Covid-19 response and supply chain impact of Alert Level 4

Line of Defence Magazine - 01 April 2020 Update

Unite Against COVID-19

In this second NZDF Covid-19 update to suppliers, Paul Howard FCIPS, Assistant Chief Joint Defence Services (Commercial), covers NZDF procurement activity, ICT services and payment of suppliers.

NZDF recognises the importance of keeping our suppliers as informed as possible during these unprecedented times and associated challenges. This update is issued through the SmartProcure system, and as such may also include businesses that are not currently supplying to us, have recently bid, or are currently bidding. 

Essential Services – public guidance

The following guidance has been developed around essential services in conjunction with other key Government agencies.

Law, order and emergency service agencies such as fire and emergency, ambulance, and police have been given ‘essential service’ status as first responders under the current COVID-19 Alert 4. To ensure these first responders are able to maintain their operational readiness and ability to react to emergency calls, some of the many and varied businesses that support them may also require essential service designation, either wholly or in part.

Examples include those service providers that undertake emergency and reactive repairs, and maintenance to first responder vehicles and facilities, such as fire and ambulance stations. Other essential service businesses might include, for example, suppliers and repairers of critical protective clothing and response-related equipment, as well as those organisations that support, maintain and fix various essential IT and telecommunications systems.

First response agencies will take a considered, but stringent view of which businesses should legitimately be designated as ‘essential service providers’, and are very aware of the government’s requirement to comply with the intent of the Level 4 Alert. 

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Undertaking routine maintenance and supply of non-essential resources, for example, would not constitute essential service, however, we may require such businesses to maintain and sustain a minimum capability to respond to urgent requests for supplies and/or repairs to key infrastructure. 

For any businesses that are designated as ‘essential’, or asked to maintain and sustain a minimum capability, we would expect strict protocols in place around health and safety measures and contact tracing.

In line with this, First Response agencies are undertaking a detailed review of their current service providers to ensure the intent of the Level 4 Alert is being complied with, whilst at the same time ensuring emergency response capability is not unduly or unnecessarily compromised over the next 4 weeks.

NZDF procurement activity

We acknowledge that the current situation may have impacted on your ability to respond in a timely way to requests for information or tenders. It has also impacted somewhat on our ability to progress through the various stages of procurement, for example evaluation and moderation.

Although it is our intention to operate in a “business as usual” environment where we can, here are some key points in regard to procurement activity that you need to know:

  • We will assess each procurement requirement on a case-by-case basis, but please note that all NZDF tenders not yet released will be prioritised on criticality, and with due consideration of the market’s ability to respond. On this basis, there is a possibility that some activities may be deferred until after the COVID-19 Alert 4 has been lifted by the NZ Government;
  • All closing dates for current tenders awaiting market responses will be reviewed by NZDF. Any revised timeframes will be advised via SmartProcure; and,
  • All closed tenders currently in the process of being evaluated, moderated or negotiated will continue to be managed by our team. Please note however, some requirements may need to be reviewed, and depending on availability of key personnel, there could be a delay. Revised timeframes and any altered arrangements will be advised via SmartProcure.
  • Probity requirements will continue to remain in place, therefore all correspondence relating to current procurement activity will only be communicated via SmartProcure.

ICT services

The Government Chief Digital Office (GCDO), which is part of Department of Internal Affairs, in conjunction with the COVID-19 National Response Centre, have worked with government agencies to identify critical agencies and critical IT services.

The following areas of concern have been identified:

  • The ability of suppliers and their agents to support agencies.
  • The ability of the telecommunications network to cope with the anticipated level of traffic growth over the next few weeks.
  • The availability of hardware through the supply chain.

GCDO will work closely with relevant agencies, including NZDF to ensure they get relevant support from an All-of-Government perspective.

Additionally, they have confirmed that IT services have been deemed essential. It is recommended that suppliers and their agents carry their official ID at all times. Official guidance will be published on when available.

Accounts payable

Please be assured, the NZDF Accounts Payable team are working very hard ensure all cleared invoices are processed for immediate payment in line with the government’s recent directive. It would be helpful if suppliers would refrain from hastening DCS at this time, unless the payment is contractually overdue, in which case please contact us using the email address below.

Key contact list

The primary point of contact for all communication remains, first and foremost, with your contract or relationship manager. Where this is not known, or where you have any specific COVID-19 concerns, including anything you wish to raise in-confidence, please contact Defence Commercial Services at the email address below, applying the most relevant COVID-19 subject in the email subject heading from the list below:

The DCS inbox will be monitored during usual business hours (0800 to 1700) Monday to Friday.

I want to emphasise that we appreciate your understanding during these challenging times, and we will endeavour to continue to keep you regularly updated. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact your contracts manager, relationship manager, or Defence Commercial Services if you have any questions or concerns.

Noho ora mai.

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