The utmost best practice for getting involved in disaster relief contracts is to get engaged before a disaster strikes. FEMA operates by local area preference, so if your business is located in the state where the disaster occurs, you will be a top option. 

Getting Registered

The first step to registering for work with FEMA and government contracts, is to complete your SAM registration to acquire your UEI and CAGE Code. Once you’ve completed the registration, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the importance of registering your business in the SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search (DSBS) with a robust, fully completed profile. 

Anyone who has worked with me, knows I am a huge proponent of DSBS because of the required market research that the government does, in the first phase of the procurement cycle. Why not make it easy for your potential customers to do business with you?

The only thing I’ll say about SAM is that if you’re interested in doing business with FEMA, be sure to check the box “yes”, stating that you’d like for your business to be entered in the Disaster Response Registry. It’s much more likely that your business will be awarded a sole-source contract during a disaster from FEMA if you have done all of the above, especially if you have small business set-asides. 

3 Phases of Disaster Contracting After Declaration

  • Phase 1 – Response (Days 1-30)
    • Includes activities to meet the basic human needs such as joint field office setup, search and rescue support, individual assistance support and public assistance support. 
  • Phase 2 – Recovery (Days 30-90)
    • Includes efforts to return communities back to self-sufficiency such as housing and medical support. 
  • Phase 3 – Long-term Recovery (90+ Days)
    • Established when the needs of the community and individuals extend beyond the initial 30 to 90 days. 

Identifying Your Market in a Disaster

  1. Neighbors, Consumers, & Residents
  2. Insurance Companies
  3. Businesses
  4. Subcontracting Opportunities
  5. Non-Profits
  6. Government – Local First 
    • City
    • County
    • State
    • Federal

Hint: Grants are awarded to cities, counties, and states from the federal government during a disaster and often struggle to source local needs. Be sure to reach out to them first!

Every disaster is assigned a code so that FEMA and Congress can track how much money and damage per disaster. You can perform market research within the USAspending or SAM Ad Hoc Data, which essentially is pulled from FPDS

How to Volunteer

Visit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD), where you can either donate or participate. There are 73 organizations. Do NOT self-deploy! Affiliate with existing voluntary organizations before traveling to the disaster area. Wait until it is safe to travel to sites and opportunities/ needs have been identified. Once assigned a position, make sure you have been given an assignment and are wearing proper safety gear. 

How to Avoid Fraud and Scams

Fraud attempts are made on disaster survivors by individuals claiming to represent FEMA, phony property/ building inspectors, and convincing homeowners to leave or create damage to get the work. Unlicensed contractors may demand upfront payment but do not finish or over-inflate the prices. Fake charities solicit funds. Identities are stolen. The list goes on. Robert provided resources that we can use to report disaster fraud to FEMA and the DHS, which you’ll find within the e-course. 

FEMA’s Acquisition Process

  1. Need is established.
  2. Agency prepares solicitation.
  3. Agency announces the solicitation.
  4. Potential contractors locate solicitation.
  5. Potential contractors obtain the solicitation package. 
  6. Potential contractors review the package. 
  7. Potential contractors submit their bids/ proposals. 
  8. FEMA will evaluate the responses and issue an award. 

FEMA’s Thresholds

Micro-purchase Threshold 

  • Supplies – $10,000
  • Services – $2,500
  • Construction – $2,000
  • During a Disaster – Increases to $20,000

Simplified Acquisition Threshold

  • (SAP) – $250,000
  • During a Disaster – Increases to $750,000

Top Supplies & Services that FEMA Needs

Infant/ toddler products, plastic sheeting, tarps, blankets, comfort/ hygiene kits, water, meals, forklift rentals, mobile homes and units, durable medical equipment (DME) kits, cargo vans, security guard services, generators, cots, joint field office kit, leased copiers, leased generators, recreational vehicles (RV), consumable medical supplies and kits, office supplies, shredding bins, portable toilets, sign language, temporary labor, janitorial services, light tower rentals, property leasing.

FEMA Resources