Construction Industry Force Account Council

Promoting Transparency Through Public Agency Compliance

Five Things You Need To Know About Emergency Declarations

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Over the past several months, California has received a lot of rain. In many areas of the state, the record rainfall and snow pack totals are enough to lift them out of drought status.

At the same time, many areas in Northern California also saw a slew of emergency declarations pass by county and city governments in regards to damage caused by storms over the course of several weeks. One of the most notable emergency declarations to pass was the one at Oroville Dam, which led to the evacuation of people in three different counties, as officials feared a catastrophic failure of the emergency spillway.

Fortunately, California has survived this tumultuous storm season. Now that spring is officially upon us, many of the emergency declaration projects are underway. Here are five things you need to know about Pubic Contract Code Section 22050, Emergency Contracting Procedures:

  1. In the case of an emergency, a public agency may repair or replace a public facility, take any directly related and immediate action required by the emergency, and procure the necessary equipment, services, and supplies for those purposes, without giving notice for bids as long as the declaration is passed by a four-fifths vote of the governing body.
  2. Before a governing body declares an emergency, they have to explain their findings based on substantial evidence that the situation will not allow the agency to competitively bid the project, and that the action is necessary to respond to the emergency.
  3. The governing body can also appoint an official, such as a chief administrative officer, city manager, public works director, etc., to declare emergencies so long as the governing body has passed an ordinance giving the person the power to do so.
  4. Should the official declare the emergency, they have to bring the evidence to the governing board at its next meeting on why the project constitutes an emergency. The governing board also has to take action to pass the declaration by a four-fifths vote.
  5. If the governing body, or the person with authority, orders any action on the emergency project, the governing body has to review the emergency action at its next regularly scheduled meeting and at every regularly scheduled meeting thereafter, to continue the action or to terminate the declaration.

Occasionally, agencies try to sneak in additional work that has nothing to do with the actual emergency in order to avoid competitively bidding the work per the Pubic Contract Code. Should you ever have a question about emergency declarations, or a concern about a specific emergency declaration, please contact the CIFAC compliance manager in your area.

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