McDermott Comment I Government Censured for Procurement Failures in Awarding Covid Contracts

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Sharon Lamb, partner at law firm McDermott Will & Emery, said:

“It is crucial that taxpayers have confidence in the probity and value achieved from contracts awarded during the pandemic. Hindsight can have the benefit of 20:20 vision but the report raises some serious concerns about documentation, conflicts of interest and the audit trail around decisions and there are clear and important recommendations. The report recognises the extreme urgency and need to secure supplies and services around the pandemic and it is important that the law does allow for a fair amount of flexibility in these circumstances. It is interesting that the government deviated from established framework agreements (£6.8bn was awarded under frameworks (only 0.14 with a competitive process; compared with £10.49billion on direct awards outside a framework) perhaps indicating a need for greater flexibility in future framework arrangements to allow the government to respond quickly to urgent needs.”