The General Service Administration’s (GSA) Disaster/Recovery Purchasing Program permits state and local governments to purchase goods and services from all GSA Schedules for emergency preparedness or disaster recovery. The goal of this program is to allow state and local governments the ability to prepare and respond to a major weather event, terrorism, or nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological attack, in a way that is expedient as well as financially responsible.

About The Disaster/Recovery Purchasing Program

Since 2007, the Disaster Purchasing Program has allowed state, local and tribal governments to purchase from all GSA Schedules. These entities, like their federal counterparts, can utilize GSAAdvantage!, GSA eBuy and the GSA Reverse Auctions platform under Disaster Purchasing. The majority of GSA Contractors opt to participate in the Disaster Recovery Program.

The program features include:

  • Collective and discounted buying power of the Federal government
  • Negotiated fair and reasonable pricing
  • Direct contractor and customer relationship
  • Voluntary for both GSA contractor and state and local customer
  • Ability to find interoperable products to meet Homeland Security needs
  • Best value (warranty, expedited delivery, commercial terms and conditions)
  • Ability to establish strategic Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs)

Many of the small details of the Disaster/Recovery Program can be found on the GSA Disaster Purchasing FAQ page.

History of the Disaster/Recovery Purchasing Program

Disaster Purchasing was born from Section 833 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2007, Public Law 109-364 entitled: “Use of Federal supply schedules by State and Local governments for goods and services for recovery from natural disasters, terrorism, or nuclear, biological, chemical, or radiological attack.” This legislation offered similar opportunities to State and Local governments that FEMA had been granted access to in 1974 through Richard Nixon’s original Disaster Relief Act, later amended and expanded by the Stafford Act in 1988.

Through the Federal Supply Schedules Usage Act of 2010, the term “preparedness” was first inserted, allowing state and local governments the ability to purchase from any GSA Schedule as long as the nature of the acquisition was in the spirit of emergency preparation. Additionally, the American National Red Cross and other qualified organizations were granted access to purchase from GSA Schedules in this capacity.

Goods and Services Available under Disaster/Recovery Purchasing

Even though all GSA Schedules are eligible to purchase from, there are some that make up the bulk of the purchases, as they are easy to justify as a disaster purchase.

  • Schedule 84 has many subcategories such as: Emergency preparedness and first responder equipment (+ training and services), security products, marine craft, radiation detection equipment, flood control equipment, medical/rescue kits, bomb detection equipment, and many more.
  • Schedule 70 offers software and hardware, as well as communications equipment and services.
  • Schedule 23V offers vehicles that would be required to respond to an emergency.
  • Schedule 56 offers pumps, generators, and other equipment to assist responders on the ground.
  • Schedule 899 offers environmental services to both respond to and remediate the emergency areas.
  • Schedule 73 offers a subcategory for emergency food service support

Almost all GSA Schedules could conceivably be used for Disaster Preparedness or Response in some way.

Who Can Participate in Disaster/Recovery Purchasing?

All GSA Contract holders may participate in the Disaster Recovery Program. Most vendors choose to participate, but some opt-out because they do not know the strength of disaster purchasing in the state and local markets. To give you an idea of how widely accepted disaster purchasing is: Of the 1013 contractors listed under Schedule 70 SIN 132-8, 863 have chosen to participate (85% total)

From the purchasing side, the General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM), Part 538.7001, Definitions, offers the following definition of state and local government entities:

“The States of the United States, counties, municipalities, cities, towns, townships, tribal governments, public authorities (including public or Indian housing agencies under the United States Housing Act of 1937), school districts, colleges, and other institutions of higher education, council of governments incorporated or not), regional or interstate government entities, or any agency or instrumentality of the preceding entities (including any local educational agency or institution of higher education), and including legislative and judicial departments. The term does not include contractors, or grantees, of state or local governments.”

There are many benefits for state and local governments through the Disaster Purchasing Program, and it is widely accepted and utilized by this community when a disaster strikes.

Disaster/Recovery Purchasing Annual Spending Data

Each GSA Schedule subcategory (called a SIN) that has specific disaster/recovery implications will have a counterpart SIN ending in “-RC.” This makes data gathering and analysis of the annual sales relatively easy. Note that these figures are for all buyers including federal, state and local governments.

Fiscal Year GSA Recovery Spending Declared Disasters (#)
2010 $90,113,536 108
2011 $55,101,893 242
2012 $46,183,750 112
2013 $67,349,495 95
2014 $94,671,681 84

The economic downturn had a large impact on GSA Disaster/Recovery spending, nearly cutting it in half from 2010 to 2012. The uptick in the economy, along with a presumed restocking of preparedness supplies, has brought the spending figures back up in 2014. Naturally, the number of Disaster Declarations fluctuates year-by-year, which affects the GSA Recovery Sales figures as well. However, from 2012 to 2014 the number of declared disasters has dropped, while spending has risen. This forecasts a higher level of adoption among agencies as well as a greater focus on preparedness.

The Future of Disaster/Recovery Purchasing

Although Disaster preparation and recovery has been a topic of legislation for over 40 years, the practice of these rules and protocols is just starting to mature. Adoption of the GSA’s Disaster/Recovery Program has a bright future. As more state and local governments align their spending with the GSA’s program, we will see growth in sales for Government Contractors with GSA Contracts. Federal Agencies are also in the process of better evaluating and implementing their disaster/recovery spending efforts within this program.

As a result of the Federal government streamlining the process of disaster/recovery spending, we will see some great benefits, both to the taxpayer and victims of natural and man-made disasters. Simplified contracting methods will cut the red tape and allow vital goods and services be delivered quickly where they are needed. Public safety, technology and emergency services vendors will continue to innovate their offerings as the disaster/recovery industry grows, and logistics during emergency situations will see continued innovation as well.