I would like to say that my own experience with OIOS could be written off as an isolated case, an aberration or an anomaly. Unfortunately, it is not.
I am only one of FOUR investigators at the P-4 level in the New York office of OIOS/ID whose careers have essentially been ruined – all by the same Unit Chief; Roberta Baldini.
Four? Each with many years investigation experience, all having “difficulties” with a Unit Chief who had been in an investigation job since 2009.
That must be a co-incidence.
Only TWO P-4 level investigators doing any investigation work in the New York office survived unscathed.
Unfortunately, the two that Baldini did not have a problem with were the one of who (along with herself) was responsible for the US$1.8 Million wasted on the Insurance Fraud Working Group when one of the material witnesses admitted to every claim being fraudulent and OIOS ignored it.
The other was the investigator responsible for the Lubbad case, which was not only a spectacular mess in it’s own right, but demonstrated a complete failure to understand either the mechanisms for international co-operation or the implications of an investigation with possible terrorist implications.
Still, maybe the other four were worse! That would indeed be really terrible, if only there were the evidence to back it up.
In my own case, I asked what I was alleged to have done wrong and oddly enough, I was repeatedly denied answers to my questions.
I can only tell my own story, but if you add up all of this up in terms of experience; you are left with the curious observation. That one Unit Chief, whose investigation experience dated back to 2009 (that is the year, not the time in the 24 hour clock), knew better than, and caused damage to, the careers of four investigators at the P-4 level and the Director of the Investigations Division, amounting to a cumulative total of what is probably over 100 years investigative experience.
This same OIOS/ID Unit Chief managed to be named in something like eight misconduct reports herself. Eight. Most investigation agencies would consider one to be one too many, but the UN had no problem with eight.
In fact, the UN had no problem with there being a veritable epidemic of over 20 misconduct complaints pending in the New York office of OIOS/ID, despite there being less than 30 people employed there.
Some people might go out on a limb and conclude that there was a serious management problem here. Unfortunately, if any of these people worked for the UN Department of Management, they clearly didn’t think there was a better strategy than “more of the same.” In fact, the Department of Management appear to have been more concerned with finding ways to dismiss complaints than actually doing something about what was causing them.
Casual observers might suspect that there was something odd going on here. It is particulalry curious that many people outside the UN, who have no investigative training at all, and who are not even MENSA members, have no trouble in recognising a pattern that nobody inside the Organisation can see. That must just be a coincidence.
Four out of six P-4 level investigators all targeted by the same Unit Chief. Of course, if we accept – for the same of argument – that there was a pattern here, and that pattern was an indication of getting rid of the dead wood and making the incompetent investigators accountable for the disasters of their own making, it would be commendable.
Unfortunately, if you review UNDT judgements that are – for want of a better term – OIOS public embarrassments, and try to correlate these with the four investigators who had difficulties with Baldini, the result is interesting; because none of them can be connected to any case that resulted in expensive judgements against the Organisation.
A score of zero for four.
On the other hand, if you look at the two investigators whose work Baldini found perfectly acceptable, you will find a string of expensive blunders that had to be covered up, yet neither of them suffered any consequences for their spectacular professional follies.
It would of course be completely incorrect to suggest that osculation of the gluteus maximus is an acknowledged career enhancement strategy in OIOS.
It is curious that the UN is happy to see any number of professional, experienced investigators discredited and their careers harmed, while at the same time protecting the clique of individuals responsible for mishandled cases that cost the Organisation significant sums of money to cover up.
This is not a secret. The Department of Management were aware of what was happening, but they preferred to make decisions on the basis of favoured personalities rather than the evidence before them. So, here is the homework that nobody wants to do:
Case: Financial Cost to the UN
Add to that the cost of making the Stefanovic case disappear. How much did that cost? That case, of course, arose because of – guess what? – a misconduct complaint made by Roberta Baldini based on “an innocuous remark about New Yorkers to a colleague made 18 months earlier.”
That, of course, was after Baldini had been spectacularly unsuccessful in her bid for promotion, when despite being an internal candidate her test score ranked her 15th out of the 17 applicants for the post. Most people who perform that badly in a test have the good sense to shut up about it; Baldini drew attention to it by challenging the process based on her knowledge of all the other candidates applying for the same position.
Wait a minute; how would one applicant for a job know who else was being considered? Why was nobody concerned about the integrity of the recruitment process being compromised? A good question.
Given the number of misconduct complaints, and in particular the history of very questionable behaviour that had gone on in the Nguyen-Kropp & Postica and Sirohi cases, the senior management of the UN appear to have been extraordinarily tolerant to the deteriorating situation within OIOS, and wilfully blind to the same people being responsible.
In the UN however, “management” has nothing to do with how someone in a position of authority actually performs the job of managing their staff or their work. Instead it involves hiding behind every technicality and every imaginable excuse that the “proper procedure” was followed.
The only thing that is important is following the procedure. We live in an insane world where form triumphs over substance, where nobody is concerned about whether any action was good, bad, right or wrong; the only thing the UN is concerned about is the “proper procedure.” This leaves us with the rather astonishing concept of how UN staff could quite easily stand by and do nothing, while every remaining Jew in Europe was herded into extermination camps and provided there was no UN procedure that specifically states that something must be done to prevent it, and precisely what action should be taken – while it might be all very regrettable, no UN staff would consider they were doing anything wrong by just sitting around watching and none of them would be disciplined for it.
