Yesterday, nine organizations wrote a letter to the Hon. Russell Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group was seeking clarifying guidance from OMB on the implementation of Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The organizations included the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), AFCEA International, Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), CompTIA, The Center for Procurement Advocacy (CPA), Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and the Professional Services Council (PSC).
While the group commends the Department of Defense (DoD) and other intelligence agencies in establishing a helpful framework for contracting officers, these companies require clear and consistent guidance to protect their employees, maintain a ready state, and make critical resource decisions tied to support for customer missions.
Section 3610 authorizes agencies to reimburse contractors applicable contract billing rates for employees who are not able to perform work because of COVID-19-related facility closures and those who cannot telework. Consistent implementation of this provision is critical to the viability of the hundreds of thousands of companies that make up our nation’s defense workforce, and that must retain a ready to work employees throughout the COVID-19 national emergency.
The companies applauded the current guidance from DOD and hope that OMB adopts similar language:
- Covered employees include those who cannot perform work on a government-owned/leased or contractor-owned/leased facility. A government approved work site includes the contractor’s location and any other places of performance specifically identified in the contract, such as any contractor or subcontractor facility that has been cleared by the National Industrial Security Program (NISP) Contract Classification System (NCCS) on a DD form 254.
- “Other Restrictions” preventing employees from going to a work site for purposes of Sec. 3610 include COVID-related restrictions such as closures that prohibit performance of work or telework, for public health reasons, or for family care issues.
- The reimbursement applies to costs incurred between January 31 and September 30, 2020.
- The legislative authority applies to primes and subcontractors and previously negotiated contract rates should be used.
- The provisions apply to all contract types and agreements.
The letter reads, “We respectfully request that OMB issue implementation guidance to ensure that all federal agencies understand the acquisition tools available and have a consistent approach to ensuring resilience across the total force as our nation weathers this crisis. We appreciate the DoD’s providing of frequently asked questions in conjunction with their class deviation and guidance as well as their commitment to providing additional guidance and clarity around topics as circumstances warrant. This agility and commitment to working together for the good of the total force during these unprecedented times are critical to minimizing disruption to critical missions, maintaining the ready-state industrial base, and minimizing costly bureaucratic delays.”
Government and industry are continuing the conversation as policy is shaped by the life changing events of COVID-19.