The American public generally agrees that the federal government’s contracting response is far from efficient. ‘Why did it take so long to get help for Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and/or the Joplin Missouri Tornado take so long?’ is a commonly asked question. So, while the memories of the Oso, Washington landslide are still fresh in our minds, it might be good to review what the federal government has done since Katrina to assure that the federal government can more quickly and efficiently respond to the next major national disaster.
The federal government has issued a new Part 18 to its Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Part 18 is entitled “Emergency Acquisitions” which is to be used when the President issues an emergency declaration or a major disaster declaration. Part 18 essentially does three things. Because emergencies are, by definition, unusual and a compelling urgency, it recognizes that:
- There is typically no need for the federal government to advertise that is it is looking for contractors;
- Nor is there any need to require full and open competition, because time simply will not allow it; and accordingly,
- Many normal requirements such as bid guarantees or the prohibition against advance payments can be waived.
The issue then becomes, if there is no requirement or even ability to advertise, how can the government quickly find the needed contractors? Continue Reading