Annan puts in place ‘unprecedented’ employment restrictions for UN procurement staff

Annan puts in place ‘unprecedented’ employment restrictions for UN procurement staff

In an effort to avoid any repeat of scandals involving United Nations staff working in procurement, outgoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan today put in place restrictions on current and former employees working in its purchasing department, his spokesman announced, describing the measures as “unprecedented.”

The restrictions, which will enter into force on 1 January 2007, outline clear limitations on UN staff currently or formerly involved in the “procurement process” in the broadest sense, including signing or managing contracts, handling bids, reviewing contractor or vendor performance to auditing the process.

“There are two lengths of ‘restriction:’ one year and two years – one year of no employment with a company with which a staff member has had procurement dealings, and two years of no retroactive contact with the UN if the new job relates to his/her former responsibilities,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

“It also sets out sanctions, such as blacklisting of vendors who have hired former staff with procurement dealings within these timeframes, and placing a note in the personnel file to prevent future re-employment of the individuals,” he said.

Responding to a question, Mr. Dujarric said the scope of these measures is “unprecedented” for the UN Secretariat and on par with best practices in the public sector.

UN procurement has been plagued by scandal in recent months. Most recently, the Secretary-General waived the immunity of Sanjaya Bahel, a UN procurement officer who has been the subject of an internal fact-finding investigation into allegations of misconduct conducted by the Organization’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

The November waiver came in response to a request from United States authorities.

In January, then-UN Under-Secretary-General for Management Christopher Burnham said OIOS was conducting some 200 investigations into UN procurement activities, estimating that the funds involved could top the tens of millions of dollars.