Now that disgraced about-to-be-former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz is about to draw his next-to-last paycheck from the World Bank, you’d expect that the cronies that helped him crash and burn would be planning their own departures.
Not so for “the other woman” Robin Cleveland, whose imperious and superficial role as Senior Counsellor (and whose rich pay of $275,000 tax-free dollars was a damn sight better than what she pulled down as a “third level official” at OMB) is scheming to join the Global Environment Facility. Or “burrowing in” as they say in the US government.
Robin is conniving with Monique Barbut, the lovely and charmant Chief Executive of the enormous global fund for the environment that is housed in the Bank “investing in our planet”, to keep her excessive and unwarranted salary for another two years as a “team leader”
Have neither of them any shame?
Monique Barbut, an auditor, arrived in June 2006 from the French Government and decided that everyone on board at GEF should be put on term contracts, since she didn’t want to keep the team she’d inherited. (Like Wolfowitz and Cleveland, she’s since been purging people who dared to speak up, because institutional memory is inconvenient at times.) She was told she couldn’t do that for existing staff, who are all on World Bank contracts. After pleas and then threats to the hapless Xavier Coll (“hero” of Shahagate who wrote “for my eyes only” emails to himself about what he was ordered to do by Wolfowitz and Cleveland), she reluctantly agreed that only new staff would go on these “at the pleasure of Monique” contracts.
Having had her way with HR, she then proceeded to alienate various other Bank administrative services. She demanded to take nonstop flights to Paris (which she does frequently, presumably because of all the environment and biodiversity to be saved in the City of Light) instead of conforming to World Bank travel policy. Challenged on her wasteful behavior, she fought back: her GEF Secretariat team is so richly staffed that she had one of them write a seven-page “environmental analysis” arguing that the Bank’s travel policy (which Monique finds inconvenient, even if tickets purchased under that policy cost about half of what she was accustomed to spending) was not GHG neutral. She’s in fact hired a whole crew of people from UNEP (UN Environment Program) as the first “batch” of these temporary staff because the people she has on board are busy justifying actions that suit her convenience.
Monique, for the record, retains her civil service post in France at the French audit agency, to which she intends to return. In France, the concept in the public sector of anything but lifetime employment is just not even to be imagined. Quel horreur! That does not apply at GEF under her watch.
She imagined herself to be at the same rank as Paul Wolfowitz, and started to investigate taking the GEF to premises in the suburbs (presumably closer to Dulles for those flights to Paris) to demonstrate her independence. Or even, some say, to Paris.
Oh, yes, she certainly behaved like La Reine of GEF. But should anyone be surprised? After all, Robin Cleveland was on the interview committee that selected Monique Barbut. Having blown off the interview of the highly-qualified internal candidate, a woman from a new EU member country who would have brought superb technical expertise with a strong knowledge of the Bank, Robin flounced in late to meet Monique. After the interview, she said — and I’m not making this up — “I saw myself in a mirror”
Now let’s look at the qualifications for the two advertised jobs that Monique Barbut is planning to toss Robin Cleveland’s way.
One is the Team Leader, external affairs. That person will “provide overall strategic direction and leadership in the team in coordinating communications and outreach throughout the GEF family”.
Well, as the prime suspect in the January leak of raw Board minutes to Fox News, Robin perhaps has some experience in this area.
Job requirements include an advanced degree in environmental studies, political science, international relations, public affairs, communications or related field. S
Since Robin’s credentials, other than being able to shout, scream, bully and swear, have never been posted on her “People Page” on the Bank’s intranet, perhaps all those years flakking for Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, justifying big contracts for Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and from her cave at OMB providing the money for Paul Wolfowitz’s adventures in Iraq will be considered a good substitute for what’s been asked for.
The other job is Team leader, Corporate Operations Policies and Financial Services. Leading and supervising 12 staff, that person will formulate GEF business priorities and operational strategies, and ensure high quality delivery of services, oversee efficient systems for pipeline management and monitoring of GEF operations, and develop annual GEF business plans.
Perhaps in her interview with Monique, Robin will mention her direct involvement in the three draft strategy papers that the Board rejected. Or she will cite her direct role in helping Juan-Jose Daboub edit out all reference to climate change in the “clean energy” strategy, at the same time one of her buddies at the White House was censoring US Government documents in a similar dishonest manner.
