Tuesday, January 13, 2009

SATYAM: New procurement scandal shows scale of U.N.D.P problems

FoxNews yesterday brought into daylight another UNDP procurement scandal.

Procurement and the U.N. have often made for uncomfortable bedfellows, but when the organisation trumpeted its reform of a system that had come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, it finally seemed that the days of scandal were at an end….or so we thought.

Now, an investigation by FOX News has revealed that a firm that was suspended from the World Bank list of authorised vendors in February 2008, still received over $4m from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The reason? Well, according to UNDP officials, as they are a legally separate U.N. agency they are not bound to honour the World Bank - Procurement Service sanctions (sounds familiar).

The irony – not lost on those unforgiving souls at FOX – is that the UNDP is the premier agency through which the U.N. operates in most of the 160 countries it currently services, and is a leading figure in the program known (rather unfortunately given the current circumstances) as “One U.N” – a scheme designed to rationalise the delivery and efficiency of U.N. services across the globe.

Satyam, currently called "Indian Enron" - an IT outsourcing is the company who dealt with World Bank (WB) and other UN agencies, were dropped by World Bank after being involved in a high profile corruption scandal with Bank Officials.

However, documents obtained by FOX suggest that the ink was barely dry on the order to remove it from its list of vendors at World Bank than the UNDP was considering using the company to fulfil an order or "reviewing, removing and storing its HQ's- IT internal records".

The news is likely to come as a devastating blow to the U.N. and U.N.D.P., but clearly illustrates the procurement challenges facing such a vast organisations. This leopard, it seems, will need more time to convince a sceptical public that it has changed its spots.

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