- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 12, 2001

NEW YORK — The U.N. inspector general´s office yesterday severely criticized the "heavily personalized" management style of U.N. drug czar Pino Arlacchi, but, in a long-awaited evaluation, did not address the most serious accusations against him.

Dileep Nair, the undersecretary-general of Internal Oversight Services, yesterday acknowledged that his office had prepared a separate investigation into reported mismanagement, fraud and misconduct connected to a U.N.-funded round-the-world sailboat expedition by a friend of Mr. Arlacchi´s.

However, those findings have not been made public, and Mr. Nair said they may not be released for some time, if at all.

The long-anticipated evaluation of the U.N. Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention — the third undertaken this year — faults the Vienna-based organization´s haphazard planning, opaque management style and squandering of resources.

"A major concern that came to the fore was the highly centralized and arbitrary manner in which the office was run by the executive director," said the OIOS report. "The management style concentrated authority and decision-making in the executive director and his front office without sufficient checks and balances."

Mr. Nair declined to say whether he thought Mr. Arlacchi should be relieved of his post, but he did promise a one-year evaluation.

Among the report´s highlights: The lack of transparency had destroyed employee morale; conferences and meetings were repeatedly postponed at the last minute, raising program costs; and new efforts were routinely undertaken without sufficient planning or research, and often without sufficient funding to carry them through to completion.

Mr. Arlacchi, who has received a copy of the OIOS report, was not available for comment, said his spokesman Sandro Tucci.

"He is not reachable after 6 p.m. because it is after the end of his day," Mr. Tucci said. "People at his level have engagements that cannot be postponed."

Mr. Tucci promised the office would have a statement "in one day, or maybe two."

Tales of mismanagement have been pouring out of Vienna for some time, and some disgruntled employees have posted their resignation letters on the Internet.

An earlier OIOS report slammed the agency´s inability to communicate internally or with other U.N. agencies.

The stories of mismanagement have rattled the confidence of donor nations who volunteer nearly all of the program´s $75 million budget. Contributions to the drug program have been declining and are increasingly earmarked for specific projects.

The paucity of general purpose funds leaves the drug control program with little discretion or flexibility, and severely limits its overhead.

The OIOS report said that funding for the current two-year funding period has fallen to $144 million, about $3 million less than in 1998-99. The general purpose funds have taken the biggest hit, which "remains a pressing concern," the report said.

In an effort to shore up the program, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has asked the General Assembly for funds to hire a deputy to run the day-to-day management of the program.

Mr. Nair yesterday noted that reforms could come only after "one key condition" is met — that the U.N. Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention be run with "competence, professionalism and integrity of top management, which is transparent and collegial and enjoys the trust of the staff."

He declined to say whether this would be feasible with Mr. Arlacchi in place.

"He has taken a self-critical approach," said Mr. Nair. "He has put in place measures and we will look at how these measures result in a turnaround of that office in a year´s time."

Mr. Arlacchi´s term expires in February. Mr. Tucci said yesterday that he did not know whether his boss would like to stay on beyond that.

The most serious accusations against Mr. Arlacchi involve spending at least $53,000 of program funds to subsidize the repair of a wooden sailboat belonging to his friend, a Swedish former tugboat captain named Denis Oren.

Mr. Oren was to outfit the boat with state-of-the-art navigational and communications equipment and then sail the boat, with an anti-drug banner, around the world.

"Because of the sensitive nature of the whole incident, we felt it would be proper to [give] the report to the secretary-general to let his office decide what follow-up action needs to be taken before we make it public," Mr. Nair told reporters yesterday.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide