This call for tenders concerns the provision of ethics-related services to the UPU for a period of four years, from 2021 to 2024.
The UPU seeks an independent consultancy firm to provide ethics-related services.
Essentially, the role of the UPU Ethics Office is to support the Director General in ensuring that UPU staff act in accordance with their missions and perform their duties in compliance with the highest standards of competence and integrity, as set out in the United Nations Charter, by establishing a culture of ethics, transparency and accountability within the UPU International Bureau.
The deadline for submission of proposals is 15 February 2021 at 16.00 Central European Summer Time (CEST).
As you have stipulated in clause 4.1 a) that the bidder need to Develop standards, training programs and awareness campaigns on ethics, in coordination with the “relevant Directorates”.
We would like to inquire about the scope of relevant directorates. How many directorates under this tender and could you please provide the list of directorates?
Mainly with the Executive Office Directorate and Human Resources Directorate.
It would be helpful if you could tell us approximately what annual budget you have in mind for the provision of the service.
The information about the budget is not available.
We are a small international organization.
The selection criteria are as indicated in the RFP:
1. The quality of the proposal (as specified in this RFP);
2. The knowledge and experience of the Bidder and its team and/or consultants in the relevant field;
3. The price.
As there are no specific deliverables and number of man-days outlined in the tender, we wish to understand if UPU is looking at a retainer model, i.e. fixed monthly fee with a fixed number of man-days provided
As indicated in the RFP, the UPU wishes to receive a fixed offer established on an annual basis. A fixed monthly fee with a fixed number of man-days provided is acceptable.
What would be the exact resources that UPU require so we may assess and plan our manpower assets. Or perhaps examples of potentially required deliverables can be given?
Please refer to 4.1.a of the RFP. More detailed activities include annual ethics training, awareness raising activities on ethics, hotline, ethics rules updating, etc.
Does UPU require onsite consultancy work or is there the option for the consultancy to be conducted remotely most of the time, unless mandatory travels are specified
Under normal circumstances, ethics training is conducted in groups in a classroom format. Given the pandemic, alternatives can be found and agreed upon. The same goes for the presentation of the annual report to the Council of Administration, which normally takes place on site, but was done remotely in 2020 owing to COVID-19.
Lastly, just to clarify that the tender is not asking for services in relation to setting up a full working ethics office?
The UPU decided to outsource the Ethics Office to an external partner in accordance with UPU Rules on Financial Administration. This tendering process will provide us with an external partner to provide the Ethics Office services.
How you would like the proposed budget presented. Should it be a yearly/monthly/daily figure for different consultants with different skillsets or is there another way you would like this presented to your team?
As indicated in the RFP, the UPU wishes to receive a fixed offer established on an annual basis. You may present more information about the costs related to your offer.
What incidents or issues have led to or necessitated this RFP tender for ethics-related services? Has it been driven by a particular event or is the purpose to replace an existing service? If the latter, please could you share in confidence the main service issues/deficiencies experienced (if any)?
The current contract with the UPU Ethics Office partner expires in April 2021. That is why this call for tenders was launched.
As regards the main services, please refer to Q4 above and the attached report for reference.
What is the current structure of the Ethics Office/Compliance function within the UPU? Does it have its own team or does the UN perform this task centrally? Is there a whistleblowing process accessible to staff? If so, who currently monitors this? What existing systems are in place in relation to Ethics?
The UPU decided to outsource the ethics office to an external partner in accordance with UPU Rules on Financial Administration. This tendering process will provide us with an external partner to provide the ethics office services. Currently, there is a hotline for staff set up by the Ethics Office.
Depending on the response to question 2 above, will the independent consultancy firm outlined in 1.4 of the RFP be required to provide an independent function or support an existing ethics /compliance business function already in operation? Would the successful bidder be required to review and assess the current Ethics programme in place and develop and implement an enhanced improved programme?
To provide an independent function.
Please refer to Q4 above.
Please could the UPU provide further detail on the services required in respect of “close cooperation with supervisory and human resources services” as per 4.1a of the RFP.
The relevant UPU International Bureau directorates will support the Ethics Office in the work of updating/implementing the ethics rules, the coordination of the ethics training and other awareness-raising activities.
Does the UPU envisage the successful bidder performing the function on a full-time basis for 4 years from a UN office or would they carry out the work as they assess to be effective and in collaboration with the UPU from their own physical location?
No physical presence at the UPU is required. However, under normal circumstances, the Ethics Officers may be required to be present at UPU for conducting ethics training, reporting to the Council of Administration, etc.
Please will you let us have copies of the last three annual reports compiled by or on behalf of the UPU and any inspection reports for this period.
One annual report is attached for reference.
According to Section 1.3 of the RfP, in 2014 the CEO has been mandated to engage a Third Party with conducting the tasks assigned to the Ethics Office. Could you kindly provide more information on the current status of the set-up of the Ethics Office, whether its tasks are still outsourced to the UN agency respectively to another Third Party? Or is there in the meantime an inhouse Ethics Office team installed?
