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UN in DRC Drone Procurement Ousts Low Bidder, Lets In Firm Under Probe, ICP Asks, Dodge

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive series

UNITED NATIONS, April 27 -- In UN Procurement, the lowest bidder doesn't always win, the UN confirmed on March 26 in response to Inner City Press' March 23 question. Rather than e-mail the statement to Inner City Press which asked, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres' spoksman Farhan Haq waited to read it out at the March 26 noon briefing, and then refused to answer questions about it. See transcript, and below. Today's UN is corrupt. Now it's even clearer: after ousting the low bidder PPI, UN Procurement has let in a company, Aeronautics Ltd a/k/a Aeronautics Defense Systems, which is under investigation and had a contract canceled in Romania in 2017, like one in Poland in 2012, and Mexico in 2009. On April 27, after publishing the above, Inner City Press asked Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: I had asked you before about the procurement of drones for MONUSCO [United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] in the DRC, and I think the upshot of this back-and-forth is that the low bidder doesn't necessarily get the bid, but it's since emerged that a… a company has been allowed in as… as now, the presumptive front-runner, Aeronautics Defence Systems, which will actually banned from… had contracts terminated in Romania in 2017 and Poland in 2012, so many… the people that are… that are, you know, following this to see how money is being spent… what's the… the… it's one thing to say, you know, the low bidder, we can investigate them and not do them, but then how can a company be brought in…?

Spokesman:  Look, I don't have all the facts on the top of my head.  What I do know is that obviously, it's always the lowest… it's the low bidder with the best possible bid.  I mean, you know, what the process is.  All vendors go through a vetting process.  I have no information on this particular company or know whether or not they are, in fact, part of the bidding process.

Inner City Press: Is past… is past record of completion or termination of contracts part of the…?

Spokesman:  Everything is looked at in the procurement process." Really?  Inner City Press was exclusively informed that in the bidding for the UN's Democratic Republic of the Congo UAS or Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) program, the low bidder is being displaced by more favored companies, unilaterally, by UN Procurement chief Dmitry Dovgopoly.

The story, exclusive to Inner City Press, goes like this: out to bid is a $50 million contract to provide Unmanned Aerial Systems services to the UN's MONUSCO in the DRC for a term of five (3 + 1 + 1) years. The present company, Leonardo, has a contract which expires in November. PPI beat out Leonardo, CAE, Thales, Qintetiq, Airbus and Trans Capital.

But shortly after our award, UN Procurement chief Dmitry Dovgopoly refused to approve the agreed upon terms and demanded PPI perform a demonstration flight prior to contract signature. Inner City Press covered Dovgopoly and similar tricks back when he was at the “D-1” level, and received pushback and is currenty still restricted to minders in the UN for pursuing its anti-corruption coverage into the UN Press Briefing Room, its work space purportedly assigned to a no-show Eygptian state corresponent Sanaa Youssef who has not asked a question in ten years.

On March 23, Inner City Press asked Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Antonio Guterres who had Inner City Press evicted from the UN Press Briefing Room then its office, and still restricted, about this, UN transcript here: Inner City Press: on UN Procurement, I wanted to ask you something.  It… it seems like there's a… there's a contract for the drones, or aerial unmanned systems?

Spokesman:  Unmanned.

Inner City Press: And there was a declared winner, and… and somehow the winner… the… the… the low bidder is now being told that they're not getting the contract, and that Mr. [Dmitri] Dovgopoly of UN Procurement seeks to do sole-source negotiations with people that had higher bids.  I wonder if you can get a statement from them what the status of that is?

Spokesman:  I'll see… I'll see what I can get."

