National Association of Government Contractors

GSA Relaxes Rules for Hurricane Relief

More than a week after addressing Hurricane Harvey in Texas, the General Services Administration, with Hurricane Irma storm aimed at Florida, GSA responded by relaxing certain contracting rules to encourage speed and local awards.

A Senior GSA Procurement Executive Jeffrey Koses signed a memorandum raising thresholds for areas included in the Irma declaration response.  The Irma memorandum follows an Aug. 29 directive that had been issued in anticipation of rebuilding in the aftermath of the Houston-area flooding from Harvey.

The Harvey memo cited sections of the Federal Acquisition Regulation allowing GSA to raise the micropurchase threshold to $20,000 for any contract to be awarded and performed, or purchase to be made in support of the designated disaster areas. The simplified acquisition threshold is increased to $750,000, or $13,000,000 for commercial items," the memo to GSA contracting professionals said. The authority extends to any necessary leasing of property.

The memos also give federal acquisition officers more leeway in using charge cards. They leave unchanged contract thresholds under the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act and the 1965 Service Contract Act (which require deference to local prevailing wage standards in public contracting).

Contractors seeking to help with recovery from storm damage should give preference to local firms in the disaster area "through local area set-asides," memo said. "Contracting officers should also first consider small business local area set-asides when feasible."

Koses encouraged priority use of pre-positioned or pre-existing contracts first, such as blanket purchase agreements, schedule contracts, or indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts. Government contracting officers should also "limit competition when needed," the directive said, and paperwork can be accelerated. For example, "You do not need to submit a synopsis if the delay would seriously injure our efforts.  You do need to go to the maximum competition practicable. Often, you can do that by phoning a reasonable number of sources and asking for quotes and delivery time, on the spot," the memo said. "Justifications and approvals may take place after award, if they would unreasonably delay the acquisition.  If you employ this flexibility, make sure you have a tracking system."

GSA added a new National Interest Action code in the Federal Procurement Data System as a way to track acquisition costs of the multiple agencies involved the storms.

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