Chapter 9: Domestic Emergency Response

Table of Contents

  1. Key Points
  2. Introduction
  3. DoD Response to Domestic Emergencies
  4. Domestic Emergency Acquisition Flexibilities
  5. Other Considerations
  6. Advance Planning for Emergencies at the Home Station
  7. On-Scene Operations
  8. Additional References

Table of Visuals

  1. Figure 9-1: National Response Framework

Key Points

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a branch of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating contracting support for domestic emergency operations.
  • The Department of Defense (DoD) does not augment FEMA or other federal agencies with contracting staff but can support specific contracting-related tasks as directed by the President or the Secretary of Defense (SecDef).
  • Military forces working on domestic support operations should minimize contracted support to the deployed force to avoid competing with other support efforts for limited local resources.
  • Many domestic support operations are handled at the state level. In these cases, U.S. Army and Air National Guard units provide military support under state active duty or under 32 United States Code (U.S.C.).
  • Contingency contracting officers (CCOs) can be expected to respond to disasters on or around bases, especially when DoD assets are involved.
  • It is critical to know how to plug into a multi-functional response effort when DoD is not the lead agency but is called upon for assistance by FEMA or other lead federal agencies.
  • Acquisition and emergency acquisition flexibilities are identified in Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) part 18 and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) part 218.
  • The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act applies to emergency declarations or major disaster declarations.
  • The small business policies and procedures in FAR part 19 and DFARS part 219 apply when consistent with preferences provided to local businesses.
  • Contracting officers are fully authorized to innovate and use sound business judgment that is otherwise consistent with law and within the limits of their authority.
  • Contracting units must practice regularly for responses to domestic emergency incidents and create standardized procedures for local response efforts.
  • The entire spectrum of human-made and natural disasters must be anticipated.
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As a CCO, you may be called upon to provide acquisition support to different types of domestic emergency operations. Domestic emergencies can affect the public welfare, endanger life and property, and/or disrupt government operations. Domestic emergencies can result from an enemy attacks, natural disasters (such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, or fires), or human-made disasters (such as dirty bombs, insurrections, or civil disturbances). Private industry continues to play a vital role in response efforts to support recovery and reconstruction and deliver essential items such as ice, water, and food supplies. CCOs need to establish a robust contracting support network and understand those involved in domestic emergency operations in order to effectively support contracts. The effectiveness of domestic contracting operations after a disaster such as an earthquake, a hurricane, a tornado, a flood, or other severe weather conditions depends on advance planning and preparation and a thorough understanding of how to partner with local, state, and other federal agencies to execute domestic emergency acquisitions.

This chapter discusses the emergency response actions a CCO can take in support of relief and recovery operations after a domestic emergency and the emergency acquisition flexibilities available to support the respective operation. It also provides guidance to help contracting offices that support the mission before, during, and after an emergency at their home stations. Although this chapter discusses many topics covered elsewhere in the handbook, it does so from the perspective of domestic emergency responses. (The Emergency Acquisitions Guide, issued by the Office of Federal Procurement Policy (OFPP), contains additional DoD contracting information regarding domestic emergency response.)

Real-World Example:

On October 28, 2012, the President authorized an emergency declaration for the states affected by Hurricane Sandy. The President's actions authorized FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts to provide assistance for required emergency measures directly to state, tribal, and local governments to save lives and protect property and public health and safety. The President directed FEMA to ensure federal partners continue to bring all available resources to bear to support state, local, territorial, and tribal communities in Hurricane Sandy–affected areas. The SecDef directed DoD to provide any available disaster response resources requested by FEMA and state authorities as states throughout the Northeast began to recover from Hurricane Sandy. DoD coordinated with FEMA, U.S. Northern Command, and the National Guard Bureau on providing life-saving and -sustaining assets to FEMA and governors, as requested(1).

The Bottom Line:

The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act built on earlier legislation to enable individual states and DoD to coordinate their efforts through a single commander, usually a National Guard officer, who is given tactical control of both state-controlled National Guard forces and DoD military forces. While state and federal military forces maintain separate and distinct chains of command, this dual-status commander leads all military forces and directs their response efforts, achieving a unified effort. During Hurricane Sandy, this unified effort enabled much-needed assistance from DoD to move quickly to support states(2).

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DoD Response to Domestic Emergencies

When the President issues an emergency declaration after a natural or other major disaster, it gives the federal government the authority to engage in various emergency response activities. The President or SecDef can then direct DoD assets to support response efforts. CCOs need to note that a large portion of the federal response is through contracts with private businesses, including those for debris removal, reconstruction, and the provision of supplies.(3).The Secretary of Homeland Security is responsible for coordinating federal operations in the United States to prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies. For most emergency operations in the United States, FEMA serves as the lead federal agency and supports local, tribal, or state authorities under the provisions of the Stafford Act and guidance in the National Response Framework (NRF). DoD supports these missions by providing defense support of civil authorities (DSCA). Figure 9-1 shows the national response framework for domestic emergencies.

National Response Framework
Figure 9-1. National Response Framework

CCOs should also note that DoD response to domestic incidents is almost always the last resort. All DoD support to disaster response is temporary, and the end state is the transfer of all emergency functions back to civilian authorities.(4)

Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA). As defined in DoD Directive 3025.18, DSCA is support by U.S. federal military forces, DoD civilians, DoD contract personnel, DoD component assets, and National Guard forces, in response to requests for assistance (RFAs) from civil authorities for domestic emergencies, law enforcement, and other domestic activities. DSCA is initiated by a request for DoD assistance from civil authorities or qualifying entities or is authorized by the President or SecDef. Contracting support for homeland security operations is similar to the support for foreign contingency contracting.

DoD Domestic Preparedness Support Initiative (DPSI). Located in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs, DPSI coordinates DoD efforts to identify, evaluate, deploy, and transfer technology, items, and equipment to federal, state, and local first responders. CCOs need to understand this because it can help connect external agencies and support personnel to DoD programs, allowing them to leverage the government’s buying power to procure DoD technology and equipment while maximizing the use of American taxpayer dollars(5).

National Response Framework (NRF). The NRF is an all-hazards plan—coordinated and managed by FEMA—that provides the structure and mechanisms for national-level policy and operational direction for incident management to ensure timely and effective federal support. The NRF specifies how federal departments and agencies will respond to state, tribal, or local RFAs. The Secretary of Homeland Security executes overall coordination of federal incident management activities. (The FEMA website contains additional information on the NRF.)

Robert T. Stafford Act. The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 51215206) authorizes the federal government to help state and local governments alleviate the suffering and damage caused by disasters. DoD assistance can be requested under Stafford Act or non–Stafford Act conditions. A Stafford Act incident is one in which state and local authorities declare a state of emergency and request federal assistance. The Stafford Act establishes programs and processes for the federal government to provide major disaster and emergency assistance to states, local governments, tribal nations, individuals, and qualified private nonprofit organizations. A non–Stafford Act incident is essentially any of the other emergencies each year that do not necessarily overwhelm state and local authorities, but would benefit from federal assistance and coordination. The Secretary of Homeland Security is responsible for the overall coordination of federal Stafford Act and non–Stafford Act incident management activities.

Requests for Assistance (RFA). DoD assistance is requested by a lead federal agency (LFA) through a formalized RFA process. DoD capabilities and assets can greatly support domestic emergency response efforts but are normally requested only when other local, state, and federal capabilities and resources have been exhausted or when a military-unique capability is required. DoD handles RFAs on the basis of factors such as its categorization as a Stafford Act or non–Stafford Act event, urgency of the incident, establishment of a joint field office if a defense coordinating officer (DCO) or joint task force has been appointed, and originator of the request (such as incident command or state, regional, or national organization).

Contracting support for domestic emergency operations. Normally, FEMA is the LFA in domestic emergency operations. Supporting DoD CCOs need to partner with other federal, state, and local agencies and coordinate acquisitions with the LFA and supporting personnel like DCOs. This will assist in procuring needed supplies and services effectively and efficiently and reduce duplication of effort, given the large number of agencies that could potentially be involved in the response. Military forces operating in domestic support operations should minimize contracted support to the deployed force to avoid competing with state and federal agencies for limited local commercial resources.

Real-World Example:

During support to Hurricane Katrina, lack of communication and coordination between FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resulted in an order for at least double the needed amount of ice. This resulted in an oversupply of ice and a lack of distribution sites to handle the volume ordered.

The Bottom Line:

A high operational tempo and the “need now” mentality that arise in emergency environments can affect the way contracting is executed. Effective communication and coordination between the requiring and contracting activities supporting an operation protect against waste(6).

U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM). NORTHCOM regional DCOs and the defense coordinating element can deploy in advance of disasters or other emergency incidents to validate, plan, and coordinate potential DoD support of response efforts from FEMA or other LFAs and facilitate DoD support of life-saving and response operations. CCOs should understand the value that DCOs bring to coordinating requests for assistance from civil authorities following a declared disaster.

Homeland Security Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPS). The DHS OPS serves as the primary national-level multiagency situational awareness and operational coordination office.

National Guard operations. Many domestic support operations are handled at the state level. In these cases, Army and Air National Guard units provide military support under U.S.C. Title 32. Similar in concept to the National Guard tiger teams, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) may deploy members of the Contingency Contracting Corps to help during an emergency situation (41 U.S.C. 2312). (National Guard Regulation 500-1 describes National Guard support operations.)

Incident Command System (ICS). The ICS is a standardized, on-scene incident management tool designed to allow responders to adopt an integrated organizational structure equal to the complexity and demands of a single incident or multiple incidents without hindrance by jurisdictional boundaries. The ICS manages and addresses the following problems:

  • Too many people reporting to one supervisor
  • Differing emergency response organizational structures
  • Lack of reliable incident information
  • Inadequate and incompatible communications
  • Lack of structure for coordinated planning among agencies
  • Unclear lines of authority
  • Terminology differences among agencies and unclear or unspecified incident objectives.

An ICS enables integrated communication and planning by establishing a manageable span of control.

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Domestic Emergency Acquisition Flexibilities

CCOs must be familiar with the acquisition flexibilities available while providing contracting support during domestic emergency operations. FAR Part 18 and DFARS Part 218 ¬†provide generally available acquisition flexibilities, which don’t require an emergency declaration or designation of a contingency operation, as well as emergency acquisition flexibilities that are available only for the following specified and designated circumstances:

  • Contingency operation (FAR 18.201 and Chapter 5)
  • Defense or recovery from chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) attack (FAR 18.202)
  • Emergency declaration or major disaster declaration (FAR 18.203).

The contracting flexibilities available during domestic emergencies vary with the specific circumstances involved in the respective incident. For example, when the President issues a major disaster declaration, the thresholds for micro-purchases and simplified acquisitions do not automatically increase. However, such increases may be triggered by incident-specific legislation (such as the emergency supplemental appropriations acts passed to fund the response to Hurricane Sandy).

Domestic emergency acquisition flexibilities. Below is a listing of the flexibilities available for designated domestic emergencies.  Refer to FAR Part 18 and DFARS Part 218 for additional information on emergency acquisitions, both domestic and outside the United States, to include those generally available to the CCO that do not require emergency declaration.

  1. Acquisition threshold increases. Thresholds are increased when the head of the contracting activity (HCA) determines the supplies or services are to be used in support of a contingency operation or to facilitate defense against or recovery from a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attack (7):
    • The micropurchase (MP) threshold increases to $15,000 for any contract to be awarded and performed, or purchase to be made, inside the United States (FAR 2.101)
    • The Simplified Acquisition Threshold (SAT) increases to $300,000 for any contract to be awarded and performed, or purchase to be made, inside the United States (FAR 2.101).
    • Under the test program for certain commercial items,(8) the threshold limit may be increased for acquisitions to support a contingency operation (FAR 13.500(e)).
  2. Relief from registration in the System for Award Management (SAM). Contracting Officers may make an award to contractors not registered in SAM if conducting emergency operations, such as responses to natural or environmental disasters or national or civil emergencies (FAR 4.1102). However, CCOs should note that contractors are required to register with SAM in order to gain access to the Disaster Response Registry for debris removal, distribution of supplies, reconstruction, and other disaster or emergency relief activities inside the United States and outlying areas. (FAR 26.205)
  3. Local area preferences and set-asides. CCOs must give preference to local organizations, firms, and individuals when contracting for major disaster or emergency assistance activities when the President has made a declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Preference may take the form of local area set-asides or an evaluation preference. A local area set-aside restricts competition to offerors that reside or do business primarily in the area affected by a major disaster or emergency. CCOs are to determine whether a local area set-aside should be further restricted to small business concerns in the set-aside area when consistent with preferences provided to local businesses. (Follow agency requirements and the policies and procedures in FAR 6.208, FAR Part 19 and DFARS 219.2 when setting aside an acquisition during a major disaster or emergency. See also FAR 26.2 for in-depth disaster or emergency assistance activities.)
  4. Use of commercial item procedures for acquiring non-commercial items. CCOs may treat any acquisition of supplies or services to be used to facilitate defense against or recovery from a CBRN attack as an acquisition of commercial items under FAR Part 12. This allows noncommercial items to be purchased using the policies and practices applicable to commercial items (FAR 12.102(f)(1)). Caution: Cost accounting standards generally do not apply to commercial item acquisitions. However, a contract in an amount greater than $17.5 million awarded on a sole-source basis for an item or service treated as a commercial item that does not otherwise meet the definition of a commercial item is not exempt from cost accounting standards or cost or pricing data requirements (FAR 12.102(f)(2)).
  5. Establishing or maintaining alternative sources. The DFARS PGI contains a sample format for Determination and Findings citing the authority of FAR 6.202(a), regarding exclusion of a particular source in order to establish or maintain an alternative source or sources. Alternate 2 of the sample format addresses having a supplier available for furnishing supplies or services in case of a national emergency. See PGI 206.202.
  6. Electronic submission and processing of payment requests. Contractors do not have to submit payment requests in electronic form for contracts awarded by contracting officers in the conduct of military operations, including contingency operations, humanitarian or peacekeeping operations, or emergency operations, such as responses to natural disasters or national or civil emergencies. (DFARS 232.7002(a)(4)).
  7. Policy for unique item identification. Contractors will not be required to provide DoD unique item identification if the items, as determined by the head of the agency, if they are to be used to facilitate defense against or recovery from nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack. (DFARS 211.274-2(b)).

