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UN procurement at $14.3 billion in 2011

The 2011 Annual Statistical Report on UN Procurement, compiled by UNOPS on behalf of the UN system, shows the largest sums were spent on food, medicines, transport and construction, such as building schools and hospitals. The slight drop of 1.9 percent in overall UN procurement spend is the first recorded decrease in almost a decade.

The largest purchasers overall were the United Nations Procurement Division (UN/PD), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), in descending order.

The report reveals a positive increase in UN procurement from developing countries and countries with economies in transition. This accounted for 60 percent of total UN procurement in 2011, compared to 58 percent in 2010, 55 percent in 2009 and 51 percent in 2008.

Among the 10 countries who were the largest suppliers to UN organizations in 2011, three were developing countries or countries with economies in transition – Afghanistan, India and the Russian Federation.

Procurement from Afghanistan consisted primarily of construction, transport and demining services executed with national contractors and procured by UNDP and UNOPS. Procurement from India included vaccines, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment procured primarily by UNICEF. Procurement from the Russian Federation consisted primarily of airline management and operations services and food supplies, procured by UN/PD and WFP respectively.

Overall, the largest countries of supply were the USA, accounting for $1.53 billion, followed by Switzerland at $735.9 million (both countries with large UN offices) and then India at $724.6 million.

Since 2009 the percentage share of procurement from the top ten countries of supply has been declining, indicating a reduction in the concentration of UN procurement spend within the primary supplier countries and the widening of supply sources.

Spending on goods as opposed to services has increased, with a large proportion of the rise attributable to the amount of medicines, vaccines and contraceptives bought, up to $2.05 billion in 2011 from $1.7 billion in 2010, the majority of which were bought by UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

The amount of spending on food bought decreased slightly to $1.50 billion in 2011, from $1.62 billion in 2010, the majority of which came from WFP.

Other large categories of spending include transport and storage services, which dropped to $2.12 billion in 2011 from $2.39 billion in 2010, and construction, engineering and architectural services, at $1.02 billion, compared to $1.15 in 2010. Almost a quarter of all UN spending on these building services came from UNOPS, as the lead UN body for reconstruction in post-conflict situations, such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

The volume of procurement with registered Global Compact vendors increased again in 2011, reaching 18.1 percent of contracts of $30,000 or more, up from 17.9 percent in 2010 and 16.2 percent in 2009. The Global Compact is signed by companies who are committed to corporate social responsibility, particularly in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption. The number of vendors that have signed the Global Compact has almost doubled over the past five years, to 7,000.

For the fourth year running the report also features a thematic supplement on a key issue in procurement. For 2011, the focus of the supplement is on the issue of transparency and its effects on public procurement, in the context of the global drive towards a more accountable and robust system of development cooperation. The supplement provides an overview of the benefits and challenges of imposing a transparency regime in procurement, as well as case studies and contributions from practitioners and experts.

Both the supplement and the full report are available for download from the UNOPS website and the United Nations Global Marketplace (UNGM).

Procurement in Latin America and the Caribbean

The procurement of goods and services by the United Nations in Latin America and the Caribbean accounted for 10.7%, with a total of $1.525 million.

Argentina, Brazil, Haiti, Panama and Peru are among the top twenty developing countries, or countries with economies in transition, which provided goods and services to the United Nations in 2011. Purchases of services in these five countries consisted mainly of civil construction services and engineering, IT services, project management and social consultancies. The main products purchased by the UN in the region were food, medicines and vaccines, medical and surgical equipment, educational material, vehicles and computer equipment.

The biggest buyers in Argentina, Brazil, Haiti, Panama and Peru were the UNDP, UNOPS, the United Nations Procurement Division, the Pan American Health Organization and WFP, in descending order.

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