How we buy

UNDP buys goods and services from each of its 166 Country Offices, as well as UNDP Headquarters in New York. Responsibility for procurement is decentralized, meaning that the entire procurement cycle – from sourcing to contract management – is done locally. A Country Office’s Resident Representative, or his or her designee, oversees the process.

The Country Office will enter into contracts with vendors, which may be companies or individuals. Headquarters plays a limited role with the Procurement Support Office (PSO) providing support and specialized assistance (see Procurement FAQs). The Advisory Committee on Procurement (ACP), an independent unit within the Bureau of Management, approves contracts that exceed 100,000 USD. The ACP ensures that procurement undertaken by UNDP Business Units complies with relevant guidelines, and that procurement risks are properly assessed and mitigated.

As a public organization, we must strictly adhere to the UNDP Financial Regulations and Rules, which mandate that contracts be awarded through a competitive process, obtaining bids through formal tenders. To ensure consistency across all our offices and business units, UNDP uses standard bidding documents, available in English, Spanish and French.

Procurement methods

If the value of the goods, services or simple works to be procured is below USD 5,000, Micro-Purchasing may be used. This method uses a simple canvassing template, and procurement staff may obtain pricing information over the phone, internet, or by visiting local vendors. Micro-purchasing can normally be done in 1 or 2 days. Award is made to the lowest price available.

Request for Quotation (RFQ) is an informal invitation to submit a quotation, used for goods/services/civil works valued between USD 5,000 and USD 100,000. Depending on the complexity of the requirement, vendors will be given 3 to 10 business days to respond to an RFQ. Prices, and other commercial terms and conditions are requested and award is made to the lowest priced technically acceptable offer.

An Invitation to Bid (ITB) is a formal invitation to submit a bid, usually associated with requirements that are clearly and concisely defined, with an estimated procurement value of USD 100,000 or more. Normally price is the sole determinant in making an award. Where all technical criteria are met, an award is made to the lowest bidder. Vendors will normally be given 15 business days or more to respond, depending on the complexity of the requirement. In some cases involving large and complex contracts, vendors may be asked to pre-qualify.

Request for Proposal (RFP) is a formal request to submit a proposal usually associated with requirements for services, which cannot be clearly or concisely defined, with an estimated procurement value of USD 100,000 or more. Price is only one of several factors comprising the evaluation criteria. Award is made to the qualified bidder whose bid substantially conforms to the requirement set forth on the solicitation documents and is evaluated to be the lowest cost to UNDP. Vendors are normally given 15 business days or more to respond to an RFP. In some cases, vendors may be required to pre-qualify.

Exceptionally and when it is deemed in the best interest of UNDP, procurement staff may buy goods or services through Direct Contracting.

The following table provides a summary of the various Procurement Methods:

UNDP Procurement Table Summary

Individual consultants

Most of UNDP’s procurement activities are dedicated to acquiring services, which may be executed by companies or by individuals. Individuals provide services directly to UNDP under the Individual Contract (IC) modality. 

The IC modality may be used when:

  1. Services cannot be provided by existing staff due to a lack of specialized knowledge or expertise;
  2. The assignment is results-oriented and can be completed on or off UNDP premises, within a definite period of time linked to deliverables;
  3. The assignment requires the performance of non-staff duties.
  4. ICs are engaged through a Reimbursable Loan Agreement (RLA) that is awarded through a competitive process, covering professional fees and certain expenses, such as travel, if and when required. Country Offices may issue Expressions of Interest (EOI) from time to time, in order to keep a roster of potential ICs. 

ICs are not considered staff and do not receive entitlements when engaged by UNDP. If the services require travel, individuals may be given “Expert on Mission” status.

Evaluation of offers

Each procurement method has a slightly different evaluation method. When evaluating RFQs and ITBs, the price is the most important element. In contrast to this, an RFP relies mostly on a technical evaluation. The technical component primarily determines whether the proposal will be accepted or declined. Evaluation is done through pre-set criteria, which are clearly indicated on the bidding documents.

When examining, evaluating and comparing offers, UNDP may consider price as well as non-price factors, which include cost (operation, maintenance, repairs); delivery/completion time; functional characteristics; terms of payment/guarantee; a vendor’s performance record with UNDP and other UN agencies; and the vendor’s presence in the local market.

Terms of contract

In order to become a vendor to UNDP, you must accept the General Terms and Conditions of Contract (GTCs). A copy of these GTCs is included in bidding documents. UNDP procurement staff may not modify these terms of contract, and any alterations require the advice and consent of the Legal Support Office (LSO). 

  1.  General Terms and Conditions for Goods (PDF)
  2.  General Conditions of Contract for Professional Services (PDF)
  3.  UNDP General Conditions for Purchase Orders (PDF)
  4.  General Conditions of Contract the ICs (PDF)