The United Nations internal Task Force investigating procurement will come to an end on December 31, 2008 due to a lack of funding.
In the strange world of the U.N., the elimination of an internal task force is the best evidence of its effectiveness. In fact, in just the last three years, the U.N. Procurement Task Force, has uncovered 630 billion dollars worth of contracts tainted by fraud, corruption or mismanagement.
In addition, the Task Force is still investigating 150 cases of which one third involve fraud and corruption. These cases will never be completed before December 31, 2008, but may represent another billion dollars in suspect contracts.
The Procurement Task Force headed by former U.S. federal prosecutor Robert Appleton and staffed with eighteen legal professionals plan to focus on only eight more cases before the task force ends its investigations by the start of the new year.
Still, it was just two weeks ago, that the Task Force announced that it had uncovered five more cases of fraud and mismanagement. These new cases total 20 million dollars of U.N. contracts according to the unit's annual report to the U.N. General Assembly. These recent cases involve air charter services in the Congo, office supplies in Kenya, consulting jobs in Greece, and payroll services in New York.
Last year, the Procurement Task Force issued a series of reports that highlighted the fact that corruption had spread from United Nations headquarters to its peacekeeping efforts. It identified ten significant instances of fraud and corruption with an aggregate value of 610 million dollars. The task force also cast a spotlight on United Nations officials that were allowed to carry out criminal schemes in one U.N. mission after another.
These Task Force findings confirmed comments made by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker in 2006 about the findings of mismanagement and corruption in the United Nations corrupt oil for food program. Volker said at the time that the United Nations suffered from a "culture of inaction".
Of course, rampant fraud and corruption is nothing new for United Nations peacekeeping missions. In the early 1990's corruption was widespread in Cambodia, Somalia and the Balkans. The Procurement Task Force focused it most recent peacekeeping corruption allegations on Haiti and the Congo.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon reportedly has begun a campaign to lead the U.N. for a second term. It may have been the reason that his communications director recently told reporters that United States President elect Barack Obama "is a U.N. person."
The history of the United Nations shows it to be a dubious world of mismanagement, fraud and corruption. A lack of oversight is where much of the problem begins. If Barack Obama is really a "U.N. person" then he should withhold American dues until more U.N. reform and oversight begins.
Indeed, if Barack Obama wants to deal with the current U.N. he should at least insist on somebody with the proper experience to lead it. There is only one clear choice to run this corrupt bureaucracy. Tony Soprano for Secretary General is the appropriate choice for the U.N. in its current form.
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