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Tuesday, May 28th, 2024

Sen. Peters reintroduces legislation to improve contracting process surrounding disaster recovery

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With any disaster comes a need for cleanup, which generally means contracting work, and last week, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) reintroduced the Disaster Contract Improvement Act to improve the whole process and save taxpayers money.

“Ensuring there is clear guidance on the removal of debris will help communities recover faster from extreme weather events,” Peters, chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “This commonsense, bipartisan bill will increase coordination between FEMA and partners who are helping with disaster recovery, so cleanup efforts are more cost-effective and efficient.”

Although Peters introduced similar, bipartisan legislation last Congress (S.3512), it did not advance into law. As proposed, this Disaster Contract Improvement Act would overhaul the debris removal disaster contracting process at all levels of government by creating an advisory working group built of government representatives, subject matter experts, and debris services contractor industry affiliates.

If passed, the FEMA Administrator would be required to develop and implement guidance and procedures for the oversight and costs associated with debris removal contracts entered into through the public assistance grant program. One year would be given for this process, and they would do this in consultation with the advisory working group. Following this, training and outreach would also be required between FEMA and state, local and tribal governments on any new guidance developed through the program.

To guarantee this works as intended and helps mitigate waste, fraud, and abuse, the legislation would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study and report on the advance contracting process.