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    Getting Connected - UNDP Procurement


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 4/2001

    UN Web Buy web site (http://www.unwebbuy.org)

    The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is working to promote digital entrepreneurship and foster private-sector partnerships. As part of this effort, UNDP's procurement centre, the Inter-Agency Procurement Services Office (IAPSO), based in Denmark, developed a web site, called UN Web Buy, that is easily accessible to all partners working in the development field (http://www.unwebbuy.org).

    IAPSO is traditionally known for the long-term agreements it enters into on behalf of the UN for items in common use in aid and development projects. These contracts seek to capitalize on the buying leverage of the UN and meet the strongest criteria of transparency and fair competition. Updating contracts, prices and specifications through printed catalogues proved cumbersome and costly for IAPSO. To address this, the procurement office revamped the process and started building electronic catalogues.

    Information for all

    Today, IAPSO customers can obtain one of the best competitive deals available in the market by using the Internet. No longer do UN agencies, non-governmental organizations or governments need to replicate a costly and time-consuming competitive bidding process, dramatically reducing purchasing transaction costs. All prices featured on the portal are the result of a competitive bidding process that complies with the strictest financial rules and procedures of the UN.

    Of course, the same catalogues can also be used as a resource for budgeting and planning. And with no entry or subscription fees, eligible clients get access to all this for free. The only modest charges incurred are for the recovery of administration and handling costs from any purchases.

    IAPSO also made a substantial investment in creating a business-to-business e-procurement programme tailored to the realities of development cooperation. Initially, when IAPSO management began researching e-procurement capabilities in 1999, the commercial solutions on the market were prohibitively priced. They were also often based on private-sector inventory management systems - great for car manufacturers or the airline industry, but not necessarily for aid procurement - and almost invariably targeted at the systematic purchase of maintenance repair and operating materials.

    The low-cost, alternative e-procurement solution developed by IAPSO is available to all partners working in the development field. A simple registration procedure is all that is required.

    Linking up new suppliers

    IAPSO's e-procurement solution offers exciting opportunities for suppliers from developing countries. Once a supplier meets the rigid technical and commercial requirements for entry into a catalogue, a sizeable market opens up - markets that would otherwise be very difficult and costly to enter for small to medium-sized enterprises in developing countries.

    IAPSO strongly supports ITC's effort to increase participation in development aid procurement from African suppliers. UN Web Buy can link successful suppliers to a host of potential buyers from both within and beyond the UN system.

    Johan van de Gronden is director of the Inter-Agency Procurement Services Office (IAPSO) in Copenhagen, Denmark. For further information see http://www.iapso.org, http://www.unwebbuy.org and http://www.undp.org/hdro

    IAPSO encourages you to respond to this article at tellus@iapso.org