COVID-19 emergency procurement

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented demand for critical goods and services.
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COVID-19 impacts on procurement

The COVID-19 pandemic is evolving rapidly and has created unprecedented demand for critical goods and services. Procurement professionals in NSW government agencies are managing a challenging environment due to a rapidly changing situation, disrupted supply chains, overloaded markets and logistical breakdowns.

The emergency procurement provisions in clause 4 of the Public Works and Procurement Regulation 2019 (PWP Regulation) can help you to respond quickly and effectively as the situation evolves.

What you need to know

  1. Your agency head, or their nominee, can approve procurements up to a value sufficient to meet the immediate needs of the particular emergency. Make sure nominations are made under cl.4 of the PWP Regulation.
  2. If the situation is unforeseen or sudden and requires an urgent response (e.g. current COVID-19 situation) it qualifies as an emergency.
  3. You can only procure what is necessary to meet the immediate needs of the emergency.
  4. You still need to seek approval from the relevant financial delegate to commit or incur expenditure.
  5. You don’t need to comply with Procurement Board Directions or policies, including the enforceable procurement provisions.
  6. You are not limited by the terms of your accreditation or the approved maximum contract value applicable to your accreditation.
  7. You can use any procurement method that meets your needs in the time available.
  8. You don’t have to demonstrate value for money, but you must always use government resources efficiently, effectively and economically
  9. You must manage your real or perceived conflicts of interest, and ensure your suppliers do the same. You must always comply with your agency Code of Conduct, the public sector values and the law.
  10. Keep records! You should record all decisions and approvals including the justification for the emergency procurement. You must report every emergency procurement authorisation to the Procurement Board and disclose contracts ≥$150,000 on eTendering.

Working with suppliers

The NSW Government is implementing measures to support businesses and employment both during and following this crisis. From a procurement perspective, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the viability of businesses and on the people they employ.

Supply chains have been disrupted and our suppliers may, temporarily, be unable to supply goods or services as contracted, or meet the required volumes and timelines. We should consider how we can work through the current situation in partnership with our suppliers. It may be necessary to temporarily source through different channels, but this should be limited to meeting the needs of the immediate situation.

  • Actively manage your contracts and be open with suppliers. Understand the pressures and constraints of the current operating environment.
  • Identify your critical contracts and mitigate any supply risks as much as possible before they turn into major disruptions.
  • Consider if you need to use the emergency procurement provisions to source business critical supplies
  • Streamline invoice processing and pay quickly, especially if your suppliers are small businesses - they should still be paid in five business days per the Faster Payment Terms Policy.
  • Accept reasonable variations to contract terms arising from the COVID-19 situation, e.g. delivery timeframes, volumes, temporary cost increases.

NSW Procurement is available to provide support and advice on conducting emergency procurements and maintaining existing supply chains. Please contact the NSW Procurement Service Centre on 1800 679 289 or