Frank Konkel | Nextgov | September 1, 2017 | 0 Comments

GSA Issues Harvey-Related Emergency Buying Power

Donated items sit in a loading dock are as volunteers works to organize the items donated for Hurricane Harvey victims, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017, in Dallas, Texas. Tony Gutierrez/AP

The General Services Administration has upped special emergency procurement authority thresholds in response to the devastation brought by Hurricane Harvey.

The elevated thresholds, raised through a Senior Procurement Executive memo signed this week, will allow contracting officers and heads of contracting activities to more easily purchase resources they need to provide relief efforts.

The memo allows for micro-purchases of up from $3,000 to $20,000. The memo also increases the simplified acquisition threshold to $750,000, or up to $13 million for commercial items, and increases the simplified lease acquisition to $750,000.

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The memo also directs contracting officers to give preference to “local firms in the disaster area,” which is most easily done through local area set-asides. In addition, it calls on contracting officers to “limit competition when needed.”

The memo states the threshold increases will remain in effect until Dec. 31.

This move is in addition to other agencies loosening rules for emergency response. The Office of Personnel Management on Aug. 27 alerted agencies of fast-track hiring options available to them as they respond to Hurricane Harvey. Agencies can make emergency 30-day appointments to fulfill critical hiring needs and can bring in various personnel, from medical officers to IT specialists, under direct hiring authorities.

Concerned federal employees are also able to contribute donations “outside the normal Combined Federal Campaign,” according to OPM. Donations must provide “immediate relief” to Harvey and must both meet criteria outlined by OPM and be approved by the head of an executive department or agency.

OPM on Friday also announced federal employees can transfer unused annual leave to their fellow feds directly affected or have family affected by the storm. Other public employee groups are also organizing their own recovery efforts.