|© UNICEF Tanzania/2009/Giacomo|
|Smoothing procurement processes means faster delivery of life-saving supplies for children.|
By Sara Cameron and Matloob Malik
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, 18 December 2009 - The UN has been stepping up its reform efforts to ensure greater coherence to its work, more efficiency and less bureaucracy for all its partners, more effective sharing of knowledge and data, and greater accountability for measuring and reporting results. To this end, in Tanzania, UN agencies have adopted a new and more efficient way of buying the supplies that they require.
The new approach is increasing efficiency, cutting delivery times and generating savings – all of which are central to UN reform.
A pilot country
Tanzania is one of eight pilot countries for UN reform. Each pilot country has been asked to focus on improving the efficiency of a specific business practice.
In Tanzania, the UN agencies were charged with finding solutions to cumbersome supply and procurement procedures.
On a global level, UN supplies include everything from water pumps to pencils to iodine. The purchase of supplies costs the UN billions of dollars every year, and is the biggest single budget item for the organization.
In Tanzania, the supply group of the UN agencies – known as Tanzania One Procurement Team (TOPT) – came together with UNICEF to consider procurement solutions. The team ran interagency market surveys throughout 2009; established joint long-term arrangements with suppliers; and found ways to bridge the differences in procurement procedures between their agencies.
Overall, the team estimates that the new procedures they adopted reduced supply process time by 75 per cent, delivery time by 60 per cent and costs by about 20 per cent. The joint market surveys also opened the way for global procurement of buckets, jerry-cans, soap and blankets - all vital to UN responses in emergencies.
In October 2009, the UN Development Group and High-Level Committee on Management issued the ‘Guidelines for Harmonized UN Procurement at the Country Level’. These guidelines were heavily influenced by the Tanzanian experience.
“Across all the agencies, working within the ‘Delivering as One’ framework, we are seeing greater efficiencies that are reducing transaction costs and, most importantly, delivering better support to the government and the people of Tanzania,” said Tanzania’s Resident Coordinator for the UN, Mr. Albéric Kacou.
It is hoped that the successes made by the UN’s procurement team in Dar es Salaam can be replicated across the entire UN system.