- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007

NEW YORK — A U.N. conference opened on a note of discord yesterday when the director of a U.N. division responsible for “good governance” refused to discuss charges leveled at his agency of mismanagement, intimidation of staff and wasted money.

Guido Bertucci, director of the Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM), was addressing a conference of public administration specialists when one participant asked about an investigation of a $5 million center for public administration in Thessaloniki, Greece.

The United Nations has opened multiple investigations into the project, which Greece claims has turned into a white elephant.

When Barbara Kudrycka, a professor of public administration at Poland’s Bialystok University, attempted to question Mr. Bertucci, she received a curt reply:

“That would be distracting from other matters,” Mr. Bertucci told about 20 specialists and 30 observers at the conference’s morning session.

When Ms. Kudrycka persisted, the moderator cut her off.

Mr. Bertucci’s department is a key pillar of a larger U.N. organ, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which has been accused of steering millions of dollars in contributions from the Italian government toward projects that enrich Italian nationals but offer little of real value.

The contributions have been used to hire unneeded consultants and establish international programs, The Washington Times reported in a lengthy investigative article in December.

The article prompted then Secretary-General Kofi Annan to order the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) to conduct an inquiry into possible staff intimidation and improper use of contractors by Mr. Bertucci’s office, with the Thessaloniki project featuring prominently in the probe.

At yesterday’s conference, some participants said it was inappropriate to discuss an ongoing investigation, in part because participants had been chosen to advise Mr. Bertucci’s agency.

“We are sitting here in our own right. Experts are not part of [DPADM] management,” said Jocelyne Bourgon, who is also Canada’s ambassador to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “We do not need nor do we want to be involved in any way. We would prefer not to be a proxy for the Secretariat.”

Anthony Makrydemetres, a professor at the University of Athens, agreed that it was inappropriate to discuss the matter.

A report on the Thessaloniki project by the OIOS has been completed. However, its release has been delayed until autumn.

The Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) oversees a broad range of information gathering, including demographics, women’s advocacy and forestry. It is also charged with promoting transparency and public accountability in governments.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Sha Zukang, to head DESA, but he will not take up his new position until July.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide