What is the Public Health Emergencies Program?
Government Business Development | 4 Min Read
As the pandemic lingers, the demand for goods and services continue to be a spending trend among government agencies. To respond to this crisis and other health-related emergencies, state and local governments are able to purchase items from GSA Schedules by participating in GSA’s Public Health Emergencies (PHE) Program. This program allows some non-federal entities to use the GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program for essential public health emergency supplies.
For GSA Schedule contractors who offer goods and services relevant to health recovery and relief, this program opens the door to new business opportunities. This blog defines the Public Health Emergencies Program and how GSA contract holders can use it and similar opportunities to sell to state and local governments.
What is the Public Health Emergencies Program?
The federal government and other eligible entities are typically seen as the main customers of the GSA MAS program. However, there are certain programs that allow state and local government entities to purchase from GSA Schedules, including the Public Health Emergencies Program. The Public Health Emergencies Program allows state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to purchase goods and services from GSA Schedules to respond to public health emergencies. These emergencies must be declared by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act. Once emergencies are officially declared, certain non-federal entities can use federal grant money to purchase goods and services.
Who Can Purchase from the Public Health Emergencies Program?
Any GSA contractor can participate, granted they sell products and services related to an agency’s public health needs. But exactly who can purchase off your GSA Schedule through this program? It’s more than just a main state or local government entity. Let’s give an overview:
- Territorial government: ex. Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands
- Tribal government: ex. Hopi Tribe of Arizona
- State or local government: ex. City of Memphis, TN
- State or local instrumentality: ex. Public institution of higher education, metro 911 district
Requirements for the Public Health Emergencies Program
As mentioned above, there must be a declared public health emergency. It’s important to note that when purchasing from GSA Schedules, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments should follow the ordering and competitive procedures that meet their own procurement regulations, and any requirements stipulated in the grant funding.
Using the GSA MAS program does not exempt state and local governments from grant requirements. All rules and procedures outlined in grant funding should be upheld. When making a purchase through this program, buyers use ordering language which identifies the scope of the program and verifies the eligibility of the purchaser.
The language reads as follows, “This order is placed under Federal Supply Schedule number XXXXXXXXX pursuant to GSA policy that authorizes state, local, territorial and tribal government entities, as authorized users for purchasing goods and services, when expending federal grant funds in response to Public Health Emergencies (PHEs) declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services under section 319 of the Public Health Services Act.”
Since the state, local, tribal, and territorial governments get access to all schedules through the PHE program, your participation is simply based on your acceptance of an order. However, participation is voluntary for both agency and contractor.
How Does the PHE Program Benefit Government Contractors?
Agencies benefit by having quick access to goods and services at prices that have been determined “fair and reasonable.” GSA Schedule holders also benefit through the increase of contract opportunities available. Currently, Covid-19, the opioid crisis, and Monkeypox have all been declared as Public Health Emergencies by the HHS. Aside from these, there is a full list of PHEs. As these emergencies become more common many state and local governments are taking advantage of the PHE program. Through this program, GSA provides a stable marketplace for contractors in times of financial instability.
Public Health Emergencies Program vs. the Disaster Recovery Purchasing Program
You might be wondering, how is this program different from the Disaster Recovery Purchasing Program? The program that state and local governments use to procure goods and services from GSA Schedules varies depending on the scope of the purchase.
The Disaster Recovery Purchasing program, like the PHE program, also allows state and local governments access to all GSA Schedules. However, unlike the PHE program, there is no restriction regarding the source of funding used to purchase goods and services. Also, purchases made through this program are used to facilitate recovery from a major disaster, terrorist attack, or biological or radiological event. This program applies to disasters declared by the President under the Stafford Act.
Through the Disaster Recovery Purchasing Program, state and local governments can take a proactive approach rather than a reactive approach to disaster through advance purchasing. GSA Schedule holders who participate have the option to accept or reject an order at the order level. Participation is voluntary for GSA Schedule holders and state, local and tribal governments, however you must opt in through a terms and conditions modification. The PHE program differs because there is no requirement to opt-in. All goods and services on the GSA Schedule can be accessed to mitigate the emergency the PHE program.
Learn More About the Public Health Emergency Program and Other State and Local Opportunities
In times of public health emergencies, state and local governments have become reliant on access to all GSA Schedules that the Public Health Emergency program. Many contractors have been able to expand their customer market by participating in this program and other state and local GSA programs. If you have more questions about the Public Health Emergency program or would like to learn more about expanding your customer base, our team at Winvale is happy to help. You can also check out our blog, “State and Local Contracting Opportunities for GSA Contractors.”