Key government agencies could soon be able to seek small contracts after a cyberattack or natural disaster, which could allow for a faster and easier response in an emergency.

Three federal organizations, including the Department of Defense, may be able to award contracts of $20,000 in the face of a cyberattack and categorize them as a “micro-purchase,” if a proposed rule is implemented, according to the Federal Register.

The change allows the federal government to more readily award contracts to the commercial marketplace and should speed up the agencies’ approval process, said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council, a trade association that advocates for government contractors.

“This is emergency procurement authority and not a substitute for normal procurement,” Chvotkin said. “Even with setting the micro-purchase threshold at $20,000, agencies are not going to get all the patches they need when applying the special authority to cybersecurity actions.”

The proposed rule amends the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. Along with the Defense Department, the General Services Administration and NASA have proposed the new regulation and are seeking formal comments.

The rule was already approved by the 2017 defense bill and the federal government is expected to implement the rule after feedback. When implemented in the federal acquisition regulation, the rule will not need reauthorization.

Justin Lynch is the Associate Editor at Fifth Domain. He has written for the New Yorker, the Associated Press, Foreign Policy, the Atlantic, and others. Follow him on Twitter @just1nlynch.

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