Positions of ‘management’ in the UN offer power without responsibility – something once famously described as “the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.”
Where is the accountability?
The Secretary-General talks a good game, but where is it in practice? The facts show that significant financial losses to the Organisation appear to be of no concern to anyone, and “management” does not actually involve holding anyone accountable for anything. It certainly doesn’t involve removing incompetent staff from positions where they are doing damage.
But does this matter?
No. Not at all….. unless you are either:
a) a taxpayer (particularly a US taxpayer), or
b) a UN staff member.
Much of the world gets their membership of the UN for what is essentially the price of a skimmed milk latte, but this is not the place for (yet another) diatribe on the inequalities of the UN budget. The point is that the US taxpayer picks up a quarter of the bill and one-country-one-vote means the US will always be out-voted by countries demanding they pay even more.
It is what it is. Complain about it if you will. Having paid for it, however, there are taxpayers around the world (and not just in Tennessee or South Dakota) who believe their tax dollars should be spent wisely. This is a belief that I share. I think it is tied up with that thing called ‘accountability’ but let’s not go there just yet.
Now, it would be a mistake to assume that this is all about OIOS making expensive mistakes which the UN pays to cover up. It is more than that. OIOS was established to investigate – and therefore to prevent – fraud, waste and abuse. It is not doing that. The watchman is asleep on the job, so we have no idea of just how much of the UN budget is being …..lost.
What I do know is that while we don’t know home much, some of it could be being diverted to fund terrorism, contrary to UN Security Council Resolution 1373.
Ah. That could be a problem.
I know that because on a number of occasions, OIOS proved to be blind to the risk; but that is another story for another day.
The more pressing question is what is being done to minimise the amount of the UN budget lost to fraud or embezzlement and the answer to that, unfortunately, is not only do we know know, but the UN senior management do not want OIOS to investigate it, and anyone who believes that OIOS is “independent” probably also believes in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter bunny.
Of course, any UN staff members who have their hand in the cookie jar and are diverting some of the UN’s multi-billion dollar budget into their own pocket will be quite happy with the dysfunctional state of affairs perpetuated in OIOS.
What about the other UN staff members? What about those who are just trying to do their job honestly and to the best of their abilities?
The lesson to be learned from, for example, the Kompass case, is not encouraging. It confirms that OIOS is not independent in any way, and that senior management use “misconduct investigations” as a means of persecuting individuals they do not like.
Some wit coined the expression “private Gestapo”. Unfortunately, this is precisely what it is, and not only is OIOS quite happy to be used as a tool of this oppression, but the Ethics Office actively supports the travesty.
This leaves a very clear message to any staff member considering making a report of misconduct against anyone senior to themselves; if you do so:
any “investigation” is very unlikely to clear the subject of any wrongdoing,
you will be retaliated against,
the Ethics Office will not recognise that retaliation, and
sooner or later, OIOS will act on a complaint against you, and
you will not be cleared of any wrongdoing.
Now consider this. What if you are a woman? If you work in the UN, particularly in one of the field missions, there is always the risk you could become the victim of a sexual assualt.
The reality is that the UN doesn’t want to know, and will do whatever they can to dismiss the complaint, or downplay something that meets the legal definition of an assault to merely harassment. Without a strongly independent OIOS, committed to the aggressive investigation of SEA complaints, your prospects are not looking good…..
Anyone who wonders how the UN really handles Sexual Exploitation and Abuse reports may be interested in knowing how an investigation can be structured in such a way as to totally useless but allow the Organisation to assure any concerned parties that all the procedures were followed.
I cannot speak for any of the other investigators, but the UN insists that I am 100% wrong, 100% of the time. This is curious because – apart from being mathematically unlikely – nobody could point out a single example of a single investigation that I mismanaged, and the UN considers it appropriate that I be sanctioned for asking questions.
More importantly, absolutely nobody would ever address the merits of anything I ever raised, but instead they hid behind every technicality and convoluted legal argument imaginable, and counter-attacked by accusing me of ‘harassment’.
It does not really require the brains of a rocket scientist to work of why nobody would even try to answer my questions. But that, however, does not constitute any sort of “evidence” that I, like the other three P-4 investigators (or even the Director, ID) were NOT all so intellectually disadvantaged that our combined IQs was still a negative number.
Statistically, one must consider that as a possibility – even if only a slim one – that Roberta Baldini just took over as Unit Chief and therefore inherited four useless, knuckle-dragging, slack-jawed morons who were so incompetent that they couldn’t do the jobs they were paid for.
Unfortunately, all four joined after she did, so apart from raising questions about how four (allegedly) dim-witted imbeciles all manged to get through the selection process; the fact is that all four arrived in New York after she did, so that argument doesn’t hold water.
In my own case; what if OIOS was actually correct, and I can neither read, write nor follow a simple set of instructions? If that were the case, why was it so important that they refuse to answer any of my questions when I asked them to point out precisely what I had done wrong?
The refusal to answer my initial questions, in a nutshell, is where the whole thing started to come apart.
So, this is the story of the UN’s concerted effort to portray me as the worst investigator since the dawn of history.
What I cannot do, unfortunately, is tell the story of three of my colleagues who were all victims of the same malevolence, which is a pity because it appears that there may have been more than just one “worst investigator since the dawn of history”…..
That, of course, would have to be either a quite amazing coincidence, or else evidence of a pattern of behaviour.
Don’t go there…… the UN doesn’t like to recognise patterns of behaviour