UNOPS

UNOPS reforms and achievements

Overview

Since 2006 UNOPS has undergone a major restructuring with the strengthening of financial and management controls, and a sharp improvement in efficiency, transparency and effectiveness. These have been recognized in a mandate from the General Assembly which confirms UNOPS role as a central resource in the UN system, and in a string of independent certifications and awards.

 

UNOPS is financially strong and has a clear and accountable governance structure, reporting directly to the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Office for Project Services.  It delivers around $1 billion worth of projects each year on behalf of its partners, often in some of the most challenging environments.

 

Under the new Strategic Plan, 2014-2017, UNOPS  mission is to serve people in need by expanding the ability of the United Nations, governments and other partners to manage projects, infrastructure and procurement in a sustainable manner. The vision is to advance sustainable implementation practices in development, humanitarian and peacebuilding contexts, always satisfying or surpassing partner expectations.

 

UNOPS was awarded gold level in the Sustainable Procurement Review by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply in 2015. Photo: UNOPS

​Management reforms

UNOPS has systematically improved its financial control and management structure. Among the actions taken:

  • the creation of an internal audit and dedicated investigative function

  • the application of robust financial controls including mandatory use of electronic financial management tools

  • the introduction of an ethics officer and whistleblower protection

  • a comprehensive information disclosure policy

  • the competitive recruitment of better qualified senior managers and financial staff

  • stricter procurement rules and training

  • full financial disclosure by personnel

  • publication of internal audit reports on unops.org

  • introduction of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)

These efforts have earned UNOPS objective recognition in the form of consistently clean audit results, and new framework business agreements with, among others, the UN Secretariat, the European Commission, and the World Bank, as well as strong partner satisfaction ratings.

Operational results

On 20 December 2010 the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution in which the 192 member states reaffirmed UNOPS mandate as a central resource for the United Nations system in procurement and contracts management as well as in civil works and physical infrastructure development, including the related capacity development activities.

Since then, UNOPS has continued to deliver strong operational results, increasing its work in low income and conflict-affected countries, promoting sustainability, national capacity development and gender equality in its partners' projects.

UNOPS currently implements around 1,000 projects worth around $1 billion a year for its partners' peacebuilding, humanitarian and development operations. In 2012, 41 percent of the organizations work was in low income and conflict-affected countries. For example, UNOPS managed the construction or rehabilitation of 3,560 kilometres of roads and 9,661 shelters and relief facilities, procured more than 19,000 units of machinery or equipment, and trained more than 47,000 individuals.

Financial performance

UNOPS is a fully self-financing organization, focused on the prudent use of resources and financial discipline. It is financially stable, with solid reserves in accordance or in excess of the levels set by the Executive Board. This firm platform gives partners confidence, demonstrates the viability of the UNOPS business model and means funds are available to invest in improving the services offered to partners.

Accountability and transparency

UNOPS has adopted a comprehensive information disclosure policy and publishes online all relevant documents, such as information on procurement activities, budgets, financial statements and audit reports.

After joining the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), UNOPS became the first UN organization to publish to the IATI format. It was also the first organization to geocode its data to IATI standards and through data.unops.org, presents funding and operational details on over 1,000 projects for the benefit of partners, the public and the development community at large.

Quality standards

UNOPS has benchmarked itself against external bodies, while striving for certification of its processes and adopting internationally-recognized best practices and standards. By doing so it lifts the quality of the services it provides to partners. This has included:

  • ISO 9001 certification of UNOPS quality management system

  • ISO 14001 certification of UNOPS environmental management system

  • the adoption of new contracts for infrastructure works based on those of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC)

  • recognition by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) for excellence in management practices

  • certification by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) for sustainable procurement and the provision of CIPS training to personnel

  • the adoption of international Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)

  • the adoption of the PRINCE2® project management methodology and subsequent training of personnel in the method

  • joining the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) in 2011 and becoming the first UN organization to publish data about its operations on the IATI registry

  • becoming the first global organization to be awarded the four most prestigious project management certifications available

Organizational structure and culture

Key revisions have been made to UNOPS global structure, strengthening service in our core mandated areas and aligning policy, business processes, tools and people across functions, departments and country offices. This flexible structure is now able to respond rapidly to partner's needs.

New policies on recruitment have raised employee competence. The Global Personnel Recruitment System was launched, which made the recruitment process more efficient and transparent, while creating a pool of experts to support our operations. This has speeded recruitment and deployment.

In response to repeated comments by our personnel on the need to reward excellent performance and address inadequate performance, UNOPS developed a comprehensive recognition, rewards and sanctions policy. More training opportunities have also been provided to personnel across the globe.

Sustainability

UNOPS has made significant gains in incorporating social, economic and environmental sustainability into its work. This has included:

  • the launch of a sustainable infrastructure policy

  • the establishment of an internal sustainability programme

  • the development and approval of the Strategic Plan 2014-2017, which highlights a focus on national capacity development and delivering results in sustainable project management, sustainable infrastructure and sustainable procurement