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Resilient procurement strategies for the public sector

Government buyers are rethinking purchasing in the context of business continuity, mindful of cost optimization and supporting safe, healthy communities.

Public procurement faced critical disruptions in response to COVID-19, ranging from revenue shortfalls and budgetary threats, to lack of supplies for essential workers, to the rapidly evolving needs of a remote workforce. Now, government organizations are looking for more sustainable, long-term purchasing solutions while still balancing short-term demands. To facilitate this shift, some of our federal, state, and local government customers are focusing on three initiatives to address current challenges and prepare for what’s next:

  • Optimizing taxpayer dollars with new operating budgets
  • Keeping communities healthy and safe
  • Driving economic resilience through supplier diversity initiatives


Optimizing taxpayer dollars with new operating budgets


Lost tax revenue coupled with increased expenditures in response to COVID-19 means the public sector will have to monitor spending more closely to stretch finite budgets. We’ve heard concerns that with rising operational costs and new responsibilities, saving time when procuring goods, while still getting the best value, will be difficult.


Department leaders want to empower end-users—who now are often remote—to purchase supplies quickly, without losing visibility or jeopardizing necessary controls to comply with evolving policies and guidance. Often, such purchases are off-contract or unmanaged, and can add up considerably. “It may seem like these purchases translate to a small dollar amount, but when you add it all up, it can equate to millions of dollars that we don’t have clear visibility on, and we need to be sure that there’s no opportunity for fraud,” says Chris Hughes, Chief Procurement Officer for the State of Utah. 


To reduce procurement cycle time, minimize costs, and manage off-contract spend, public sector buyers can:


  • Leverage competitively-solicited contracts from cooperatives like OMNIA Partners and PEPPM
  • Purchase on blanket POs with invoicing using real-time budget tracking, time-bound budget configurations, administrative approvals, and reporting to track expenditures to specific funds
  • Evaluate savings opportunities for commonly purchased categories like office, IT peripherals, and MRO


Keeping communities healthy and safe


Regardless of budget constraints, governments play a critical role in re-opening communities and safely supporting back to business initiatives. We’ve heard public leaders describe changing needs of both employees and those they serve, which is testing procurement’s role in meeting increased demand. The urgent response to COVID-19 left many departments scrambling for personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies when traditional suppliers fell short.


Health, police, fire, and emergency departments, especially, look to address increased occupational health and safety needs. In turn, they set and maintain a high bar for ongoing guidance around workplace PPE.


Government buyers are increasingly looking to new sources for supply. To meet this unprecedented demand, Amazon Business launched COVID-19 Supplies, providing more than 100 million health and safety items. And we continue to onboard new public sector teams. 


“As you are aware, supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) are in short supply and having a partner like Amazon Business helps meet the PPE needs of our front-line operators will enhance our operational effectiveness as we respond to this crisis,” said Robert P. Taylor, Assistant Director, Financial Management, US Department of Homeland Security.


We continue to expand product selection to protect front-line workers and employees returning to work with PPE & Workplace Safety Essentials. With bulk offers and Quantity Discounts, government buyers may save on even those items in urgent demand.


Driving economic resilience through supplier diversity initiatives


Through all of this change, the public sector is uniquely positioned to support small businesses—especially those hit by economic uncertainty. A recent report from Censeo Consulting found that 93% of small businesses face barriers to doing business with government. Barriers include complex and inefficient processes and poor communication. A strategic ecommerce partner can help break down those barriers by consolidating purchasing solutions and providing one place where buyers and sellers can communicate. The more efficient we are in connecting small businesses to government buyers, the greater the economic impact on our communities.


Using online, multi-seller stores like Amazon Business, you can simplify procurement of commonly purchased goods across a variety of categories. A strategic B2B supplier model enables public sector organizations to easily scale their “buy local” and other supplier diversity initiatives.


“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Amazon Business to create a solution that will help our local and small business community find work opportunities with our city government. Now, more than ever, we need to be engaging and supporting our independent vendors and mom-and-pop businesses,” said Francis Suarez, Mayor of the City of Miami.


We’re here to help government organizations and nonprofits prosper through uncertainty by supporting agile procurement strategies. Access more resources to help you optimize costs, gain control, and adapt procurement at scale as you get back to business.  

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