GSA Public Category Management Dashboards & Analytics Tool Available
The General Services Administration has made available to contractors a tool previously reserved for use by federal employees. The Government-Wide Category Management Reporting and Analytics site includes a series of dashboards and tools to support stakeholders in the full CM lifecycle. GSA has upgraded the look and feel of the platform for a synchronized user experience. GSA invites you to attend a training sessions through FAITAS, join data working groups, and stay engaged — please share the awards exploration tool with your industry and acquisition partners!
Notification from DHS Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa on Virtualizing the Procurement Process
DHS Contractor Community,
As I have discussed with many of you, I am committed to keeping industry apprised of how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responding to the current environment. A few weeks ago, I reminded our workforce of the importance of continuing vendor and procurement team engagement best practices in the procurement process. This is especially important as we evolve our ongoing acquisition support to include the nation’s COVID-19 response. We must continue our important work to innovate the way we procure so DHS will timely receive the goods and services critical to its mission. Rapidly virtualizing areas of the procurement process ensures that we continue our innovation journey as we simultaneously support both normal operations and the COVID-19 response.
In this light, I provided guidance and examples on how teams across DHS have already virtualized industry days, oral presentations and technical consensus evaluations. Using technology platforms to virtualize aspects of the procurement process may be new to many procurement teams across DHS. I wanted to ensure that DHS acquisition professionals understood that their leadership supports a continued focus on creative, innovative techniques and methods to effectively and efficiently meet mission needs, including as we support our nation during this time.
I wanted you to hear firsthand from me that you should expect to see a continued focus on procurement innovation across DHS. I appreciate your continued support and flexibility as we all adapt to new platforms and engagement approaches. We will work together to virtualize our engagement platforms enabling collaboration and information sharing throughout the procurement process.
Chief Procurement Officer and Senior Procurement Executive, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
GSA Update 4/29/20
SUBJECT: Purchase Exceptions From the AbilityOne Program in Response to COVID-19
1. Purpose. For many years, GSA has had a close partnership with the AbilityOne Program. GSA spends over $500,000,000 annually on products and services listed on the AbilityOne Procurement List. This spending creates employment opportunities for Americans who are blind or severely disabled.
GSA and the AbilityOne Commission recognize that the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused great disruption in supply chains and has caused an unprecedented level of demand for items such as cleaners, disinfectants, personal protective equipment and more. There is a clear spill-over impact on other items used as part of the response.
Realizing the importance of GSA’s responsibility to Federal agencies, the AbilityOne Commission is partnering with GSA to do everything possible to find capacity within the program. Where that is not possible, they will grant temporary purchase exceptions (PEs) for items on the Procurement List where nonprofit agencies (NPAs) cannot meet GSA’s requirements within needed timeframes.
Pursuant to FAR 8.706 and 41 CFR 51-5.4, a central nonprofit agency (CNA) (i.e., SourceAmerica, National Industries for the Blind (NIB)) would normally grant a purchase exception to individual contracting activities after obtaining approval from the Commission. In the interest of efficiency for COVID-19, GSA leadership is coordinating all purchase exceptions directly with the AbilityOne Commission.
These purchase exceptions allow contracting officers to fill requirements utilizing nonProcurement List items (supplies or services) designated by the AbilityOne Commission as Essentially the Same (ETS) as those on the Procurement List. The purchase exception authority covers instances when:
- the NPA cannot provide the supplies or services within the time required and commercial sources can provide them significantly sooner in the quantities required, or
- the quantity/service required cannot be produced or provided economically by the NPA.
This memorandum establishes the initial procurement exceptions for COVID-19 related items, the duration, implementing instructions, conditions and the process for obtaining additional exceptions.
2. Definition. Essentially the Same (ETS) means a commercial product that is comparable and similar in all the prominent physical, functional or performance characteristics to the product on the Procurement List – such that the Commission deems the product to be covered by the Procurement List Mandate. ETS products can be purchased from AbilityOne commercial distributors. Several of these distributors have Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contracts. ETS products are not the same as co-brand (sometimes referred to as restricted) products. A cobrand comprises a commercial nationally-recognized brand name (or occasionally, a regionallyrecognized brand name) and the JWOD Program’s name and/or the SKILCRAFT® brand name (licensed by National Industries for the Blind) on any product that is either proposed for addition or has previously been added to the Procurement List. Further, it. Includes use of the commercial brand name in the title or description of the item, and/or on the physical product itself and/or its packaging.
3. Applicability. Based on market research and supporting data provided by GSA, the AbilityOne Commission has approved purchase exceptions for the items found in Attachment A.
Products or services may be added to the purchase exception list in the future. If future increased capacity from NPAs or reduced demand allows NPAs to meet the requirements, products or services may also be removed from the list.
This memo will remain in effect from date of issuance until July 30, 2020. The purchase exception list will be revisited every 30 days for potential adjustments. The purchase exceptions apply to GSA contracts, and the orders placed against GSA contracts. These purchase exceptions include –
- orders placed but not completed for listed items in back order status.
- orders placed but not completed for listed items where NPAs cannot meet the required delivery date.
- orders that have not yet been issued for requisitions received.
