5 Things You Need to Know Before Working with FEMA


Wherever there’s a disaster in the United States or its territories, FEMA is there to help. Where FEMA shows up to help, they will need contractors. If you’re working as a federal contractor or if you’re looking to get into the federal marketplace, there are several key factors you need to know about FEMA contracting in FY 2019.

In this quick, easy-to-read list, we’re going to break down the five key factors that every government contractor needs to know about working with FEMA.

Here, you will learn:

  • Key FEMA contracting strategies.
  • The best practices to grow your business through FEMA contracting.
  • Things you need to absolutely avoid when trying to find work with FEMA.

5. Getting Your Foot in the Door

On average, it takes a business between 12 and 18 months to win its first federal contract. However, going after FEMA contracts might actually get you there sooner. Why?


It’s an emergency situation. Everyone knows that in federal contracting, there is a huge amount of procedures and steps before Uncle Sam picks a winner. During a disaster scenario, the government needs all the help they can get and in a timely manner. With FEMA contracts, they are more concerned about getting the job done than finding the absolute top candidate.

Plus, these contracts tend to pay top dollar as well. So if you’ve got the right capabilities for the job and you’re looking to land your first federal contract, FEMA just might be what gets your foot it the door.

4. Wait Before Helping Out…Maybe

Volunteering is probably the greatest of all civic virtues. Nothing leaves you feeling more warm and fuzzy on the inside than giving your time and effort to those in need for nothing in return. If you’re one of those contractors who is always chasing storms left and right, you might be itching to get right to work at a disaster site.


Although tempting, you’re going to want to hold off until you’ve got a confirmed contract in hand. Otherwise, you might be doing work for free. Again, volunteering is a great virtue, however you don’t want to run your business under because, as we all know, tools, supplies, personnel, and fuel all cost money.

Now comes the maybe.

When you’re in a disaster zone, there will be plenty of other contractors there as well. Using your team to help out people here and there might actually prove to be a great networking experience for your business. Just make sure that you don’t stretch yourself thin. FEMA has a plan on how to handle the situation and there are other contractors there helping out. If you’re new to the sector, showing up and doing just a bit of volunteering can help you build valuable connections.

3. HUBZone Qualified Disaster Areas

Normally, we think of HUBZones as designated census tracts in both rural and urban areas. They can also be found on some Indian reservations as well as base closure areas. What you may not know is that…a disaster area can be come a HUBZone.

Crazy, right?

Uncle Sam calls them “Qualified Disaster Areas.” They make up either census tracts or nonmetropolitan counties where a presidentially declared major disaster has occurred. The area will remain a HUBZone for another five years after the disaster. For catastrophic incidents, this gets bumped to 10 years after the disaster.


So, if your principal office is located in an area that faced a major natural disaster…look up if you can apply for a HUBZone status! Besides being a small business set-aside, what most people don’t know that being HUBZone certified also grants you a 10 percent price evaluation preference.

What does that exactly mean?

Let’s say you were going head to head on a bid for a federal contract. The agency soliciting the goods or services intends to award the lowest bidder. The price evaluation preference would allow you to bid at least 10 percent higher than the actual lowest bidder, but you will still be considered as the lowest bidder.

Pretty neat, right?

2. Give Your Capabilities an HONEST Assessment

Not following this piece of advice could cost you your reputation, your business, and quite possibly, people’s lives.

This may sound very dramatic, however, you need to know that you’re dealing with an emergency situation. Just browsing through news, you can find numerous headlines of FEMA contractors biting off more than they can chew and ultimately failing disaster victims.


There’s the famous case of the one-person business being tasked with delivering 30 million meals to Puerto Rico after Maria…and only providing 50,000. If you have any doubt that you would be able to provide supplies that people need to SURVIVE…then DON’T even bid on these contracts.


Besides putting people’s lives at risk, you will also very likely, lose your business. It’s these kinds of mess ups that get all over the news and after that, you can pretty much forget about your aspirations in the federal marketplace.

Give your business an honest evaluation of what you can and cannot accomplish. What’s the worst that can happen when you’re sitting on the sidelines? You wait around until the right opportunity pops up and eventually, you’ll work your way up to the bigger opportunities.

1. If it’s in the news, and you’re not registered in SAM…you’re too late.

To get into FEMA contracting (or just any federal contracting) you need to be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM). There’s absolutely no way around it.

Many businesses see disasters as a type of gold rush. They find out some hurricane is on its way, they want in on the relief money, and then they’re rushing to get registered in SAM.


You know what the best time to get registered in SAM was?

WAAAAAAY before hurricane season even started. This also applies to other disaster seasons such as wildfire season.

Basically, if you’re watching it on TV and you’re not registered, don’t even bother. However, if you do find yourself in this situation, do you know what’s the next best thing?

Getting registered right now! That way, when the next disaster strike (which one will), you’ll be ready to go.

Want to get your SAM registration out of the way and fast?

Hire an expert to take care of it!

US Federal Contractor Registration is the world’s most trusted third-party government registration firm. Since 2010, we’ve been helping business owners square away all of their government certifications and registrations so they can focus on what they do best.

Registration through USFCR comes with:

  • Case Manager support.
  • Easy-to-use bid and search technology.
  • A $1 million dollar insurance policy.
  • Access to an exclusive network of over 100,000 vendors.
  • Live weekly webinars featuring Q&A sessions with federal contracting experts.

Start registering with us today with the link below, and get in the fast lane toward FEMA contracting.


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