Emergency buying 1. Introduction

Planning for an emergency

Plan how to respond to an emergency by training staff and anticipating risks.

Why it’s important

Having a clear strategy on what to do in an emergency is essential to act decisively once a crisis happens. Early intervention can help ensure an emergency does not reach the stage in which suppliers are overwhelmed and unable to respond to buying requests.

Planning for an emergency can include:

  • reviewing how previous emergencies were handled
  • training staff in using emergency buying procedures
  • carrying out risk assessments and continuity planning
  • investing in or scaling up digital buying tools

What this means

To help prepare staff, contracting authorities should:

  • set up an emergency response team, including buyers, contract managers, legal and technical experts and senior decision makers
  • run training exercises to test processes and familiarise staff with emergency buying
  • prepare checklists and contract templates to use in an emergency buying situation
  • publish clear guidance on when emergency buying procedures can be used and how they will be approved
  • use digital buying tools, for example supplier databases and online contracting software to help speed up the buying process

To assess risks to essential services you should:

  • identify strategic suppliers that provide critical goods or services, for example, medical devices or cyber security services
  • monitor suppliers that may be facing financial challenges and will not be able to respond during an emergency
  • review any previous emergency spending with suppliers, assessing any concerns around value for money, delivery and transparency

Do’s and don’ts


  • set up a team to respond to emergency situations
  • identify strategic suppliers that provide critical services
  • review previous emergency spending with suppliers


  • do not expect staff to respond to emergency situations without training and access to appropriate digital tools