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UN Development Program No-Bid Contracts for Computer Clean Up on Eve of Accountability Seminar

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press:Interim News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, November 19 -- On the eve of a UN event on "accountability," the UN Development Program has hired on a non-bid basis a contractor to clean up its computer systems to remove, rather than promote, accountability, according to UNDP insiders. On Tuesday UNDP's Darshak Shah, who oversaw the agency's since disbanded program in North Korea but still remains controller, will discuss accountability with, among others, the UN Ethics Officer Robert Benson, on whose watch UNDP whistleblowers have been left unprotected. On Monday in New York, two contractors from Indentix, Jim Yang and Paul Bedi, paid $7000 per 40 hours worked, began on UNDP's servers the "Reconciliation of several Identity Stores." Among the goals is it "protect the identity and privacy of UNDP users as they work and collaborate with colleagues and partners outside UNDP." The justification for "sole source," no-bid contracting is stated as follows:

"There is no competitive market-place for the requirement, such as where a monopoly exists, where prices are fixed by legislation or government regulation, or where the requirement involves a proprietary product or service... ICT Security and Governance Unit seeking a waiver of competitive bidding for this submission, based on following criteria: Velo is unique open-source implementation of User Provisioning system on the market; Identyx Inc. is the only commercial company that is subject matter expert in Velo product allowing us to perform integration tasks quickly."

            But if UNDP's reason for choosing Velo software was that it's open source, how can there be only one contractor expert in it? Insiders say the choice was made by UNDP's Stephen G. Fridakis. The no-bid contract was approved by Ali Al-Za'tari, until recently UNDP's resident representative in Syria.

Mr. Ban with UNDP review panel Chander Mohan Vasudev, Mary Ann Wyrsch, Miklos Nemeth

            The timing of this computer clean up has caught of the eye of government authorities looking into UNDP's irregularities, and the matter is expected to be raised to the independent expert chosen by Administrator Kemal Dervis, Miklos Nemeth. Meanwhile in the void opened by the blocking of the UN Ethics Office's whistleblower inquiry, UNDP has rushed to appointed its own ethics officer, 30-year UNDP insider Karunesh Bhalla. It's "One UN," it seems, except when it comes to Ethics. At Tuesday seminar hosted by UN University -- which has its own issues -- maybe some answers will be given. Developing.

Click here for today's Inner City Press story "Spinning Belarus, UNDP Downplays Chernobyl and Human Rights Concerns"

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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.

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

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