Diplomat Thrown Under the Bus Refuses to Stay Under

Peter Galbraith, the deputy special representative of the United Nations in Afghanistan (UNAMA) until he was thrown under the bus over the Afghan election count refuses to stay under the bus. In a devastating op-ed published in the Washington Post this weekend (Sunday | October 4, 2009), Galbraith writes about the problematic Afghan election that has become ever more complicated with every passing day.

Galbraith writes about his final instruction: “U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conveyed one last instruction: Do not talk to the press. In effect, I was being told to remain a team player after being thrown off the team.”

Quick excerpt:

“Afghanistan’s presidential election, held Aug. 20, should have been a milestone in the country’s transition from 30 years of war to stability and democracy. Instead, it was just the opposite. As many as 30 percent of Karzai’s votes were fraudulent, and lesser fraud was committed on behalf of other candidates. In several provinces, including Kandahar, four to 10 times as many votes were recorded as voters actually cast. The fraud has handed the Taliban its greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners.

The election was a foreseeable train wreck. Unlike the United Nations-run elections in 2004, this balloting was managed by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC). Despite its name, the commission is subservient to Karzai, who appointed its seven members. Even so, the international role was extensive. The United States and other Western nations paid the more than $300 million to hold the vote, and U.N. technical staff took the lead in organizing much of the process, including printing ballot papers, distributing election materials and designing safeguards against fraud.”

Read the whole thing here.

Earlier report says that Ban was persuaded to end Galbraith’s mission after ministers in Karzai’s government said they could no longer work with him.

Holy mother of goat and all her crazy nephews! tension

The United Nations should have told those ministers “hell, no, you have to work with him!” Why? Because you give in once, what are you going to give in next? Next thing you’ll know they’d want Tom and Jerry as deputy reps!

But seriously – what if you were an Afghan voter whose finger was chopped off by the Taliban after you voted for a candidate not named Karzai in the August 20 election? How would you feel if the number #2 official in UNAMA was kicked out for speaking out about voter fraud in your country?

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We’re Building the Juba-Nimule Road in Sudan …

It’s 8 months behind schedule
We’re spending $164 million
And nobody knows it’s funded and paid for by the American people

USAID’s OIG recently released its audit of the Juba-Nimule road. This was USAID/Sudan’s major road infrastructure activity in scope, cost, and the priority accorded to it by Government of Southern Sudan. The report says that the road originally built from 1928 to 1932, was upgraded to gravel standards in the early 1970s but was neglected for more than 22 years of civil war. The road connects Juba, the seat of the southern Sudanese government, with Uganda. From there, the road provides access to Kenya and the port of Mombasa.

Quick summary from the report:

USAID/Sudan’s major road infrastructure activity is upgrading the 192 kilometer Juba-Nimule road from a gravel road to a paved road. The main goals of the Juba-Nimule road project are to foster economic growth by increasing capacity for trade, facilitating refugee resettlement and the transportation of humanitarian aid, and strengthening southern Sudanese capabilities in road maintenance and construction. This activity is one initiative under the Sudan Infrastructure Services Project, a 5-year, $700 million indefinite quantity contract1 through September 2011 with the Louis Berger Group, Inc.

The project is currently 8 months behind schedule, primarily because policy questions arose during procurement of the main road construction subcontracts. Moreover, the total cost has risen from an estimated $87 million in the road’s feasibility study to the current estimate of $163.8 million. This increase was due to a number of factors, including erroneous assumptions and a lack of technical data in the feasibility study. Problems in bridge construction also contributed to higher costs. Finally, the audit determined that (1) none of the people interviewed along the Juba-Nimule road were aware that this road was being financed by the United States and (2) several contracts between the Louis Berger Group, Inc., and its subcontractors omitted required antiterrorism language.

Excerpts from the audit:

  • The completion of the Juba-Nimule road was initially planned for March 2010. However, current estimates place the completion date in November 2010. This delay was caused principally by policy questions that arose during the procurement of the road construction subcontract. As a result of this delay, the overall estimated cost of the Juba-Nimule road increased by more than $7 million.

  • Federal law requires reasonable cost estimates before USAID initiates certain projects. Despite this requirement, the projected cost of the Juba-Nimule road increased 88 percent over the estimate in the road’s feasibility study. A major portion of this increase arose from the absence of sufficient technical data, which resulted in an underestimate of the material required. Moreover, erroneous initial assumptions also contributed to the increased projected costs. As a result, the road is costing millions of dollars more than originally estimated, and USAID operational planning was hindered.

  • The May 2007 feasibility study for the Juba-Nimule road, which was prepared by the Louis Berger Group, Inc. (Berger), and was completed prior to the initial obligation of funds under Task Order 2, estimated a maximum total cost of $87 million for upgrading the road to a double bituminous surface treatment standard. However, as of April 6, 2009, the road had an estimated budget of $163.8 million, or an increase of 88 percent over the amount in the feasibility study.

  • The planned completion dates for the erection of seven new bridges along the Juba-Nimule road were not met because of delays in foundation construction, which was exacerbated by poor initial designs. A significant cause of these problems was the lack of timely geotechnical data. As a result, overall project costs have increased, and USAID could ultimately bear the cost of potential claims for losses.

