Chapter 10. Awards
Table of Contents
Contracts are awarded by the relevant Procurement Approving Authority and, when applicable, following the approval of the appropriate Authorized Official given subsequent to recommendations by a Review Committee as may be required. Refer to Chapter 2.6.1 Delegation of Authority and Chapter 9 Review by Committees on Contracts. Approvals for awards cannot be made by the Procurement Approving Authority or by the Authorized Official to vendors that are not registered at the appropriate Level with the UN Secretariat and/or are otherwise sanctioned, with the exception of joint ventures whose incorporation is reliant on the award, all in accordance with Chapter 3.
An award may be made following the approval by the appropriate Authorized Official, further to Review Committee recommendation, as applicable. The UN can enter into a contractual obligation with a vendor only after official award of a contract by the relevant Authorized Official (in case of Review Committee recommendation) or Procurement Approving Authority and fulfillment of any conditions to that award, such as a successful prototype inspection, request for parent guarantee, etc.
Contracts shall be awarded within the offer validity period. If it is not possible to award the contract within the original period of offer validity, an extension of the offer validity period must be requested from all bidders. A bidder may refuse the request without forfeiting its bid/proposal security. Bidders agreeing to the request will not be permitted to modify their bids/proposals but will be required to extend the validity of their bid/proposal securities (if applicable) for the period of the extension. As such, extensions should be requested as early as possible to allow bidders sufficient time to produce a new valid bid/proposal security before the expiration of the original.
The relevant Procurement Official must keep a note to the file or a Statement of Award on file for future reference, including the signed award decision or the justification not to award, as applicable. For cases reviewed by a Review Committee, minutes of the relevant Review Committee meeting and signed recommendations by the Authorized Official must be kept in accordance with established records retention policy (see Chapter 13.9 Maintenance of Files).
Although ex post facto cases are not specifically addressed in the Financial Rules and Regulations, they may be accepted by the Organization under exceptional circumstances, provided all other UN procurement practices and procedures have been followed. However, ex post facto cases should be rare exceptions, and when they occur, written justification shall be provided in the case presentation to explain the reasons why timely submission of the case was not possible. Such justification should identify the reasons for the ex post facto situation and propose how to address the root cause in order to avoid reoccurrence.
In the case where the complexity or type of goods so requires, a prototype or a first unit inspection prior to the signature of the contract may be conducted.
The purpose of this risk-mitigating measure is to ensure that the representations made by the bidder in its written technical proposal correspond to their actual product, quality assurance plan, or manufacturing environment, among other considerations. In such cases, therefore, prototype inspections should not be conducted as part of the Technical Evaluation but following a final review of the relevant Review Committee and approval by the Authorized Official. Prototype inspections should take place prior to contract signature to limit the legal exposure to the UN.
If a prototype inspection is relevant for a certain requirement, the Source Selection Plan and the solicitation documents shall indicate so. Bidders should be requested to assume all costs related to the construction of the prototype for inspection, while the UN will incur the related costs of the appointed inspectors.
Inspections of prototypes/first units shall be conducted by the Requisitioner or a third party hired by the UN in the presence of a Procurement Official, as needed. Such inspections shall be documented in detail with all information and pictures, including subcomponents, etc. so that the same can be used by Receipt and Inspection Units to ensure the compliance of the goods throughout the life of the contract.
If during the inspection it is found that minor deviations between the written technical proposal and the actual product exist, but at the UN’s sole discretion such deviations can be easily and quickly rectified, the bidder may be given the opportunity to do so in a timely manner prior to contract signature.
If on the other hand, the deviations are numerous or critical in nature, the UN may, at its sole discretion, disqualify the bidder from further consideration and reconsider its recommendation of award. In such a case, a new recommendation for the award should be submitted to the relevant Review Committee or Procurement Approving Authority. When the bidder fails to pass the inspection, the UN reserves the right to claim damages from the bidder for any costs incurred (e.g. third-party inspector, travel costs, etc.) and to refer the bidder to the VRC for consideration of suspension as a UN vendor.
Annex 14— Statement of Award
The UN posts on its website (https://www.un.org/Depts/ptd/, under the “Awards” link) information about all awarded contracts and purchase orders resulting from formal methods of solicitation for UN Secretariat entities. The notice of awarded contracts should contain a brief description of the contract, a reference to the solicitation number, the contract or NTE amount, the date of the contract/award, and the name and country of the vendor.
