Frequently asked questions: UNICEF procurement services
Find answers for your questions about UNICEF procurement services.
1. What is the objective of UNICEF procurement services?
The objective of procurement services is to offer UNICEF's knowledge, purchasing capacity and logistics expertise to development partners, so that they can use their own financial resources and donor funds to procure life-saving essential supplies for children. Procurement services is an integrated component of UNICEF’s country programmes of cooperation and has become an important entry point for UNICEF in helping countries to strengthen their national capacity in planning for supply needs, selection of supplies and equipment, and their effective delivery and distribution. Procurement services is designed as a transitional mechanism for Governments until national public and private supply systems can effectively perform their role.
2. Why does UNICEF offer procurement services?
UNICEF is dedicated to protecting children’s and women’s rights through helping them meet their basic needs and expanding their opportunities. Making essential supplies available, accessible and affordable is core to this commitment. Procurement services enables UNICEF to support Governments, NGOs, UN Agencies and other development partners in fulfilling children’s right to survival and development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The primary purpose is to ensure that Governments and other development partners can access UNICEF’s supply networks, experience and expertise to procure strategic, essential commodities for children.
3. What services are offered via the procurement services mechanism?
UNICEF's Procurement Services Centre can assist in the procurement of strategic essential commodities aimed at reducing under-five mortality, including vaccines, safe injection materials, essential medicines, medical and diagnostic supplies, bed nets, micronutrients, therapeutic food, equipment and supplies to ensure safe drinking water. In addition, procurement services cover products required for children’s education as well as other supplies, equipment and services that are in line with UNICEF’s mandate.
Supply related services including warehousing, in-country logistics and other operational support are provided with the aim of developing capacity in national procurement and supply systems or to assist in emergency situations.
4. Where can I find details about the commodities available under procurement services?
The UNICEF Supply Catalogue contains specifications for over 2,000 commodities that respond to the needs of children and their families. The Catalogue is designed to help partners identify the most appropriate supplies for the programmes, and assist in supply planning, delivery and monitoring.
5. Does UNICEF make a profit from procurement services?
No, UNICEF does not make a profit from procurement services.
6. How are the funds transferred by a procurement services partner recorded and managed by UNICEF?
With the exception of handling fees, UNICEF does not take title to funds paid to UNICEF by procurement services partners. In general, funds transferred by procurement services partners are treated as trust funds by UNICEF and are to be used exclusively to implement the procurement services arrangement entered into with the partner.
7. How does UNICEF ship supplies?
We deliver supplies “Cost and Insurance Paid” (CIP - Incoterms 2010) to the port of entry designated in the Cost Estimate. UNICEF nominated freight forwarders deliver the goods to the port of entry designated by the partner. If you request supplies to be shipped by air, the port of entry is usually the nearest major international airport. For sea shipments, the port of entry is usually the nearest major international seaport in the country where the project is implemented. The seaport of entry for land-locked countries varies on a case-by-case basis. In general, air shipments will carry a higher delivery cost than ground or sea shipments.
8. How long will it take to receive the order?
The lead time on orders is calculated from the time of acceptance of the Cost Estimate and deposit of funds for the supplies, and it depends on factors such as the availability of the commodity, the quantities requested, the general market situation, etc. Generally, it takes a minimum of 6 weeks after the deposit of funds for the goods to be delivered.
9. What is the minimum order value?
In principle, there is no minimum order value. However, a minimum handling fee of $300 is charged on all orders, regardless of commodity. Explore the handling fee levels for standard commodities.
10. How are suppliers selected?
UNICEF suppliers are carefully chosen through a competitive bidding process, which starts with a pre-qualification stage, on the basis of quality systems/organization, adherence to ethical standards, capacity and financial soundness. UNICEF continuously evaluates its suppliers. Samples of their products are approved before contracts are awarded, and quality checks can also be made before goods are shipped or received. All supplies entering the UNICEF Copenhagen warehouse are carefully inspected according to international standards.