The effective dates for this memo apply to the ordering period, not the period of performance — delivery or fulfillment of an order may be completed after the expiration of this memo.
4. Contracting Officer Responsibilities. For open orders where delays in performance due to COVID-19 are determined to be acceptable, contracting officers should continue with the NPA. In addition, performance delays attributable to COVID-19 should not result in a negative performance evaluation for the NPA.
For open orders where required delivery dates cannot be met by the NPA, contracting officers may issue a no-cost cancellation. If the contractor is an AbilityOne authorized reseller, contracting officers may also consider, at their discretion, modifying the order to accept an ETS or other substitute item.
Any ETS items must still comply with contract terms and conditions, including Trade Agreements Act and Buy American Act requirements). Note that SPE Memo SPE-2020-11 provides emergency exceptions for non-availability under these statutes. If necessary, contracting officers may request additional non-availability determinations as outlined in that memo.
Contracting officers are encouraged to employ to the fullest extent possible, all emergency contracting flexibilities issued as a result of COVID-19, including open market contracts, modifications to add items to existing contracts, or establishment of new BPAs.
If use of the purchase exceptions list contained in this memo (see Attachment A) is contemplated, contracting officers must ensure applicable items are still active on the list before placing an order. Contracting officers must annotate the file to indicate purchase exception use and include supporting documentation. The purchase exceptions list will be updated on a regular basis as changes occur.
5. Head of Contracting Activity (HCA) Responsibilities.
HCAs must track contracts and orders that use the purchase exception authority, and provide monthly reports by the 15th of the month to their respective acquisition management offices, for final submission to the GSA SPE at email@example.com. The reports at a minimum should include copies of the solicitation/order and copies of the annotated bid abstract upon award of the commercial contract/order.
To request additional purchase exceptions, HCAs should provide the following data to GSA’s AbilityOne Executive, Millisa Gary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Item Number (if applicable) and Description
- Current Demand
- Required Delivery Date(s)
- Name of NPA under Contract (if applicable)
- NPA Capacity to Deliver by Required Date
6. Point of Contact. Questions regarding these GSA procurement exceptions may be directed to Millisa Gary at email@example.com .
GSA Alert 4/27/20
Warning: There is a real-looking but fake SAM site out there! GSA was notified of a fraudulent website that is using the look/feel of the real SAM.gov and the look/feel of the real login.gov (http://login.gov/) sign-in page! The imposter website is https://sam-gov.org – it is NOT a legitimate web site. Do not enter any information on this website. In fact..don’t even go there! Investigative efforts are underway and additional guidance language is being written to notify the public at large. As we wait for that official language, please hang tight and just be aware.
GSA Update 4/27/20
SUBJECT: GSAR Class Deviation – CARES Act Section 3610 Implementation
This memorandum approves a class deviation from the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) to provide guidance to implement Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (Pub. L. 116-136) (See Attachment A) regarding paid leave reimbursement authority to contractors for Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). In addition to guidance, this memorandum prescribes a contract clause which implements controls.
Section 3610 of the CARES Act permits Government agencies to reimburse, at the minimum applicable contract billing rates (not to exceed an average of 40 hours per week), any paid leave, including sick leave, a contractor provides to keep its employees or subcontractors in a ready state, including to protect the life and safety of Government and contractor personnel, for COVID–19 during a specified time period discussed below.
On April 17, 2020, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued Memorandum M-20-22, which provided guidance to the Executive Branch on understanding and applying the contractor paid leave authority of Section 3610 of the CARES Act (Section 3610). OMB guidance explains that Section 3610 provides agencies discretionary authority to reimburse contractors for paid leave, and that agencies should carefully consider if reimbursement for paid leave to keep contractors in a ready state is in the best interest of the Government.
Recognizing the importance of the mission support, services, and facilities GSA provides to agencies throughout the Federal Government, GSA has already taken numerous aggressive measures to ensure contractor safety while keeping GSA contractors performing their work.
Steps such as actively promoting telework, GSA’s critical infrastructure policy , accelerating 1 payments , and a series of FAR and GSAR class deviations to aid contractors have permitted 2 GSA to keep stop work orders or suspension of work orders to a minimum. As a result of GSA’s aggressive actions, nearly all GSA contractors are able to continue to perform their work safely and, thus, paid leave is not at issue as to those contracts.
Therefore, GSA, itself, does not expect significant use of the paid leave reimbursement authority. However, both in establishing contracts for use by other agencies and in performing assisted acquisition, it is important for GSA to establish clear direction.
This deviation provides instructions for GSA Contracting Officers (CO) to follow in determining when to include the paid leave reimbursement authority in contracts. It provides the process to consider a contractor’s request and a new GSAR clause if using the Section 3610 authority. For GSA Government-wide Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (such as Federal Supply Schedules, GWACs, OASIS, etc.) it makes clear that the Section 3610 authority applies at the order level. For assisted acquisition, it sets forth guidelines for when a requesting agency has and has not issued its own implementation for Section 3610.
This class deviation is issued under the authority of General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM) 501.404.
5. Effective Date.
This deviation is effective immediately. The authority may only be used for leave that a contractor has provided during the period of March 27, 2020 through September 30, 2020.
6. Scope and Applicability.
This deviation applies to FAR-based contracts and agreements . It does not apply to non-FAR 3 based contracts such as the leasing of real property.
