The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that it will convene a virtual meeting via teleconference and web conference on Thursday, May 21, 2020 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. to discuss the terms of a voluntary agreement with industry aimed at “maximizing the effectiveness of the distribution of critical medical resources nationwide to respond to pandemics in general, and COVID-19 specifically.” Comments to be considered at the meeting must be submitted by noon EST May 20, 2020. The meeting is open to the public and advance registration is recommended.
The Defense Production Act, 50 U.S.C. §(c)(1) (DPA), authorizes the president to make voluntary agreements and plans of action with representatives of industry and business to address circumstances posing a threat to its preparedness programs. This power and other powers under the DPA have been delegated by President Donald Trump to FEMA through executive orders, including the authority to restrict exports of personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID0-19 pandemic as discussed in a previous Thompson Hine client update.
What Is the Purpose of the Meeting?
FEMA’s announcement explains that “in light of the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 and subsequent response requirements,” and the likelihood of a “future pandemic, or resurgence of COVID-19,” FEMA will begin consultations with “manufacturers, suppliers and distributors” of PPE, pharmaceuticals, and other critical medical resources to develop a voluntary agreement under the DPA. The agreement will establish the terms, conditions, and procedures under which participants will agree voluntarily to contribute and facilitate medical resource production and distribution capacity as requested by FEMA and other federal government entities. The goal of the agreement is to maximize the effectiveness of the distribution of critical medical resources nationwide to respond to pandemics, and COVID-19 specifically, and establish a unified effort between participants and the federal government.
What Is the Meeting Agenda?
The meeting objectives are two-fold:
- To identify agreement participants. FEMA proposes to invite major manufacturers, suppliers, and distributers of critical health and medical resources to identify appropriate manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and any other stakeholders for inclusion in the voluntary agreement.
- To gather technical advice on the scope and substance of the draft agreement. FEMA proposes that voluntary agreement include: “technical advice; collective sharing of information; identification and validation of places and resources of the greatest need for medical resources; projection of future distribution demands; collective identification and resolution of allocation of scarce resources among all public and private domestic needs; sharing of vendor, manufacturer and distribution information; and inclusion of any other necessary collective actions to maximize the timely national distribution of health and medical resources necessary to respond to a pandemic.”
FEMA requests stakeholder evaluation of the objectives outlined above, and requests that stakeholders provide additional recommendations for objectives of the voluntary agreement. By Friday, May 22, 2020, FEMA will determine if a second meeting on May 27, 2020 is necessary.
How to Submit Written Comments?
FEMA encourages interested parties to make written submissions in advance of the meeting on May 21 and as a follow-up to one or both meetings consistent with the instructions for submitting comments below. Follow-up comments must be received by FEMA within three business days of the last meeting held.
Written comments for consideration at the meeting must be submitted and received by noon EST on May 20, 2020, identified by Docket ID FEMA-2020-0016, and submitted by one of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov; or
- Email: Defense Production Act Division, FEMA, FEMA-DPA@fema.dhs.gov.
For access to the docket to read comments received by FEMA, go to http://www.regulations.gov, and search for Docket ID FEMA-2020-0016. Comments received will appear unaltered and with personal information included.
How to Register for the Meeting?
It is recommended that attendees register with FEMA by noon on May 20, 2020, by providing their name, telephone number, email address, title, and organization to Harold Lucie, Joint DPA Office, Federal Emergency Management Agency, 500 C Street SW, Washington, DC 20472-3184, telephone (202) 212-2900 and email FEMA-DPA@fema.dhs.gov.