Dealing with Disaster: Job Order Contracting for Emergency Response Projects

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Disaster can strike out of nowhere. Tornadoes touch down with little warning. Earthquakes do not announce themselves before they rumble underfoot. Days of pounding, persistent rain create overwhelming floods. These emergencies are only weather events—large vehicle crashes and other man-made crises can happen in a split-second. To make matters worse, a delayed or deferred response to a disaster could cause further facility or infrastructure damages, making remediation more difficult and possibly more expensive.

No matter the nature of the disaster, if a facility or infrastructure is harmed, local governments must react quickly to repair the damage. An expedited response, however, often comes with premium pricing. One solution to this challenge is job order contracting (JOC).

Construction Procurement with JOC

Traditionally, JOC has been implemented for planned maintenance, repair, renovation and demolition work. Recently, however, counties, states and other government agencies have turned to JOC as a way to respond to emergency situations quickly without incurring a hefty price tag. JOC enables qualified, readily-available contractors to get started quickly in a crisis.

Here’s how construction is procured with JOC. Contractors bid a multiplier to be applied to a catalog of tasks with preset unit prices developed using local labor, material and equipment costs. Job order contracts are generally awarded to the lowest responsive, responsible bidder, and once the contract is awarded, the contractor can perform a variety of projects. The contractor is paid the preset unit price times the quantity ordered times the competitively bid multiplier.

Having agreed-upon prices for construction eliminates the need for negotiating in an emergency when every second counts—the price is what the price is and all stakeholders know it. This transparency not only speeds up the procurement process, but also fosters collaboration between contractors and project owners. That’s why JOC is an effective means of emergency response procurement.

Case Study In Brief: Elkhorn Road Repair

Located in Monterey County, California, Elkhorn Road underwent a relentless series of winter storms. The constant barrage undermined a major section of the road, creating a significant sinkhole. This left the road essentially washing down a hill. Elkhorn Road was barely operable; the only people allowed to drive on the broken street were the ones that lived directly off the road.

Looking for a cost-effective and rapid resolution, Monterey County used Gordian’s Job Order Contracting solution to mobilize contractors. All relevant parties had a voice in the early stages of the planning phase, allowing subsequent work to flow smoothly and exceed expectations.

Construction took only 16 weeks, less time than it may have taken to find a contractor using traditional construction procurement. Not only was the road cleared of debris, rebuilt and repaved in this limited timeframe, but the hillside itself was rebuilt to support the road profile. This included a complete rebuilding of one stretch of Elkhorn to address water run-off so the ground would not continue to erode, further undermining the road’s foundation. When traffic was permitted to resume on Elkhorn Road, drivers commuted on a stronger, more stable road.


After the safety of its citizens, repairing and restructuring damaged infrastructure and facilities is the top priority for local governments. However, traditional construction procurement does not allow agencies to react quickly. A Job Order Contracting program empowers governments to respond to a disaster as soon as conditions allow with qualified contractors ready to get the job done without a protracted back-and-forth about costs. Counties benefit from the expedited response without paying a premium. After disaster strikes, Job Order Contracting can provide immediate relief.


For more information, please visit or email Dana Rivera at


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