Supplying the pandemic response: The importance of public procurement


  • Sawsan Abutabenjeh, PhD
  • Lachezar Anguelov, PhD
  • Benjamin M. Brunjes, PhD
  • Ana-Maria Dimand, PhD
  • Evelyn Rodriguez-Plesa, PhD



COVID-19, pandemic, procurement


The rapid global transmission of COVID-19 has demonstrated many weaknesses in government procurement of essential supplies. In the United States, these problems have been particularly evident, as systemic fragmentation through federalism has frustrated a coordinated response. Rather than working together, states and localities are competing over limited medical resources, while the federal government has not stepped in to alleviate burdens on the lower tiers of government. In this study, we introduce how procurement is managed under normal circumstances and how it changes during emergencies. Easing procurement rules comes with necessary tradeoffs, particularly involving equity and accountability. Using case studies from recent disasters, we identify procurement and management recommendations for the COVID-19 response and future emergencies. We conclude that public procurement is integral to effective management in the 21st century and must be treated as such in the study and practice of public administration and emergency management.

Author Biographies

Sawsan Abutabenjeh, PhD

Mississippi State University, Starkville, Mississippi

Lachezar Anguelov, PhD

The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington

Benjamin M. Brunjes, PhD

University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Ana-Maria Dimand, PhD

Boise State University, Boise, Idaho

Evelyn Rodriguez-Plesa, PhD

City of Sunny Isles Beach, Florida


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How to Cite

Abutabenjeh, PhD, S., L. Anguelov, PhD, B. M. Brunjes, PhD, A.-M. Dimand, PhD, and E. Rodriguez-Plesa, PhD. “Supplying the Pandemic Response: The Importance of Public Procurement”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 18, no. 7, July 2020, pp. 189-08, doi:10.5055/jem.0549.