FEMA Must Strengthen Its Responsibility Determination Process
Specifically, in reviewing 16 contract files, we found files that did not have relevant Federal tax information, were missing information on the contractor’s past performance evaluations, and contained incomplete and inconsistent documentation. We attribute these deficiencies to FEMA not providing guidance on procedures for implementing Federal regulations to contracting personnel, and the Department of Homeland Security removing guidance from its acquisition manual that is used by component personnel. As a result of inadequate guidance, FEMA personnel awarded contracts without making fully informed determinations as to whether prospective contractors could meet contract demands. If contractors cannot meet demands, FEMA may have to cancel contracts it has awarded, which has happened in the past and continues. In fact, between March and May 2020, FEMA awarded and canceled at least 22 contracts, valued at $184 million, for crucial supplies in response to the national COVID-19 pandemic. By awarding contracts without ensuring prospective contractors can meet contract demands, FEMA will continue wasting taxpayer dollars and future critical disaster and pandemic assistance will continue to be delayed. We made one recommendation that, when implemented, should help strengthen FEMA’s responsibility determination process. The Department concurred with our recommendation.