Both jobs require spending a quarter of his/her time in substantial hands-on involvement in direct operational and strategic tasks.
Robin Cleveland does not stack up very well against either set of professional requirements, which require an “advanced degree in accounting/technology/ finance/economics or equivalent experience in financial management of development operations. With a Ph.D., at least 12 years of relevant experience are required. With a master’s degree or equivalent, at least 15 years of relevant experience are required.”
Among the selection criteria
• Demonstrated intellectual leadership
• Ability to make forward-looking and practical decisions and operate effectively in a results-oriented and implementation culture
Robin brings: Three rejected efforts on Bank strategy, a budget process that is broken and opaque.
• Demonstrated staff management, staff development, team leadership and project management skills
Robin’s inbox became so full of policy papers and middle manager level appointments that most VPs just despaired of ever meeting Board dates or filling vacant positions, especially in the field. The list of delayed appointments grew very long, and her meddling in Board papers is legendary. And let’s not get started with the crises provoked with Chad and with India.
• Proven track record of responsiveness to clients based on a fully developed understanding of clients needs and demonstrated performance in managing client relationships
Except to Paul Wolfowitz, and we all know how successful he was, not a lot of evidence. She was the gatekeeper and VPs complained she never let anyone through.
• Ability to lead a team, delegating responsibility and fostering teamwork
Long-serving staff cannot remember a more dysfunctional Office of the President. Robin was Wolfowitz’s de facto Chief of Staff. People around her started to behave like her.
• Institutional perspective and drive for results
While stories of her heading over to the White House for instructions were never proven, Robin’s knowledge of the Bank and how it worked did not seem to increase as she alienated most everyone she had contact with. She said she did not believe anything she was told, and second-guessed even the most senior VPs. So everyone just stopped telling her things. As a result, she and Wolfowitz became isolated from the reality of Bank operations worldwide.
• Excellent interpersonal and people management skills with a demonstrated track record of effectiveness in a culturally diverse environment.
The cronies include a number of Americans, most prominently Suzanne Rich Folsom whose tenure at INT has led to all sorts of misadventures, and John Briscoe, the American water engineer who was parachuted into the Brazil Country Director job. Briscoe was one of only two Country Directors who did not join all the others in asking the Board to move swiftly to determine Wolfowitz’s fate. And Robin’s famous joy when, at last, an American came to see her.
• Excellent oral and written communication skills, demonstrated ability to communicate clearly on complex topics to a wide variety of audiences.
• High degree of self-motivation and drive
Most have seen only terse emails from Robin, and their impact has varied considerably. No one can recall any persuasive written material, and she has not been as “visible to the troops” as previous senior people in the World Bank President’s office. Robin’s drive and self-motivation have not exactly endeared her to colleagues, owing to her abrasive style.
• Highest ethical standards
Robin Cleveland’s standard response to questions about the conflict of interest when she tried to get her brother a job with a defence contractor was “The US Attorney told me that the matter was being dropped.” Not being indicted is something many in the Bush Administration are thankful for. It is not an indicator of the sort of ethics and values expected in a global public organization.
And then there was the ‘draft’ email on page 77 of the Ad Hoc Committee’s first report, a document that appears to be a forgery and for which, by itself, many feel Robin should already have been terminated.
And her role in arranging Shaha’s transfer from a non-job at the State Department working for Liz Cheney, to being the only employee at the Foundation for the Future.
And, finally, she told the Ad Hoc Committee she never intended to stay one day past Wolfowitz’s departure. Good to have that on record. Now it’s time for Robin to be a woman of her word, since her “understanding of GEF policies and operations” (another desirable job requirement) may best be represented by her proud ownership of a Cadillac Escalade, hardly an environment-friendly vehicle.
But none of this news about Robin Cleveland should surprise anyone. After all Steve Clemons wrote about her (and Kevin Kellums, “keeper of the comb” who had the good taste to exit without fanfare a month ago) in his blog in January 2006.
The disgraced Paul Wolfowitz leaves Bank service on June 30. Robin Cleveland should follow him out the door. Monique Barbut should not be allowed to cut this shocking deal.
Perhaps others have comments on what Robin Cleveland would bring to a senior post at GEF, and why her best girlfriend Monique Barbut would be offering her such a sweet deal. Wait until Shaha finds out!