Contracting authorities should clarify when emergency buying conditions apply. For example, during:
- natural disasters: such as earthquakes, cyclones, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, flooding, fires or contamination
- health emergencies: such as a pandemic or food safety incident
- failures of critical infrastructure or equipment
- political emergencies: such as a war, coup, or civil insurrection
- terrorist attacks, serious crime or a major cyber security emergency
In these cases a state of emergency will usually be declared by national or international governing bodies.
Emergencies do not include:
- recessions or economic downturns
- a sudden change in market prices
- a contract running out without a replacement supplier being found
Emergencies usually happen in 3 phases, during which different buying procedures may be used:
- Rapid response: emergency buying is required to prevent loss of life or damage to critical infrastructure - for example, sourcing food and housing for displaced people.
- Relief: after the immediate threat to life or infrastructure has been addressed, accelerated buying may still be required, for example, sourcing laptops to allow remote learning while schools are closed.
- Recovery: once an emergency situation has stabilised, buyers should return to using routine procedures. However, accelerated buying and enhanced support for suppliers may still be appropriate.
During each phase, contracting authorities need to balance the need to act without delay (for example to save or preserve life, or safeguard buildings) against meeting their obligations to act lawfully, reasonably and with integrity.