Will the CARES Act become permanent?

In March of 2020, when the Coronovirus became a pandemic, Section 3610 of the CARES Act went into effect. This section of the CARES Act provides economic relief to contractors so that they can continue to pay their employees. Unless Congress extends Section 3610 of the CARES Act, it expires on September 30, 2021. (Washington Technology August 5, 2021)

The Professional Services Council (PSC) would like for Section 3610 to become permanent. PSC Executive Vice President David Broome feels Section 3610 should become permanent. He reasons this by looking at how several agencies have heavily relied on Section 3610 during the pandemic. GAO saw a combined $882.8 million in reimbursements from across the Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, and NASA. (ibid)

GAO staff interviewed 15 contractors and 12 agreed that Section 3610 “had a great or moderate effect on their ability to retain employees, in particular those with specialized skill or clearances.” (ibid)

According to Broome, “GAO makes the case for establishing a permanent stand-by authority that would be available when needed and in place when the next emergency happens – be it a pandemic, a cyberattack or natural disaster. Establishing this authority now would be a prudent step to implement one lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure that the government and contractors are prepared for the next one.” (ibid)

Are you a contractor trying to take advantage of Section 3610 and not sure where to start? Give us a call.

 

Security: Clearance and Cyber

In the world of security clearances, the Senate reintroduced a bill last week to decrease the 570,000 pending security clearance investigations backlog. With this legislation, the National Background Investigations Bureau, which conducts most government security checks, will merge into the Pentagon, which may (or may not(!)) help get the backlog under control. Language within the bill charges the Director of National Intelligence with streamlining the time-intensive, paper-heavy security clearance process. It can take over a year to get a clearance, and that’s once you are in the queue. There is also the Catch 22 of not obtaining a contractor job without a clearance and not getting a clearance without already having the job. (Nextgov, February 2019) Of course, the backlog wasn’t helped by the shutdown.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also has security on the table. Need to keep your non-US citizen tech guru on staff? DHS is with you. They hope to keep tech specialists from outside the country here, and support the Startup Act. The Startup Act would keep foreign-born entrepreneurs and STEM experts in the country to ultimately promote innovation. Seems counter to the current Administration’s stated goals, but kudos to Congress for trying. (ibid)

Meanwhile, Congress is trying to get a grip on how the recent government shutdown affected security, specifically cyber security. Here is a breakdown of the tech and cybersecurity hearings that took place last week:

  • 2.6.19 the Senate Appropriations Services Committee briefed by intelligence leaders on worldwide threats.
  • 2.6.19 the House Armed Services Committee evaluated the Defense Departments counterterrorism efforts.
  • 2.6.19 the House Energy and Commerce telecom subcommittee explored ways to preserve the open internet for small business and consumers. (Nextgov, February 2019)

Do you have security clearance questions? Wondering how the open internet will affect your small business and its ability to do business with the government? Give us a call at 301-913-5000 and we will try to provide you with answers.