This deviation does not apply to indefinite delivery vehicles (IDVs) at the contract level. However, it may apply to task orders issued under an IDV (See Section 9.F for additional information on IDVs).
For assisted acquisitions (See Section 9.C. for required approvals):
● If the requesting agency has a policy to implement the authority in Section 3610, based upon instruction from the requesting agency, GSA contracting activities shall use the requesting agency’s policy, unless the GSA HCA and the requesting agency agree to use GSA’s policy.
● If the requesting agency does not have a policy implementing Section 3610 authority, but wishes to authorize reimbursement of paid leave, the contracting activity shall follow the guidance in this deviation.
Due to the nature of programs across GSA, Heads of Services, on a non-delegable basis, may issue a determination identifying the program(s) otherwise within the scope of and covered by this deviation for which the Head of Service determines it is not in the interest of the Government to exercise the discretionary authority of Section 3610 and the associated rationale. The Head of Service shall notify firstname.lastname@example.org of any such determination; determinations will be available at http://gsa.gov/node/133315.
The CARES Act does not allocate or provide any specific funding for this authority. Therefore, GSA’s mission capability could be impacted if this authority is exercised. The authority for paid leave reimbursement can only be used if the funding has been certified.
Reimbursement is only for contractor paid leave to its employees or subcontractors “to maintain a ready state, including to protect the life and safety of Government and contractor personnel,” and applies only to a contractor whose employees or subcontractors:
● Cannot perform work on a Government-owned, Government-leased, contractor-owned, or contractor-leased facility or site approved by the Federal Government for contract performance due to closures or other restrictions, and
● Are unable to telework or otherwise work remotely because their job duties cannot be performed remotely during the public health emergency.
7. Contracting Officer Considerations.
Paid leave authority is discretionary not mandatory. Therefore, if a contractor submits a request, the COs must determine whether or not to use the authority to reimburse affected contractors for paid leave. The spread of COVID-19 may affect contractors in several ways, so communication with contractors is critical during this period of uncertainty. There are various considerations a CO must weigh when determining how to move forward taking into consideration the challenges a contractor may be facing and what is in the best interest of the Government.
A. Determine if the contractor is eligible for reimbursable paid leave on a contract by contract basis.
● Check the list of programs referenced in Section 6 (at http://gsa.gov/node/133315) to determine whether Heads of Services have made a decision that Section 3610 is not applicable to the program/contract.
● If the work can be performed by telework or other remote means, you should authorize the contractor to telework or use such other remote means. Such contractors are not eligible for reimbursement under Section 3610. Further, leave provided for contractor employees who choose not to telework or work remotely is not eligible for reimbursement.
B. Determine if it is in the Government’s best interest to keep the contractor in a ready state.
● Determine the impact on the mission if contractors are unable to perform critical operations.
● Consider the scarcity of the required skills for the critical operation or the challenge for the contractor to resume operations if previous staff is no longer available.
● Consider where the contract is in its lifecycle, such as contract expiration.
● Weigh the costs and benefits of using the Section 3610 reimbursement authority and discuss the opportunity costs with your program office.
C. Determine if the requested reimbursable paid leave on a contract is appropriate.
● Only the hours the contractor pays its employees or subcontractors not able to perform their functions due to COVID-19 related restrictions are eligible for reimbursement requests, provided the work cannot be performed remotely or via telework.
● Within the CARES Act and the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) there are multiple forms of assistance available to contractors including a paycheck protection program, economic injury disaster loans, employer-portion payroll tax credits, employee retention tax credits, and other assistance. COs should discuss with the contractor what other assistance a given contractor has utilized, and use that in determining whether and how much to reimburse.
● The Government is required to reduce the maximum reimbursement authorized by this deviation by the amount of credit a contractor is allowed under the CARES Act or Division G of the FFCRA. The CO is not required to determine this in advance of making payment. The clause in Attachment B will require the contractor to notify the CO and repay any double payment.
● The CO shall consider the information provided by the contractor to evaluate whether or not the contractor request is eligible for the reimbursement for paid leave and whether the CO should provide reimbursement.
8. Additional Authorities.
As described above, GSA expects limited use of the paid leave reimbursement authority; use of this deviation should be only contemplated after other methods to maintain key contractors in a ready state have been considered. Other authorities to assist contractors and ensure best use of Government funds can instead be used such as:
● Delivery schedule extensions, option extensions, and contract extensions as other means to ensure continuation of a robust industry supply base.
● Delivery schedule extensions can be combined with progress payments to increase immediate cash flow.
● Other contract extensions can provide the contractor with additional support for their banking institutions to improve loan terms and increase cash flow.
● Use progress payments as applicable. GSA plans to issue a Class Deviation CD-2020-09 to increase caps on progress payments to 90 percent for large business concerns and 95 percent for small business.
● Use accelerated payments to small business contractors and subcontractors to pay eligible contractors within 15 days of an approved invoice as opposed to 30 days, see Class Deviation CD-2020-08.
9. Contracting Officer Requirements.
For applicable contracts where this deviation may be used, the request will be initiated by the contractor submitting a request. COs shall refer contractors to the clause in Attachment B, which will be used to modify contracts as necessary. The clause includes safeguards such as the requirement that the contractor repay double reimbursements, and to allow audits.
