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.
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