OFPP developing emergency contracting database

WILLIAMSBURG, Va.'The Office of Federal Procurement Policy is heading up the development of a database for emergency response contracting.

Robert Burton, acting OFPP administrator today said the Homeland Security Department and the General Services Administration are collecting information on contracts already in place that agencies could tap to buy products and services from in emergency situations.

The need for the database is part of the lessons learned from the government's problems with hurricanes Katrina and Rita last summer, Burton said at the 45th annual Interagency Resources Management Conference.

'We had people who put contracts in place because they didn't know what was available,' he said. 'We also will have an online list of federal experts who can respond during emergency situations.'

Burton said he is not sure when the database will be populated, but said it is one of the highest priorities for the working group. With hurricane season starting June 1, he said the working group understands the need to get something online sooner than later.

Burton said another thing OFPP is doing based on the lessons the government learned from the hurricane problems is to put all emergency contracting flexibilities in the Federal Acquisition Regulations in one place. He said the FAR Council has initiated a case to put all the regulations under FAR Part 18.

'We found out we do not need new laws, but we need better management,' Burton said. 'We need to improve training and I would hope we could pull this out and use this to assist in training.'

Along with contingency contracting, Burton said OFPP gave agencies extra time to provide data on their governmentwide acquisition contracts and how they use them in general. OFPP asked agencies in February to provide them with information about their use of GWACs by the end of March, but Burton said only 12 were able to provide sufficient data.

'We expect more agencies to provide us, but not all,' he said. 'We want good data, not for them to beat the clock. We are asking for a lot of information so it is not easy to provide.'

Burton said OFPP hopes to have a good idea of the state of interagency contracting by the fall.

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