Shutdown is Long, Still Going Strong

Is there an end in sight? Will the Dems and Trump come to an agreement soon? Will you get paid? Will you receive back pay for the time the government doors are shut? These are the questions government workers, contractors, and subcontractors are asking.

Here’s what we know:

• Private companies that serve civilian agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the EPA have been told to stop work on specific contracts. (No word as to what happens next.) (Washington Post January 6, 2019)

• The government is offering guidance to contractors on an agency-by-agency basis and contractors are starting to receive “stop work order” notices from those agencies that no longer have funds. (Department of Defense and intelligence agencies are, for the most part, unaffected.) (ibid)

• FEMA has posted a “blanket” stop work order. This likely will not affect deep pockets of larger companies working on FEMA contracts, but will undoubtedly negatively impact smaller businesses. Government workers will get back pay, government contractors will not. (Washington Post, January 6, 2019)

As feared, the smaller the business the greater the impact.

Have questions about your contracts with the government and what you should be doing? Give us a call at 301-913-5000.

 

Bid that Bid … Still!

Government shutdown or no, contractors should still submit bids by their due date!

According to Alan Chvotkin (EVP and general counsel for the Professional Services Council), “these are among the thousand day-to-day issues that arise during an actual lapse in funding. The general guidance I provide our members is: Until told otherwise, the deadline is the deadline, even if the government offices are closed.” (Aron Boyd, Nextgov December 28, 2018)

Submitting bids electronically is relatively easy. A bigger issue arises with bids requiring physical submission: what to do? You are your own best advocate in this situation. Chvotkin suggests that it’s “best to attempt delivery and document — with photos and time stamps of the effort and confirm the attempt with an electronic message to the designated official.” (ibid)

Due diligence on the contractors part goes a long way. Keep an eye out for updates and extensions. Do not assume a bid deadline will be extended. The best rule of thumb is to make no assumption and assume the original due date is the due date!

Give us a call and we will help you work through your bid submission, at 301-913-5000.

Keeping a Secret Secret

The Pentagon warns that cyber attacks and threats from foreign intelligence services on national security are very real, and they aim to increase protections for subcontractors from foreign hacking efforts so that sensitive information remains undistributed.  Part of the new standard reads, “a company’s level of security is accepted by all prime contractors, systems integrators, and the DoD.” Subcontractors should now be able to better explain their security controls to defense companies. (J.Lynch, Fifth Domain, December 2018)

Subcontractors are being held to new standards, and the Pentagon is serious about poor or lapsed cybersecurity measures. A Pentagon task force has been created to prevent defense secrets from outside hackers as well as a pilot program for the DoD to learn which companies are actually in their network.

In light of those warnings, the Aerospace Industry Association (AIA) has updated the national aerospace standard, which now consists of a list of 110 security controls broken down into “22 control families.” (J.Lynch, Fifth Domain, December 2018) These new AIA guidelines do not replace the National Institute of Standards and Technology standards, but work to compliment them. Updated AIA standards are built around successive levels of security, thus allowing for continual improvement of cyber defense capabilities.

Questions about your cyber security plan? Give us a call at (301) 913-5000, we are here to help!

GSA’s Guide to Non-Christmas Shopping

GSA is starting small with its commercially-operated online purchasing portals, with a pilot scheduled by the end of 2019.

Initially, only commercial products/services below the government’s micro-purchase limit will be offered. But the threshold of $10,000 differs from the $250,000 Congressional limit put into place at the time the e-commerce experiment was ordered, which allows GSA to sidestep policy requirements such as the Buy American Act and the Trade Agreements Act. We aren’t certain how these will apply to the new e-commerce portal, as purchases below the $10,000 threshold are already exempt from a wide variety of procurement laws. GSA wants the portals to show agency buyers the vendor’s business size and qualification as a preferred supplier in other categories. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018)

There is a current gap between what the government procures through open market procurement  (often via a purchase card) and what the government knows it buys for commercial items. GSA intends that the centrally managed and monitored portal will assist the government in determining the products agencies are purchasing and introducing into the federal supply chain. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018)

The draft terms and conditions seem to deviate substantially from the FAR, and are a little “gray,” so we need to wait and see how this turns out. (J.Serbu, Federal News Network December 13, 2018) We all know that our Ts and Cs are of the utmost importance to government auditors and regulatory compliance. Other important questions include:

  • why would agencies use the new e-commerce platform when they can get good commercial item prices via GSA Schedules and the Advantage portal?
  • will the new e-commerce portal actually save the Government money?

This nifty e-commerce pilot portal will help determine the answer to these questions. Do you have a question about the e-commerce portal or GSA Schedules? Give us a call at 301-913-5000: we are here to help.

 

 

Government Grinch

All government contractors should be aware of procedures in the event that our federal system shuts down at midnight tonight. GSA sent the following in an email earlier today:

In the event of a Government shutdown Friday night after 11:59pm, GSS acquisition will continue to process orders and will remain open during the Government Shutdown in the near term.

However, Government personnel responsible for receiving delivery or performing inspections at many agencies* may not be available during the period of the funding gap.  The Federal Government is closed Monday, December 24, and Tuesday, December 25th, regardless of whether there is a shutdown. Please review the contingency plans of government agencies posted here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/information-for-agencies/agency-contingency-plans/

Since the status of agency personnel remains uncertain, we advise you to call ahead to confirm that government personnel are available to accept deliveries.  The Government will not be liable for any costs you may incur if you attempt delivery during the period of the funding gap (shutdown). If, after reviewing the affected agencies at the website above, you are still unsure of imminent delivery schedule success, please contact your customer agency for further instructions before attempting delivery during this timeframe.

*Agencies impacted in a potential shutdown include the Departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Interior, Treasury, State, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Commerce, and Justice.

Agencies where funding for FY19 has already been passed, and therefore not affected by a shutdown, include the Departments of Defense, Labor, Energy, Health and Human Services, Education, Veterans Affairs and the legislative branch.

If you’re worried about something in particular, give us a call at 301-913-5000. We will be working sporadically next week, but are always available for your emergencies.