MAARTEN HOLL/ Fairfax NZ
The densely worded report by the UNDP's executive board - Clark's bosses since she became secretary-general in April 2009 - amounts to a stinging performance review.
US media reports say she is leading a counter-attack claiming the study misses the point behind its work.
But the report paints a striking picture of a confused organisation seemingly unable to bring significant change to the world's 1.3 billion poor people despite spending US$8.5 billion on fighting poverty between 2004 and 2011.
"Even when UNDP undertakes activities with an explicit poverty orientation, the approach often lacks a pro-poor bias and tends to rely instead on the trickle-down process," the report said.
The problem was not that trickle-down processes may or may not work, but that the UNDP appeared satisfied with that as the only gain possible against poverty, it said.
"Its priority demands that it should seek to maximise the gains for the poor by explicitly trying to impart a distinct pro-poor bias to whatever it does.
The key issue was "the limited ability of UNDP to demonstrate whether its poverty reduction activities have contributed to any significant change in the lives of the people it is trying to help".
The anti-poverty programmes in 162 countries were "disconnected" and "seriously compromised" by lack of follow-up work," the report said.
‘‘(Findings) point to the fact that poor are often not the direct beneficiaries or only loosely indirect.’’
The report said it was hard to work out what is actually spent on fighting poverty because the body's "programming devoted to poverty reduction becomes even more blurred when projects, reported as contributing to poverty reduction, are not designed to do so.’’
There was a rapid turnover of staff "causing loss of institutional memory".
"Many UNDP country programmes include a subset of activities that have very remote connection with poverty, if at all," the report said.
"For an organisation that has been entrusted with the task of poverty reduction as its top priority, this raises concerns about how resources are directed."