15% Goal for Small Disadvantaged Businesses

When it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) the Biden administration is making good on its promises. The administration issued an executive order rescinding the Trump administration policies that weakened the diversity, equity, and inclusion training programs at agencies and federal contractors. In addition, the Office of Management and Budget issued a request for information (RFI) searching for DE&I solutions to enhance a number of government activities. (Government Executive May 19, 2021)

This particular RFI appears to be a crowd-sourcing application for policy solutions. It shows that the current administration is very serious about DE&I and their willingness to accept changes and an openness to new and different ways of viewing the inner workings of the government. (ibid)

It appears the administration is looking for better ways to leverage the government’s spending capability. To make sure all receive their fair share and to help close the income, wage, and opportunity gaps. The administration has initiated a 15% goal for federal contract dollars to go to small disadvantaged businesses. Although this looks like a great opportunity it is actually quite hard to measure how many dollars actually funnel through prime contractors to their subs. Figuring out how to measure the dollar flow would be a good start, then putting the 15% goal into effect. Progress is measurable at that point. (ibid)

So where are we today? Can the administration succeed with its DE&I goals? The question becomes, “how do we know?” Steps are clearly headed in the right direction, however, a commitment and a baseline are needed to end up where we want to be.

Are you a small disadvantaged business looking into GSA? Give us a call.

 

New ‘Made in America’ EO

On 25 January, President Biden issued a “Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers” executive order. (Government Executive, February 24, 2021)

Before the executive order takes effect:

  • New rules mandating the executive order must go through the formal rule-making process
  • Within 180 days, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council should consider replacing the “component test” (50 percent of a product’s cost must have a domestic origin)
  • The threshold for domestic content requirements for construction materials and end products will be increased, as well price¬†preferences for domestic construction materials and end products

The order directs the FAR Council to assess exceptions from the Act for commercial information technology (IT). Recommendations will likely influence solution strategies. A Made in America office within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) will be created, which will review waivers to purchase goods from outside the United States. Additionally, the Order mandates a list of actions to be performed within 45 days of the office director’s appointment. (ibid)

Biden’s EO also proposes that GSA create a public website for proposed waivers. Justification for all waivers will be publicly available, giving competitors the ability to weigh-in on waiver requests, likely diminishing the issuance of waivers. Contractors should consider this when determining their sourcing approach. (ibid)

Questions concerning your current as well as future government contracts and how the new order will affect them? 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.

 

 

 

Government Contractor Aid

A recent study conducted by the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) found that over half of small business government contractors are losing money due to a reduction in billable hours as a direct result of stay-at-home orders. To assist, the DoD is adjusting approximately 1,500 contracts to aid with cash flow for those contractors suffering financial strain. (Federal News Network, March 30, 2020)

The Defense Contract Management Agency is administering a mass modification to increase the amount of money allowed to pay vendors who have not finished their work under their current contracts. These “progress payments” will be increased to 95 percent for small companies and 90 percent for large companies. (ibid)

Additionally, provisions for contractors that cannot telework due to the nature of their work were signed into law on 27 March 27 2020 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, aimed at supporting individuals and businesses struggling with the economic downturn,  as a result of the pandemic. (Government Executive, March 31, 2020)

For some contractors, agencies may “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 a contractor provides to keep its employees or subcontractors in a ready state” as stated under the Act. (ibid)

The National Defense Industrial Association and the Professional Services Council both commend the act. During the pandemic, the Act will assist in ensuring contractors are part of the economic relief efforts and kept in a ready state. The legislation runs through the end of the fiscal year, 30 September 2020.

Questions about your minimum billing rates or how to obtain reimbursement? Give us a call.

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.