NASHVILLE, TENN.— Given the damage caused by major disasters, such as the recent Hurricanes Michael and Florence that pounded the southeastern US, disaster response contracting is much-needed and often high profile work for government contractors. However, contractors who clean up and rebuild after disasters need to be aware that certain conditions apply to landing and managing these contracts.
Womble Bond Dickinson attorney Nathaniel Greeson, the former Senior Procurement Litigation Attorney with FEMA/DHS, discussed this process at the ABA Section of Public Contract Law Fall Conference in Nashville, TN.
“Disaster money is getting bigger and bigger — more disasters are happening, with greater financial consequences across all levels of government and industry.… In the blink of an eye, we’re $50 billion deep into a disaster,” he said.
However, Greeson and other attorneys on the panel noted that unlike many other government contracts, disaster response work is sometimes awarded on an emergency basis. This can mean less screening on the front end, but more scrutiny on the back end. Contractors should keep detailed and accurate records of all work performed and costs incurred.
Greeson also noted that audits may not happen until years after the work is done.
Finally, while FEMA and other Federal Agencies may be involved in disaster relief, contractors often actually work for state or local government entities. That means contractors must be aware of the overlapping federal regulatory frameworks, as well as the relevant state and local laws and regulations governing their work.
Nathaniel Greeson represents clients on a range of government procurement issues including bid protests, claims and disputes, and audits and investigations. He also counsels government contractors on compliance issues, sub-contractor agreements and disputes, and contractor-to-agency interaction. Greeson, a former FEMA-DHS Procurement Counsel, brings years of federal government contract experience to the Womble Bond Dickinson team.