shut-Down As Investigators Swarm, Jurisdiction Unclear, Aruna to UNICEF

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

UNITED NATIONS, July 12 -- As scrutiny mounts on the UN Development Program's granting of access to its financial computer system to long-term "temporary" employees the contact for which hasn't apparently been bid-out in nine years, on Thursday afternoon UNDP told employees that the computer system would go offline -- in two hours.

            Staff expressed surprise, and in the current whistle-blowing climate forwarded the following to Inner City Press, in which "BOM" stands for Bureau of Management, and OIST stands for Office of Information Support and Technology:


From: Alan So    Time: 4:05

Subject: Our shared drive and email server will be down for maintenance tonight 7/12/2007 from 6:00 - 10:00 pm

Dear All, OIST announced that QUOTE:

Microsoft has recently released new security update [sic] for Microsoft Windows which we need to apply to our servers as soon as possible. We have scheduled the installation of these updates for Thursday 12 July 2007, from 6:00 pm to approximately 10:00 pm NY Eastern Standard Time.

The following applications will not be available during this period. --

- Terminal Services Application Server;

- TCDC Application Server;

- ATLAS Development Servers on Microsoft Windows Platform;

- LYRIS Application Server;

- Mercury's test director application server;

- Site Scope Application Server;

- BPM Application Server;

- Web-Time-Sheet Application Server;

- Change Management and Change Tracking Server;

- OHR on demand;

- IMIS Terminal Server Supper Officer;

- Exchange Server Pilot;

- Swift Alliance Servers;

- TELECOM Servers;

- Windows File Server;

- Plate;

- BSS Shared

- Symantec antivirus application server;

- domain controllers: MAXIMUS, DC01HQ, DC01HQ, DC03HQ, DC04HQ, DC05HQ, DC07HQ and DC08HQ;

- web servers: CSAPP1, CSAPP2, TIGGER, Piglet, Scorecard Legacy, COWED, COFPP, EEYORE, Koala, Miller, Webdev,

- ms-sql servers undpsp3, sp4, sp6, sp7,

- plate 105 and plate 107;

IMIS reporting and Access will not be affected. Please advise your users accordingly and if you have any concerns please let us know. Thank you for your cooperation, Alan

            One UNDP source who noted that updates to the ATLAS financial application are supposed to be done on the weekend said, "They can do a lot in four hours." We'll see. [This report is being filed four hours after the notice, and two hours into the shutdown.]

At the UN, Web 4 Development (UNDP computer shutdown not shown)

    On Thursday at Ban Ki-moon's Spokesperson's noon briefing, Inner City Press asked about the investigation of UNDP:

Inner City Press: Two OIOS questions.  One, there's a report today that OIOS since last month has been inquiring into a probing -- the office of finance and administration at UNDP -- and [inaudible] it's a pretty detailed report.  So I'm wondering if, one, you can on the side of OIOS and the Secretariat, if you can confirm that that inquiry is taking place and if it's related in any way to either the ethics complaint or some... What is OIOS' jurisdiction over UNDP and where's that inquiry heading?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I'll look into...

Inner City Press: Are you aware of that?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Nope.

            Eight hours later, while the second of Inner City Press' questions about the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (in the Democratic Republic of the Congo), had been answered, even in the transcript, no answer had been provided to the question above, about UNDP. Apparently at OIOS, like UNDP management and even "communications" office, they don't like to talk...

            Meanwhile, on moves to cure the long (and previoulsy reported) spousal conflict of interest of UNDP's embattled Finance chief Darshak Shah and his wife Aruna Thanabalasingam, in charge of UNDP's Human Resources, it has now been confirmed by UNICEF that Ms. Thanabalasingam is going to that agency. Because of concerns raised within UNDP that Administrator Kemal Dervis inveighed on the process in order to help solve the conflict of interest problem he has allowed for 21 months, the response was provided and is presented in detail:

Ms. Urana Thanabalasingam has been appointed Deputy Director, UNICEF Division of Human Resources, following a normal UNICEF recruitment process that included the circulation of a vacancy announcement, a review of all applications and a panel interview of short-listed candidates.

The vacant position was advertised within UNICEF and the wider UN system with a closing date of 22 May 2007. Thirteen people applied for the position -- nine of them from the wider UN system, and four from within UNICEF. Ms. Thanabalasingam, currently Deputy Director of the Office of Human Resources at  UNDP, was one of the nine non-UNICEF candidates.

A selection panel, consisting of four senior UNICEF staff, interviewed three shortlisted candidates, including Ms. Thanabalasingam, on 13 June. Our Senior Staff Review committee then reviewed the recommendation of the selection panel by mailpoll in the third week of June, and endorsed the recommendation of Ms. Thanabalasingim as the leading candidate.

The Executive Director approved the appointment of Ms. Thanabalasingam on the basis of the Senior Staff Review's recommendation on 29 June.

Ms. Thanabalasingam was offered the post in writing the following week by Mr. Steven Allen, Director of the UNICEF's Division of Human Resources, on behalf on the Executive Director (which is standard practice for all international professional posts). She accepted the post on 6 July.

She is expected to take up her new position in September. Two months is a normal time-frame for a UN inter-agency reassignment.

            The level of detail is appreciated. UNDP insiders asked about this response maintain that Kemal Dervis spoke with the executive director; the two were, it is pointed out, recently together in Turkey. But to re-coin a phrase, we report, you decide. Developing.

Click here for Inner City Press' report on Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro's July 11, 2007 press conference

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

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