By Alan P. Halbert
Of all the rumors flying around on the internet, one just refuses to die, and it concerns America’s FEMA camps.
In a nutshell, there seems to be a solicitation of bids occurring for the staffing of FEMA camps within 72 hours of implementation by an order from either Homeland Security or the president. This situation begs to be investigated, with special consideration paid to the motives of the present administration.
I went to the source, the FedBizOpps.gov, and searched for the solicitation number HSFEHQ-10-R-0027, titled National Responder Support Camp.
A search of the history of the amendments to this Solicitation for Contract showed that it had been modified several times, with the last modification — number 0008, with an original date of letting out to bid with a synopsis of May 13, 2011 — occurring on December 16, 2011. This last modification rescinded the solicitation, with said modification’s purpose noted as follows:
- Cancel Solicitation HSFEHQ-10-R-0027.
- A new draft solicitation will be issued on January 2012 for industry comment.
- A Pre-Solicitation Conference will be held approximately two week post draft solicitation.
Okay…score one for the internet and the vigilant citizens who perform an invaluable service to our nation by monitoring the actions of our government and its various agencies.
I began the laborious task of reading the Invitation to Bid — this tome is 116, pages with many canned and boilerplate requirements for doing business with Uncle Sam duly enshrined amongst the pages. The Task Order Request (TOPR) under Scenario I & II under Section J of the Appendix made for another 42 pages. The required size of the camps was fluid, though they had the required capacity of 301 to two thousand, including security and camp cadre.
The staffing requirements or cadre for FEMA personnel for these camps — which are identified as being located in five (5) distinct regions throughout and within the borders of the USA, with camps located in each and every state — was three to fifteen each. The size of these camps will vary around 5 acres per 1,000 inhabitants, though they will never be less than 3 acres for populations of 500 or fewer inhabitants within the camps’ boundaries.
This requirement also had a minimum square footage for each inhabitant: either the camp’s cadre and first responders of 63 square feet, or approximately 8 feet on each side. This is slightly less than current Federal Court(s) requirements for housing prisoners, which is approximately 72 square feet. Perimeter fencing or barricades is required to be six feet high, enclosing the camp, with all traffic in or out to be recorded on a daily log and with security restricting all traffic and access. The contractor shall also provide fencing and barricades around areas which are “off limits” to occupants. ID Badges are required and are either blue or red, depending on the carrier is temporary or considered an occupant of the camp.
The first of several anomalies in the solicitation for bid was in the contractor staffing requirements, which puzzlingly required staff to be fully operational within 72 hours. Furthermore, “[w]henever practical, displaced citizens will be given the first opportunities for employment within the camp, assuming skills and capabilities are pertinent for the open positions.”
This led me to question the stated purpose of these camps, considering that the successful contractor would need to have personnel ready to go on such short notice, with notification from FEMA, Homeland Security, or the president within 72 hours. So the question arises: how could the camp utilize “displaced citizens” in the initial staffing unless the contractor knew where and when a disaster, man-made or otherwise would occur beforehand?
Another anomaly was the requirement that the “off limits” area was to be enclosed before anything else:
The contractor shall also provide fencing and barricades around areas which are “off limits” to occupants. Fencing and barricades are required within 36 hours for “phased” setup timeframes, and 72 hours for the rest of the initial setup timeframe.
Next question: just what is this “off limits” area to be used for, since the bid proposal specified only two (2) classes of occupants of the camp — temporary or occupant as first responder? Furthermore, it indicates that there may be a camp within the camp, or an area that is to be utilized by another group that is not revealed in the bid solicitation…your guess is as good as mine. Most Americans would not like the ambiguity of this area’s function!
Another question arose on the Term of the Contract (F.3), which reads as follows:
The contract shall be effective as of the execution date of the base contract, and shall continue up to five years if all four one-year options are exercised, except that delivery orders placed prior to the expiration date shall remain in full force and effect until deliveries have been completed and payments, therefore, have been made. The final delivery order shall not exceed two years.
The nature of the duration seems to belie a long-term use for these camps, which is also not fitting the transitory nature of natural disasters, with most communities being habitable again after a relatively short period of time. We’re talking months, not years.
Under the Principal Place of Performance (F.4), this solicitation implies that all of the areas outlined below must be staffed:
The effort required under this contract shall be performed in the United States. Task Orders will designate the exact locations where services will be provided. The five (5) areas of coverage are broken down as follows:
- Area 1: Includes the states of CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, NH, NJ, PA, VT, NY, WV, VA, RI
- Area 2: Includes the states of KY, TN, MS, AL, GA, SC, NC, FL
- Area 3: Includes the states of CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, OH, SD, UT, WI, WY
- Area 4: Includes the states of AR, LA, NM, OK, TX
- Area 5: Includes the states of AZ, CA, ID, NV, OR, WA
The language is specific in that all requirements are performed in the United States. However, the language does not specify that it would be a phased approach or even a localized area that experiences a natural disaster — simply the entire nation.
In the Task Order Proposal Request, there is a specific requirement for large vehicle parking:
- Outsized Vehicle Parking within Security Area (> 2.5 ton vehicles): Estimate required space and add to acreage requirement.
- Outsized vehicle parking outside security area (> 2.5 ton vehicles): Estimate required space and add to acreage requirement.
- Mission Support Work Area(s): Minimum square footage, Accessibility
These requirements suggest that the type of vehicle(s) will be either solely high-occupancy (i.e., buses) or large trucks or heavy equipment combined with buses. The interesting point about this section is that the authors allude to a “Security Area” and an “Unsecured Area” with no specific requirements coming forth.
To sum up: the solicitation to bid for the staffing of FEMA camps within 72 hours is a curious proposition, since it appears to predict a calamity that will affect the entire nation simultaneously –completely unlike a location-specific natural disaster.
This may be nothing more than a preparedness exercise by Homeland Security to see if anyone besides the military would be able to meet these stringent requirements for rapid deployment. However, what I found most striking was the “off limits” areas within each camp and staffing with “displaced persons” and the “Mission Support Work Area(s),” all undefined. As citizens, we need to know the exact purpose of these camps, given President Obama’s propensity to bend our constitutional republic to his own purposes!