Absent the threshold increases available under the specific incidents, Contracting Offers are fully authorized to innovate and use sound business judgment otherwise consistent with law and within the limits of their authority. CCOs should not assume that a new approach is prohibited simply because it is not in the FAR or DFARS. Facing emergency situations, CCOs should seek legal assistance to identify and confirm their options.

Other Considerations

Sourcing. CCOs must be aware of the limited resources within an area and should be mindful not to compete against FEMA for those resources or contractors. Further, CCOs should be careful not to overload construction contractors and should limit the number of short-term emergency projects for each. Some small contractors will overextend themselves and then not make progress on all work. CCOs should watch for contractor workers who jump from one construction site to another—a sign that a contractor may not have adequate personnel and resources to complete all work on time. CCOs also should consider the following:

  • Contractor qualifications. When supporting emergency operations, CCOs might not have time to thoroughly evaluate contractor qualifications. Although CCOs cannot exclude sources simply because they are unfamiliar, they should consider limiting sources to known contractors as much as possible. During planning, CCOs need to prepare an emergency vendor list and refer to it regularly. CCOs must identify the contractors that can expeditiously respond to natural disasters and specialize in all-purpose emergency recovery contracting.
  • Bid guarantees and bonds.In emergency acquisitions, the chief of the contracting office (COCO) may decide to waive the requirement to obtain a bid guarantee when a performance bond or a performance and payment bond is required. A bid bond, however, can weed out less-qualified contractors. CCOs should use their discretion in emergency environments in obtaining bonds (FAR part 28).

Long-term issues. The effects of a disaster often last beyond the initial recovery effort. Although most long-term support involves administering construction contracts, other long-term issues arise. This section discusses long-term contracting issues and offers suggestions on avoiding common pitfalls:

  • Prolonged emergency use. The contracting office must inform senior leadership that emergency buying procedures are for designated emergency response operations only. Because of the short turnaround involved with emergency contracting procedures, customers try to stretch emergency work to the limit. CCOs also should watch for companion contracting projects to emergency repairs (such as adding garages to damaged units). Emergency procedures can only be used for emergencies. CCOs must be vigilant of these potential issues.
  • Contract administration.Contract administration and oversight of emergency projects can prove very challenging, but this is not an excuse for poor contract management and monitoring of contractor performance. CCOs should understand going in that specifications and solicitations will be rushed, potentially leading to loosely written contracts. CCOs can expect a significant increase in change orders if a contract is broad and includes poorly defined requirements. Proper communication and coordination, acquisition planning, and a focused approach to ensure requirements are well defined enhance overall contract administration.      
  • Service contracts. Existing service contracts may be altered significantly during and after an emergency to provide services expeditiously. For example, a grounds maintenance contract could see a large increase in work orders for services such as clearing debris, removing stumps, and trimming trees. The military family housing contract also might be significantly affected by an increased need for interior minor damage repair work. CCOs should monitor new work closely and promptly return service contract terms to their original scope after the recovery-related work is satisfactorily completed.
  • Custodial contracts. If the installation suffers major structural damage, organizations may move into temporary facilities. This approach requires the modification of custodial service contracts to temporarily add and delete services for buildings, which can be both costly and administratively burdensome.
  • Construction contracts. Depending on the extent of damage to the installation, the construction contract administration workload increases and might continue for a prolonged period. If so, the CCO should consider detailing more administrators to the construction branch until workload levels return to normal.
  • Contractor employees. Existing contractor support also might be impacted because employees either have evacuated or are responding to personal needs.
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Advance Planning for Emergencies at the Home Station

Successful domestic contracting operations after a disaster depend on advance planning and preparation. Apparent as this may sound, proper planning is often neglected.

The remainder of this chapter covers domestic emergency response operations, focusing on readiness and response for installations and home stations. This focus is consistent with the current DoD role in domestic emergencies—providing organic military forces with limited operational contract support to assist FEMA or other LFAs.

