The United Nations uses several tools to evaluate the performance of its staff, for example, the UN Secretariat uses ePAS (electronic Performance Appraisal System) while UNFPA uses PAD (Performance Appraisal and Development). However, it seems that these tools, especially the PAD system, are just a facade and charade used to promote cronies and to destroy the careers of other staff for various reasons mostly due to the ability of the UN bosses to abuse their authority without accountability. This post shows such alleged abuse of authority and corruption by the UNFPA Executive Director, Ms. Thoraya Obaid, and the UNFPA Human Resources Director, Mr. Sean Hand. The following excerpts from legal documents on a PAD Rebuttal represent a case in point. These definitions are useful in understanding the case: Appellant is the UN staff member who filed this complaint, MRG is the Management Review Group (UNFPA top management), SLWFP is Special Leave With Full Pay and JAB is the UN Joint Appeals Board.
“First: UNFPA continues its irregularities and violations:
1. UNFPA elected to send the Rebuttal Panel Report to the JAB first, then almost two hours later UNFPA sent the report to me. UNFPA also elected to send the Report through […] UNFPA Legal Advisor, who by forwarding the Report to the JAB, contradicts what he stated yesterday, when [he] insisted in our meeting with the JAB yesterday that: “the rebuttal process is a management tool not a legal tool.”
2. In our last meeting with UNFPA Rebuttal Panel, on 19 October 2007, the Rebuttal Panel Chairman, […] promised that I will see the Rebuttal Panel Report before it is finalized and that I will have the opportunity to comment on it before it is finalized; unfortunately, I received the Report through the JAB on the last day of the contract, without any opportunity for the Rebuttal Panel to consider my comments.
Second: The Rebuttal Report contains numerous factual errors.
Factual Error (1) The Report stated: “The Panel did not consider the 26 Aug. 2007 email received from the staff member as a formal rebuttal as it was submitted to the MRG meeting and their discussion of his PAD.”
In fact, the email was an official request for MRG review and Rebuttal, sent in one email to expedite the process. The email was sent on 26 August 2007 to the UNFPA Executive Director, Ms. Thoraya Obaid, and the UNFPA Human Resources Director, Mr. Sean Hand. In the email I stated: “I kindly request an MRG review to upgrade my ratings to at least Fully Achieved and Fully Proficient throughout all outputs and all competencies. If such review to upgrade my ratings is not possible; then I kindly request the rebuttal panel to consider this case. In order to expedite this process, I am attaching my statement of rebuttal and its annexes.” […] In fact, it is clear from the Rebuttal Report that UNFPA delayed the rebuttal process from 26 August 2006 to 20 September 2007 when the Rebuttal Panel finally received the Request for Rebuttal; even then, the Rebuttal Panel received my request with only some of its 22 annexes.
Factual Error (2) The Report stated: “none of the designated raters would be aware their ratings were required unless informed by the staff member.”
In fact, PAD raters were blocked by UNFPA from entering their feedback, as stated by one designated rater “I have tried many times to complete your PAD as requested. The system would not let me ‘submit’ my changes for several times. I get a blank page. The latest I have tried was Friday night when, for the first time, I could not log in the system. For the record, I would like to complete the document even if it goes nowhere. Can you possibly send me the form in an attachment? I can then fill it and send it back. Many thanks and apologies for this inconvenience, I have really tried.”
Factual Error (3) The Report stated: “She also mentions this in an email specifically addressed to the staff member on 13 Feb. 2006. The staff member therefore, bears primary responsibility for not completing his PAD on time and the organization, specifically his supervisor, is also responsible for not enforcing this requirement.”
In fact, the Report fails to mention that on the same day I received that email from the UNFPA Executive Director, I wrote to my supervisor requesting to meet with him to discuss my PAD, however, my supervisor was not available.
Contrary to the Rebuttal Panel Report, it is clearly stated in the UNFPA PAD Guide Book that the PAD is the responsibility of the supervisor not the staff member: “It is the supervisors’ responsibility to apply the system in a timely manner and to follow the procedures outlined in this Guide Book.”
Third: The Rebuttal Panel Report stated in its findings that:
‘There are significant irregularities in the staff member’s performance appraisal process:
a. The PAD was done post facto, thus defeating the purpose for which it was primarily intended and hampering online feedback.
b. There is a risk that external factors could have influenced the ratings of the supervisor and staff member, thus decreasing their objectivity.
c. Work plan outputs and one competency rating were revised downwards by the supervisor and after discussion with the staff member had been completed. Though within the prerogative of the supervisor, this does compromise transparency.’
