Emergency buying Overview

Ensure value for money

Make sure that products and services bought during an emergency meet minimum standards

Why it’s important

Emergencies can make it difficult for buyers to ensure quality and value for money when using public funds. In particular risks can include:

  • ‘price gouging’, where suppliers take advantage of high demand and supply bottlenecks to charge unreasonable prices
  • the supply of counterfeit or substandard products and services
  • lack of competition, for example only one supplier is directly awarded a contract to provide essential products or services

What it means

To avoid overcharging or price gouging you should:

  • use pricing data to get an overall picture of market conditions before and during the emergency
  • use a ‘should cost model’ to estimate how reasonable prices are
  • pool forces and conduct ‘aggregated’ or joint procurements with other departments or authorities
  • report any instances of price gouging to the relevant authorities

To avoid counterfeit goods you should:

  • check standards for emergency goods provided by international bodies and relief agencies
  • include minimum standards in your requirements and evaluation criteria
  • gain additional information on the origin and transport of supplies, from credible sources, using first-hand evidence when possible

To ensure competitive bidding you should:

  • avoid using over prescriptive or tailored requirements that can only be supplied by one supplier
  • conduct a fast-track competitive procedure whenever possible, even if only between two to three suppliers
  • if using a direct award procedure, check that the supplier with whom you intend to contract is the only one able to provide the required goods, services and/or works on time

Do’s and don’ts


  • carry out aggregated or joint procurements to increase value for money and limit price gouging by suppliers
  • use fast-track competitive procedures whenever possible
  • check international standards for emergency goods and track supply chains


  • do not use over prescriptive or tailored requirements that can only be met by one supplier