A. Request from Contractor
When a CO receives a contractor request for reimbursement for paid leave, the CO should consider the items noted in Sections 6, 7, and 8 above.
The CO shall obtain a representation from the contractor in accordance with the clause in Attachment B.
B. Funding Availability and Impact
Evaluate the requested reimbursement for leave which a contractor has paid or will pay for leave provided during the period of March 27, 2020 through September 30, 2020 and determine the maximum funds needed to grant the request. Analysis should be conducted in collaboration with the requirement owner and/or the COR.
Once a maximum potential reimbursement amount is identified, the CO should work with their Budget Office to determine if there is funding available to fulfill the possible maximum request.
C. Obtain Approval
● For GSA-funded actions, the HCA must approve before execution of the modification to include clause 552.222-70. The CO must ensure any additional funding is approved in Pegasys or EASi.
● For assisted acquisitions, the use of this authority must be explicitly identified and agreed upon, the requesting agency must certify the funds, and the acquisition strategy must be approved by the GSA HCA before execution of the modification to include clause 552.222-70.
D. Contract File Documentation
● The CO is responsible for documenting the contract file with the rationale supporting approval or disapproval of reimbursement for a paid leave request. The file must contain the representation required by the affected contractor in clause 552.222-70.
E. Modify the Contract
● For contracts where this deviation will be used, modify contracts to incorporate the clause found in Attachment B.
F. Reimbursement by Contract Types
If the CO has determined the use of reimbursement for paid leave is in the best interest of the Government, the CO will need to negotiate equitable adjustments due to the impact of COVID-19. The reimbursement will be evaluated based on contract type:
● Fixed Price: COs shall establish one or more separate contract line items for Section 3610 COVID-19 payments to ensure traceability of expenditures. In the case of fixed price contracts with incentives, this should be a separate fixed price line item and not subject to the incentive structure.
● Time and Materials or Labor Hour: COs shall create separate line item(s) for this reimbursement under Section 3610 authority to enable segregation of these costs. The information on supporting documentation must be retained for audit, while the interim voucher would be provisionally approved and paid under existing procedures.
● Cost-Reimbursement: COs shall create a separate line item for cost. COs will need to work with the contractor to establish appropriate cost procedures. Additional efforts will be required to adjust the estimated costs. The information on supporting documentation would be retained for audit, while the interim invoice would be provisionally approved and paid under existing procedures.
● Indefinite Delivery Vehicles (IDVs): This deviation may apply to task orders issued under IDVs. However, because Section 3610 specifies use of “minimum applicable contract billing rates”, (e.g. Federal Supply Schedule, GWAC) rates would not change. If the ordering agency negotiated a lower hourly rate, then that lower hourly rate becomes the minimum applicable contract rate for the purpose of this authority.
G. Double Reimbursement
The clause in Attachment B requires the contractor to refund the Government if the contractor receives reimbursement herein and also receives employment tax credits under Division G of the FFCRA or elsewhere in the CARES Act.
The CO shall report the following for each contract action where Section 3610 CARES Act is used:
● Any contract actions (new awards or modification) shall write “COVID-19 3610” in the beginning of the description field (Field 6M) in the FPDS contract action report.
● In addition to the FPDS report, any contract action shall be reported to OGP using the CARES Act Section 3610 Paid Leave Summary Google Sheet.
10. Point of Contact.
Any questions regarding this deviation may be directed to GSARPolicy@gsa.gov.
GSA Update 4/24/20
SUBJECT: FAR Class Deviation – Progress Payment Rates Based on Costs
1. Purpose. This memorandum approves a class deviation from the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to allow GSA to increase the customary progress payment rates from 80 percent to 90 percent for large businesses and 85 percent to 95 percent for small businesses.
2. Background. The Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been declared a national emergency and pandemic. The fluid nature of the situation is reflected in the mandatory closure of nonessential businesses, quarantines, travel restrictions, and other public safety limitations. Businesses are experiencing unprecedented negative effects as a result.
Through this class deviation GSA will allow contractors to receive more cash for work performed to keep their business and the supply chain going during the pandemic, by increasing the progress payment percentages paid to contractors. This effort is especially important to our small business partners that are more vulnerable to the economic disturbances caused by COVID-19. Specifically, this deviation will:
● Increase the customary progress payment rate from 80 percent to 90 percent for large businesses, applicable to the total costs of performing the contract.
● Increase the customary progress payment rate from 85 percent to 95 percent for contracts with small business concerns.
This deviation does not change the progress payment rate allowed for undefinitized contract actions, which remains limited at 80 percent . This deviation does not change the progress payment rate allowed for fixed price construction contracts, which provides contracting officer discretion for retainage up to 10 percent .
This deviation does not apply to performance based payments.
3. Authority. This class deviation is issued under the authority of FAR 1.404. Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAAC) Letter 2020-03, Class Deviation from the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to increase progress payments to 90 percent for large businesses and 95 percent for small businesses, issued April 15, 2020 serves as the consultation with the CAAC Chair.
