On Friday, March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This declaration has two practical impacts for government contractors:
- A declaration under the Stafford Act puts the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in charge of coordinating all COVID-19 response efforts.
- State and local governments can request a 75 percent cost-share for expenses related to emergency relief efforts, including food, medical supplies and any additional emergency assistance supplies and services.
The availability of additional federal funding means that state and local governments will likely seek additional services and supplies in support of emergency relief efforts. Contractors should consider taking proactive steps to ensure they are positioned to provide much-needed emergency assistance through these new state and local opportunities.
This is not an exhaustive list, but below are a few ways contractors can stay ahead of the curve.
Monitor Federal, State and Local Government Procurement Portals
In addition to the federal procurement portal, contractors should be aware of emergency contracting opportunities published through state and local government procurement portals, including the following:
- Alabama Department of Finance
- Alaska Department of Administration
- Arizona Department of Administration
- Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration
- California Procurement Division
- Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration
- Connecticut Department of Administrative Services
- Delaware Office of Management and Budget
- Florida Department of Management Services
- Georgia Department of Administrative Services
- State of Hawaii Procurement Office
- Idaho Department of Administration
- Illinois Chief Procurement Office - Pathway to Procurement
- Indiana Department of Administration
- Iowa Department of Administrative Services
- Kansas Department of Administration
- Kentucky Finance and Administration Cabinet
- Louisiana Office of State Purchasing and Travel
- Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services
- Maryland Department of General Services
- Massachusetts Operational Services Division
- Michigan Department of Management and Budget
- Minnesota Materials Management Division
- Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration
- Missouri Office of Administration
- Montana Department of Administration
- Nebraska Administrative Services
- Nevada Department of Administration
- New Hampshire Administrative Services
- New Jersey Department of the Treasury
- New Mexico General Services Department
- New York Office of General Services
- North Carolina Department of Administration
- North Dakota Office of Management and Budget
- Ohio State Procurement
- Oklahoma Department of Central Services
- Oregon State Procurement Office
- Pennsylvania Department of General Services
- Rhode Island Division of Purchases
- South Carolina Budget and Control Board
- South Dakota Bureau of Administration
- Tennessee Department of General Services
- Texas State Purchasing
- Utah Division of Purchasing & General Services
- Vermont Building and General Services
- Virginia Department of General Services
- Washington State Department of Enterprise Services
- West Virginia Purchasing Division
- Wisconsin Department of Administration
- Wyoming General Services Division
Given the urgency of the current situation, contractors should be aware that response times to solicitations could be shorter than is customary.
Ensure your Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) information is updated
State and local governments are allowed to use the General Services Administration's (GSA) FSS when procuring goods or services. In the event state or local governments opt to use GSA's FSS contracts to procure emergency response goods or services, contractors should ensure their product lists and prices are up to date for each of their FSS contracts. Inaccurate or unavailable products may result in delays, which may be unacceptable under normal circumstances and even more so in this emergency situation.
Participate in the Disaster Response Registry
Contractors may want to consider participation in the Disaster Response Registry, a tool that federal, state and local governments can use to determine the availability of contractors for disaster or emergency relief activities. The registry allows entities to be searched based on geographic area as well as the products and services provided, making it easier for federal, state and local procurement officials to locate companies capable of providing necessary resources. Furthermore, the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) require contracting officers to consult the Disaster Response Registry to determine the availability of contractors for emergency relief efforts. (See FAR 26.205.) Under FAR Part 18, Emergency Acquisitions, federal agencies can limit the number of sources, and full and open competition need not be provided for contracting actions involving urgent requirements. (See FAR 18.103 and 6.302-2.) These same emergency flexibilities might also be provided at the state level, and being on the registries allow companies greater visibility for those contracting opportunities. In order to become a part of the registry, entities must be fully registered in the System for Award Management (SAM), which can take several weeks.
Contractors who seek out state and local opportunities are more likely to have a positive impact in responding to COVID-19. As more federal and state funds become available and coronavirus response needs become more defined, the measures listed above may help connect contractors with the federal, state and local customers who need them the most.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.