EPA sets plans for emergency services buys

An agency's ability to respond to a crisis can depend on the speed and flexibility of its contracting mechanisms, an Environmental Protection Agency official said today at FOSE 2004 in Washington.

"We want to get deeper in our ability to respond to a nationally significant event," said Raoul Scott, a team leader in the EPA Office of Acquisition Management's Emergency Response Service Center.

Scott said the anthrax attacks on congressional offices in October 2001 meant round-the-clock duty for teams from the EPA?through weekends and holidays as well. Likewise, the agency's response to the Columbia shuttle disaster last year also taxed agency resources.

EPA's goal is to have the capacity to respond simultaneously to five major crises, something it does not have now. A key to that capacity, he said, is creating secondary blanket purchasing agreements?often with small or minority businesses or niche vendors?that would let the agency buy services quickly in an emergency.

EPA already has such agreements for hardware, Scott said. As with those agreements, the BPAs for services would have prenegotiated prices and would be renewed periodically. They could cover anything from site assessments to manual labor at a disaster site to IT services in setting up temporary command posts, he said.

The agency is looking for input from vendors on creating the procurement mechanism, Scott said. But in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and subsequent crises, he said, "we need to expand our industrial base."

Kevin McCaney writes for Government Computer News magazine.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.

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