4. Applicability. This class deviation applies to all contracts and orders where GSA is the only agency making payments.
5. Deviation. For fixed-price contracts with progress payments based on cost, GSA contracting officers may modify existing solicitations and contracts to:
● Follow the deviated guidance at FAR 32.501-1;
● Use FAR 52.232-16, Progress Payments (Apr 2012)(Deviation Apr 2020), in lieu of the clause at FAR 52.232-16, Progress Payments (Apr 2012); or,
● If the contractor is a small business concern, use Alternate I (Mar 2000)(Deviation Apr 2020), in lieu of Alternate I of FAR clause 52.232-16 (Mar 2000). See Attachment A for the deviated clauses and changes in the FAR text as revised by this deviation.
6. Effective Date. This class deviation is effective immediately and remains in effect until rescinded or incorporated into the FAR or GSAR.
7. Point of Contact. Questions regarding this class deviation may be directed to GSARPolicy@gsa.gov.
GSA Update 4/24/20
SUBJECT: Delegation of Authority
1. Purpose. This directive announces a delegation of authority to place rated orders pursuant to the Defense Prioritization and Allocation System (DPAS) to ensure continuity of Government operations for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
2. Cancellation. Cancels ADM 5450.174 and ADM 5450.173.
3. Delegation of Authority. With respect to the Rating Authority provided to GSA by the
Department of Commerce, per letter dated March 16, 2020 (SIES Rating Authorization 20-03-01), per letter dated March 23, 2020 (SIES Rating Authorization 20-03-02), and per the March 24, 2020, communication from Eric Longnecker, one of the signatories to SIES Authorization 20-03-02, stating that the scope of the rating authorization was intended to cover that which was requested by GSA, namely critical IT equipment used in providing healthcare:
a. The Administrator hereby delegates the authority to place DO priority rated orders, identified by the symbol “DO-N1”, to acquire critical IT equipment used in providing healthcare or telework emergency response equipment in support of GSA’s COVID-19 response and recovery activities through March 31, 2022, or until the Presidential Emergency Declaration is rescinded, to the following:
(1) Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service (Q),
(2) GSS Central Office Acquisition Division (QSAB) within the Office of General Supplies and Services (QS), and
(3) Federal Civilian Group (QFBE) within the Federal Systems Integration
and Management Center (FEDSIM) (QFB).
(4) Limitation on re-delegation. This authority may not be re-delegated.
b. The Administrator delegates the authority to place DO priority rated orders, identified by the symbol “DO-N7”, for cleaning supplies, including cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, in support of GSA’s COVID-19 response and recovery activities through March 31, 2022 or until the Presidential Emergency Declaration is rescinded to the following:
(1) Commissioner of the Federal Acquisition Service (Q) and
(2) GSS Central Office Acquisition Division (QSAB) within the Office of General Supplies and Services (QS).
(3) Limitation on re-delegation. This authority may not be re-delegated.
c. The Administrator hereby delegates to the Senior Procurement Executive authority to issue policies and procedures to monitor the acquisitions that carry a priority rating, identify any allegations of DPAS violations for reporting to the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (DOC/BIS), and monthly reporting to the DOC/BIS on the contracts assigned priority ratings and their dollar value.
GSA Update 4/21/20
In response to COVID-19, GSA is adjusting procedures for onboarding and offboarding contractors working on GSA contracts . Procedures for standard face-to-face credentialing, termination of credentials/building access, and issuance and collection of Government supplied Equipment (GFE) for contractors must be temporarily changed. The pandemic has created unique supply chain issues, resulting in a shortage of certain IT equipment. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Clause 52.245-1, Government Property outlines the contractual requirements related to the issuance and return of government property. Additionally, GSA contracting officers shall identify the specific types of government property in Section C or another appropriate section of the contract.
(i) Contractors requiring physical access to Government facilities .
GSA Update 4/20/20
SUBJECT: FAR Class Deviation – Accelerated Payments to Small Business Contractors and Subcontractors
1. Purpose. This memorandum approves a class deviation from the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to allow GSA to provide accelerated payments to small business contractors, with a goal of 15 days after receipt of a proper invoice. This deviation is intended to implement section 873 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2020 (Pub. L. 116-92).
2. Background. FAR 32.009 prescribes requirements and procedures for agencies to encourage accelerated payments to subcontractors. FAR 32.903(a)(5) allows agency heads to authorize the use of accelerated payment methods specified in 5 CFR 1315.5. The FAR requires contracting officers to insert the clause at FAR 52.232-40, Providing Accelerated Payments to Small Business Subcontractors, in solicitations and contracts. This clause requires prime contractors to provide accelerated payments to their small business subcontractors when the Government provides accelerated payments to the prime contractor. Currently, the FAR provides for accelerated payments to small business subcontractors only. Section 873 of the NDAA for FY 2020 amended 31 U.S.C. 3903 to provide for accelerated payments to prime contractors that subcontract with small business concerns and to prime contractors that are small businesses.
This class deviation will –
1) provide accelerated payments to prime contractors that are small businesses;
2) establish a goal of 15 days after receipt of a proper invoice for payments to prime contractors that are small business and prime contractors that subcontract with a small business concern; and
3) prohibit prime contractors from charging consideration or a fee to subcontractors when issuing accelerated payments.
