OFPP calls for volunteers to help in emergencies

Supplemental Emergency Contracting Cadre memo

Following recent disasters, particularly Hurricane Katrina, officials want to augment the number of people available and able to participate in response and recovery efforts.

The Office of Federal Procurement Policy wants contracting officers to join a cadre of workers trained to help in crises, so one or two agencies won’t bear the brunt of a ton of acquisition demands. In a memo issued July 30, Paul Denett, OFPP administrator, wrote that bolstering this cadre is necessary to ensure the resources are available in emergencies.

Denett is asking chief acquisition officers to encourage their contracting officers, or those doing similar work, to join the supplemental cadre. The move will boost how well the agencies can help the Homeland Security Department and others in responding to natural disasters, according to the memo.

DHS is increasing its supply of acquisition workers, and the General Services Administration is signing more contracts aimed at supporting agencies during emergencies. Many agencies have established and trained groups of employees who could mobilize to help their agency’s increased efforts in a disaster.

But Denett also wants more camaraderie governmentwide.

“This supplemental cadre will be available to support any agency needing additional contracting personnel to support an emergency,” Denett wrote, adding that people who’ve done the work found it rewarding.

Denett added that deployment is voluntary and generally limited to 30 days.

Contracting officers would have to meet several certification requirements to participate in emergency response and recovery contracting. They must have federal acquisition certification in contracting or Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act certification, complete 12 hours of online coursework developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and complete an emergency response classroom course, according to the memo.

For more hands-on training this fall, DHS and GSA are planning to simulate emergency contracting scenarios for volunteers, the memo states.

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