No one is ever truly prepared to handle the devastation caused by a natural or human-made disaster, but a viable readiness plan can soften the impact. When a disaster hits, personnel must be well versed in advance in contingency and emergency contracting procedures. The remainder of this section addresses issues that contracting offices can prepare and train for before emergency response:

Planning Considerations
The CCO should develop a plan that best suits the particular operating location (or area of deployment). If the office is located in an area susceptible to hurricanes or tornadoes, the plan should reflect response procedures for these potential incidents. The plan discussed in this section is generic; it should be further tailored to fit the specific needs of the operating location. The plan should also be coordinated and integrated into local support plans. The plan should communicate the following to senior leadership and DoD coordinating officials:

  • The role of contracting during domestic emergency operations
  • Contracting authorities
  • The importance of establishing a requirements process and the need for support personnel such as contracting officer’s representatives (CORs) and quality assurance representatives (QARs)
  • The use of contracting to support installation recovery
  • The tools required to provide this support.

The CCO should consider the following when drafting the office plan:

  • Contingency support for local emergencies.
  • Review of installation operation plans (OPLANs).
  • Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) capabilities and sources. DLA is formally designated as the DoD executive agent for specific commodities: subsistence goods, bulk fuel, construction and barrier materials, and medical materials. DLA contracts contain surge clauses for added flexibility to meet increased demands, including those associated with emergency responses. The plan should include using DLA to the fullest extent possible.
  • Prepositioned contractors. Agencies are encouraged to seek out prepositioned contractors to facilitate a timely emergency response. Prepositioned contractors that have products and services often needed for emergency responses are available at websites such as the General Services Administration (GSA) Disaster Relief Program, GSA Wildland Fire Program, and Interagency Contract Directory.
  • Pre-identified contractors. When contractors register in SAM, they can designate their potential availability to provide disaster response products and services. CCOs should consult the SAM website for information on these firms (FAR 26.205).
Local Contracting Support Plans
Contracting offices should develop a comprehensive local support plan (usually as an annex to the logistics chapter of the installation plan) to ensure contingency contracting support for tasks assigned by the installation OPLANs. Local contracting support plans contain at least the following:
  • The capability for the commander to contact contracting personnel on short notice through the unit emergency action center or command post and to account for all contracting personnel for emergencies during duty hours
  • Identification of CCOs, who may be on unit recall rosters, and consideration of how contracting officers in tenant organizations can assist recovery efforts
  • Instructions on where to relocate the contracting office if the primary contracting facility is not usable, considering alternate locations on and off the installation
  • A current list of installation emergency plans, which should include a section on contracting
  • Provisions for emergency communications with installation officials, customers, and suppliers
  • Procedures for manual requisitioning of supplies, including required approval authorities, forms, and general processing requirements
  • Procedures for each functional area to identify site personnel who can generate, validate, and approve requirements, accept deliveries, and verify quality of goods purchased
  • Provisions for funding requests
  • Instructions for manual purchase registers and record keeping
  • Guidance for use of the government commercial purchase card (GCPC) for emergency purchases, including keeping a manual purchase log in the absence of connectivity to the automated log available at U.S. Bank Access® Online.
  • Procedures for using alternate data automation facilities to restore automated purchasing support and records
  • Instructions for use of the unit deployment kit, which must include a global positioning system (GPS), even for local disasters
  • Current telephone listings for key regional contracting offices, local suppliers, and other nearby installations, as well as grid maps of the installation and local areas
  • Ongoing process for developing, maintaining, and using available source lists for emergency supplies and services, and identifying the sources available for 24-hour response to emergency requirements(9).
  • An advance strategy to address surge capability for supplies with contractors to source critical supplies outside of the local area, such as lumber and roofing materials, because these supplies will quickly be consumed or destroyed in a natural disaster (if there is time to act ahead of the disaster, as with a hurricane, most contractors preposition items outside the disaster area to facilitate a quick response)
  • Procedures for accommodating a spike in contract terminations.
  • Procedures for accommodating unusual contract administration requirements.
After Action Reports
One way to plan and prepare for local emergencies is to review applicable after action reports (AARs) from previous emergencies (see the AAR website for more information).

When reviewing AARs, the CCO should consider the following:

  • The type of emergency and the associated needs for each phase (such as initial response and recovery)
  • The types of acquisition vehicles relied on, contract terms and conditions, and prices paid
  • Roles and responsibilities assumed by other agencies providing acquisition assistance and the interagency agreements used to document responsibilities
  • Process for, and type of, funding for the acquisitions
  • Types of logistical challenges encountered in delivering products and services, as well as the steps taken to address these challenges
  • Any legal issues that arose
  • Management’s overall assessment of agency and contractor performance.
Other Considerations

Training. FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute, in coordination with the Defense Acquisition University and the Federal Acquisition Institute, offers online courses on the National Incident Management System and the ICS for all contracting officers who may be deployed during an emergency.

