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September 22, 2011

FEMA Contracting Practices Still Need Work

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement in response to a Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's contracting processes. The report, entitled "FEMA's Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR) Program" (OIG-11-106), found that endemic and longstanding problems exist in the COTR program. The COTR program is designed to monitor FEMA contract performance and report deficiencies to the contracting officer. The OIG found that FEMA's training fails to prepare COTRs to perform their jobs.

"This is unfortunately another example of a systemic problem affecting contracting at FEMA. FEMA needs to employ an on-the-job training plan for the full COTR program. With FEMA and DHS facing tight budgets for years to come, the American people need its disaster response and rebuilding capabilities to be as efficient and capable as possible. Effective performance without effective training is unlikely. FEMA's resistance to the OIG recommendation for a training program defies comprehension."

The OIG also found:

  • Each COTR is selected and evaluated by the program office but reports to the FEMA contracting office. This arrangement creates mixed loyalties and potential conflicts of interest.
  • COTRs may be influenced to meet the program office's needs and make contracting decisions that are unwise and contrary to the government's interest.
  • The COTR program fails to provide hands-on training and mentorship.
  • Contract files and performance records are not adequately maintained.
  • There is no system in place to surge the program in the event of a disaster.
  • Task monitors, who monitor contractors on-site, also lack proper training.

Link to Report (OIG-11-106)

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Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978