Procurement Officials shall issue written notification to the unsuccessful bidders, informing them of their unsuccessful submission (“Letter of Regret”).
Annex 15— Sample Letter of Regret
The UN Secretariat offers UN vendors who participated in solicitations resulting in awards above US$ 200,000 an opportunity to obtain additional information on their unsuccessful proposals or bids through the debrief process described below.
The debrief is not an adversarial proceeding; rather, it is a collaborative learning opportunity for unsuccessful bidders and for the UN to exchange additional information on the reasons why the bid/proposal was not successful.
The purpose of the debrief is to discuss the unsuccessful bidder’s submission in response to the solicitation documents and the applied evaluation process and procedure. It is not a forum to discuss the submissions of other bidders. In addition, it is not a forum for other issues or complaints, which the bidder may raise according to the provisions in Chapter 8.8.
The scope of the debrief is to identify the strengths, deficiencies, or weaknesses of the bidder’s bid/proposal. Debriefings do not discuss the following:
- a. Trade secrets or other proprietary information, including the methodology or approach of other bidders
- b. Financial or cost information about other bidders;
- c. Other bidders’ details.
An unsuccessful bidder may request a debrief in writing within a period of ten (10) business days after receipt of the Letter of Regret only. Upon timely receipt of such request, the UN will notify the bidder of the scope of the debrief as well as the date, time, and place for the debrief.
A debrief is a one-time event. Bidders will receive only one debrief per eligible solicitation. This will normally last for a maximum of up to one (1) hour, and no follow-up debriefs will take place.
The debrief meeting is generally conducted in person but can also be held via teleconference or videoconference. The debrief will be conducted in English, but translators and other special arrangements will be considered, if requested by the bidder and deemed necessary by the UN, as long as the bidder pays for any associated costs and arrangements.
In the case a solicitation has been issued by PD, the written request should be addressed to:
United Nations Procurement Division
To the attention of: Director, Procurement Division
United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY-10017, USA
Or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For other procurement offices, the letter of request for a debrief shall be addressed to the CPO of the respective entity.
The Procurement Official will invite and inform the unsuccessful bidder of the administrative details for the debrief. Should an invitation from the Procurement Official arrive later than ten (10) days after receipt of the request for debrief, the UN will ensure that a debrief is scheduled as a matter of priority. A delay does not entitle the bidder to submit a procurement challenge without a prior debrief meeting.
Bidders who have been formally debriefed and remain unsatisfied may file a procurement challenge within ten (10) business days of the debrief meeting. If the challenge is received later than ten (10) business days after the meeting, it is not receivable.
Procurement challenges are defined in this context as any complaint made post-award and post-official debrief by a bidder with respect to the technical and/or financial evaluation of their offer by the UN. A procurement challenge must not contain allegations against the successful vendor. A procurement challenge is not the right instrument to allege ethical violations. Such allegations should be directly reported to the Head of an Entity, the Director, PD, or OIOS and will be pursued outside of the scope of the Award Review Board.
The Award Review Board (ARB) will review procurement challenges by unsuccessful bidders. The ARB is a UN administrative board that renders independent advice to the Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance (DMSPC).
The Registrar of the ARB will make an initial assessment of the procurement challenge and determine its receivability and eligibility for a review by the ARB. The Registrar’s determination is final and not subject to appeal by any party.
Following a review of the case and upon receipt of the recommendation by the ARB, the USG, DMSPC takes a final decision, which is final and not subject to appeal by any party. Further details on the scope, composition of the ARB, its Secretariat, and any further rights and remedies are outlined in the TORs for the ARB (Annex 16).
It should be noted that the only financial compensation that may be granted to an unsuccessful bidder whose procurement challenge is deemed justified is the reimbursement of reasonable costs of the procedure (excluding legal costs, which shall not be compensated) up to a maximum of US $50,000.
Should a procurement challenge be sustained, the awarded contract will not be suspended but may be limited in duration in case it is a multi-year contract. Further potential remedies are outlined in the TOR of the ARB. All bidders must be informed of the possibility to submit a procurement challenge in the solicitation documents.
Annex 16 - Terms of Reference for Award Review Board Annex 17a— Debrief Guidelines for UN staff
Annex 17b— Debrief Guidelines for UN staff - Amendment 1 Annex 18— Notice of Award of Contract
Annex 19— Notice of Award for Purchase Order