Procurement Information Circular

August 15, 2007



PURPOSE:  To provide guidance on contracting in emergency situations, including planning for emergency procurements and structuring major support contracts to facilitate emergency support from contractors.

BACKGROUND: Terrorist events and natural disasters during the past decade have highlighted the need for procurement flexibilities to permit efficient and expeditious acquisition of supplies and services needed in emergency situations. In 2006, Part 18 was added to the FAR to assist the procurement community by referencing various procurement regulations pertaining to emergency contracting. In addition, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy has recently issued a best practices guide entitled Emergency Acquisitions, http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/procurement, drawing on the experiences of multiple agencies and the findings of several oversight authorities. And finally, NASA’s own experience following Hurricane Katrina yielded valuable ‘lessons learned’ and highlighted the need to take proactive steps to better position the Agency to make expedient, efficient, and proper procurements during the next emergency.

GUIDANCE:  The information provided in this PIC includes a mandatory requirement to review existing contracts and solicitations and supplement the statements of work with emergency contracting language. In addition, this PIC includes suggested best practices and identifies sources of information on emergency contracting.

1. Pre-Emergency Planning.

a. Contractors play a critical role in supporting Agency activities during an emergency. NASA relied heavily upon support contractors at Stennis Space Center, with cross-over assistance from support contractors at other Centers, to ensure that NASA facilities were secured, protected, and returned to operation after Hurricane Katrina. Recognizing this critical role support contractors play in emergency situations, it is prudent to include the emergency support requirement in Agency contracts.

Contracting officers (COs) shall include language identical or similar to the suggested language below, in the Performance Work Statements or Statements of Work in contracts for major, on-site support activities. The language shall be included in all new awards, and in existing contracts when the remaining period of performance warrants. COs, in conjunction with technical specialists, should identify appropriate solicitations and contracts and revise them. Amendments and modifications should be issued within 30 days from the effective date of this PIC.

Consideration should be given to adding the suggested language to contracts that provide for support services likely to be needed immediately if an emergency were to occur at the Center’s geographic location, such as:

·    General facilities support/base operations

·    Property management

·    Security/guard/law enforcement services

·    IT services, especially IT infrastructure maintenance and service

            Suggested Language:

Emergency Preparedness and Response

The Contractor’s obligation may include resolution of unusual or emergency situations.  The Contractor may be required to assist NASA, within the general scope of work, but in currently unidentified ways, in preparation for, or in response to emergencies. Obligations under this requirement shall only arise when one or more of the criteria at FAR 18.001, enabling NASA to utilize “Emergency Acquisition Flexibilities”, are met.  If the emergency preparedness and response requirements result in changes to the contract, all contract adjustments will be processed in accordance with the Changes clause of this contract.

            Contracts including this language should be listed, for ready reference, in the Center Continuity of Operations (COOP) plans.


      b. Numerous sources, in critiquing the Government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, point to a general lack of awareness of contracting vehicles that were already in place at different agencies and could have been used quickly.  OFPP’s Emergency Acquisitions Guide emphasizes the need for agencies to familiarize themselves with pre-competed contracts and pre-qualified vendors, and to determine if the contracts can meet their needs in an emergency situation.  Interagency acquisitions offer efficient access to pre-qualified sources and the ability to leverage resources.
            Agency contracting personnel are encouraged to periodically review interagency contracts and to become familiar with the terms and ordering procedures of those vehicles that may be useful in an emergency.  Suggested sources include:

·         Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) issued by the General Services Administration (GSA) FAR Subpart 8.4.      http://www.gsa.gov/Portal/gsa/ep/channelView.do?pf=y&channelId=-      15761&pageTypeId=8199&channelPage=%2Fep%2Fchannel%2FgsaOverview.jsp

   Master Governmentwide Acquisition Contract (GWAC) list maintained by OFPP with links to all interagency GWACs.  http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/procurement/index_interagency_acq.html


      c. The Stafford Act, PL 93-288, requires that preference be given to local firms, and the Local Community Recovery Act, PL 109-218, establishes a local set-aside for specific services including debris clearance, distribution of supplies, reconstruction, and other emergency assistance activities.  Contracting personnel are encouraged to identify local businesses capable of providing supplies and services that may be required in an emergency.  Consider establishing Blanket Ordering Agreements or Blanket Purchasing Agreements with local firms, if appropriate.


   2.  Contracting During an Emergency.


         a.  Generally, contracts issued in response to an emergency should be limited in value and length, to address only the immediate emergency.  While a broadly scoped, cost reimbursable arrangement may be appropriate for immediate response, the same arrangement will be totally inappropriate six months later.  Short performance periods with short option periods should allow for continuous service.  COs should retain maximum flexibility while ensuring contracts meet Agency needs.

         b.  Firm-fixed-price contracts or fixed-price contracts with economic price adjustment are encouraged.  With payment tied to tangible results, the protection afforded the Government under a fixed-price contract is even more important in an emergency situation.

         c.  Existing contracts, either NASA contracts or interagency vehicles, with pre-qualified contractors should be used when possible.  Adding the requirement for emergency support identified above will position existing NASA contracts for use during emergencies, and facilitate advance planning by key contractors.

         d.  The procurement flexibilities identified in FAR Part 18 should be used.  In addition to setting forth specific emergency procurement flexibilities that are available in limited circumstances, Part 18 also identifies many generally available flexibilities. 


EFFECTIVE DATE:  This PIC is effective as dated and shall remain in effect until canceled or superseded.


HEADQUARTERS CONTACTS:  Leigh Pomponio, Office of Procurement, Contract Management Division, (202) 358-0592, e-mail:  Leigh.Pomponio-1@nasa.gov.



James A. Balinskas

Director, Contract Management Division



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