In 2014, the Council of Administration instructed the Director General of the UPU International Bureau to select a professional partner to deliver the services of the Ethics Office in accordance with UPU procurement rules.
In 2018, following a call for tenders, an external partner was selected as UPU Ethics Office. That contract expires in April 2021.
Depending on the current set-up, shall the services be completely outsourced to a Third Party or is it intended that the Third Party shall support the efforts of the inhouse Ethics Office team, in case one has been set-up?
In order to be able to provide you with an optimal approach which shall also support UPU in its long-term plans regarding the Ethics Office, could you kindly provide more background on what the long-term vision regarding the Ethics Office set-up and tasks shall be, i.e. after 2024?
Currently not available. Will be decided by the Council of Administration.
Section 4 of the RfP lists several tasks assigned to the Ethics Office: In order to have a better understanding of the complexity of the mandate, could you please provide information on which (risk) areas fall under the competency of the Ethics Office, e.g. conflicts of interest, corruption & bribery, sexual harassment, etc.?
Please refer to the attached report for information.
According to Section 4, sub-section 4.1 a) of the RfP, second bullet-point, tasks are being assigned to the Ethics Office regarding the protection of the employees reporting potential violations and those collaborating in audits/ investigations. In order to have a better understanding regarding the stakeholders and required collaborations throughout the mandate of the Ethics Office, could you please provide more information on these tasks, what they normally include and by which department(s) are they being assigned?
No further information can be provided as the related administrative instruction is being reviewed.
According to Section 4, sub-section 4.1 c) of the RfP, the Ethics Office also provides confidential advice to employees: Could you please provide information on the tasks of the Ethics Office regarding whistleblowing and potential information of allegations of violations of policies received during advice sessions? Is the Ethics Office expected to act as point of contact for relevant reports and forward these to other department(s)?
The selected partner will be asked to propose a mechanism to be agreed upon with the UPU.
In order to be able to set-up an accurate pricing plan for the next four years, could you please provide us with information regarding the effort in hours p.a. for the tasks of the Ethics Office in the past?
Please see Q2 above.
The RFP, paragraph 1.3 and 1.4, states ”(…) the Council of Administration decided in 2011 to outsource the Ethics Office function to another institution within the UN system. In 2014, the Council of Administration instructed the Director General of the UPU International Bureau to select a professional partner to deliver the services of the Ethics Office in accordance with UPU procurement rules. (…) The UPU seeks an independent consultancy firm to provide ethics-related services for a period of four years, from 2021 to 2024.”
Could you help us understand if the UPU is looking for (i) an external provider to outsource to and run the ethics office, or (ii) for a provider to support the ethics office with consultancy services?
An external provider to outsource to and run the Ethics Office according to the mandate set out in RFP.
Please specify which of the following cohorts of individuals are within the scope of provision of services from the UPU Ethics Office, and the approximate number of individuals in each category to whom ethics office services shall be provided:
In total, about 280 people at the UPU International Bureau are covered by the Ethics Office services, including six regional project coordinators working in the fileld.
Approximate head count of all staff affiliated with the UPU International Bureau, and distribution of staff as among UPU headquarters in Bern and UPU’s regional/country level offices
Six persons working in the field. No country-level offices.
Description of how UPU has provided ethics office services to all covered individuals between 2010 and present date, including all policies, decisions, and directives that describe the mandate of the UPU Ethics Office
Please refer to part 4 of the published RFP for questions related to the mandate. For information, ethics services provided include awareness-raising activities, ethics training, hotline service, individual consultations, etc. Since 2018, annual ethics training has been organized in sessions for all staff by the Ethics Office with the support of the relevant International Bureau directorates of IB. For information, the topics for the last three years were “conflicts of interest” (2018), “ethics in procurement” (2019) and “diversity and inclusion (2020)”.
In Para 2.6 of the Request for Tender, it is stated that
In the light of the UPU’s status as a specialized agency of the United Nations (and without prejudice to the observance, by the UPU, of any sanctions established by the United Nations Security Council), Bidders shall expressly certify their legal and operational willingness and ability to provide the services on a non- discriminatory basis for the benefit of all eligible entities established and/or situated in the territory of any UPU member country, irrespective of the existence of diplomatic relations between a Bidder’s country of incorporation and/or operation and any UPU member country (including its designated operators).
We requests an explanation of how UPU anticipates this provision applying to the provision of Ethics Office services.
this is just a standard language used in our calls for tenders (CFTs) aimed at obtaining confirmation, from bidders, that their services may be provided to the benefit of any entities established in a UPU member country (bearing in mind our international status). This language is normally applicable only to CFTs associated with the implementation of UPU projects (such as GMS or other development cooperation projects) in other countries. This means that bidders should be able to provide their services to the UPU for the benefit of any member country/DO, regardless of the existence of diplomatic relations between the country of incorporation of the bidder and the country where a project may be implemented. In any case, such a language should NOT be relevant for the CFT on ethics office services, since these services are basically provided in-house and for the benefit of the UPU secretariat only;
Copies of all Annual Reports prepared by the UPU Ethics Office from 2010 through present date.
