Urban Innovation

How to Get the Supplies That Keep Cities Safe: Local Government Purchasing in the Era of COVID-19

April 24, 2020  • Urban Innovation

Every day there’s a new story about the challenges that municipal governments face with procurement due to COVID-19. Prices for goods such as protective equipment critical to safeguard health workers have skyrocketed, while some suppliers deliver faulty equipment. Different levels of government are competing with each other for the same items. Meanwhile, getting the best value for money can fall by the wayside as civil servants are pushed to make quick decisions with limited capacity.   

On this videoconference, we discuss shared challenges facing U.S. cities and early solutions; explore what the crisis is showing us about setting up agile and data-driven procurement systems that can deliver services effectively and fairly; and talk about the importance of procurement during the recovery phase to revive the hard-hit small and medium enterprise (SME) sector and ensure that major procurement projects deliver the greatest value possible to communities. 


  • Beto Altamirano, Co-Founder and CEO, Irys   
  • Sky Kelley, Founder and CEO, Avisare 
  • Jennifer Geiling, Deputy Director, Policy and Partnerships, Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, City of New York
  • Michael Owh, General Manager, LA County Purchasing & Contract Services
  • Mariel Reed, Co-Founder and CEO, CoProcure 
  • Greg Wass, Senior Advisor, Government Performance Lab, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Facilitated by Kaye Sklar, Program Manager, Open Contracting Partnership and Jennifer Bradley, Director, Center for Urban InnovationThe Aspen Institute Center for Urban Innovation is a network hub that catalyzes and supports a broader movement to define values-led approaches to developing, piloting, regulating, and evaluating urban technologies.The Open Contracting Partnership is a silo-busting collaboration across governments, businesses, civil society, and technologists to open up and transform government contracting worldwide.