My new role at the Airport Commission started on February 24, 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I was activated as a Disaster Service Worker 18 days later to assist with the Human Services Agency’s (HSA) purchasing team at their Department Operation Center (DOC) at Moscone Center. Coming from the HSA Contract Management Department, I was familiar with HSA’s purchasing process as I had been the purchasing team’s supervisor and a contract manager before joining SFO.
I have also completed the required FEMA ICS training online and previously worked in HSA’s DOC during the El Niño rains a few years ago and when the City opened up a shelter for displaced families from the fires up north. So, coming to work at their DOC was something I was pretty comfortable with.
HSA is in charge of mass care and shelter during emergencies. For the COVID-19 response, HSA is in charge of setting up all of the shelters and hotel sites.
Initial requests for purchasing were for various items such as clothing, soap, plungers, and blankets. Then, the requests started coming in for larger items such as refrigerators, fire extinguishers, microwaves, and 20 foot storage containers. Any scarce items still had to be purchased through the Office of Contract Administration (OCA). A few week into the working at the DOC, OCA changed their purchasing policies. Departments were now able to create purchase orders (POs) for more than $10,000. This meant everything we would normally send to OCA was now staying with us to process. It is definitely kind of scary to have that much purchasing power.
During my time at the DOC, I have created over 50 POs and have purchased over $14 million dollars’ worth of commodities, goods, or services. To date, I have set up over 18 contracts and POs for the hotel sites we are using as shelters.
At this point, I have been at the DOC longer than I have worked with the CAU team. What I am doing right now is extremely important and I am proud to be part of the HSA DOC team. But, I admit that I am exhausted. I jokingly said to my DOC section chief and former manager at HSA that this has been the most work I’ve done in the years that I have worked for the City. She rolled her eyes, but said, “same.”
Three weeks ago, I was “promoted” to the Procurement Lead. I was already wearing that hat, but now my name tag and vest made it official. This basically made it easier for folks to identify who to talk to about their requests.
There are many moving pieces at the DOC and things change daily. It can be discouraging at times because of how fast everything happens in real time. But the work has to be done. I walk in each day with a positive attitude. I am thankful to be healthy and thankful to be a part of this. I try to leave here feeling the same way. My team is counting on me to be strong for them and keeping positive during this stressful times is so important. I am definitely trying to lead by example. I am not just assigning requests to them, I am also right there with them searching for items, sourcing, requesting quotes, and setting up the PO’s. It is all hands on deck here. We are all in this together.
I am proud to represent the Airport. Occasionally I will see someone wearing their airport ID lanyard and, although they have no idea who I am, it makes me beam with pride and stand a little taller. The Airport does not have an operation center at Moscone, but we are still here, helping where we can. And, although I am still learning exactly what #SFOStrong means, showing up for the departments in need should definitely be added.