Publication Machinery of government 7 December, 2020

All hands on deck: public private partnerships during COVID-19

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This Reform Perspectives examines how government has worked with the private sector to respond to COVID-19. It suggests that there are lessons from the pandemic that, if acted on, would allow government to more effectively leverage the private sector to respond to future crises.

Public-Private-Partnerships have, rightly, been subject to intense scrutiny throughout the pandemic.

There have been many examples of highly effective partnership working – Nightingale Hospitals stood up in a matter of weeks, and vaccines developed and approved in months  – but there have also been significant challenges, and some very public failures to deliver.

It is vital that both the successes and the failures are examined, and that lessons are learned, to build resilience to the next crisis.

There are three key, overarching lessons that Government must learn from the past six months: first, planning for procurement in a crisis lays the foundations for an effective response; second, Government needs to be able to leverage all of the resources at its disposal, not just those closest to hand; lastly, transparent decision making is more important than ever when ‘urgent’ procurement becomes necessary.