By now, everyone is acutely aware that the government experienced the longest shutdown in US history. Doors opened on Monday but it is hardly back to business as usual. Contractors face countless bottlenecks as well as hurry-up-and-wait scenarios. Has the stop work order been rescinded? Does the contractor’s badge still work? If not, is a new clearance necessary? When work starts up again, will all employees be in place and ready to go? While it took no time at all to close the doors, opening them and getting back to business, as usual, is likely going to take some time. This, coupled with the looming possibility of yet another shut down, adds to the already less than perfect predicament in which government contractors finds themselves.
Homeland Security offered expectations with the re-start. Soraya Correa, chief procurement officer at DHS issued a notice stating, “If the particular RFP or RFQ established a deadline for submission of a proposal or quotation after Dec. 21, 2018 and the DHS funding lapse is not resolved prior to the deadline established in the RFP, then the proposal or quotations shall be due within seven business days following the resolution of the DHS funding lapse.” Correa also wrote, “If the particular RFP or RFQ provided for the submission of questions, comments or other forms of inquiry after Dec. 21, 2018 and the DHS funding lapse is not resolved prior to the deadline established in the RFP for this type of submission, then the submission shall be due within five business days following the resolution of the DHS funding lapse and resumption of business operations.” She explained that responses to RFIs are due three business days following the resumption of DHSs business operations. (Federal News Network January 2019)
OMB revised its guidance to agencies on 22 January, suggesting a recall of workers in order to pay contractors who billed the government before the 21 December shutdown. (ibid) Small businesses need those payments as soon as possible, whereas larger contractors have a little more room to work with as their pockets are deeper. Whether large or small, the pain is real and expected to last for a long time to come.
Hopefully, should the government shut its doors again, agencies are more prepared with notices to contractors. Setting expectations could relieve at least some of the panic.
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