March 17, 2020

Coronavirus Emergency Declaration - Practical Advice for Government Contractors

Holland & Knight Government Contracts Blog
Hillary J. Freund | Gordon Griffin
Government Contracts Blog

On Friday, March 13, 2020, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This declaration has two practical impacts for government contractors:

  • A declaration under the Stafford Act puts the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in charge of coordinating all COVID-19 response efforts.
  • State and local governments can request a 75 percent cost-share for expenses related to emergency relief efforts, including food, medical supplies and any additional emergency assistance supplies and services.

The availability of additional federal funding means that state and local governments will likely seek additional services and supplies in support of emergency relief efforts. Contractors should consider taking proactive steps to ensure they are positioned to provide much-needed emergency assistance through these new state and local opportunities.

This is not an exhaustive list, but below are a few ways contractors can stay ahead of the curve.

Monitor Federal, State and Local Government Procurement Portals

In addition to the federal procurement portal, contractors should be aware of emergency contracting opportunities published through state and local government procurement portals, including the following:

Given the urgency of the current situation, contractors should be aware that response times to solicitations could be shorter than is customary.

Ensure your Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) information is updated

State and local governments are allowed to use the General Services Administration's (GSA) FSS when procuring goods or services. In the event state or local governments opt to use GSA's FSS contracts to procure emergency response goods or services, contractors should ensure their product lists and prices are up to date for each of their FSS contracts. Inaccurate or unavailable products may result in delays, which may be unacceptable under normal circumstances and even more so in this emergency situation.

Participate in the Disaster Response Registry

Contractors may want to consider participation in the Disaster Response Registry, a tool that federal, state and local governments can use to determine the availability of contractors for disaster or emergency relief activities. The registry allows entities to be searched based on geographic area as well as the products and services provided, making it easier for federal, state and local procurement officials to locate companies capable of providing necessary resources. Furthermore, the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) require contracting officers to consult the Disaster Response Registry to determine the availability of contractors for emergency relief efforts. (See FAR 26.205.) Under FAR Part 18, Emergency Acquisitions, federal agencies can limit the number of sources, and full and open competition need not be provided for contracting actions involving urgent requirements. (See FAR 18.103 and 6.302-2.) These same emergency flexibilities might also be provided at the state level, and being on the registries allow companies greater visibility for those contracting opportunities. In order to become a part of the registry, entities must be fully registered in the System for Award Management (SAM), which can take several weeks.


Contractors who seek out state and local opportunities are more likely to have a positive impact in responding to COVID-19. As more federal and state funds become available and coronavirus response needs become more defined, the measures listed above may help connect contractors with the federal, state and local customers who need them the most.

For more information, please reach out to Hillary Freund or Gordon Griffin. Hillary formerly served as agency counsel at FEMA, where she advised and represented FEMA in a wide spectrum of procurement issues. Gordon is a partner in Holland & Knight's Government Contracts group and formerly served in the U.S. Department of Defense.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the situation surrounding COVID-19 is evolving and that the subject matter discussed in these publications may change on a daily basis. Please contact the author or your responsible Holland & Knight lawyer for timely advice.

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