U.N. Watch: Dissonant ‘Umoja’
In many ways, the United Nations’ whiz-bang Umoja (Swahili for “unity”) computerized management system is a reflection of Turtle Bay itself.
What Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon touted as an organizational transformation is behind schedule and more than $100 million over its original budget, Fox News reports. Even the U.N.’s own independent auditors are less than enthused in its latest report on Umoja.
Despite Mr. Ban’s glowing assessment — “Umoja is designed to help harmonize the way the U.N. works, providing a single data repository with reliable, real-time information” — auditors say the struggling system is mired in management problems. Moreover, it “could affect the integrity of peacekeeping accounting and financial records,” the auditors noted, blurring how money is spent.
Of course, there are bound to be problems with any system of this scale. But Umoja’s problems reportedly have been compounded by inadequate preparation. And rather than plugging in, many U.N. staffers apparently have been using “workarounds, in particular in critical financial processes,” the auditors said.
Eventually Umoja is supposed to produce “efficiencies.” But the reality is no one knows yet what the full tab will be, let alone whether the system will perform as promised.
Umoja falls far short of its hype. Sadly for U.S. taxpayers, that’s business as usual at the United Nations.