Washington, Feb 5: The scam-hit Satyam computer services has hit with another kind of debacle. This time it is in connection with World Health Organisation (WHO).
Satyam had taken a role in the development of a 55.5 million dollar global business management system for WHO. This was slated to become the master control for staffing, financial payments and procurement by the organization by an initial deadline of Sept 2007.
That deadline has long since passed, and instead, according to documents obtained by FOX News, the project is far behind schedule, wallowing in glitches that have deeply affected WHO operations, and, despite management claims to the contrary, likely to end up far exceeding its budget.
According to the documents, Satyam ignored the instructions of software's manufacturer Oracle for implementing the complex system; and ran user tests that validated the system without 'being able to replicate a real-life situation,' provided little or no training to WHO employees; and failed to adequately involve health care professionals who see the system as a vital tool, among a host of other failings.
Among other things, the report strongly implies that the failure to use actual data in its testing may severely crimp the abilities of the disease-fighting organization, for example, in 'mobilizing large amounts of money in a very short time for emergencies.'
Despite being written in a fog of bureaucratic language, the audit report is a scathing indictment of Satyam's role as 'system integrator' for the global business management program, and also of management's oversight of the project - failings that include 'the risk of over-dependence' by WHO on Satyam even after the project is completed.
WHO signed its contract with Satyam in September 2005 - at roughly the same time as the World Bank was in the final stages of a three year, hush-hush investigation of the company's improper financial dealings with the bank's chief information officer, Mohamed Muhsin, that would end with Muhsin's ouster the following month.
Satyam itself was not suspended as a supplier by the bank, however, until February 2008 - a suspension that turned into an eight-year formal ban last Sept.
Along with the financial dealings, the World Bank cited "lack of documentation on invoices" by Satyam as a cause for the belated sanctions.
In other words, Satyam won the contract at roughly the same time that the World Bank was about to fire its top technology manager for accepting heavily discounted shares of stock from Satyam in return for promoting the company's fortunes.
Even WHO's top management, which has been strongly defensive of its Satyam project, has admitted that 'there remain continuing problems,' and has pushed off the full global roll-out of the system, beyond WHO's Vienna headquarters and its Western Pacific region, into the indefinite future.