3. Authority. This class deviation is issued under the authority of FAR 1.404. Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAAC) Letter 2020-02, Class Deviation from the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to provide for accelerated payments to small business contractors and subcontractors, issued April 6, 2020 serves at the consultation with the CAAC Chair.
4. Applicability. This class deviation applies to all contracts and orders where GSA is the only agency making payments. The deviation does not apply to Federal Supply Schedule contracts or Multi-agency Contracts.
5. Deviation. This deviation implements statutory law that encourages accelerated payments to prime contractors that are small businesses in addition to accelerated payments to prime contractors that subcontract with small business concerns addressed in FAR Part 32, Contract Financing.
When buying commercial items under FAR part 12, contracting officers shall use:
- 52.212-5, Contract Terms and Conditions Required To Implement Statutes or Executive Orders—Commercial Items (DEVIATION APR 2020), in place of 52.212-5, Contract Terms and Conditions Required To Implement Statutes or Executive Orders— Commercial Items (MAR 2020); and
- 52.244-6, Subcontracts for Commercial Items (DEVIATION APR 2020) in place of 52.244-6, Subcontracts for Commercial Items (AUG 2019).
When buying non commercial items using simplified approval procedures in FAR part 13, contracting officers shall use:
- 52.213-4, Terms and Conditions—Simplified Acquisitions (Other Than Commercial Items) (DEVIATION APR 2020) in place of 52.213-4, Terms and Conditions—Simplified Acquisitions (Other Than Commercial Items) (JAN 2020).
When buying non commercial items without FAR part 13, contracting officers shall use:
- 52.232-40, Providing Accelerated Payments to Small Business Subcontractors (DEVIATION APR 2020) in place of 52.232-40, Providing Accelerated Payments to Small Business Subcontractors (DEC 2013).
See Attachment A for the deviated clauses and changes in the FAR text as revised by this deviation.
6. Effective Date. This deviation is effective immediately and remains in effect until rescinded or incorporated into the FAR.
7. Point of Contact. Questions regarding this class deviation may be directed to GSARPolicy@gsa.gov.
GSA Update 4/20/20
SUBJECT: FAR and GSAR Class Deviation – Congressional Notification of Noncompetitive Procurement Determination in Response to a Public Health Emergency
1. Purpose. This memorandum approves a class deviation from the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and General Services Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) to implement Section 15003 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (P.L. 116-136) changing the requirement for notification to Congress for public interest exceptions to competition in response to a public health emergency.
2. Background. Section 15003 of the CARES Act changes the Congressional notification requirement specifically for public interest determinations by the GSA Administrator in response to a public health emergency. The FAR and General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR) do not address this specific scenario. This deviation implements a statutory change that allows GSA to notify Congress of a determination by the Administrator regarding an acquisition much closer to the time of contract award than under the current regulations, in specific circumstances. It sets a different timeline for GSA to notify Congress of not less than 3 days before a contract award, rather than the general time frame of not less than 30 days before a contract award. This class deviation is in response to a public health emergency where full and open competition of an acquisition is not in the public interest. The areas of the FAR and GSAR that are being amended by this class deviation are: FAR 6.302-7 and GSAM 506.302. JEFFREY KOSES Digitally signed by JEFFREY KOSES Date: 2020.04.08 16:15:21 -04’00’ 2
3. Authority. This class deviation is issued under the authority of FAR 1.404 and General Services Administration Acquisition Manual (GSAM) 501.404. This deviation is issued following consultation with the Chair of the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAAC) in accordance with FAR 1.404(a) and GSAM 501.404(a).
4. Deviation. See Attachment A for the changes in the FAR text as revised by this deviation. See Attachment B for the changes in the GSAR text as revised by this deviation.
5. Effective Date. This deviation is effective immediately and remains in effect until rescinded or incorporated into the FAR and GSAR.
6. Point of Contact. Any questions regarding this deviation may be directed to GSARPolicy@gsa.gov.
OMB Update 4/13/20
The Federal Government’s aggressive response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID19) includes an unprecedented economic relief package for Americans in need. A series of laws, including the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (Public Law 116-123), the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA; Public Law 116- 127), and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116- 136), provide direct economic relief to the American people, including individuals and small businesses, while providing health care resources to the front line battles where medical professionals are fighting the virus and defending the lives of Americans.
Time is of the essence, and the Administration is committed to the rapid delivery of these funds to the COVID-19 relief and response efforts. At the same time, spending transparency and regular reporting will provide important accountability mechanisms to help safeguard taxpayer dollars.
This Memorandum directs agencies to leverage and continue to employ existing financial transparency and accountability mechanisms wherever possible. In balancing speed with transparency, agencies are to consider the three core principles below:
- Mission achievement – Federal managers and recipients at all levels should use data and evidence to achieve program objectives;
- Expediency – Agencies should rapidly issue awards and fund programs to meet crucial needs; and
- Transparency and accountability – Agencies must report information on awards to provide the public with information in a clear, accurate, and timely manner.
Additional guidance providing further details related to implementation ofCOVID-19 relief and response efforts will be forthcoming, as needed. Questions related to this guidance can be directed to email@example.com.
