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As UN Confirms ICP Scoop on CMP Overruns, USUN Only Tweets, Wants DM?

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 14, updated -- On Monday a cost overrun in the UN Capital Master Plan of $265 million, up from $79 million, was reported by Inner City Press, along with the analysis that this makes it far less likely that another new UN building, the so-called DC-5 or "Ban's Boondoggle," will be built.

  On Tuesday the UN confirmed the increased cost overrun and also the additional "associated costs" of $147 million reported by Inner City Press.

  But the spokesman for Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, he of the boondoggle, said there was no connection with DC-5, that "is totally unconnected, as you well know, that should anything happen on that front, it is dealt with by an entirely different body — it’s not dealt with by the United Nations itself, and I think you know that."

  Inner City Press followed up, with the US and UK Missions to the UN and with Ban's spokesman, Martin Nesirky:

Inner City Press: at least some Member States are saying, although it would be the UN Development Corporation that would actually build DC-5, they are considering now this idea of a contingency plan for the footprint or logistics of the UN. So they see it as connected in this way: if in fact there have been these overruns on repair, what level of confidence do they have? Are you saying that the building of DC-5 could never cost the UN budget money?

Spokesperson: The building, should such a building be constructed, it would be under that Corporation, which is not a UN body, okay?

  Many member states' representatives have told Inner City Press they see a connection: once Ban's Secretariat so badly underestimated or understated the costs of the CMP, why gamble more money for a building that may not be necessary (and which, incidentally, would unilaterally destroy a playground)?

  A UK spokesman responded to Inner City Press with this: "Fifth Committee is now in session with decisions on the Capital Master Plan needed by the end of next week. We are looking at the detail closely, and are of course concerned at projected cost over-runs."

  The US Mission to the UN was twice asked for comment, specifically from its Ambassador for such issues, Joe Torsella. In response, after a day, Inner City Press was directed to Torsella's Tweets on the topic.

  These do not address DC-5; notably, many of Torsella's tweets are in fact pro-UN re-tweets, for example about the Lubanga verdict (click here for Inner City Press' story on UN's role with another unindicted child soldier recruiter, Peter Karim), the appointment of a 71-year old Swede to be Ban's deputy, unqualified praise for the "Action Agenda" of Ban Ki-moon, which so far has meant rotating his long time advisers Kim Won-soo and Yoon Yeochol to new but close by jobs, and shifting American Bob Orr to an invented public private partnerships job. Some reform.

  On the CMP overruns, Torsella links as "UN101" to a story that undercounted the overrun as 4%.

  But perhaps, while not stated in Torsella's Twitter profile, retweets are not endorsements. In fairness we note that while not commenting on DC-5, Torsella has tweeted concerns and questions about the CMP overruns:

"Three questions we have for UN: In papersmart UN, why are we paying between $3.2 - $6.4 million for new filing cabinets?!? Where are old ones? [This tweeted link didn't work, at least when tried by Inner City Press] 2. Auditors urged desk-sharing -- common in private sector -to save "at least" 10-20% on space costs. Why wasn't that implemented? 3. Big savings were projected from energy efficiency of rehabbed buildings. Now would be a good time to show us that money!"

  Notably, the head of the CMP is an American, Michael Adlerstein. Some say the US hopes to take over not only the Department of Political Affairs, but also the Department of Management, perhaps with Patrick Kennedy. The Department of Management oversees the CMP.

  So could their be some conflicts of interest, or weakening, in this US Mission's stated commitment to reform the UN? Watch this site.

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Click here for Sept 23, '11 about UN General Assembly

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

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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

Click here for Sept 26, 2011 New Yorker on Inner City Press at UN

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