Emergency buying 3. How to maintain standards

Return to sustainable buying

End emergency buying as soon as it is reasonable to and return to more sustainable procedures to help economies recover.

Why it’s important

As a crisis situation begins to stabilise it is important to consider if emergency buying procedures are still justified and, if not, when they will end.

If an emergency has caused a significant shock to the economy, contract adjustments or policy changes may be necessary to support the recovery and enable sustainable, equitable, inclusive and competitive buying in the long term.

What it means

As an emergency enters the relief and recovery phase you should:

  • phase out direct award procedures and contracts as needs become

foreseeable and planning can resume

  • agree with suppliers if and when any outstanding goods or services are to be delivered
  • start planning competitive tendering for medium and long-term needs resulting from the crisis
  • work in partnership with suppliers to develop transition plans to exit from any relief as soon as reasonably possible

To help enable a sustainable recovery you should:

  • continue to pay suppliers as quickly as possible, on receipt of invoices or in accordance with pre-agreed milestone dates
  • ensure that you are able to carry out contract management tasks digitally, for example issuing receipts and approving invoices
  • avoid terminating contracts without first discussing alternative options with suppliers, for example applying a contract variation with clear justifications, actions and timescales

Whether any particular contract can return to “pre-emergency” terms will depend on a number of factors such as the scale of the crisis and how long it takes suppliers and the wider economy to recover.

Contracting authorities should issue clear guidance on how and when any further adjustments will be made to the standard buying process, and aim to return to it as soon as is reasonable to do so.

Do’s and don’ts


  • develop transition plans to end emergency relief in partnership with suppliers
  • agree with suppliers if and when any outstanding goods or services are to be delivered
  • return to ‘normal’ or sustainable buying as soon as it is reasonable to do so


  • do not end emergency buying procedures abruptly without consultation with suppliers