Four Takeaways from the 2013 U.N. Procurement Report

By Charles Rice and Julia Marvin

The U.N. released its 2013 Annual Statistical Report on Procurement on July 10, and the report provides some useful insights into trends in U.N. procurement practice.  As defined by the CSIS Report, A New Development Agenda, procurement is the “purchasing of goods and services, including all government expenditures except staff costs and transfer payments, for the benefit of a government agency or other public authority.” In recent years, there has been a recognition of procurement’s potential development impact, particularly when sourced from emerging or transition economies.

  1. Total United Nations Procurement is growing

United Nations procurement rose again this year to $16.08 billion, and has risen a total of 16.6 percent since 2009.  UN and global procurement spending continues to grow, meaning there is a greater potential development impact from responsible and sustainably sourced procurement.  Sourcing procurement from developing and transition economies offers economic opportunity to local vendors, but also a window to increase transparency, efficiency, and fairness in the public procurement systems of developing economies.  As the U.N. begins to consider procurement in relation to its broader mandate, we can expect procurement to be a development focus for years to come.

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Leocadia Zak

“What we are hearing from host countries is that we want trade not aid. We want to work with the private sector.” –Leocadia Zak, Director of USTDA (CSIS, June 30, 2014)

Director Zak at CSIS' Chevron Forum on June 30

Director Zak at CSIS’ Chevron Forum on Global Infrastructure Development

Who is she?

Leocadia I. Zak was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) on March 10, 2010.

As Director of USTDA, Ms. Zak focuses on expanding U.S. jobs and the markets for U.S. goods and services abroad by supporting U.S. businesses in emerging markets.  Some of these targeted approaches include inviting foreign officials to the U.S. for reverse trade missions and offering best-practice training programs.

Ms. Zak has substantial experience in the public and private sector.  Prior to joining USTDA, she was a partner in the Washington and Boston offices of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, and Popeo, P.C. and an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Boston University School of Law, Moring Center for Banking and Financial Law Studies, and at the Georgetown University Law Center. Ms. Zak received her B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. Continue reading