GSA Update 4/13/20
GSA has provided this form for companies interested in being added to the list of available vendors to respond and provide background data, as well as to submit their company’s information, for an ordering guide, templates, and procurement resources for agencies needing to procure enhanced screening services for their facilities given the COVID-19 epidemic. While state and local agencies may use Schedules contracts’ products and services in their disaster recovery activities, to include these services, the primary purpose of this work is to support federal agencies.
GSA Update 4/6/20
Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, two key acquisition system extensions have been granted to enable greater flexibility for both vendors and contracting officers.
In SAM, current registrants with active registrations expiring before May 16, 2020 will be afforded a one-time extension of 60 days.
In eSRS, for contracts with individual subcontracting plans, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has extended the due date for submission of the Individual Subcontracting Report (ISR) required under FAR clause 52.219-9 for the period ending March 31, 2020 to June 30, 2020 (originally April 30, 2020). Additionally, for contracts completed between March 13, 2020 and May 31, 2020, the submission of the Final ISR is extended to June 30, 2020.
OMB Guidance and Memorandums
- OMB Memo M-20-18, Memo Managing Federal Contract Performance Issues Associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), (Issued March 20, 2020)
- OMB Memo M-20-19, Harnessing Technology to Support Mission Continuity,(Issued March 22, 2020)
- OMB Memo M-20-17, Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) due to Loss of Operations,(Issued March 19, 2020)
- Department of Defense (DOD)
- COVID-19 Guidance and Memorandums
- Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- Letter to DHS Contractors, (Issued March 5, 2020)
- CISA Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce (March 19, 2020)
- Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Memorandum from the Attorney General to All United States Attorneys, March 20, 2020 – This memorandum provides guidance to US Attorneys regarding movement of federal employees and other PIV/CAC card holders with respect to state and local limitations. The transmittal memorandum that accompanied this letter to the US Attorneys clarified the following: Please note that this guidance applies with equal force to Department of Defense employees who carry CAC (common access card) cards as well as to contract employees who carry PIV or CAC cards.
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
- Guidance to Vendors, (Issued March 10, 2020)
Government Response to Coronavirus, COVID-19
- Visit Coronavirus.gov for the latest official information from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Task Force at the White House.
- Visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for official Coronavirus (COVID-19) health information.
- Visit USA.gov for additional Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information.
Have Questions? Submit them here.
- NOTE: For agency-specific questions, please contact your Contracting Officer and/or agency OSDBU and/or the designated agency Industry Liaison for further guidance. The OMB MBX mailbox above is intended for feedback on the OMB guidance and general policy questions to OFPP.
Revised access procedures to protect workers from contracting coronavirus are in place beginning today at the Department of Homeland Security’s St. Elizabeth campus and may be extended to other sites, Chief Procurement Officer Soraya Correa said in a memo to the contractor community. “People without proper credentials or documentation, people who may be ill, and/or people who may pose a risk to others will not be granted access,” Correa said. Admission to work spaces will be limited to individuals who have been authorized access during the restricted access timeframe, with a government Personal Identity Verification (PIV), Common Access Card (CAC), or other documents allowing access.
The Office of Management and Budget issued guidance to assist agencies in managing contract performance issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, encouraging flexibility and best judgment in a rapid-evolving crisis situation. The guidance includes encouraging agencies and contractors to maximize telework and provide contract extensions whenever possible in situations where working remotely is not an option. The OMB memo also encourages agencies to use emergency procurement flexibilities as needed to meet demands.
Under the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s direction, FEMA, HHS and our federal partners continue to work closely with state, local, tribal and territorial governments in executing a whole-of-government response to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the public. The outpouring of support from the private sector to provide medical supplies and equipment has been tremendous. To help us match the many offers of assistance to the right place, at the right time, and in the right quantity, we ask for your help in ensuring partners know how to connect.
The Department continues to aggressively partner with the defense industry to mitigate impacts from COVID-19. Under Secretary of Defense Ellen Lord’s Acquisition and Sustainment leaders in Industrial Policy, Defense Pricing and Contracting, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and the Defense Contracting Management Agency (DCMA) have made significant progress in addressing specific concerns outlined by defense industry leaders. Vice Admiral David Lewis, DCMA Director, has worked closely with the contracting workforce and the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) to ensure that invoices are continuing to be paid in a timely manner.
Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $349 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses.
Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.
Under this program:
- Eligible recipients may qualify for a loan up to $10 million determined by 8 weeks of prior average payroll plus an additional 25% of that amount.
- Loan payments will be deferred for six months.
- If you maintain your workforce, SBA will forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.
Click here to learn more.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance
To apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan, click here.
In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.
The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.
SBA Debt Relief
The SBA Debt Relief program will provide a reprieve to small businesses as they overcome the challenges created by this health crisis.
Under this program:
- The SBA will also pay the principal and interest of new 7(a) loans issued prior to September 27, 2020.
- The SBA will pay the principal and interest of current 7(a) loans for a period of six months.
SBA Express Bridge Loans
Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program allows small businesses who currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be a term loans or used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan. If a small business has an urgent need for cash while waiting for decision and disbursement on Economic Injury Disaster Loan, they may qualify for an SBA Express Disaster Bridge Loan.
