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Published September 08, 2017
A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Andrea Lewis, Wyoming Entrepreneur Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) procurement specialist
“I want to offer my services to FEMA when a national disaster strikes, such as when Hurricane Irma hits the mainland. How do I get started?” Stanley, Chugwater
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in responding to national disasters, has to react quickly to be effective. To respond at a moment’s notice, the agency keeps a list of vendor profiles that can be searched as needed for supplies and services that can help support FEMA’s mission.
Be warned, however, that during a natural disaster, such as recent Hurricane Matthew, companies offer their services to get your company on a “priority vendor list” for FEMA at a substantial fee ($195-$1,200).
FEMA does not have a “priority vendor list.” Its website states: “Submission of the vendor profile form does not place you on a preferred list of vendors to be considered for procurements. FEMA does not maintain such a list. The form is used to assist in secondary market research and is voluntary.”
The website goes on to state: “FEMA does not charge any company a basic registration fee. There are companies that replicate services of federal government entities, and there are typically fees associated with their services. Most federal government services, if not all, are free of charge. Always make it a practice to reach out to the appropriate federal agency first to inquire about the validity of the service, specifically if a fee is associated with it.”
To work with FEMA, your company must have an active registration in the System for Award Management (SAM) at www.sam.gov. This must be completed before sending your company information to FEMA. Vendors can voluntarily provide information about the kinds of services they would like to offer, using this website form (FEMA vendor profile form) and emailing it to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
FEMA’s goal is to seek local companies within the disaster area for goods and services related to a specific disaster, when practical and feasible. FEMA only works within requests and concurrences from local governments, or reaches out to municipal and county governments, as well as state procurement offices. These offices often control much of the work that is done. If debris removal contracts are already in place for routine incidents, such as wind or ice storms, those contracts probably will be used for major disasters first.
Make sure your company has an up-to-date website that clearly describes the goods and services you offer. Also, check your SAM and DSBS (Dynamic Small Business Search) profiles to ensure that your status is “active,” the contact information is current and your list of capabilities is complete.
Establish contracting relationships with the appropriate national or state offices ahead of disasters, because buyers often turn to the contractors they know first.
For more information, call the Wyoming SBDC Network PTAC office at (307) 772-7372, or email Lewis at email@example.com.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at www.wyomingsbdc.org/blog1/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.