COVID-19 Recovery

As the nation transitions into the COVID-19 Recovery phase, FEMA has approved a streamlined application process for emergency expense recovery.  FEMA recommends that recipients work through their FEMA regional point of contact for additional guidance on the process within their State.  Here are a few frequently questions regarding the process.

What is the difference between the streamlined process and the traditional process?

The three main changes are that applicants may apply directly to FEMA without relying on FEMA staff or recipient staff.  In most cases, agencies will not have a traditional exploratory call, recovery scoping meeting, or recovery transition meeting.  Secondly, the applicant will complete a streamlined application for all Category B work.  Finally, there is reduced documentation required for “small projects” and a streamlined environmental and historic preservation process to ensure that projects comply with related laws, regulations, and executive orders.

What is considered a “small project”?

A small project is less than the large project threshold of $131,100.

What are the eligible costs?

Per section 502 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207 (the “Stafford Act”), eligible emergency protective measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 emergency at the direction or guidance of public health officials may be reimbursed under Category B of FEMA’s Public Assistance program. FEMA will reimburse 75% of the expenses.  FEMA will not duplicate assistance provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or other federal agencies.  For a list of eligible expenses, here is a link to FEMA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Eligible Emergency Protective Measures Fact Sheet.

Can we use Time and Material (T & M) Contracts?

FEMA closely scrutinizes T&M contracts; however, there are circumstances where this type of contract is appropriate.  When entering into T&M contracts include language in the contract that specifies a ceiling price and limits the duration of the contract to a short period.  Transition to a service contract with an identified scope of work and cost estimate as soon as possible. 

How long must I maintain backup documentation?

Agencies must maintain ALL records for five (5) years once the grant is closed out.

What are the procurement requirements?

On March 17, 2020, FEMA issued a memorandum regarding procurement under grants conducted under emergency or exigency circumstances.  The memo concludes that “the President’s unprecedented Nationwide Emergency Declaration and the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) declaration of a Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 establish that exigent and emergency circumstances currently exist”.  FEMA approval is not required for the use of noncompetitive procurements (i.e., sole-source contracts or pre-existing contracts) under the emergency or exigency exception.  The non-state entity must still document its justification for using noncompetitive procurements and must still comply with other procurement requirements, and ensure that costs are reasonable.  When using a pre-existing contract, modify your contract with the vendor to ensure that all federal procurement requirements are included.

What dollar amount can we award purchases under the Micro-Purchase Procedures?

Currently $10,000. A non-state entity may use the micro-purchase procedures for the acquisition of supplies or services where the total dollar amount of the services or supplies does not exceed the micro-purchase threshold of $10,000. 

What is a small purchase procedure?

This relatively simple and informal method of procurement is allowed for purchases where the total dollar amount of the requirement does not exceed the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT). While the SAT is adjusted from time to time, it is currently $250,000.  Secure a minimum of three (3) quotes when using this procurement method.

Can we use any contractor we select?

In advance, confirm your contractor is safe to use by going to the System of Award Management website SAM.GOV to check if your anticipated contractor has been suspended or debarred. Any contractor that has been suspended or disbarred by a federal agency cannot receive a federal award or contract.   Maintain a copy of the results for your records.

Founded in 2009, BellTower Consulting Group has assisted nonprofit organizations and municipalities in securing grant funding for youth programs, social services, infrastructure, parks and recreation, arts programming and much more.


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