Vacancies Hinder U.N. Corruption Probes; Inspector General's Office Understaffed, Audit Finds
Byline: Betsy Pisik, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
NEW YORK -- An unusually high number of vacancies in the U.N. inspector general's office has left that body significantly understaffed, raising concerns about the world body's ability to detect fraud and other abuses even as the workload has swelled to include a myriad of procurement contracts.
According to an internal audit made available to The Washington Times, about 80 jobs - 25 percent of the staff in the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) - have not been filled. The vacancies include several senior investigative posts.
The committee's main concern is that the high vacancy rate within [OIOS] will have an adverse impact on the capacity and ability of the office to accomplish its program of work, wrote the auditors, members of the U.N. Independent Audit Advisory Committee (IAAC).
The auditors expressed significant concern that there is no permanent director of the Investigation Division, which has inherited 175 procurement-related cases from a recently shuttered unit, the U.N. Procurement Task Force, that reviewed contracts for the purchase of goods and services. That was on top of several hundred other open cases being probed by the OIOS.
The task force grew out of the so-called oil-for-food scandal, a $64 billion program that fed Iraqis from 1996 to 2003 but was riddled with kickbacks and other corruption that involved nearly $2 billion. Since its inception, the task force recovered or saved about $650 million. It was shut down Dec. 31 at the demand of Russia and Singapore after investigators fingered U.N. officials from those countries for mismanagement and other abuses. …