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As the world mobilizes to respond to COVID-19, procurement has a central role. The availability of supply and agile use of resources is critical for mobilization. In my position, I talk with multiple public procurement officers in any given week, and the current pressure is overwhelming:

  • How do we secure the equipment and support services needed by our medical and security responders? How do we get it staged where it needs to be?
  • Do we need to enable alternative sourcing methods? Can we purchase in bulk from new suppliers? Are we able to accept donated supplies?
  • Are our suppliers able to maintain operations and how will they affect our supply chain?
  • What is our continuity of operations plan if we have to work distributed to people’s homes?
  • Where are the single points of failure in my organization if individuals are sick?
  • How do we maintain standard operations given the new surge needs?

These are challenging issues. The reality is that procurement shops around the country will have to absorb these issues in stride and stay mindful and focused on the critical need to be nimble and focused on customer outcomes. Some thoughts about the opportunities exist behind the clouds to keep in mind, as this too will eventually pass and give opportunities to grow the role of procurement in the future:

  • Procurement through this exercise is demonstrating the ability to act as a strategic partner for our executive leadership, in ways that will show the value of our organizations that will outlast this crisis.
  • The stress test of response will show areas to shore up weaknesses in the contract portfolio in the future. Do we have terms related to the priority of supply in a crisis? Do we have single points of failure? Are we missing items that should be under contract in the future?
  • Finally, this crisis will highlight the critical role of procurement automation and support future transformations. We can’t route manila folders from the home.

We value being able to support public procurement officers in these turbulent times and are always available to you now and in the future. Find out more about our service to Public Procurement Officers at

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