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UNDP Fudges Herfkens' Part-Time Work, Dodges on Lockheed Connection, Other Staff Files Withheld

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

UNITED NATIONS, February 25 -- In the wake of the UN Development Program's poverty czar Eveline Herfkens having been found to have accepted $7000 a month in rent from the Dutch government for years, in violation of UN rules, UNDP has continued to defend her. As Inner City Press reported, UNDP's Associate Administrator Ad Melkert has lobbied for Herfkens to not have to pay back the housing subsidy, on the theory that she did not know the rules. On Monday, UNDP placed online her contract, to claim that despite the housing subsidy windfall, her annual salary from 2002 to 2006 was $134,331 -- or, the contract says, 80% of that. Click here for the contract. There are two problem. In a January 9 online posting, UNDP said Herfkens was working 75% at the time. And while Herfkens claims ignorance of the rules as a defense, the contract says that the rules have been provided, and even talks about offset for UNDP housing allowance.

            UNDP's online posting of Herfkens contract contradicts its crackdowns on whistle-blowing staff members and contractors. Apparently it is not the type of document made public that constitutes a problem, but rather who makes it public and why. If to expose corruption, it is a firing offense. But if to defend a politically-connected get-over, disclosure of contracts is fine. Melkert was to be found on Monday singing the praise of corporation, specifying UNDP's partnership with Cisco and Google, click here for video. Partnership with Google, indeed.

UNDP's Melkert, lobbying for Herfkens not shown

            While UNDP issues defenses of Herfkens and Melkert, it leaves other questions unanswered. On Monday Inner City Press asked UNDP fewer than ten questions, none of which were answered by day's end.  One of the questions was a matter Inner City Press has already written about, questioning the basis for the Africa business development for military contractor Lockheed Martin being on the board of directors of the US Committee for UNDP, and what safeguards are in place to make sure that no apparent conflicts of interest arise from Lockheed Martin's status as a major contractor to the UN, including a recent $250 million no-bid contract in Sudan. There is no answer, no answer at all.

Footnote: while UNDP self-servingly posts online Herfkens' contract, questions to the UN about the contract status of sadly high profile computer technician have been met with a stonewall, a response from the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General that "the United Nations does not disclose information of a personal nature relating to individual employees."  UNDP's Hefkens upload puts a lie to that. Now what? Watch this site.

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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

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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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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