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FEMA Contracts

Acquisition Procedures

Like all other Federal purchasing offices, FEMA buys supplies or services in
accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) by either sealed
bidding or negotiation. For your information and easy reference, these
methods have been summarized below. When responding to the Agency's
stated requirements, careful attention should be paid to references to the
FAR and specific solicitation instructions provided.

Procurement by Sealed Bidding

When an award exceeding $25,000 is expected, a procurement office will


publish a synopsis of the requirement in the Commerce Business Daily
(CBD). The requirement may also by publicized through trade associations,
posting of the solicitation in other Federal agencies, etc.

An Invitation for Bids (IFB) will include either a copy of the specifications
for the needed item or will tell how a copy may be obtained. It will also
include instructions for the preparation of bids and will state the conditions
of purchase, delivery and payment. Bids submitted on a proposed purchase
are publicly opened in the procurement office at the time specified in the
solicitation. A Federal employee presiding over the bid opening will read
aloud pertinent facts about each bid (including price, terms, free on board
(FOB) point, etc.). When filling requirement by this method, a purchasing
office may also send an IFB to firms included on its "bidder's List" for the
particular item/services desired. After subsequent analysis and evaluation, a
contract will be awarded to the lowest responsive and responsible bidder.

Procurement by Negotiations

Under many circumstances, Government agencies are authorized to make


purchases by direct negotiation with qualified suppliers and without
formally advertising bids. For example, a purchase may be made by
negotiation if for any reason it is not possible to draft adequate
specifications. In those cases, the procurement office will synopsize the
requirement in the Commerce Business Daily and will issue a Request for
Proposal (RFP) to all interested suppliers. Proposals submitted in response
to the RFP will be evaluated in accordance with criteria set forth in the
solicitation.

Initially, the technical aspects of the proposals will be evaluated for technical
merit using the rating categories and relative weights indicated in the RFP.
Secondly, the proposal price and/or costs will be considered independently
of the technical criteria. The contracting officer will evaluate these facts and
a contract will be awarded to a responsible contractor whose proposal
conforms to the solicitation and is most advantageous to the government,
price and other factors considered.

Simplified Acquisition Procedures

Of the greatest interest to many small business firms is the procurement


procedure that simplifies and expedites the procurement of low dollar value,
high demand items. Under this provision, known as "Simplified Acquisition
Procedures," procurement of supplies and services amounting to $100,000
or less may be acquired by obtaining informal quotations from vendors and
implementing the transaction by simplified acquisition procedures.

This procedure, while expediting the procurement, does not eliminate the
necessity for competitive bidding. Purchases of more that $2,500 require the
solicitation of three suppliers, and the sources are generally restricted to the
local trade area. Purchases not exceeding $2,500 may be made without the
need for competitive quotations, if the prices are considered reasonable.
Quotations under $2,500 are generally solicited orally. Written solicitation
are used when (1) the suppliers are outside the local area, (2) special
specifications are involved, (3) a large number of line items are included in a
single proposed procurement, (4) obtaining oral quotations is not considered
economical or possible. Solicitations issued under these procedures are
normally identified as a Request for Quotation (RFQ).

Unsolicited Proposals

FEMA accepts unsolicited proposals for products and services, which


contribute, to the objectives of the Agency. Unsolicited proposals are written
offers to perform a proposed task or effort, initiated by a prospective
contractor and submitted to FEMA with the objective of obtaining a
contract.

A valid unsolicited proposal must be innovative and unique, be


independently originated and developed by the offeror, without Government
supervision and include sufficient detail to determine if it is a worthwhile
effort that could benefit the agency.

The following information should be included in an unsolicited proposal:

1. Name, address, type of business;


2. Name of business and technical individuals to be contacted for
negotiation;
3. Identify proprietary data;
4. List other Federal, State and local governments receiving proposal;
5. Date and representative's signature authorized to enter into a contract;

Technical information should include:

1. A concise abstract limited to 200 words;


2. Stated objectives, method of approach, anticipated results, and how the
work will help support the Agency in its mission;
3. Names of key personnel and alternatives;

Supporting Information should include:

1. Estimated costs in sufficient detail to allow for evaluation;


2. Period of time proposal is valid (usually six months);
3. Type of contract preferred;
4. Proposed duration of the effort;
5. Description of organization, previous experience, and facilities available;
6. Information concerning conflicts of interest, security clearances, and
environmental impacts, if applicable.

Unsolicited proposals shall, after performing an initial review, be circulated


for evaluation. Once the evaluation is complete the point of contact shall be
notified of their conclusions and recommendations.

Additional information regarding the preparation of unsolicited proposals


may be obtained by writing to:

Federal Emergency Management Agency


Acquisition Support Division
500 C Street, SW
Washington, DC 20472

The Commerce Business Daily

The Commerce Business Daily (CBD) is a daily publication which lists all
major Federal government solicitations, contract awards, subcontracting
lead, surplus-property sales and foreign business opportunities. In this
publication, FEMA and the other Federal government agencies announce
their need for goods and services expected to cost more than $25,000.
Persons who want to do business with the government should subscribe to
this publication and review it daily. It is the only way to keep fully informed
of Federal contracting opportunities. To subscribe, contact:

The Superintendent of Documents


Government Printing Office
PO Box 371954
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954
The CBD is also available at most public and Federal libraries. Each CBD
announcement provides general information on the type of services or
supplies sought, the name and telephone number of a contact person, and
invites qualified businesses and organization to request a copy of the
detailed solicitation for a bid or proposal.

The announcement will also explain if a particular contract has been set
aside exclusively for small business or local area business. When requesting
a copy of a solicitation, be sure to refer to the solicitation number published
in the CBD announcement. The CBD also includes announcements of all
Federal contract awards over $25,000 that are likely to result in subcontract
opportunities.

The Bidders' Mailing List

FEMA does not maintain an active solicitation mailing list. Instead, we


locate qualified small businesses through the Small Business
Administration's Pro-Net, which is an electronic gateway of procurement
information about small businesses. It is a search engine for contracting
officers, a marketing tool for small firms and a "link" to procurement
opportunities and important information. If you are seeking to do business
with FEMA you should register with the Small Business Administration's
PRO-NET located on SBA's web site www.sba.gov or you may contact your
local SBA office or local library to register. Registration is free.

FEMA also seeks small businesses through the General Services


Administrations Federal Supply Schedule program. The schedules allow
agencies to buy commonly used supplies and services in varying quantities
at lower prices while obtaining discounts associated with volume buying.
After a competitive solicitation, GSA awards these contracts committing
firms to provide supplies and services at stated prices for given periods of
time, but without specifying quantities or delivery schedules. GSA publishes
the information needed for placing orders against the schedule contracts.
You can find additional information from your local GSA office.

Marketing Tips For Small Business

1. Read the Commerce Business Daily (CBD), published by the U.S.


Department of Commerce which lists all Federal contracting activities
including FEMA procurements. The Commerce Business Daily is also an
excellent source for possible subcontracting leads since all major contract
awards are published in the as well.

2. Be alert to announcements of business opportunity conferences, trade


fairs, and other federal attended or sponsored industrial liaison meetings in
your area. Make it a point to participate whenever
possible.

Brian Cook is a freelance writer whose articles on government contracting


have appeared on many websites.

You can find more of these at ContractSecrets.com.