1. The Report fails to state that PAD stands for Performance Appraisal and Development not just performance appraisal.
2. The Report acknowledges the significant irregularities and it acknowledges that the PAD was done post facto; however, it fails to attribute it to unwillingness to meet with me to discuss my PAD as it is documented my email to [my Supervisor] in February 2006 requesting to meet with him and his lack of response.
3. The Report stated that completing the PAD post facto lead to hampering online feedback, however the report fails to indicate that designated multi-raters were blocked and prevented [by UNFPA] from entering their feedback.
4. The Report acknowledges that external factors could have influenced the ratings; however, it fails to indicate what these factors might be, and leaves it unclear whether it meant to indicate that [my Supervisor] was somehow pressured to downgrade the ratings.
5. The Report acknowledges that ratings were revised downwards unilaterally by the supervisor, however; it fails to correct these ratings.
6. The Report seems to indicate that it is the “prerogative of the supervisor” to change the ratings unilaterally, without justification, without documentation, and without discussion with the staff member. That is clearly in violation of the letter and the spirit of the UNFPA PAD Guide Book.
Fourth: The Rebuttal Panel found the MRG comments to be incorrect “too strong” and lacking any support “in order for the MRG to support their statement, evidence should have been provided.” However, the Rebuttal Panel fails to correct these comments accurately and it fails to reflect the many successes that took place in the Division in 2006. Moreover, I checked my PAD online; unfortunately, it still includes the original unsubstantiated negative comments of the MRG.
Fifth: The Report stated that the “Staff member was not notified of poor performance until the end of 2006 and not given the opportunity to improve.”
In fact, I was never informed of any performance issues by my supervisor at any time in 2006. My supervisor mentioned some issues for the first time when my supervisor and I started to complete my 2006 PAD by in mid 2007.
Sixth: The Rebuttal Panel failed to interview most of the  designated multi-raters; […] my immediate supervisor in 2006 was also not interviewed.
In fact, the Rebuttal Panel interviewed staff members that do not have first-hand knowledge of my performance in 2006, for example […] joined UNFPA on 21 May 2007 more than a month after I was placed on SLWFP on 11 April 2006. Another example, the Rebuttal Panel interviewed […] and […] both of them did not report to me. They reported to the former Deputy Director […] who is a biased staff member that contributed to many of the problems […] by his poor performance, he was also interviewed by the Rebuttal Panel. Also, the Panel interviewed […] who has a long history of problems with his staff and who had an agreement with the UNFPA Executive Director to leave UNFPA. In total, the Panel interviewed the three members of the MRG, who have shown, by their comments, that they are not reliable or knowledgeable; these are: Ms. Thoraya Obaid, […, and […] In addition, out of the 16 interviewees only two staff members are from the […] region which is a deliberate misrepresentation of the sub-region with the largest programmes in the Division […]”
“Appellant received the UNFPA Rebuttal Panel report on the last day of his contract, evidently in a somewhat crude attempt by UNFPA to deprive him of any possibility of submitting his comments on the report before a decision could be made based on that report. However, as soon as the report was received, Appellant sent his comments to the JAB secretariat, highlighting the serious factual errors and deficiencies contained in it..”
“During the PAD rebuttal process, both the UNFPA Executive Director [Ms. Thoraya Obaid] and Human Resources Director [Mr. Sean Hand] continued their pattern of abusing authority and acting in bad faith in order to delay and manipulate the rebuttal process. For example, on 21 September 2007, Appellant sent an email to the UNFPA Human Resources Director informing him that Appellant had reviewed the names of the Rebuttal Panel members and advising that Appellant had strong objections to 3 of the rebuttal panel’s 8 members, adding that Appellant would like to replace them with 3 other staff members whom Appellant could select. [3 out of 8] The UNFPA Human Resource Director refused Appellant’s request, however, simply stating without further explanation, ‘there is no provision for a staff member to replace the panel members.’” Appellant confirms that UNFPA single handedly selected all the members of the Rebuttal Panel.
End of case quotation.
The outcome of such a flawed and biased process can only be gross injustice as it creates complete lack of accountability for UN bosses abusing their authority.
M. Alaadin A. Morsy
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