United Nations Office for Project Services
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (July 2012)|
|Type||Independent self-financing member of the United Nations family|
|Head||Grete Faremo – Executive Director|
|Parent organization||United Nations System|
The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is an operational arm of the United Nations, dedicated to implementing projects for the United Nations System, international financial institutions, governments and other partners in the aid world. The organization's global headquarters are located in Copenhagen, Denmark and it has more than 20 country offices around the world.
UNOPS implements more than $1 billion worth of peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects for its partners every year, operating in more than 80 countries, from managing the construction of schools in Afghanistan, to building shelters in Haiti, and procuring educational computers in Argentina.
UNOPS employs around 6,000 personnel and on behalf of its partners creates thousands of work opportunities in local communities.
UNOPS was established in 1974 as part of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It became an independent, self-financing organization in 1995. The UNOPS vision is to "advance sustainable implementation practices in development, humanitarian and peacebuilding contexts". As a central resource for the UN, UNOPS provides sustainable infrastructure, procurement and project management services in some of the world’s most complex environments.
UNOPS is a fully self-financing organization. It covers direct and indirect costs by charging a small fee on each project supported. UNOPS new pricing policy was released in July 2013 and outlines how the organization aims to finance its projects. UNOPS is not-for-profit, and meets the highest international standards of accountability and transparency in all its transactions.
In 2012, UNOPS implemented 1,025 projects worth US$ 977 million for partners, including $529 million on behalf of the UN system.
UNOPS mission is to serve people in need, by expanding the capacity of the United Nations system, governments and other partners to implement peacebuilding, humanitarian and development operations in a sustainable and efficient manner. While partners may need a public profile for fundraising or advocacy, UNOPS does not and takes a low-key position as a project implementer.
As part of the United Nations goal of "delivering as one", UNOPS works in line with other UN organizations towards the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals. UNOPS aims to offer implementation expertise that permits others to reduce risks; improve speed, quality or cost-effectiveness, and focus on their policy-oriented mandates and core competencies.
UNOPS is a proven service provider with more than 30 years experience implementing large-scale, complex efforts throughout the world. UNOPS often works in post-disaster and peace building settings, developing countries and economies in transition. In recognition of its specialized expertise, former Secretary-General Kofi Annan designated UNOPS as the lead United Nations entity for complex infrastructure projects in peacekeeping settings.
In December 2010 the United Nations General Assembly 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."  At the official opening of the UNOPS HQ in Copenhagen in May 2009, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon described UNOPS as a member of the UN family with a "critical role in providing management services for our life-saving peacebuilding, humanitarian and development operations […] setting countries on course to a more stable future by helping them to build roads, schools and clinics, to remove landmines, to prepare for democratic elections, and much else".
UNOPS customizes its services to individual partner needs, offering everything from one-time, stand-alone solutions to long-term, project management. UNOPS offers implementation, advisory and transactional services in its three core areas of expertise:
- Infrastructure (e.g. building a storage compound for the World Food Programme (WFP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
- Procurement (e.g. procuring educational computers in Argentina)
- Project Management (e.g. managing the design and development of a new more effective ICT system for the Palestinian police)
UNOPS provides specialized services to a range of partners, including: the United Nations, its agencies, funds and programmes; international financial institutions; governments; intergovernmental organizations; non-governmental organizations; foundations; and the private sector.
In 2012, UNOPS supported its partners with the construction and/or rehabilitation of 40 schools, 48 hospitals and medical facilities, 73 government buildings, 2,631 kilometers of road, and 9,661 shelters or relief facilities. UNOPS also procured and/or distributed 15,000,000 medical items .
Transparency and Accountability
UNOPS accountability framework outlines the organization’s commitment to clear and open communication with partners and stakeholders. UNOPS keeps partners informed through timely financial and operational reporting, accessible through an online Partner Centre. This is part of the organization’s commitment to increase its transparency and accountability, in line with the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). UNOPS joined the initiative in 2011 and was "the first organization to publish fully geocoded information" in IATI format. UNOPS also publishes details on projects on its public website and the data.unops.org platform.
In 2008, UNOPS adopted an updated governance structure, in line with General Assembly resolutions. Since then, the Executive Director reports directly to the United Nations Secretary-General and the Executive Board, and has the authority to apply United Nations staff rules and regulations to UNOPS staff. Since 2009 the Executive Director has been able to sign host country agreements with governments, and direct service agreements in consultation with a Resident or Humanitarian Coordinator, as well as having the authority to directly appoint UNOPS representatives in the field.
Quality and Operational Excellence
In line with UNOPS strategic plan, the organization strives for external certification of core management functions, processes and personnel - in order to ensure its business practices reflect leading international standards.
This work resulted in UNOPS gaining the ISO 9001 quality management system certification in June 2011, becoming the first UN organization to be certified for its global quality management systems. UNOPS is also the first UN body to have been awarded the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply’s Certification in Procurement Policies and Procedures. The CIPS certification demonstrates that UNOPS has sound procurement policies, processes and procedures, verified and monitored by an independent body.
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