Emergency procurement for COVID-19: Buying fast, smart, and open

Rapid and efficient procurement of life-saving goods and services is essential in the fight against the Coronavirus. Government will likely need to resort to emergency procedures and negotiated arrangements. How they manage that emergency procurement will play a major role in how they contain COVID-19 and how many lives can be saved.

It is public procurement’s moment in the spotlight. It needs to be fast, smart and open if it’s going to shine. We make the case that you can buy fast but still buy openly.

Our recommendations

  1. Policy: Make emergency procedures public and open. This includes coordinating and centralizing procurement, setting a clear test and a written justification for emergency procedures, publishing open data, targeting price gouging, and requiring timely reporting.
  2. Coordination: Set clear goals & priorities and consolidating emergency committees for quick decision-making.
  3. Data: Use open procurement data to analyze and share information to predict and manage critical supply chains. Collecting tagging all contracting processes and budget lines with “COVID-19” to ensure high-quality, open and complete data, disclose technical comments from suppliers, and publishing all contract awards under the emergency framework.
  4. Innovative partnerships: Build innovative partnerships with business and civil society. Issue a list of essential medicines and devices so markets can react accordingly and encourage startups and data-driven civil tech projects.
  5. Civic monitoring: Trust and support civil society to play an important role in monitoring efficient spending and delivery of goods and services.

Read our full recommendations.

There are great examples of countries that use open procurement data to track and manage emergency spending from Colombia, Moldova, Ukraine and Paraguay.

Open data is also helping connect buyers and suppliers such as for the US and globally. The EU is collecting all COVID-19 related tenders on one page.

We’ve developed guidance for using open data to monitor emergency procurement and guidance on how to follow the money and a tip-sheet on what to look for

We are a silo-busting non-profit, working across governments, businesses, civil society, and technologists to open up and transform government contracting worldwide. We bring open data and open government together to make sure public money is spent openly, fairly and effectively. We’d love to share your experiences and projects responding to the Coronavirus pandemic, locally or globally. 

Resources and tools

Resources by the open contracting community

Open Contracting Data Standard


Related response and commentary

How we can help

We can support you with:

  • Policy advice on decrees or legislation to make emergency and recovery efforts effective, open & accountable
  • Data collection, publication and analysis for better planning, tracking and monitoring of COVID-19 response procurement
  • Strategies to increase collaboration and coordination among stakeholders
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning plans to track whether your planning, procurement and contract management are effective
  • Monitoring methodologies and advocacy strategies for civil society organizations, media, and government agencies to provide oversight for both the emergency response and the economic recovery
  • Examples of what is working (and not working) in other cities and countries
  • Peer-to-peer learning on emerging issues in supplier engagement, cross-agency or cross-sector collaboration, and region-specific topics

Where are we supporting the COVID-19 response:

  • In Moldova, we are supporting the collaboration between the medical procurement authority and civil society to improve coordination in planning the COVID-19 response procurement and monitoring its implementation.
  • In Colombia, we supported the national public procurement agency to populate their item catalogues for COVID-19 response framework agreements by inviting suppliers to a pre-market engagement process.
  • In Paraguay, we worked with the national public procurement agency to publish a searchable dataset of their COVID-19 response procurement.
  • In New Orleans, one of the hardest hit cities in the US, we will support the Mayor and her team with recovery efforts especially in reviving the small and medium sized business sector.
  • In Latin America, we are supporting Red Palta, a network of seven data journalism organizations from Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay in a series of investigations into the COVID-19 response.

Contact our expert

Viktor Nestulia,
Senior Program Manager