Anyone beginning to think that the managerial abilities in OIOS were simply limited to correcting memos like a junior school teacher would, in fact be mistaken.
It was also possible to get their panties all in a wad over how one used the “forward” function on the e-mail programme. Not many people appreciate just how much technical skill, or indeed bureaucratic protocol is required to forward an e-mail, but any expectation that the recipient would understand what to do is clearly misplaced.
The delicate matter of forwarding a simple internal e-mail was of such importance that the Deputy Director had to get involved in criticising the way I did so. This was, of course, the same Michael Dudley who helped make a spectacular public mess of the Lubbad investigation by sending ill-considered Notes Verbale to a number of Member States, there is some irony in his criticism of anyone else’s communication skills, but leave that aside for a moment.
On 16 January 2013, I was asked to take over responsibility for Case #0245/12, and I duly did so. This involved the UN mission in Iraq being taken for a very expensive ride by a cartel in the construction industry.
After I was reassigned out of her unit, there was a considerable amount of to-ing and fro-ing about this case. Baldini insisted that I continue to work on it, even though I was no longer in her unit, oblivious to the fact that I was – by definition – now going to be working on something else. Dudley insisting that a handover note was not enough and that it was necessary for me to write a Workplan for the investigation that someone else would then do.
The case was then re-assigned to Michael Dudley himself, and it sat on his desk for a month, in which time, although he went thtrough it looking for anything that could be used to criticise me, he did not do anything that involved adding a single document to the file.
So, on 12 October, an e-mail arrived asking a question about the case, and as I was no longer working on it, I looked up the case management system to see who was, and I duly forwarded it to them, adding the simple note:
Request from Mission in respect of Case 0245/12. Could the currently designated investigator please respond?
This was not St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. It was forwarding an internal email to the persons who I had cause to believe were now responsible for the matter. It was not Churchill’s appeal for assistance from Rooseveldt, it was not Shakespeare’s invitation to the Queen and it was not the Duke of Wellington’s report from the field at Waterloo………and it was not good enough.
Deputy Director Michael Dudley – Senior Picker of Nits and Chief Selective Apologist for Gross Incompetence (when the need arose) – insisted that it was neither professional not clear and he didn’t understand it.
His inability to understand is clearly a sad indictment of the education system when he was a child but that is hardly my fault. As an investigator in the international arena, it is often necessary to extract information from people who speak only broken English and whose mis-spelt written communications are an abomination to grammar and can be difficult to comprehend. Here we have an OIOS Deputy Director who cannot even understand a brief note. I would suggest that he attend a basic English language course, because unlike the Report Writing course that I was told I had to attend, at least the UN does actually teach English.
By now, the penny should have dropped for anyone concerned about investigating fraud and corruption involving the UN’s multi-billion dollar budget. Oh goodness gracious, no! The question to be asking instead, is whether there is ANYTHING in OIOS that is too small, or too insignificant or simply too juvenile for anyone to deal with, and the answer is – if course – no. The fuss generated by one forwarded e-mail is testimony to that.
Who wants to investigate why the UN was being ripped off, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, by a construction cartel in Iraq? Its much more important that e-mails are forwarded “correctly”.
Why would anyone want to ask why the UN Mission was actually building new buildings in Iraq at the time when the United States Army was pulling out of the country, vacating plenty of buildings and camps? It’s far more important that the Deputy Director of the Investigations Division latch on to the slightest excuse to discredit investigators who had much more experience than he did, and who understood what a cartel was, and who understood how bribery and corruption are often involved. Dudley, on the other hand, insisted that that case should not be investigated by OIOS anyway; there was no evidence that a UN staff member was involved.
No, there was not – and if OIOS didn’t investigate it, there never would be…..
Dudley expressed the opinion that I could not be trusted to use the e-mail system. My own view was that Dudley could not be trusted at all, and within a few weeks, I attended the hearing in the Nguyen-Kropp & Postica case and if I had thought things were bad before that……. I had no idea what was coming.
There was a post-script to this. The next time an e-mail came in that related to something that was no longer my responsibility, less than two weeks later, I forwarded it just as I had been asked to do…… and Baldini STILL complained!
“Once again”, she said, Peter had “dropped the ball.”
The only problem this time is that I had done nothing of the sort, and it was her who failed to read her e-mails and see that I had done precisely what I had been required to do. Oh dear. Never mind. An apology would have been nice. It wouldn’t have cost anything, but the UN doesn’t believe in apologies.
10,000 people does of cholera in Haiti, thanks to the UN and if that is not worth an apology; so the odds of me getting an apology for a false accusation are about the same as Paris Hilton’s chances of being elected Pope.
One thing was fairly clear; win, lose or draw; there was not a snowball’s chance in Hell that I was going to avoid becoming the subject of a misconduct complaint for long. It was only a matter of time, and the only unknown element was whether it would be Dudley or Baldini or Dzuro who eventually scored the goal and gave Lapointe a misconduct report she could act on ….
The bias was so obvious that a blind man on the dark side of the moon could see it. Even Dan Wilson saw it, but in the finest traditions of the UN, he wrote a memo about it but was not prepared to go so far as to demand that Dudley or Baldini cease and desist. To do that might compromise his chances of being appointed the Director of the Ethics Office.
Try not to laugh.
THIS is the sad reality of what passes for “Integrity, Impartiality, Objectivity and Professionalism” in OIOS…..