  • Effective branding of USAID projects is an important Agency objective. However, none of the people interviewed along the Juba-Nimule road were aware that the project is being funded by the United States. This occurred because community leaders were not disseminating this information to the grassroots level. […]The ineffectiveness of the current branding strategy means that people in southern Sudan are generally not aware that the Juba-Nimule road is being funded by the American people. Consequently, opportunities to create positive impressions of the United States are forfeited, hindering public diplomacy efforts in Sudan, an area of immense foreign policy interest to the United States. (italics added)

  • USAID regulations mandate that recipients of USAID assistance include in all subawards a provision based on Executive Order 13224 designed to prevent the financing of terrorist activities. Nevertheless, 6 of 15 subcontracts for the Juba-Nimule road did not contain this provision. This likely occurred because contractor officials mistakenly relied on other terrorism-related clauses and used templates that omitted the required language. Consequently, USAID funds could be at increased risk of being used to finance terrorist activities. (italics added)

USAID/OIG: Audit of USAID/Sudan’s Road Infrastructure Activities |
AUDIT REPORT NO. 4-650-09-009-P | September 28, 2009 | PDF

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Snapshot: Top 10 State Dept Contractors (FY2009)

This list of the State Department’s Top 10 Contractors is from USAspending.gov. You can also view the Contractor Profiles in the website.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act) requires a single searchable website, accessible by the public for free that includes for each Federal award: 1. the name of the entity receiving the award; 2. the amount of the award; 3. information on the award including transaction type, funding agency, etc; 4. the location of the entity receiving the award; 5. a unique identifier of the entity receiving the award.

USAspending.gov, a re-launch of www.fedspending.org, provides this information to the public, as collected from federal agencies, in an easy to use website. The data is largely from sources: the Federal Procurement Data System, which contains information about federal contracts; and the Federal Assistance Award Data System, which contains information about federal financial assistance such as grants, loans, insurance, and direct subsidies like Social Security.

The website is searchable by contractor, place of performance, by agency; also by competition process, type of contract or product/service purchased.

Click here for an explanation of the data included in the website.

Officially In: James B. Warlick, Jr. to Sofia

Extracted from CIA World Factbook Europe Map

On October 1 President Obama announced his intent to nominate James B. Warlick, Jr., to be Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria. The WH released the official bio below:

James B. Warlick, a senior member of the foreign service, is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO) since April 2006, with responsibility for U.S. foreign policy at the United Nations and a number of other multilateral organizations. Prior to that Mr. Warlick was Director of the Office of European Security and Political Affairs, responsible for political-military and security issues for Europe and the former Soviet Union, including NATO, OSCE, and related arms control and nonproliferation policy issues (2005-2006). While Director of the United Nations Political Affairs in IO during 2003-2005, Mr. Warlick also served as Principal Advisor to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer from January 2004 to July 2004 in Baghdad, Iraq.

Other assignments have included: Consul General, U.S. Embassy, Moscow; Director, for Germany, Austria and Switzerland in the European Affairs Bureau; Acting Minister-Counselor/ Deputy Counselor for Political Affairs, U.S. Embassy, Germany; Special Assistant to the Secretary of State; Operations Center Watch Officer; Consular Officer, Philippines; and Political Officer, Bangladesh.

Prior to his State Department service, Mr. Warlick served as Deputy Representative of the Asia Foundation in Washington, DC and the Philippines; and he was a Foreign Affairs analyst in the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress.

Mr. Warlick is a graduate of Stanford University, holds a Master of Letters in Politics from Wadham College, Oxford University, and a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

* * *

Legation Sofia had been raised to Embassy status on Nov 28, 1966 with Minister John McSweeney in charge pending his own promotion to the rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary. McSweeney was followed by a succession of thirteen career diplomats as US Ambassador in Sofia, including John Beyrle, the current US Ambassador to Moscow. The most recent ambassador, Nancy E. McEldowney has been appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs. If confirmed, Mr. Warlick would take over the reins of running US Embassy Sofia from John M. Ordway, the current Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy.

Mr. Warlick is also married to Mary Warlick, President Obama’s nominee to be his ambassador to Serbia. If both nominees are confirmed, they would be the Obama Administration’s first tandem ambassadors, and they would be serving in the same continent. They would also join only two three other couples in the Foreign Service in recent memory, serving simultaneously as ambassadors:

  • William R. Brownfield (Chile 2002-2004; Venezuela 2004-2007; Colombia 2007-present) and Kristie Kenney (Ecuador 2002-2005; Philippines 2006 -present).

  • Richard Olson (UAE 2008-present) and Deborah Jones (Kuwait 2008-present).

  • Charles Ries (Greece 2004- 2007) and Marcie Ries (Albania 2004-2007).

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Updated @10:29pm: Thanks to MS. I updated Ambassador Brownfield’s ambassadorial appointments including his current one in Bogota, Colombia).

Updated 10/14: Thanks to NDS for the Olson-Jones addition to the tandem ambassadors.