 But when Dujarric got UN Procurement's misleading line, he didn't email it to Inner City Press. Instead, on March 26 his deputy read out at the briefing: "Stéphane [Dujarric] was asked some procurement questions last Friday.  I can say that the requirement for unmanned aerial services was the subject of a request for proposals - or “RFP”.  Under RFP exercises, the Organization may award a contract to the proposer offering the best value for money.  This requires an evaluation of both the technical and financial offers of each proposer.  The lowest bidder, therefore, will not necessarily be successful.  In the MONUSCO [United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] exercise, there was no “declared winner”.  One of the proposers, whose financial proposal was the lowest, had been issued a “notice of consideration of award”.  The award was subject to successful contract negotiations.  Unfortunately, no contract was concluded because the UN technical experts rescinded the original technical evaluation of this vendor after learning of information which rendered the technical proposal non-compliant.  Any suggestion of an intention to enter into 'sole source' negotiations is not correct."

   Then after more read-outs and questions about the expulsion of Russian diplomats (Inner City Press story here), Haq called on Inner City Press. Video here. Here's how the UN transcribed it, intentionally chopped -up,: Inner City Press:  I have other stuff, but I wanted… on the answer that you're reading to what I asked on Friday, my question, I guess, is this.  Is… is… the… the… number one, the low bidder says that… that they were subjected after they were deemed to be the low bidder, if not awarded the contract, to additional checks that the previous winners had not been subjected to, namely, Leonardo and Thales.  The main question… you seem… maybe sole source is the wrong word.  I've been informed that Mr. [Dmitri] Dovgopoly has sought permission from Mr.  Christian Sau… Mr.… excuse… Mr. Saunders to inform the… the losing bidders or the higher bidders of exactly how much money the UN has to pay for this service, basically instructing them on how to submit a winning bid so there can be done by… by November.  And it seems… that seems wasteful.  Beyond whatever the rights of the… of the initially low bidder was, it doesn't seem to… way to… to conduct procurement is if you're holding a bidding one to say here's how much money we have; tell us how you can spend it.  So, I guess I… I don't know if you're… maybe you're reading a statement, and I wish it could have been sent to me so I could have… could have narrowed down the issue.  But it… there seems to be irregularities in the procurement of these drones and… and the main question being, why is the low bidder in this case being subjected to tests that others weren't submitted to?

Deputy Spokesman:  Regarding what you said, like I said, the offer had been rescinded after we learned of information which rendered the technical proposal noncompliant.  And, regarding the process, this is a process that involves procurement and our Office for Legal Affairs, who have both reviewed this matter.

Inner City Press:  And are they informing the bidders of how much money there is for them to bid for the full amount, then?

Deputy Spokesman:  This is as much as I'll say about that procurement process at this stage." Today's UN is corrupt.

In this case, Dovgopoly is said to be lobbied by European interests, see the list of bidders above. As Inner City Press reported, the UN drone program was pushed by Herve Ladsous, the fourth of now five Frenchmen in a row to run UN Peacekeeping.

Dovgopoly's “ditch the winner” campaign has included two site inspections and the demand for a demonstration flight prior to deployment, none of which was performed with Leonardo or Thales. PPI tells Inner City Press it agreed to all demands and began manufacturing of aircraft with its contractors. Dovgopoly canceled the demonstration flight a month later. The manufacturing of aircraft has been suspended as a result.

Dovgopoly has reportedly since alleged that PPI misrepresented a relationship with one of its proposed vendors, which PPI denies. Dovgopoly has sent PPI notice rescinding the notice of consideration for award and requested permission to directly negotiate with competitors due to the urgent need to provide MONUSCO with airborne ISR capability as soon as possible. He has requested permission to inform vendors of the allocated budget, and allow vendors to revise their technical proposals to “accommodate the financial constraint.”

Inner City Press understands that the UN's Headquarters Committee on Contracts has ruled the losing competitors' bids no longer valid since the Request For Proposals was from October 2016. It seems Dovgopoly wishes to discloses how much money is available and allow vendors to inform the UN services they can perform and dictate the price. Paying more for less! But it has happened before, as Inner City Press. And now, under Antonio Guterres. We'll have more on this.


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