In order to provide guidance on agency implementation of Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the General Services Administration (GSA) issued its April 21, 2020 Class Deviation CD-2020-12 (Class Deviation) covering contractor paid leave reimbursement authority in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective immediately, the Class Deviation (1) sets forth Section 3610 guidance for GSA Contracting Officers, and (2) creates a new GSA Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) contract clause prescribing controls for contractor reimbursement under Section 3610 (GSAR 552.222-70). Although the Class Deviation does not account for all implementation issues associated with Section 3610, it does establish guidelines for agency implementation of contractor reimbursement under Section 3610. Given the wide variety of contracts GSA administers for the use of other agencies, this is welcome and practical guidance for contractors.

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On April 8, 2020, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) issued a Class Deviation authorizing contracting officers to use a new cost principle – DFARS 231.205-79, CARES Act Section 3610 Implementation – to permit the reimbursement of certain leave-related costs incurred by contractors in accordance with Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Pub. L. 116-136).  Additional clarification regarding the application of the new cost principle was issued on April 9, 2020, through the publication of a “living” FAQ document intended to answer critical questions for contractors.  While the FAQ information does not clarify the Government’s position on all potential issues associated with the implementation of Section 3610, it does provide a blueprint that contractors seeking reimbursement should follow.

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On April 8, 2020, a final rule (the Rule) was issued amending the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) and implementing Section 852 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2019 to provide for accelerated payments to DoD’s small business prime contractors and subcontractors supporting DoD contracts. The Rule applies to contracts at or below the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT) – currently $250,000 for DoD contracts – and to contracts for the acquisition of commercial items including commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) items. With an estimated 96% of DoD contracts valued at or under the SAT, the rule appears to reflect DoD’s recognition that it is in the best interests of the government and small business contractors alike to apply this Rule to contracts at or below the SAT and to accelerate payments to small business prime contractors and subcontractors.

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As most federal contractors know all too well, the United States Government is not always an easy customer.  This is particularly true in circumstances where a contractor encounters performance impacts and seeks to recover increased costs and/or endeavors to secure a schedule extension.  The Government’s negotiating posture in response to these types of requests is seldom inviting.

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On Friday, March 20, 2020, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Memorandum No. M-20-18, titled “Managing Federal Contract Performance Issues Associated With The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).”  The Memorandum, directed to the heads of all Executive Departments and constituent federal agencies, provides key guidance on maintaining continued contract performance while respecting the need to protect the safety of the contracting community during this unprecedented time.  The critical aspects of the Memorandum, accompanied by a contractor “To Do” list, are as follows:

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The spread of the COVID-19 virus and the unprecedented steps taken by federal, state and local authorities to contain it by shutting down or significantly altering normal business operations pose great challenges to government contractors in meeting the needs of their universal customer, the U.S. Government.  Work spaces are closed.  Supply chains are disrupted.  Key employees may no longer be available to oversee critical operations – both on and off U.S. Government installations.  Here are some proactive measures that contractors can take now to avoid loss and to maximize the potential of obtaining new business opportunities created by the expected exponential increase in government spending:

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