WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan bill backed by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D- MI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to save taxpayer dollars by requiring the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure more effective use and management of its advance contracts for goods and services is headed to the President’s desk to be signed into law. The bill gives states and local governments flexibility to coordinate with FEMA and allow them to secure contracts for recovery efforts before a disaster strikes. Having advance contracts for debris removal and other disaster response efforts not only saves taxpayer dollars, it also allows communities to move quickly following a disaster and get on the road to recovery as soon as possible.
“Planning ahead to respond to natural disasters can help streamline recovery efforts and save taxpayers in Michigan and across the country millions of dollars in the long run,” said Senator Peters. “I was proud to work with my colleagues on these bipartisan and commonsense reforms to help communities be better prepared to respond when disaster strikes and ensure they can quickly access the resources they need for a speedy recovery.”
The Federal Advance Contracts Enhancement (FACE) Act will require FEMA to ensure more effective use and management of its advance contracts process by incorporating the U.S. Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) recommendations from its report titled,“2017 Disaster Contracting: Actions Needed to Better Ensure More Effective Use and Management of Advance Contracts.” These recommendations will ensure that federal preparedness actions are coordinated to prevent gaps in recovery efforts from occurring. The bill also requires FEMA to regularly update the appropriate committees of Congress on the progress of the agency’s implementation of these recommendations.
Following Hurricane Katrina, Congress required FEMA to establish advance contracts for goods and services to enable the federal government to quickly mobilize resources to affected areas in the aftermath of a disaster. The 2017 disaster season was historically destructive, and FEMA was forced to rely heavily on advance contracts in its response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as the 2017 California wildfires. GAO was asked to review the federal government’s response to the 2017 hurricanes and California wildfires and assess a number of issues. In its report, GAO found a number of issues with FEMA’s handling of advance contracts and made nine recommendations. FEMA concurred with all nine of GAO’s recommendations.
As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has led several efforts to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent effectively and efficiently. A law written by Peters, the MEGAByte Act, has saved taxpayers more than $450 million since 2016. Peters bipartisan bill to save taxpayer dollars by updating policies to help federal agencies adopt electric vehicles, which are more energy efficient than traditional gas-powered vehicles was also signed into law earlier this year. Peters also spearheaded the creation of the PRAC, group of agency watchdogs established as a part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, to oversee the federal government’s response to the ongoing pandemic and root out fraud, waste, and abuse in related stimulus spending.