11. I would like special markings on my supplies. Is this possible?
Yes. Please inform us if you have any special requirements, when you request the Cost Estimate, and before the deposit of funds as this can influence the pricing information.
12. How to use UNICEF procurement services
Six key operational steps related to purchasing supplies through UNICEF procurement services are highlighted below. For more information on each step please refer to the section on how to use procurement services.
Planning > cost estimate > commitment > procurement & delivery > accounts settled > monitoring & evaluation
13. What steps does a partner need to take to order through procurement services?
- Check to see if you are eligible to order through procurement services (procurement services are only available to governments, non-governmental organizations, United Nations agencies, international financial institutions, philanthropic organizations and universities)
- Register as a partner (only applicable for non-governmental organizations).
- Select supplies through the Supply Catalogue.
- Complete a request for cost estimate using UNICEF Supply Catalogue
- Submit the request to the UNICEF Country Office and/or directly to UNICEF Supply Division Procurement Services.
- A Cost Estimate for the supplies and services you require is prepared and sent to you with a letter of offer. The letter outlines the advance payment procedure.
- A signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) must be received prior to any procurement activity. If you do not have a valid agreement, we will inform you accordingly and guide on the process to establish one.
- Upon receipt of your advance payment and a signed MOU, procurement activities commence. An order confirmation is sent to you.
- A final statement of accounts is sent to you along with a customer survey form, for you to complete and return.
- Any remaining contingency buffer and /or balances can be reprogrammed or returned.
14. In what languages are standard MOUs available?
Standard MOU templates are available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Russian.
15. What is the difference between standard and non-standard MOUs and who must approve and sign a MOU?
A standard MOU has a fixed, pre-determined text which has been approved by the Director of Supply Division (SD) and cannot be changed in areas other than designated entry fields. Standard MOUs are signed between the partner and UNICEF Representatives in Country Offices, or in instances where there is no Country Office presence, with SD Director.
A non-standard MOU is an MOU in which text or format other than the designated entry fields has been changed and is prepared in order to meet specific requests or needs of the customer which are not addressed in the standard MOU. Non-standard MOUs are approved by the SD Director on a case-by-case basis, and are signed between the partner and UNICEF Representatives in Country Offices, or in instances where there is no Country Office presence, with SD Director. UNICEF Representatives in Country Offices may sign a non-standard MOU only upon prior written delegation of signing authority by the SD Director.
16. What’s the process for signing a standard MOU?
Make sure the correct template is being used (Government, NGO or UN) and replace all the grey-shaded fields with the correct information.
Print two hard copies and sign/date both, then submit both original signed copies to the UNICEF Country Office Representative for counter signature (or to the Procurement Services Centre if there is no UNICEF Country Programme). A fully signed copy will be returned to the partner for their records.
Please note that any changes to the standard MOU template requires clearance from the Director of Supply Division prior to signature.
17. Whom do I contact about a PS MOU?
For MOU questions and requests please contact the Procurement Services Centre at Supply Division: firstname.lastname@example.org.
18. When can the Partner expect a Statement of Account?
UNICEF issues the Statement of Account within 30 days after the last charge has been received and processed by UNICEF (for supplies, freight and insurance). On average, this takes 3-4 months after the delivery of the final shipment of supplies at the Port of Destination.
19. There is a balance due to the Partner on the Statement of Account – what can be done with this balance?
Balances can be either refunded to the Partner, or reprogrammed to new procurement services transactions:
a) How can the balance be refunded?
The Partner should write to UNICEF using the 'Refund Letter' template, formally requesting a refund. The official letter must be on official letterhead and contain the Partner's complete bank account details. The letter must be signed and stamped as approved by the appropriate authorized official(s).
b) How can the balance of funds be reprogrammed?
The Partner should provide official written authorization to UNICEF using the 'Reprogramming Letter' template (also available in Excel), formally instructing which balances from finalized transactions and/or deposits should be applied to the current/new transaction.
20. How can I find out more about UNICEF procurement services, including information on the financial status of on-going transactions?
Please contact us at email@example.com for any further questions