Who Ordered $7.5 million of Generators?  Where are they now?

10/1/2002

United Nations peace forces in former Yugoslavia, purchased 650 generators at a total cost of $7.2 million that were never used or were later sent to other missions with similar results.

Thirty-nine generators shipped to Haiti were incompatible with the electrical equipment in the UN operation there and had to be transported back to base at an avoidable cost of $328,000 while there were other costly foul-ups in Somalia and Rwanda.

A contractor to the UN operation in the Golan Heights, provided poor quality goods and used UN trucks to smuggle controlled merchandise into Syria and a senior UN staffer at the UNDOF PX, used its facilities for personal purchases that broke diplomatic protocols and customs regulations.

Some 15 guards were engaged for the International War Crimes Tribunal for former Yugoslavia more than six months before the first detainee arrived and even before detention cells were ready.

At Habitat, a staffer was overpaid about $2,500 a month for several years.  In another case a staffer received a $33,000 rent subsidy for a New York apartment for three years after the recipient had moved to another continent.   And at the UN office in Nairobi, swimming pools and saunas were included in some cases in rent subsidies. 

These were some of the shortcomings identified by the Office of Internal Oversight Services in its report prepared at the time by Under Secretary General Karl Theodor Paschke in 1996.

Referring to UN peace forces “the most extensive and complex peacekeeping operation in the history of the United Nations”, the report said that better management could have produced significant savings and that a lack of guidance led to the transfer of inventories worth over $35 million from the forces in Bosnia to NATO’s Implementation Force (IFOR) without proper accounting.  Also there was a lack of internal control over nearly $60 million in reimbursements to troop providers for spare parts and repairs. 

Those 650 unneeded generators were purchased, according to the report, because planners did not anticipate that troop contingents would bring in their own generating capacity. 

In Haiti, avoidable delays in establishing purchasing and service contracts resulted in higher costs amounting to $12.4 million.  There were also delays in providing communications because a contractor failed to deliver on time and provided low grade circuits.  In the Angola operation, deficiencies included improper maintenance of records, “excessive numbers” of vehicles and lack of control over their use.

Subsistence allowance overpayments in peacekeeping missions in Tajikistan, Georgia, Iraq, Kuwait and Guatemala amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of which was lost for want of timely recovery action.  “An audit of the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) for example, determined that many military and civilian staff had been paid mission subsistence allowance in excess of the authorized rate” the report said, adding that UNMOT disagreed and delayed recovery action as a result of which the UN may have lost over $300,000.  The UN had better luck in Kuwait were overpayments were made for annual leave, compensatory time off, weekends and holidays for an estimated total of $844,000 that was recovered.

“Due care was not always taken when shipping equipment to peacekeeping operations” the report said.   “Several audits identified cases were the equipment shipped was either unusable or in such poor condition that it needed extensive repairs. 

The main question is which officers authorised these wasteful expenses and WHERE ARE THEY NOW?