NORWAY - The Ministry of Finance has initiated a search on behalf of the Council on Ethics for the Norwegian Government Pension Fund - Global for two suppliers to perform ethical screening of companies in the funds portfolio.

In two tender notices the ministry of finance, which has overall responsibility for the Government Pension Fund, said it is offering one contract for providers to conduct "internet surveillance" on the 8,000 firms in which the pension fund is invested, alongside an additional screening process for its 2,300 Asian holdings.

Ethical guidelines established by the ministry in 2004, which are currently under review by the government, are designed to terminate or avoid investment in companies that "may be complicit in the gravest forms of violations of international standards pertaining to human rights, the environment, situations of armed conflict and gross corruption".

The ministry confirmed it is acting on behalf of the Council on Ethics in tendering for a provider to conduct "internet surveillance to identify companies in our portfolio, which may be involved in activities that could be in breach of the ethical guidelines".

It revealed the contract - which will be re-tendered again in four years - "implies a continuous surveillance of internet-based information sources that report on those kinds of activities in English and Spanish", and any other languages where necessary.

The role requires the provider to collect the relevant information and produce a monthly report on the companies involved, written either in English or Norwegian, containing the nature of the ethical breach and the sources of information.

However, the government stressed the company chosen for the ethical screening "shall not conduct any analysis on whether or not the relevant information should lead to an exclusion of the company from the fund", and it also confirmed the same provider would not be awarded both screening contracts.

The second tender contract requires a provider to supply internet monitoring services to identify possible breaches of the ethical guidelines by companies with their headquarters in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan, equivalent to around 2,300 firms.

Again the supplier should monitor all internet-based information sites, in English, Mandarin and any other languages, and produce a monthly report citing the nature of the breaches and the sources of information.

The closing date for tender applications for both contracts is 3 March 2009, and further information on the roles can be found on the Doffin website.

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