Power. For planning purposes, CCOs must assume there will be no power to operate office equipment. Securing access to a portable generator and adequate fuel should be a top priority. CCOs should prioritize these items and procure them quickly, given the potential for a shortage of supply. In the event power is scarce, CCOs should consider relocating the operation to a site where generators are available (such as hospital, commander’s office, or command post). These arrangements must be made in advance and detailed in the contingency plan.

Off-site location. As briefly mentioned, CCOs might need to work from an alternate location, so this option should be included in the continuity of operations plans. If the installation is severely damaged, the establishment of an off-site location will become a critical necessity. Each CCO should designate proposed on-and off-installation alternative contracting sites in advance and incorporate them into the installation contingency plan. When an emergency or disaster occurs, senior management must quickly decide how and from where the CCO will operate.

Buying procedures. CCO plans should include the buying procedures that the contracting officers will use during an emergency and the applicable acquisition flexibilities (FAR part 18). CCOs can also avoid buying problems by establishing and maintaining a current and accurate emergency support source list for commodities, services, and construction. This list should include the following:

  • Multiple vendors for all required goods and services
  • Telephone numbers (business and home) for each vendor
  • Accurate vendor street addresses (in case telecommunications are out)
  • A 24-hour point of contact for each business
  • Backup vendor lists from outside the local area in case local vendors become incapacitated.

One critical lesson learned is that local vendors might not be able to support the installation in an emergency. If the installation is trying to recover, chances are that local civilian contractors and support agencies also are in recovery mode. Therefore, use of assets outside the local area is key in responsive acquisition support. If other installations are nearby, CCOs should exchange vendor lists for wider coverage. CCOs must ensure vendor listings are current by reviewing them quarterly, updating the list and supplementing it with new sources from market research and recent performance data.

Reachback. In a catastrophic disaster or an event that produces severe and widespread damage of such a magnitude that the local contracting office cannot execute its mission, contracting offices must coordinate lateral support with other regional contracting offices unaffected by the disaster or event. Contracting offices may be requested to commit contracting resources to the affected area, in the form of personnel or reachback contracting support. Contracting offices in areas that have a greater potential to be affected by a catastrophe should team with other nearby contracting offices (and those capable of providing reachback contracting support because they have similar missions) to plan and prepare for a catastrophic contingency. Partnering with other contracting activities should be included in the CCO emergency response plans.

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On-Scene Operations

Initial contracting actions during a recovery effort are the most critical. How support capabilities are assessed and how widespread the damage is sets the tone for the entire recovery process.

Activating recall procedures. The CCO’s first priority during an emergency is to get personnel to work. Fortunate CCOs will be able to contact them by telephone or by recall announcements over the radio or television. However, CCOs might have to go house to house to recall personnel. The more personnel whom can be recalled, the more comprehensive support will be.

Assessing damage to the contracting office. The CCO must quickly assess the contracting office’s physical appearance and its overall functioning capabilities and then decide whether to stay or relocate to the alternate site. At a minimum, the CCO must find a site where personnel can safely access tables, desks, and telephones. CCOs should consider the following when evaluating the contracting office and alternate sites:

  • Telephone capabilities
  • Electricity
  • Extent of the damage
  • Safety and other aspects of suitability for operations.

Organizing the contingency staff. Once personnel are recalled, the CCO needs to assess division support capabilities. If personnel are experienced, a flat organization should be established that allows experts to buy and administer supply, construction, and service requirements with as little supervision as possible. If personnel are inexperienced, a more structured, centralized support organization is appropriate. The next step is designating the roles that personnel must perform, including dedicating staff members to order from preestablished blanket purchase agreements (BPAs) or federal supply schedules and assigning another group to acquire other requirements (such as equipment rentals, specialized parts, and supplies from the open market). CCOs also might need to take the following actions:

  • For major construction and service contracts, team with the inspector to evaluate construction sites for damage and determine the extent of damage, liability, and need to modify construction requirements and assign staff members to coordinate with major service contractors to restore sanitation, refuse, and grounds maintenance support as quickly as possible.
  • Assign staff members as runners to pick up needed goods in the local area; however, if local area vendors are unable to support the installation, send a runner to a CCO outside the local area to procure needed goods and services.
Initial Setup Actions
Once the support organization is established, the CCO takes the following actions immediately:

