Whether you blame it on climate change or the natural order of the universe, the incidence of natural disasters is increasing in the United States. Catastrophic wildfires are raging across California and Oregon. An eruption of the Kiluea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii has caused major devastation to populated areas, destroying, as of this writing, at least 700 homes. Just a few weeks ago, the same island saw a record-breaking four and a half feet of rain and massive flooding during Hurricane Lane. And now, as we write this, Hurricane Florence is threatening the Southeast with yet another historic storm.
Fortunately, most, though not all, of the people affected by these natural disasters have escaped with their lives (or are evacuating right now.) But thousands of homes are gone, along with vehicles, livestock, personal possessions and even family pets. Rebuilding efforts will take tremendous fortitude and a huge infusion of cash.
And that’s where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) steps in. FEMA is the federal agency that helps victims of natural disasters with emergency relief, such as temporary housing, home repairs, replacement of uninsured personal property and even medical bills. The agency also provides grants and SBA loans to individuals and businesses to help them rebuild. if you’re a contractor doing business in a designated disaster area, you may be able to take part in these efforts by joining FEMA’s Industry Liason Program (ILP), which connects vendors with opportunities that support FEMA’s mission and goals.
By law, FEMA must contract whenever possible and feasible with vendors and service providers located in the areas affected by a disaster or emergency. Although this does not preclude the agency from using contractors that do business outside the designated disaster area, it does mean that local firms will be given preference when bidding on jobs. Within that framework, however, businesses that take part in the ILP program will have better access to FEMA opportunities.
Become a Part of the FEMA ILP
FEMA outlines four-steps for businesses that wish to take part in the ILP. They are:
Locate your local Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Center using this interactive map or by entering your state in the Search box on the page. The APTCA will assist you with your SAM (see below) registration and other certifications you may need. Centers also provide one-on-one counseling in areas such as researching procurement histories, searching for bid opportunities, preparing proposals, networking and marketing.
Register with the System for Award Management (SAM): Registering with SAM is a requirement to do business with the federal government. Registration is free, and can be completed online. Before starting the registration process you will need to have:
- A DUNNS (Dun & Bradstreet) number. If you don’t have one, submit a request online at Dunn and Bradstreet.com. Registration is usually processed within one business day.
- An Employer Identification Number. If you do not have an EIN, you may apply for one here.
Understand FEMA’s mission: FEMA implements disaster assistance when the President declares a state of emergency. FEMA funds can be used for a wide variety of purposes, from building emergency shelters to distributing goods to those who have been displaced. Look at the list of high-priority commodities and services and determine where your firm may fill a need.
Research opportunities on federal government websites, such as:
- Federal Business Opportunities (FBO), a free web-based portal that lets you view federal procurement opportunities in excess of $25,000.
- FedBid, a managed online marketplace that connects vendors to over 75 federal agencies and commercial opportunities. You can register for the service at FedBid.com
- DHS Advance Acquistion Planning System forecasts contracting opportunites in excess of $250,000 for the Department of Homeland Security.
- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracts with FEMA to provide debris removal at designated disaster sites. Visit the Corps’ website to learn more about its mission and in supporting FEMA and learn more about becoming a member of the team.
- The General Services Administration, which procures construction, facilities management, leasing and retail services.
Additionally, you can increase your visability and provide much-needed assistance by donating goods, services and even your facility to help those in need. Visit FEMA’s Volunteer & Donate Responsibly web page to learn more about coordinating relief efforts in your community.
The Carmoon Group Ltd. is an insurance broker headquartered in Hicksville, New York. Through our network of over 200 affiliates, we provide risk management solutions and comprehensive insurance programs to large, small and medium-sized businesses across the United States. Additionally, we are a minority owned small business with extensive knowledge of the unique challenges emerging businesses, especially those owned by women and people of color, face. Why not give us a call to discuss your needs or set up an appointment for a free consultations? Or if you’re short on time, just reach out online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.