A multi-million dollar-FEMA contract for transportation and logistics services could provide revenues and create jobs for dozens of small businesses in Puerto Rico, at a time when the economy needs it most.
That’s the thinking of a small group of civic techies who rallied into action over the weekend in the hopes of persuading FEMA not to award one mega-contract to an off-island corporation when so many Puerto Rican small businesses are suffering.
FEMA so far has put out an RFI (request for information) as it researches a plan to contract out shipping, transportation, logistics and delivery of disaster aid in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. But the window for feedback is short, just eight days encompassing the holiday weekend. The RFIs are due at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Large companies have lawyers that regularly deal with RFIs and RFPs (request for proposals). But for small businesses, the government RFI is daunting at best -- if they even find out about it. So the 15 or so volunteers, many of whom have worked in government procurement, simplified the information sought with a simple Google form and put up a website, www.rebuildpr-rfi.org, over the weekend.
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Once a business submits the Google form, the team will take care of submitting it to FEMA in the proper format, said Vivian Graubard, who grew up in Weston but now works in Washington.
The goal now is to get the word out to small businesses in the transportation and logistics industry across the island to fill the form out Tuesday. “We are trying to send the message to FEMA that there is a lot of supply to do something like this,” said Graubard, who was part of the Obama Administration’s digital team.
“It could be a huge boost for job creation, for employment, at a time when Puerto Rico needs it most,” said Graubard, whose mother is of Puerto Rican decent.