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Sunday, February 25th, 2024

Bipartisan bill seeks repeal of existing law to improve federal emergency response

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U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and John Kennedy (R-LA) recently introduced the Helping Eliminate Limitations for Prompt Response and Recovery Act to overhaul how emergency response is handled.

Specifically, the bill would repeal a section of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006. Currently, federal law limits the duration of non-competitive emergency contracts for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Those agencies handle the coordination of emergency response efforts, but they do not follow the same regulations as other federal agencies. Rather, those agencies adhere to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), which has been much more recently updated. This bill would put them all under the same deadlines and guidelines.

The major difference between these two regulations can be summed up in days. Section 695 of the Post-Katrina act restricted the length of non-competitive DHS contracts for urgent and compelling requirements to 150 days. By contrast, the FAR set limitations on such contracts to a year.

“Louisiana is no stranger to natural disasters, and Louisianians depend on the local, state and federal government for help when the unthinkable happens,” Kennedy said. “Private businesses also work hand-in-hand with government partners to help Louisiana communities recover from natural disasters. Repealing an outdated portion of the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act that unnecessarily limits recovery efforts will allow the private sector and the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency to more effectively help our people for the long haul.”

Therefore, much of this bill is set on rebalancing inconsistent requirements. This would theoretically allow more consistency among government contracting and make the time schedules overall a more known factor.