Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Rights and Democracy: less transparency, please

Fiction, put about by the Gang of Seven over at the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development: none of our actions have had anything to do with the Middle East. They're all about transparency and accountability.

Fact: New rules have now been proposed to reduce transparency and accountability--after several irregular contracts were already let.

In a Feb. 22, 2009, memo to outside auditors now probing the agency's finances, four staff members highlighted what they call "non-compliance with rules and procedures of the Centre."

They cite several contracts they say have gone ahead in recent weeks under interim president Jacques Gauthier, including:

* Hiring law firm Borden Ladner Gervais.

* Hiring security firm Groupe Sirco "without respecting the rules and procedures of the Centre. ... so far, we have not seen the terms of reference nor the contract."

* Hiring Charles Auger as CEO "without observing the selection process. Again the terms of the contract never been shared."

* Hiring Prima Communications for public relations work, even though the agency has in-house communications representatives.

Current rules at the Centre dictate that contracts of over $10,000 be tendered to at least three contractors, and the final choice justified. After the staff memo was sent to the auditors, however, Rights and Democracy board chair Aurel Braun announced that he wanted the ICHRDD by-laws revised to allow the president to hire "employees, agents, consultants and advisers" without first having to seek competitive bids for the work.

Accountability? Transparency? Maybe the Magnificent Seven should fall back on the Middle East as their raison d'être after all.

[H/t to Accidental Deliberations--textbook chutzpah, all right.]

UPDATE: Top management has been purged. The four employees who assisted the auditors were given one-day suspensions for their trouble. More blood on the floor is expected.

UPPERDATE: (March 3) And in other news, the anti-gay rights Islamophobe Gérard Latulippe has now been officially appointed as the ICHRDD's new President.

[H/t ftbt, in the comments]

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