Please see the attached report for reference.
Copies of all UPU ethics and compliance policies, procedures, regulations, rules, and guidance materials including, but not limited to, whistleblowing, hotline/helpline, enterprise risk management, protection against retaliation, prevention of retaliation, financial and asset disclosure, conflicts of interest, outside activities, gifts, speeches and publications, confidentiality, use of UPU resources and services, mission travel, corruption, internal investigations, grievances, and ombuds services.
Please refer to the code of conduct provided.
Copies of all UPU’s Codes of Conduct or Codes of Ethics (or similar documents, however titled) as applicable to staff, governance officials, and third parties. (Please note that we have received a copy of UPU’s Code of Conduct for Employees, dated 2007.)
This is the only version available for the organization. It is being reviewed.
Description of any UPU’s ethics and compliance training initiatives, however delivered, including topics covered, frequency of training, identity of trainers, and approximate number of participants.
See Q24 above
Samples of any UPU’s ethics office outreach efforts, including but not limited to communications, use of social media, posters, wallet cards, podcasts, etc.
The UPU shares information on ethics with other UN organizations. It is also a member of the Ethics Network of Multilateral Organizations (ENMO).
Description of the hierarchical reporting structure as between UPU Ethics Office, the Director General, the UPU Council of Administration, the UPU Postal Congress, and the Postal Operations Council.
Regarding “reporting”, please refer to the part 4.5 of the published RFP.
Summary of UPU Ethics Office visits, calls and requests for services for each year from 2010 through present date, with primary classification data of or type of call (e.g., request for advice, complaint, report of misconduct, report of retaliation, or referral), category of call (e.g., conflicts of interest, interpersonal misconduct, fraud/waste/corruption, abuse of power, harassment, SEA, etc.) outcome or disposition, and total elapsed time to closure.
Please see the attached report.
Explanation of how UPU anticipates its outsourced Ethics Office will work with UPU’s Legal Office and UPU’s Human Resources Department, including an explanation of the mandates of these offices and identification of those topics, matters or issues that are reserved exclusively to the Ethics Office, the Legal Office, or the Human Resources Department
The relevant IB directorates will support the Ethics Office in the work of updating the ethics rules and coordination of ethics training and other awareness-raising activities, etc.
How many working hours per year can be expected?
Please refer to Q2 above.
Is compensation based on time and effort, on the basis of a fixed fee, or is it possible to agree on a fixed fee and charge additional expenses on a time and effort basis?
Please see Q3 and Q7 above.
Is there a need to adapt the basic documents on ethics, governance, etc.? If so, does this also fall under the present call for tenders or can these expenses be agreed additionally.
This is included in the mandate.
What is specifically meant by the following task according to the invitation to tender: « Faire office d’organe de référence pour sensibiliser les fonctionnaires aux normes déontologiques et au comportement attendu par l’organisation ainsi qu’aux politiques, stratégies et programmes de mise en valeur des ressources humaines, ce en étroite collaboration avec les services chargés des fonctions de supervision et des ressources humaines. » ? Does this mean that the Ethics Office assists the supervisory and HR departments as an advisory body in individual cases (e.g. in whistleblowing cases)? Or does this task relate to the issuing and dissemination of information, guidelines and directives?
Please refer to Q11 above.
How does this task differ from the education and training tasks outlined under 4.1. a) 1. lemma?
These tasks are linked to one another.
Is there already a draft mandate agreement? If so, would it be possible to send it to us?
The mandate is the same as in the RFP, which was approved by the Council of Administration.
Regarding my question 5 in my first e-mail: I have just realized that the English translation of the RFP does not contain the bullet point I was referring to. The French version of the RFP, which I had initially reviewed and based my questions on, entails the following second bullet-point under Section 4, sub-section 4.1a):
“Réaliser les tâches lui ayant été assignées concernant la protection des personnes qui signalent les manquements et des personnes qui collaborent à des audits ou enquêtes dûment autorisés.”
This is in line with our internal administrative instruction, but will be removed from the french version.
My question was related to this bullet point. Are these tasks which are being assigned to the Ethics Office regarding the protection of the employees reporting potential violations and those collaborating in audits/ investigations stipulated in a standard operating procedure? Could you provide some more background information on these tasks and by whom/ by which departments are they being assigned, in order for us to also better understand the interplay between the different stakeholders?
No further information can be provided as the related administrative instruction is being reviewed.
With regard to the annual report that you have provided from 2016, would you be able to send us a more current report from 2019 for instance?
The only report provided to all for reference is the one for 2016.