Cooperative Purchasing Programs Responses to Coronavirus

Published: March 25, 2020

Cooperative Purchasing AgreementsCoronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

A quick look into some of the responses from cooperative purchasing programs as the coronavirus continues to spread across the SLED markets.

March has seen a sudden and jarring shift to businesses, citizens, and supply chain as the coronavirus has continued to rapidly spread throughout the United States and global populations.  With a shortage of test kits, respirator masks, ventilators, and hospital beds, this pandemic is expected to continue to spread and require massive support from the federal government to combat a potential depression event. While SLED governments are responding in differing manners to their public health control and encouraging the population to stay at home, practice social distancing, and assist in “flattening the curve,” there has been a common reporting of a shortage of medical supplies to effectively treat patients and combat the spread of the virus.

One of the avenues available to SLED government agencies and departments for gathering information and sourcing of medical supplies, especially personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and disinfectant are their partners at different cooperative purchasing programs.  While the level of response and type of attention varies by scale and market served, we’ve seen a strong amount of support from cooperatives to assist their partners in government as far as possible.  Not all groups have released communications and materials online detailing their response, but many are acting to stay in open communication and help support the growing uncertainty and requirements.

Many programs are working with vendors to provide updated information and details on availability and pricing to help governments quickly develop sourcing strategies.  For example, NASPO ValuePoint has been actively updating contracts dealing with COVID-19 high demand items and remote work capabilities to provide updated ordering information and details. These contracts are being noted for their relevant items on the contract and supply chain updates, such as O’Reilly Auto Parts listing masks and gloves but warning that are they not main product lines, rather falling under shop supplies and accessories and facing a limited supply to offer. Sourcewell also released a number of contract updates from their suppliers to address coronavirus procurement needs and update on product and staff availability, ranging across a broad span including medical and athletic supplies, janitorial supplies, technology catalog solutions, and more.

Similarly, MMCAP Infuse includes two vendor updates on their site detailing the supply and demand for personal protective equipment.  McKesson Medical Surgical noted that they have stopped selling PPE items in short supply to resellers, consumer websites, and new customers in order to best direct their supply to current customers. Henry Schein provided an updated on the current supply chain of PPE, specifically masks, gloves, sanitizer, and gowns, and anticipates potential shortages in the weeks to come. This role of communication center has also found purchase with other cooperatives such as OMNIA Partners’ COVID-19 Planning, Preparation & Response resource page.  These vendor updates provide detailed responses to common questions and needs in SLED government, but vary depending on their product coverage and applications.  For example, two large technology suppliers in CDW-G and SHI International Corp have resources available here to help customers plan for remote technology and work plans, while facilities management companies such as Cintas and Grainger offer more general outlook updates to their customers with pandemic plans as they prepare for tough months to come.

It would seem that the majority of organizations and cooperatives feel a need to contribute and do their part in protecting the communities they serve, even if focusing more on news and containment information than vendor updates. The Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) is one example, amassing a library of links to other coverage sites, articles, discussion, and more.  The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), which services the Kansas City metropolitan area, has multiple updates on their coronavirus response and precautions while also linking to a regional response and recovery fund and planning and preparation site for Kansas City.

As further federal funding is secured and the coronavirus continues to spread, cooperative purchasing programs can play a large role in assisting in the rapid response and service in the SLED government market. Continue to stay up to date with Deltek and GovWin’s continuing coverage of the coronavirus and its effects on the SLED procurement industry.