Disaster Purchasing: How Does GSA function during a National Emergency like Coronavirus?
President Donald Trump will reportedly be signing a disaster or emergency declaration under the Stafford Act today in response to the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. With universities closing, the N.B.A. suspending its season, and flights being cancelled left and right, the Coronavirus outbreak is no laughing matter. However, the outbreak should be confronted with facts and figures rather than hysteria. With regards to your government contract, the world will continue to turn. The General Services Administration is designed to continue to function in times of national emergency or disaster. GSA's Disaster Purchasing Program allows federal, state, and local governments to buy services and supplies directly from GSA Schedules to assist with disaster preparation, response, or major disaster recovery. Purchases made in support of recovery must be in response to a Stafford Act Presidential declaration, like the one President Trump is likely to announce this afternoon. So let’s break down how the GSA Schedule Program can help in a national emergency or disaster.
What exactly is the Disaster Purchasing Program?
The disaster relief section is designed to quickly connect federal, state, and local governments to products and services typically needed for preparation, response, and recovery from disasters. Ensuring fair and reasonable pricing through the GSA Schedule programs makes purchasing in times of great stress and pressure much easier for state and local governments.
It’s important to note that the Disaster Recovery Purchasing authority is limited to GSA Schedule contracts and does NOT include other GSA programs. A list of GSA Vendors who have elected to sell to State and Local Governments can be found here.
Typical Services under Disaster Relief include, but are certainly not limited to, the following:
- Construction services
- Power Distribution Equipment & Generator Services
- Press & Public Relations
- Language interpretation
- Emergency Preparedness Training,
- Professional health care staffing
Typical Supplies under Disaster Relief include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Cleaning Solutions & Accessories
- Power Generators
- Medical Supplies
- Personal Care Items
- Temporary shelter
Who can utilize the Disaster Purchasing Program?
On the government side, state and local governments can purchase equipment and services to help fight against natural or man-made disasters, such as the coronavirus.
On the contractor side, all GSA Contract holders may participate in the Disaster Recovery Program. Most vendors choose to participate, but some opt-out because they understand the strength of disaster purchasing in the state and local markets. Other contractors opt out due to their products/services not being applicable during times of national disasters or emergencies.
It is also important to note that just because a Schedule contractor may have indicated that they would like to participate in the Disaster Purchasing Program, the contractor still has the right to decline orders received from a state or local government on a case-by-case basis. Orders can be declined for any reason within a five-day period after receipt of order, unless the order is made by credit card; these orders need to be declined within 24 hours. All orders accepted are subject to the same prices extended to GSA, including the Industrial Funding Fee. GSA will always accept additional discounts, but orders from State and Local Disaster Purchasing Program customers should not be considered separate from other GSA orders in terms of pricing. The IFF is still required under purchases made by state and local government entities, as it reimburses GSA for administrative and procurement costs.
While most of the rules under the Disaster Purchasing Program are similar to those that apply to purchases made by federal government entities, it is always a good idea to contact your Contracting Officer with any questions before entering into an agreement with a state or local government entity under the program.
What does this mean for companies who provide services or disaster relief related to the coronavirus?
- There is an urgent need that does not seem to be going away any time soon for services and products that will help stop the spread of coronavirus and to help treat those in need. Since the WHO has declared the coronavirus a pandemic (the first time the WHO has called an outbreak a pandemic since the H1N1 "swine flu" in 2009), it is clear that preventative treatments and equipment will be funneled through the Disaster Purchasing Program at higher than normal rates.
- Your company or organization could be used to save people in need. The government’s decision to increase spending is a call for help. Utilizing critical resources at your disposal, the government can help to stop the spread of the coronavirus and help treat those affected.
- Educate yourself on how your company could tap into the opportunities that are available for you to contribute. Through a contract with the General Services Administration, this process is streamlined, and companies are granted the ability to actively seek these opportunities.
As a result of the Federal government streamlining the process of disaster/recovery spending, we will see some great benefits, both to the taxpayer and victims of Coronavirus. Simplified contracting methods will cut the red tape and allow vital goods and services be delivered quickly where they are needed. For more questions regarding the Disaster Purchasing Program, contact the Winvale team today and review our new Coronavirus Resource Center for government contractors.