More COVID-19 Guidance

Last week the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) updated its agency guidance for federal contractors, as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The three main takeaways are:

  • Agencies are encouraged to work with their contractors to allow for the maximization of telework.
  • Agencies must be flexible providing extensions to performance dates if working virtually isn’t possible or if a contractor must quarantine. Agencies should also weigh whether to keep key personnel in a mobile-ready state for national security measures.
  • Agencies are urged to leverage the special emergency procurement authorized in connection with the emergency declaration under the “Stafford Act”. These include increases to: the micro-purchase threshold; the simplified acquisition threshold; and the threshold for using simplified procedures for certain commercial items. These are designed to reduce discord for contractors, especially small businesses, allowing for a more rapid response to the increasing demands agencies face. (Nextgov, March 22, 2020)

The agency guidance comes after trade groups and lawmakers strongly voiced the need for contractor guidance. The updated guidance includes a section of frequently asked questions, including contractor exposure to COVID-19. (ibid)

OMB also issued technology guidance for use during the COVID-19 national emergency. The technology guidance also includes a FAQ section, with steps to ensure IT and cybersecurity measures are met while working remotely. It urges agencies to continue updating their websites to enable public access to government services.

Need some help figuring out OMBs agency guidance for contractors? Give us a call.

Make a pitch, win a prize

In 2018, the Army acquisition office set up the Expeditionary Technology Search or xTechSearch. The Army has continued to use these pitch days to find small and nontraditional businesses with useful technologies. (Federal News Network, January 16, 2020)

In a pitch search, businesses propose their new technologies and ideas to the government in phases. Phase One is a white paper. Generally, 50 companies make it through the white paper phase and onto phase two. Companies chosen to move onto phase two receive a $5,000 prize which may be used to help defer the cost of engaging with government. The second phase is a 15-minute in-person pitch to a panel. Up to 24 companies can move from phase two to phase three, with the highest-ranking company receiving a $10,000 prize. Phase three participants are invited to a conference and provided exhibit space and asked to provide a proof-of-concept demonstration. Up to 12 participants move forward, with the highest-ranking business plan and proof-of-concept demonstration plan to receive a prize of $120,000. The technology solution and transition plans are presented during phase four, the final phase. Currently, xTechSearch 4.0 is in its second phase.

The grand prize winner will be announced in October at the Association of the United States Army annual meeting in Washington, DC. The grand prize winner receives a prize of $250,000, similar to the size of a Small Business Innovation Research grant.

Want to learn more about pitch days? Give us a call.