As President Trump threatens to declare a national emergency, the government shutdown has caused FEMA to suspend emergency services provided via its many private contractors, TYT has learned.
In late December, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an official notice to hundreds of FEMA contractors instructing them to stop working.
“A full year appropriation or a continuing resolution has not been enacted for the current fiscal year. As a result, certain existing contracts will be stopped,” the notice states.
Public disclosures are limited about the work being stopped, but numerous contracts appear to relate to emergency services and preparedness. As TYT has reported, FEMA has called for leaning more heavily on private contractors.
It remains unclear exactly how the work stoppages may affect preparedness and response in the event of a natural disaster during the shutdown. Some examples, however, have already come to light.
On Wednesday, Stuart Leavenworth of McClatchy reported that the shutdown has halted some measures critical to fighting wildfires, including the training of firefighters. The same day, President Trump tweeted that he had “ordered FEMA to send no more money” to California for fighting forest fires he claimed would never happen “with proper Forest Management.”
The contracts reviewed by TYT reveal that additional emergency services have also been suspended, from support for management of hazardous materials to meals for government employees deployed to Puerto Rico.
For example, 17 separate contracts for a firm called Innovative Emergency Management Inc. were suspended. The contracts were intended to “provide services in support of FEMA’s Region III All Hazards Plan,” according to USAspending.gov, a government budget transparency site. The site identifies Innovative Emergency Management’s contracts as having been awarded by FEMA’s Incident Support Section.
Another firm, Global Emergency Response Inc., was awarded its contract via FEMA’s Preparedness Section. The contract was to provide a “patient tracking system.”
Agile Homeland Security Group, LLC , was to “provide assistance in such areas as the control of environmental contamination from pollutants, toxic substances, and hazardous materials.”
Another suspended contract, with the firm SOPAKCO, Inc., was to provide 43,200 food rations for Customs and Border Protection staff deployed to Puerto Rico. CBP sent crews to Puerto Rico to assist with the recovery effort following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.
The suspended contracts do not solely involve emergency response or safety training. For instance, over 40 separate contracts awarded by FEMA to the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services (ADRS) were suspended. ADRS provides assistance to children and adults with disabilities.
On Wednesday, President Trump reportedly stormed out of a meeting with Democrats after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not fund a border wall. The president has said he is willing to keep the shutdown going for “months or even years.”
There is little precedent to gauge the possible impact on national disaster preparedness and response if the shutdown goes much longer. By January 12, it will become the longest shutdown of the federal government in U.S. history.