The Role of Procurement in Disaster and Emergency Situations

We have mentioned Craig Brewin before, he featured in one of our posts on eWorld Procurement and Supply when he was Head of Commissioning at Slough Council. He explained how “commissioning for outcomes” could and should work, based on the successful Slough adult social care experience. Read more about that here.

Craig is a multi-talented procurement professional, having extensive public sector experience in this country of both commissioning and strategy & resources management, and financial management (he has an impressive BA in Politics and MA in Finance & Accounting). Interestingly he is now based in the Caribbean and is a coach and commentator on finance and procurement issues relating to the Americas and the Caribbean. And that’s our reason for bringing him up today.

He recently attended the Caribbean Development Bank (CBD) and World Bank high-level workshop for Heads of Procurement in the Caribbean. They were discussing the theme of procurement in disaster and other emergency situations in light of last year’s devastating series of consecutive hurricanes, which was reported to be the most damaging season on record in terms of total costs (nearly $300 billion (US) and of course loss of life. The event brought together people with direct experience of managing procurement through last year’s catastrophes, and others who have managed procurement in disaster situations in other parts of the world. That the procurement profession has a big role to play at every stage of emergency situations was an overriding message.

So Craig has thoughtfully put together a series of articles providing his take on the key themes and points from the conference, mixed with his own personal first-hand expertise. All six articles have been published on Public Spend Forum Europe, and we’re sure they will be of interest to all procurement professionals, not just those involved in some way in public sector crises, but from a general interest perspective of how procurement can and should be involved with the top decision makers in all organisations.

In Part 1 - Caribbean Heads of Procurement Assemble, he gives the background to the special conference on disaster and emergency and talks about the general theme of procurement’s role and its preparedness in advance of a situation.

In Part 2 - Why Procurement Skills Are Important, he looks at the importance of the skills and knowledge of procurement staff. Given their understanding of the markets, procurement professionals have the knowledge and skills to know what is feasible before major decisions are made, therefore they should be at the top table in emergency planning and response.

In Part 3 - Ensuring Good Governance, he considers whether the impact of a hurricane or unforeseeable disaster should require exemption from normal procurement rules. Or should organisations have a set of procurement rules that are meant for operation within the emergency situation.

In Part 4 - Always Be Prepared, he addresses the need to have procurement arrangements for dealing with disaster and recovery organised as far as possible in advance. He explains why Framework agreements in particular are seen as important tools. The conference provided examples of their effective use from different circumstances around the world.

In Part 5 - Making It Real, he explains how the ‘building back better’ initiative has become a main theme from the learnings of the past incidents, and how procurement is seen as key contributor to the relief effort.

In Part 6 – Lessons for the Procurement Profession, he talks about the way forward and the likelihood of there being a single procurement regime for the Caribbean. He also charts the lessons that the procurement profession as a whole can learn from the experiences of those sourcing in an emergency situation.

And for further reading on the subject of procurement’s role in emergency situations and his commentary on the conference, do see Craig’s coverage on the CDB website.

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