  • Identify initial requirements that will need to be procured and prioritize them on the basis of need.
  • Contact the local commander to provide an update on status and the plan of operations. Obtain the commander’s list of priorities if possible.
  • Establish communications. First, determine what is already available, such as telephone lines and Internet. Next, secure additional communications such as mobile radios or cellular phones, if available, to ensure communications continue in the event telephone and Internet connectivity are lost.
  • Contact finance personnel to ensure funds are available. CCOs should request a single obligation authority, if possible, and ensure procedures are in place for the use of cash-and-carry methods.
  • Seek lateral support, if long-distance communications are possible, by contacting the head of the contracting activity (HCA) and neighboring installations to put them on standby for possible support.
  • Continue to assess power capabilities and consider relocating to a building on the installation that has power if necessary, as mentioned. Hard-copy contracting forms can be used in the event contracting automation systems are down.
  • Obtain transportation and make sure that enough vehicles are available to support CCO needs. Most initial purchases will be picked up by government personnel, so at least one vehicle should be capable of transporting large volumes of goods (such as lumber, plywood, and rolls of plastic sheeting).

Managing initial purchases. The first 24 hours of recovery are the most hectic and require a concentrated buying effort. The CCO should organize immediately by making sure procedures are in place to do the following:

  • Generate requirements.
  • Establish a purchase request (PR) tracking system. Start with a separate block of purchase order numbers for ease of tracking. It may also be a good idea to appoint a requisition control point (RCP) monitor who can track requests throughout the acquisition process and help avoid duplication of effort.
  • Track obligations, contract awards, and payments.
  • Oversee contractor performance and verify government receipt.
  • Perform quality assurance to the maximum extent practicable.

All contracting, acquisition support and coordinating personnel should be made aware of established procedures.

CCOs should also consider taking the following actions to support the management of initial purchases:

  • Establish one focal point for each customer. The local commander will have the majority of initial inputs, and some might not be properly coordinated. CCOs should communicate to the commander the need for one point of contact for all requests.
  • Establish comprehensive procedures for receiving goods.CCOs should have a central receiving point for all goods brought into the installation. If the goods are delivered directly to the customer, a point of contact must be established, and the customer must receive instructions on the proper method of receiving goods. CCOs should give the customer responsibility for the timely submission of paperwork.

Response to rental requests. During the first week of recovery, numerous requests might be made for equipment and vehicle rental and for temporary living and office quarters. A number of factors should be considered before filling customer requests.

Heavy equipment. Before renting, the CCO must first confirm that the equipment cannot be borrowed from other bases, posts, military installations, or federal agencies.

Real-World Example:

During hurricane recovery operations at Charleston and Shaw Air Force Bases (AFBs), several pieces of equipment were received from other installations and from the Southwest Asia (SWA) transportation unit at Seymour Johnson AFB. The SWA unit alone transported 42 pieces of heavy equipment and vehicles to Shaw AFB and 17 pieces to Charleston AFB.

The Bottom Line:

Other bases, posts, military installations, and federal agencies can be a great source of needed supplies during recovery operations.

Exhaust all internal sources before renting for the following reasons:

  • Renting heavy pieces of equipment and vehicles is very expensive. Many companies insist that their operators accompany the equipment, creating an additional expense.
  • If disaster recovery is extensive, rental periods can be long, increasing the risk of damage. If forced to rent heavy equipment or vehicles, CCOs must ensure that they are returned immediately when no longer required.

Leasing trailers and temporary buildings. If installation facilities are damaged extensively, the CCO might need to lease trailers or temporary buildings. However, CCOs must be very careful when leasing trailers and must set minimum acceptable requirements (such as size, amount of functional office space, outlets, doors, and windows). The CCO must emphasize to commanding officials that time is needed to ensure procurement of a quality product.

Management of other service requirements. Grounds maintenance, refuse, and mess attendant contractors could significantly help installation recovery with appropriate modifications to their contracts. The grounds maintenance contractor might have the equipment and staffing needed to help clear debris from the installation. The refuse contractor can play a similar role by increasing the frequency of pickups and providing several large dumpsters. The mess attendant contractor can offer support by shifting to a 24-hour food service operation.

Such increased contractor efforts represent changes to their contracts, so compensation will be due; however, the CCO will be dealing with known and likely reliable sources. Contracting officers can issue change orders (with the appropriate funds) and can negotiate the changes when the situation eases. In some cases, the CCO might have already established unit prices for the increased work. By going to reliable contractors, the CCO can save time and avoid emergency contracts with unknown sources.

