17 February 2005 | David Arminas
The United Nations mission in Kosovo has appointed its first procurement manager.
Alison Macpherson moved from the Scottish Prison Service where she was a senior procurement specialist to take up the UN post based in Pristina, the province's capital.
She is in charge of a e25 million budget and a team of two local purchasers.
"At the prison service, I would handle contracts worth up to £20 million, including construction framework deals," she said, "but issues of UN procurement make it especially challenging."
The department is buying goods and services abroad and locally, everything from "complex and highly confidential military-style security requirements to stationery and photocopiers".
Arbene Abrashi, a Kosovar who joined from purchasing with the local UN police service, will join the CIPS foundation course.
The second member of staff will be hired locally "as soon as possible", she said.
"There is a real difficulty when dealing with suppliers. They are not always familiar with tendering.
"Also, we have to specify to international standards and local suppliers have a problem meeting these."
She said her department often helps local suppliers with with customs declarations when goods enter Kosovo.
No savings target is set for the department's first year of operation, which ends on 31 December.
By that time, the UN will know if it is staying in Kosovo for another year. It has a rolling mission in the province, which was wracked by civil war in the late 1990s.
In the early 1990s, Macpherson worked at the National Audit Office, which won a three-year contract to audit UN peacekeeping operations in Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia.