What does the U.S. Agency for International Development get for a $25 million grant to two United Nations agencies working in Afghanistan? How about “a central bank without electricity and a bridge at risk of ‘life threatening’ collapse”? According to a USA Today story on the USAID inspector general report, “The U.N. delivered shoddy work, diverted money to other countries and then stonewalled U.S. efforts to figure out what happened.” Unsurprisingly, one of the two UN agencies involved in the scandal is the UN Development Program (the other culprit in this case is UN Office for Project Services or UNOPS) which conclusively violated UN rules and regulations in North Korea.
According to the USAID report, “Due to the refusal of the United Nations to cooperate with this investigation, questions remain unanswered.” No wonder! The USAID report is a litany of mismanagement, corruption, willful violation of contracted obligations, and refusal to cooperate and provide documentary evidence.
Of course, now that the issue has reached the press, Ad Melkert, UNDP’s acting administrator, has “pledged UNDP’s full cooperation with USAID in reforming UNDP’s project management practices, improving financial accountability and in recovering any missing funds.” This should be a matter of course and it is a travesty that only exceptional problems elicit this type of cooperation. Congress should immediately demand that all U.N. bodies or activities receiving U.S. funds agree to fully cooperate with any U.S. inspector general inquiry or face of losing U.S. contributions.