As COVID-19 challenges us to respond to unprecedented situations and adapt to new ways of working, CourtHeath Consulting is supporting clients to uphold probity and navigate procurement processes.
Victoria continues to be in a State of Emergency in response to COVID-19. Most of us who can work from home are still required to do so if our role can be fulfilled remotely. Although there is growing anticipation about easing of restrictions, it’s likely that impacts on public sector procurement will continue for several months.
Most government and private sector personnel involved in procurement are working from home to assist with slowing the spread of COVID-19. Many of us have our regular workload as well as additional work to respond urgently to the virus and its implications for the way government and businesses need to operate immediately and in the future.
From our new workplaces, we face new challenges in following some of the standard procurement process steps.
We are substituting face-to-face meetings with temperamental videoconferencing and desks with dining tables. It can make it difficult to maintain productivity, with background noise from pets or family creating a distraction that you wouldn’t have in the office.
For anyone participating in teleconferences at the moment, you may well identify with this humorous depiction of the quirks of a virtual meeting.
We might also be working without our usual printers and scanners, bringing changes to the way we sign documents and keep records – see our blog 'Signing Procurement Forms During Lockdown' – on this topic.
Managing conflicts of interest, ensuring confidentiality and treating tenderers fairly with equitable access to information remain important for ensuring probity but may need to be achieved in novel ways.
Particular care is required for any essential in-person activities such as site visits: keeping appropriate distance whilst observing site-walk protocols, avoiding sharing pens and sign-in pages whilst keeping an attendance log; double-checking that it’s appropriate to make any in-person activity mandatory.
Some procurement processes may be urgent and even subject to critical incident procurement exemptions – others may need to be paused at this time for a range of reasons.
To help navigate procurement processes during this challenging period, CourtHeath has developed useful tips on
It’s important to monitor how the process is being impacted by the pandemic and to check that the steps taken to ensure probity are adequately documented.
We must make judgements now about what can be compromised. Ask yourself, how might COVID-19 affect this work and how can I deliver critical work with integrity?
We continue to carry on our work in uncertain and challenging circumstances. We need to be adaptable and innovative about what we might properly be able to do differently. At the same time, we need an audit trail that demonstrates integrity of process and accountability to a level that will withstand scrutiny through the post COVID-19 lens.
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A participant in the UN Global Compact, CourtHeath seeks to raise awareness about the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles of the Global Compact with business and government organisations in Victoria.
See Uniting Business to respond to COVID-19 outbreak for the UN Global Compact's response to the global pandemic.
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IMAGE: CourtHeath Consulting
[covid19, probity, procurement]