As recently reported by Elise Castelli in the Federal Times, “The long slog to rebuild the Gulf Coast devastated by Hurricane Katrina might be gaining some speed.”  A new order signed by GSA Administrator Lurita Doan will make it simpler and faster for the U.S. General Services Administration to award millions of dollars in recovery contracts to local small business in the Gulf Region supporting Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.  Contracts for debris clearance, supply distribution, reconstruction, and other disaster relief will be set aside for local businesses under the order.  “The order gives blanket justification for the set-aside awards, which will limit competition to local firms.”

“Local small businesses are the backbone of every community,” said Administrator Doan. “Revitalizing the small businesses is one of the most significant ways we can aid in the recovery of the Gulf Coast region.”

Over the past year, Administrator Doan has met with GSA contracting officers, small business owners, and local officials in the region. Each group has asked for help in streamlining the process to get recovery work awarded to local firms. The new GSA Order, ADM 2851.5, does just that, promoting maximum participation of local small businesses in the impacted area for acquisitions supporting Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts.

Additionally, GSA has taken a number of other steps to help small businesses along the Gulf Coast, including the following:

— Conducted over 9 small business partnering events to connect local businesses with subcontracting opportunities.

— Awarded over $29 million to local businesses for renovation of the U.S. Customs House in New Orleans.

— Planned a series of monthly meetings throughout the region to enroll local small businesses in the HubZone and GSA Schedules program.

After Hurricane Katrina, the President declared the Gulf Coast a Major Disaster area under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. This allows GSA’s contracting officers to give a preference to local firms in the affected area. Instead of writing separate justifications, GSA Order ADM 2851.5 provides a blanket justification for all local preference awards under the authority of the Stafford Act.  The Order will remain in effect until the Presidential declaration of a Major Disaster is lifted.