UNOPS: A central procurement resource

Freyr Ævarsson

Student thesis: Master thesis


The United Nation’s image has suffered lately due to rising administrative costs and increased competition from philantrocapitalists such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet as well as other cost efficient NGOs. The area of procurement is a good example of the ineffectiveness and inefficiency of the UN system. The Inter-Agency Procurement Working Group (IAPWG) has been a part of the UN system for more than 25 years. Throughout, its goal has been to reform and standardize procurement practices within the UN system. Despite the IAPWG, now a part of the High Level Committee on Management (HLMC), working towards standardization and harmonization of procurement practices in over 25 years, various UN agencies are still procuring the same items. In addition, suppliers have to navigate through a jungle of different rules and regulations, which vary between organizations. The United Nations Office for Project Service (UNOPS) is planning to change their approach to procurement, to adapt a Supply Change Management (SCM) approach instead of the traditional purchasing approach. UNOPS’ mandate states that UNOPS is a central procurement resource to the UN, a rather underused one as the examples show. The purpose of this paper, through an analysis of UNOPS’ procurement function, is to shed some light on how UNOPS’ position as a central procurement resource benefits from a Supply Chain Management approach. The conclusion is that there are considerable benefits from SCM both for the UN system, its suppliers and the beneficiaries of the UN. The SCM approach would lead to a more coherent approach to suppliers, increased economies of scale and more synergy between projects. Most importantly, procurement would become more effective and efficient and UNOPS’ procurement would become a source of competitive advantage for the UN.

EducationsMSc in Supply Chain Management , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages123