In the Navy (with Small Business)

The U.S. Navy, Office of Naval Research is offering $30 million in grants through 31 May to companies providing advanced technology. Through this effort, the Navy is funding its supply chain to ensure that their contractors can stay in business during the pandemic. An additional $250 million in small business awards is expected over the next 90 days. (FedScoop, April 28, 2020)

Awards are through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grant programs, which get money to small businesses more quickly than traditional solicitations. The following technologies are of interest:

  • modernization and sustainment
  • digital logistics
  • deployable manufacturing
  • resilient communications (ibid)

James Geurts, the Navy’s lead acquisition official, said the department is monitoring its supply chain in real-time with new tools to maintain stability. Many worry that a faltering economy and the shelter in place regulation will affect the supply chain and the military’s readiness. Guerts says the Navy is closely watching its research and development for emerging technology so as to stay a step ahead. (ibid)

Other Navy research offices are also serving as “technology enablers.” The Naval Expeditions Agility Office is looking for ways to better connect warfighters to tech experts and small businesses. Here again, the goal is to bring advanced technology solutions to national security challenges while helping small businesses to continue working with the Navy. (ibid)

Are you a small business with advanced technologies the Navy can use? Give us a call.

PPP Payback?

Last week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program. PPP allows banks to “forgive” government-guaranteed loans to small businesses struggling due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, government guidance on necessary documentation/calculations to ensure forgiveness is sorely lacking.

Many small business owners expect their loans to ultimately be forgiven “but it is not that simple,” according to Paul Merski, of the Independent Community Bankers of America. He advises that everyone keep “their information and paperwork in order.”(Reuters, May 1, 2020)

The PPP regulation states the following:

  • Borrowers must spend 75 percent of the loan on payroll costs like salaries, tips, leave, severance pay, and health insurance, within the first two months.
  • Borrowers must spend the remaining 25 percent on other “running” costs, such as utilities and rent.

All money spent on non-qualifying expenses must be repaid within two years at a one percent annual interest rate. (ibid)

Confusion and uncertainty surround the re-payment or forgiveness process itself. Who certifies that borrowers actually meet the 75 percent threshold and using borrowed funds as required? Will SBA will issue standard guidelines for forgiveness? Small business owners need to know which documents to maintain and records to keep. EZGSA, like all of you, await some clarity on next steps.

Are you unclear on your Small Business loan payback? We will let you know as soon as we do. In the mean time, feel free to give us a call.

CARES Funds Available For Contractors

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently published a supplement to Section 3610 of the CARES Act that allows contractors sick or paid time-off during the national emergency if contractors are not able to access their worksites or telework. (Government Executive, April 17, 2020)

At this time, maximizing telework is advised; however, many contractor jobs involve sensitive and/or classified work, making telework not feasible. Trade associations realized this pretty quickly and asked for additional clarification of the Act. For these specific contractors, agencies are allowed to “modify the terms and conditions of a contract, or other agreement to reimburse at the minimum applicable contract billing rates up to an average of 40 hours per week for any paid leave (including sick leave) a contractor provides to keep its employees or subcontractors in a ready state.”

In addition to the paid leave/sick leave clarification, the updated guidance allows agencies to reimburse contractors from the 27 March (when the CARE Act was signed) through 30 September 2020. The original bill did not include a start date. (ibid)

OMB, via the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, developed a guide to assist agencies when working with contractors to ensure the correct documentation is submitted for proper reimbursement. (ibid)

Don’t know where to start the process of getting paid during this national emergency? Give us a call.

 

 

 

Emergency Rules

Government ontractors and small businesses should be aware of increased opportunities during the current COVID-19 national emergency. The government is permitted, during a national emergency, to set aside solicitations to allow awards “only to offerors residing or doing business primarily in the area affected by …[a] major disaster or emergency.” Contractors can verify if they fall into this category by reviewing Federal Acquisition Regulation 52.226-3(d). (Law360.com, April 13, 2020)

A national emergency declaration allows the government to (restrict) certain solicitations to small businesses in certain areas. These solicitations are either a set-aside or an evaluation preference is given to small businesses. (ibid)

During national emergencies, large contractors should look to team with small businesses, or to current teaming agreements already in place. In addition, contractors who are at the ready to produce/provide goods or services may be called on to contract with agencies to battle COVID-19. (ibid)

Micro purchase thresholds are another acquisition procedure government agencies may use during a national emergency. These allow for a simplified acquisition methodology for specific items or services required under emergency situations, such as the COVID-19 national emergency. (ibid)

State and local governments may also procure under the Stafford Act, wherein state governors request financial relief via federal grants that allow procurement under their own procedures. The Stafford Act authorizes federal contracts for “debris clearance, distribution of supplies, reconstruction, and other major disaster or emergency assistance activities.” In 2006 the Local Community Recovery Act amended the Stafford Act mandating local organizations to be given preference when using full and open competition. The FAR was also amended to align with the Local Community Recovery Act. Under the act, if a contractor does not meet all of the Recovery Act stipulations there are other factors that may be considered. (Contractors may self-certify that they are local.) (ibid)

Other streamlining acquisition procedures are available under federal supply schedule contracts, multi-agency blanket purchase agreements, and multi-agency indefinite-delivery contracts. Additionally, there is an easing of the requirement that a contractor be registered in SAM.gov at the time an offer is submitted to the government. (ibid)

The emergency declaration allows state and local governments to purchase from all GSA schedules. It also encourages accelerated payments to small business contractors.  (ibid)

Additional modified procedures to facilitate swift responses are:

  • Relaxation of qualifications requirements
  • Use of sole-source contracts
  • Use of oral requests for proposals
  • Use of letter contracts
  • Interagency acquisitions
  • Awards to small disadvantaged businesses
  • Retroactive overtime approvals
  • Waivers of bid guarantees when an emergency exists
  • Use of protest overrides where necessary for a contracting process to continue

In order to track procurements related to COVID-19, GSA added a National Interest Action (NIA) code to SAM.gov. To find information on the site, simply type COVID-19 2020 in the search bar. (ibid) Contractors can register with SAM.gov under the disaster response registry, and be sure to monitor the portals most closely aligned to the goods or services you provide.

Have questions about the many opportunities available under the current national emergency? Give us a call.

GSA Allowing Some non-TAA Compliant Products

Demand for essential supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated to the point that GSA Senior Procurement Executive (SPE) has issued a Class Determination and Findings (D&F) that temporarily allows procurement of non-Trade Agreement Act (TAA) compliant products through the GSA Schedule contracts. Unavailability of the Federal Supply Classes found in GSA’s SPE memo dated 3 April 2020 is cited as the rationale for the change in contractor procedures. (GSA Interact, April 15, 2020)

All MAS contractors with access to products under these FSCs and able to meet the urgent need should submit a stand-alone modification request via eMod. Information and detailed instructions for submitting the modification along with required templates can be found on the GSA.gov, MAS Contractor and Modification Requirements page. (ibid)

The Federal Acquisition Service will email contractors to which the D&F may apply . If you do not receive an email or your authorized negotiator is not up to date, please contact your Procurement Contracting Officer (PCO). A PCO listing may be found by searching your contract number or company name on gsaelibrary.gsa.gov.

Are you able to meet the urgent needs of the government but do not know how to navigate the MAS Contractor and Modification Requirements? Give us a call.