Sustaining Critical Services - Continuity of Operations - A Toolkit for Public Health

Continuity of Operations

Identifying and Notifying Critical Vendors


This tool shares resources to help your local health department (LHD):

  1. Identify vendors necessary to delivering critical services.
  2. Communicate with those vendors your agency’s expectations of them. This will improve the probability that these vendors will meet your needs during an emergency.

Tools and Samples

Aid the user in working through the toolkit we have broken out the following documents into two formats that we hope you will find helpful.

Tools: Documents that are ready to be used with little to no modification needed. They are designed to be off-the-shelf products that can be completed and used in your individual planning process.

Samples:  Documents that we have created in order to help guide you through completing the above referenced tools. They contain both real world and hypothetical scenarios that we have utilized to illustrate how the tool can look once it is completed.

Critical Vendor List

Critical Vendor List

Sample Purchase Order Clause

Business Resiliency Survey

MOU Template

FEMA Continuity Evaluation Tool - Version 6, “Budgeting and Acquisition of Resources,” “Activity 2: Through the Acquisition process…,” page 11

If done properly, completion of this tool should result in:

  • Identification of your critical vendors.
  • A list of the good and services you need from those vendors in order to sustain critical functions.
  • Modified contract and purchase agreements that reflect the emergency needs of your agency.
  • A risk assessment of critical vendors to help you better understand vulnerabilities in your supply chain.

What You Need Before Starting This Work

  • Talk with your procurement officer to find out if important vendors have already been identified. If so, find out if language regarding emergency acquisitions is already in those purchase orders and contracts.
  • A list of your agency’s critical services, which you created in the Mission-Critical Services section.
  • A list of all your agency contracts and purchase orders and an understanding of which services they support.

Steps to Completion

  1. Using the master list of contracts and purchase orders and the Critical Vendor Worksheet, identify vendors and contractors who provide good or services that sustain your priority 1 and priority 2 services.
  2. During this process, you may find gaps in your master list of contracts and purchase orders – discovering goods and services you don’t currently contract for but will need to sustain critical services in an emergency. Make a note of these goods and services, and once your list is complete, work with your procurement department to seek emergency contract bids for these goods and services.
  3. Determine what you need from your critical vendors to sustain your critical services. For example, do you need to be able to contact and access the vendor 24/7? Consider how critical vendor expectations differ from those that support lower priority services. See Public Health – Seattle & King County’s purchase order language for critical vendors as an example.
  4. Meet with your procurement department to share your critical vendors list and to discuss what you need from these vendors and how to best communicate these issues to the vendors.
  5. Draft letters to your mission-critical vendors that clearly describe your needs and the steps you will take to modify any existing agreements to reflect these new requirements. Warning: modification to existing purchase orders and contracts may cause the price of some goods and services to increase.
  6. After delivery of your letter, follow up with a phone call or meeting with those mission-critical vendors to help clarify expectations and confirm understanding.
  7. Determine a system to permanently track mission-critical goods, services and vendors. This will ensure that any time bids for those items are requested, the new expectations are worked into the bidding process.