Procurement of key commodities. Several supply items will be in high demand during disaster recovery. The CCO should consider establishing BPAs with multiple suppliers within and outside the local area for commodities such as the following, if the installation is located in an area with a high risk of disaster:

  • Ice. Ice might be a difficult commodity to find. If the power is out, the commissary, food service, and installation residents will need ice to preserve their food. CCOs should develop at least one source outside the local area to avoid competition with the local community during a disaster. The person receiving the ice must monitor the quantity carefully. All ice and water purchases must be authorized by an approved medical authority (such as an Army veterinarian). (The Approved Food Sources page on the U.S. Army Medical Department website lists approved sources by theater.)
  • Paper products. With the power off, installation dining facilities will use paper products to feed local military and civilian personnel. Because personnel might be working 24 hours a day, paper product usage will increase substantially.
  • Other common items. Items such as lumber, plastic sheeting, and chain saws probably will be scarce in the local market because the CCO will be competing with the demands of local residents.

Coordinating officials can greatly assist in determining where needs exist in multi-agency relief efforts.

Evaluation of construction needs. Hurricane Hugo recovery efforts had the largest impact on the construction branch of local contracting offices. Construction work involved assessing and modifying ongoing construction projects damaged by the storm and rapidly procuring new construction projects to repair installation damage. The following steps will help minimize construction issues encountered during installation recovery:

  • The CCO should evaluate current construction sites by using a team approach, with a construction contract administrator and an inspector evaluating the damage at each construction site. After an initial government assessment, the CCO should meet with the contractor to develop a plan of action. Resolving any storm damage assessment differences among contractors and inspectors early in the process will go a long way to prevent future contract claims.
  • After all parties agree on the extent of damage, liability must be addressed. Natural or human-made disasters are created by an act of God or an external source, and neither is the responsibility of the contractor. The contracting officer is responsible for determining whether additional time is due to the contractor and who is liable to pay damages that may have occurred to the construction site. Mandatory clauses are always a critical part of the contract but especially during emergencies. For example, ensuring permits and responsibilities are addressed in accordance with FAR clause 52.236-7 will save time and grief and will ultimately protect the government’s rights in possible litigation after the smoke clears and the floodwaters recede.
  • The CCO should be careful when negotiating time extensions. Lost productivity, staging of work, and availability of subcontractors all must be considered. If behind schedule at the time of the disaster, the contractor might try to pad the estimate to catch up with other work commitments. CCOs must remember that time is money.
  • The CCO can expect several new construction requirements after a natural disaster. Most short-term emergency efforts involve repairing existing facilities. Initially, local senior leadership may push hard for issuing letter contracts to local contractors. This is not always the best route and can create more work and expend more dollars in the long run. In some cases, this option might be unavoidable, but the use of alternate emergency procedures is preferable for installation construction recovery. CCOs should use letter contracts or cost-reimbursement contracts only as a last resort. The CCO should always coordinate such procedures with the relevant HCA.
  • Another alternative to mitigate the increased demand for contracting support is pre-established indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) or requirements-type contracts (such as job order contracts or simplified acquisition for installation engineering requirements contracts). These contracts are ideal for small, limited-design, repair, and high-priority projects. The CCO can expand the role of these contracts by using them to repair minor damage to housing units. CCOs should avoid using these contracts as a cure-all for installation emergency construction needs, as the contractors might not be able to keep up with the work demands.
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Additional References

The following references were not mentioned in this chapter but offer additional information related to domestic emergency response:

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1. American Forces Press Service, "DoD, FEMA, Other Agencies Aid Storm-Affected Areas," October 30, 2012.

2. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. and Gen. Frank J. Grass, "Dual-Status, Single Purpose: A Unified Military Response to Hurricane Sandy,” March 11, 2013.

3. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Disaster Recovery: Federal Contracting in the Aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, GAO-11-942T, September 15, 2011.

4. Center for Army Lessons Learned, Handbook 06-08, The Department of Defense (DoD) Role in Incident Response, May 2006.

5. See the DPSI webpage.

6. GAO, Hurricane Katrina: Improving Federal Contracting Practices in Disaster Recovery Operations, GAO-06-714T, May 4, 2006.

7. Acquisition thresholds are subject to change. Refer to FAR 2.101 and DFARS 202.101 for current micro-purchase and simplified acquisition thresholds, and refer to FAR 13.5 for current test program thresholds. Acquisition thresholds are subject to change. Refer to FAR 2.101 and DFARS 202.101 for current micropurchase and simplified acquisition thresholds and FAR 13.5 for current test program thresholds.

8. Class Deviation- 2015-O0004 provides permanent authority for use of Simplified Acquisition Procedures for certain commercial items.

9. These lists should include the commodity or service contractor address, point of contact, and 24-hour telephone number. The lists should be updated quarterly to ensure that the sources are available to help address the contingency or emergency.

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