UN's No-Bid Lockheed Contract, Russia Demands Investigation, Why Council Misled
Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis
November 20 -- With questions still unanswered about the UN's
no-bid $250 million contract with Lockheed
Martin for infrastructure in
Darfur, on Tuesday the Russian Federation asked for an investigation of the
contract, and noted that neither it nor other Security Council members were told
about Lockheed arrangement, which
dates to April 2007,
before the Council approved by Darfur hybrid peacekeeping force on July 31,
2007. The sole-source contract's first
promoter, Assistant Secretary General
Jane Holl Lute, declined to
substantively answer questions posed by Inner City Press at a public forum on UN
accountability, where Rajat Saha, the outgoing chairman of the UN's Advisory
Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions speaking in his personal
capacity, chided Ms. Holl Lute for lack of planning and spoke of a growing
"mistrust between the Secretary-General and the member states." For the second
in a row, series of questions were posed by member states in a formal session of
the UN General Assembly's budget committee, with answers requested in a public,
formal session. But despite a commitment by the UN spokesperson to provide basis
information such as how much money has been paid to Lockheed Martin since the
contract's announcement on October 15, the subsequently answer had no dollar
figure, and none of the terms of the contract.
or irony would have it, at least two officials involved in the no-bid contract
were on Tuesday morning speaking at a UN University public forum about
accountability, held at the New York offices of the African Union. Secretary
General for Management Alicia Barcena began the proceedings with a 24-minute
speech mentioned the need for ethics training in procurement. Inner City Press
asked Ms. Barcena questions about the Lockheed contract,
answers to which
she left to Warren Sach, currently UN Controller and reportedly soon to be
shifted to Assistant Secretary General for procurement, with Japan touted to
take over the Controller spot.
panel that followed, Jane Holl Lute derided those who say that transparency
means letting everyone know everything all the time. That's "gossip... which is
also prevalent" at the UN, she said. Inner City Press asked about the no-bid
contract with Lockheed Martin, and about member states'
the process Monday in the Fifth Committee. "I wasn't in the Fifth
Committee yesterday," Ms. Holl Lute responded, adding that this was not the
right forum to discuss a particular contract, but that all rules were followed.
The outgoing chairman of the UN's Advisory Committee on Administrative and
Budgetary Questions Rajat Saha, sitting next to Jane Holl Lute, publicly advised
her that more planning should have been done, earlier -- that is, that that $250
million contract should have been put out to bid.
Lockheed's got the contract -- and
questions asked Tuesday in the GA's budget committee, by the
UN's own write-up,
"Was the company awarded the contract the
only one capable of fulfilling all aspects of the contract? Was there no other
company? It appeared that there was at least one other competitor in the field
that could do the same work. There were also several smaller companies
currently providing services to AMIS. Could the contract not have been split up
and put through competitive bidding? Given that approval for the contract had
been given on 25 April, what was the point of having a Headquarters Committee on
Contracts review? Why had the Headquarters Committee on Contracts been made to
rush through a decision by 31 August, despite not having sufficient
these questions, and Russia's request for an investigation of the contract, and
criticism of the Security Council members not having been provided with
pertinent information about the April request and decision to go sole-source in
Darfur prior to the UNAMID vote on July 31, it is
Bock Yeo, the Officer-in-Charge of the
Peacekeeping Financing Division, told the Committee that the Secretariat had
carefully recorded all the questions that had been raised and was preparing a
detailed response in writing to all of them. The Controller and the head of
procurement would be at the next informal meeting of the Committee to address
questions relating to the single-source contract.
meetings, it should be noted, are closed to the press and public. What was that,
again, about transparency? In response to Inner City Press' questions at Tuesday
noon briefing about the contract, and how much money has been paid out, this
word was once again cited. From the
Question: It's a $250 million contract.
Was all that money paid at once? Is it paid in installments? Mr. Guehenno
said... that there's some danger of not actually doing the deployment if the
helicopters are not given and a variety of things happen. In that case, would
all of the money still be paid? And are they in fact already building the
Spokesperson: They are already building
the camps, yes.
Question: And how much of the $250
million has been already transferred to them? Can we find that out?
Spokesperson: Okay, I don’t have that
number, but I can ask DPKO or the Controller's Office to find out for you what
has been dispersed so far.
Question: And do we know if, as Mr.
Guehenno, at least, raised the possibility, if a decision is made for whatever
reason either to delay or to not deploy, is the UN legally responsible to still
pay the full $250 million or is there some... Can this, at least, provision of
the contract be explained? Whether the UN is on the hook for the full amount or
not the full amount?
Spokesperson: I'll try to get the
information for you. (Video
Apparently DPKO and the Controller, when asked, refused to provide the
information about how much has been paid, and the terms of the contract. This is
what Inner City Press was sent after the noon briefing:
Subj: your question on Sudan at briefing
From: unspokesperson-donotreply [at] un.org
To: matthew.lee [at] innercitypress.com
Date: 11/20/2007 1:47:47 PM Eastern Standard Time
The $250 million is for the Heavy Support
Package, which is the current UN phase of operation in Darfur until the
establishment of the hybrid operation that has been mandated by the Security
Council to take place before.
The $250 million will be tapped as needed
in accordance with the logistical requirements on the ground.
As the SG himself said yesterday, "Abut
the issue of contracts – this contract has been authorized by me, considering
the extraordinary special circumstances where we couldn't find any proper
companies able to carry out such projects. That particular company was the only
one that was immediately available and that has been doing similar construction
there, and there are practical timelines which the United Nations should meet –
the deadlines. Therefore, for me, it was necessary to take some extraordinary
measures by authorizing that. But I would like to make it again quite clear that
I will make it most transparent and accountable in carrying out contract
mean that the contract or its terms will, as requested and previously promised,
be made public? Does it mean that the now-promised response to the above-quoted
Fifth Committee questions will be made public? Watch this site.
* * *
here for a
AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army.
for an earlier
piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's
$200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund. Video
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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