11.2 Ensuring appropriate levels of expertise among mission personnel
The ability to conduct due diligence checks in a particular environment, to identify red flags, and to minimize risks related to corrupt networks, requires a substantial level of expertise and familiarity with the operational environment. Procurement know-how enables the contracting officer to structure relevant processes in a way contracting that enables due diligence to be performed and bids to be assessed for irregularities. Familiarity with the local environment makes it easier to pick up on red flags and to assess the significance of ethnic, social and family networks and of financial flows. This means not only putting in place an effective, comprehensive training programme, but also managing military personnel rotations to minimize disruption.
“It is too easily forgotten that procurement is a professional skill, and therefore not a job for generalists or staff on rotation. … Invest in solid continuity. People who stay in the mission longer … will provide better stability and implementation of guidelines.”
NATO contracting officer presentation, February 2017
In some NATO operational headquarters, procurement personnel in key positions are international civilians, for whom the posting is a long-term career choice rather than a short-term rotation. This could be another way of maintaining continuity, though it has to be balanced with the risk that staff posted for the long term could form relationships that could impair their judgement.
Extending deployments: Afghanistan
During the ISAF operation, members of the Polish contingent individually decided to extend their deployments (to up to 18 months) in order to ensure that one person oversaw bidding, implementation and monitoring for one particular project, gaining knowledge and relationships helping them assess particular situations and individuals. This is an individual initiative which could be applied systematically.View external case study