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NZDF personnel cleared of ‘double-dipping’

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa


Thursday, 21 August 2008

NZDF personnel cleared of ‘double-dipping’

A Court of Inquiry has cleared four New Zealand Defence Force personnel of ‘double-dipping’ over United Nations’ housing allowances.

However, the inquiry has revealed that the New Zealand Defence Force failed to address inconsistencies between UN rules and the Defence Force’s responsibility to its personnel serving overseas.

Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Mateparae says the Court of Inquiry has confirmed that allegations of ‘double-dipping’ were baseless. New Zealand Defence Force personnel seconded to the UN had been paid a ‘top-up’ by the Defence Force so that they would be adequately supported while living and working in New York, in line with other New Zealand Defence Force officers posted to New York.

“The total allowances paid to Defence Force officers seconded to the United Nations equates to what the New Zealand Defence Force paid its other personnel to serve in one of the most expensive overseas posting locations,” he says.

The Court of Inquiry has confirmed that between that 2001 and 2008 the four officers seconded to the UN did however fail to disclose that they were receiving this additional New Zealand Defence Force ‘top-up’.

“These officers have been censured for this behaviour. However, it is clear that they were not motivated by personal gain but rather a misguided desire to make an otherwise unworkable arrangement workable,” he says.

“The most serious failings do not rest with these individuals but with the Defence Force as an organisation.”

Lt Gen Mateparae says that over time the New Zealand Defence Force failed to address the inconsistencies between UN rules and the Defence Force’s responsibility to its personnel serving overseas: “As an organisation, we did not provide our personnel seconded to the UN the direction and advice they needed in a timely way, that would have helped them fill in the UN declaration correctly.

Two officers responsible for policy development at the time are to be censured, he says.

“It is now clear that the conditions of service package applicable to these officers, almost in its entirety, is contrary to the UN staff rules for seconded personnel.

“I have ordered that no further officers be seconded to the UN unless we can reach agreement with the UN over a satisfactory balance between the need to maintain functional independence and my duty to set fair conditions of service.

“The New Zealand Defence Force fully accepts that this situation could have been avoided if better policy-making had occurred when this issue arose.”

The New Zealand Defence Force will work with the State Services Commission and the Office of the Auditor General on improving its policy-making structures so as to avoid any repeat of this in the future.


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