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Senate Bill Seeks to Rescind Obsolete Contracting Requirements to Improve Disaster Response

The Senate passed a bill that would repeal a provision in a 2006 law that directed the Department of Homeland Security to preclude the use of subcontracts for over 65 percent of the cost of certain contracts covering emergency response and recovery work.

Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the Repeal of Obsolete DHS Contracting Requirements Act, which seeks to strengthen the federal government’s disaster response efforts by providing greater clarity to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and contractors on subcontracting requirements.

According to the Senate panel, the provision in the Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act of 2006 conflicts with a section of the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act that sought to address excessive subcontracting by imposing a governmentwide limitation.

The proposed measure “removes conflicting subcontracting requirements that caused confusion for FEMA officials and contractors, and weakened disaster response efforts for communities recovering from floods, hurricanes, wildfires, and extreme storms,” said Peters.

“Now that it has passed the Senate, I urge my colleagues in the House to quickly pass this bipartisan bill so that federal official and contractors receive consistent guidance on subcontracting requirements when responding to worsening natural disasters,” he added.

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