- Up to $25,000
- Fast turnaround
- Will be repaid in full or in part by proceeds from the EIDL loan
Find an Express Bridge Loan Lender by connecting with your local SBA District Office.
Guidance for Businesses and Employers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the most up-to-date information on COVID-19. This interim guidance is based on what is currently known about the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For updates from CDC, please see the following:
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Preventing Stigma Related to COVID-19
- Share Facts about COVID-19
- CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Web page
- Information on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Prevention, Symptoms and FAQ
The following interim guidance may help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings. The guidance also provides planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19.
To prevent stigma and discrimination in the workplace, use the guidance described below and on the CDC’s Guidance for Businesses and Employers web page.
Below are recommended strategies for employers to use now. In-depth guidance is available on the CDC’s Guidance for Businesses and Employers web page:
- Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
- Separate sick employees
- Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees
- Perform routine environmental cleaning
- Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps
- Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from designated countries with risk of community spread of Coronavirus, and information for aircrew, can be found on the CDC website.
- Additional Measures in Response to Currently Occurring Sporadic Importations of the COVID-19:
- Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
- If an employee is confirmed to have COVID-19, employers should inform fellow employees of their possible exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace but maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employees exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Common Issues Small Businesses May Encounter:
- Capital Access – Incidents can strain a small business’s financial capacity to make payroll, maintain inventory and respond to market fluctuations (both sudden drops and surges in demand). Businesses should prepare by exploring and testing their capital access options so they have what they need when they need it. See SBA’s capital access resources.
- Workforce Capacity – Incidents have just as much impact on your workers as they do your clientele. It’s critical to ensure they have the ability to fulfill their duties while protected.
- Inventory and Supply Chain Shortfalls – While the possibility could be remote, it is a prudent preparedness measure to ensure you have either adequate supplies of inventory for a sustained period and/or diversify your distributor sources in the event one supplier cannot meet an order request.
- Facility Remediation/Clean-up Costs – Depending on the incident, there may be a need to enhance the protection of customers and staff by increasing the frequency and intensity by which your business conducts cleaning of surfaces frequently touched by occupants and visitors. Check your maintenance contracts and supplies of cleaning materials to ensure they can meet increases in demand.
- Insurance Coverage Issues – Many businesses have business interruption insurance; Now is the time to contact your insurance agent to review your policy to understand precisely what you are and are not covered for in the event of an extended incident.
- Changing Market Demand – Depending on the incident, there may be access controls or movement restrictions established which can impede your customers from reaching your business. Additionally, there may be public concerns about public exposure to an incident and they may decide not to go to your business out of concern of exposing themselves to greater risk. SBA’s Resources Partners and District Offices have trained experts who can help you craft a plan specific to your situation to help navigate any rapid changes in demand.
- Marketing – It’s critical to communicate openly with your customers about the status of your operations, what protective measures you’ve implemented, and how they (as customers) will be protected when they visit your business. Promotions may also help incentivize customers who may be reluctant to patronize your business.
- Plan – As a business, bring your staff together and prepare a plan for what you will do if the incident worsens or improves. It’s also helpful to conduct a tabletop exercise to simulate potential scenarios and how your business management and staff might respond to the hypothetical scenario in the exercise. For examples of tabletop exercises, visit FEMA’s website at: https://www.fema.gov/emergency-planning-exercises
SBA Products and Resources
SBA is here to assist small businesses with accessing federal resources and navigating their own preparedness plans as described by the CDC’s Guidance for Businesses and Employers.
SBA works with a number of local partners to counsel, mentor and train small businesses. The SBA has 68 District Offices, as well as support provided by its Resource Partners, such as SCORE offices, Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. When faced with a business need, use the SBA’s Local Assistance Directory to locate the office nearest you.
Access to Capital
SBA provides a number of loan resources for small businesses to utilize when operating their business. For more information on loans or how to connect with a lender, visit: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans.
- 7(a) program offers loan amounts up to $5,000,000 and is an all-inclusive loan program deployed by lending partners for eligible small businesses within the U.S. States and its territories. The uses of proceeds include: working capital; expansion/renovation; new construction; purchase of land or buildings; purchase of equipment, fixtures; lease-hold improvements; refinancing debt for compelling reasons; seasonal line of credit; inventory; or starting a business.
- Express loan program provides loans up to $350,000 for no more than 7 years with an option to revolve. There is a turnaround time of 36 hours for approval or denial of a completed application. The uses of proceeds are the same as the standard 7(a) loan.
- Community Advantage loan pilot program allows mission-based lenders to assist small businesses in underserved markets with a maximum loan size of $250,000. The uses of proceeds are the same as the standard 7(a) loan.
- 504 loan program is designed to foster economic development and job creation and/or retention. The eligible use of proceeds is limited to the acquisition or eligible refinance of fixed assets.
- Microloan program involves making loans through nonprofit lending organizations to underserved markets. Authorized use of loan proceeds includes working capital, supplies, machinery & equipment, and fixtures (does not include real estate). The maximum loan amount is $50,000 with the average loan size of $14,000.
SBA provides export loans to help small businesses achieve sales through exports and can help these businesses respond to opportunities and challenges associated with trade, such as COVID-19. The loans are available to U.S. small businesses that export directly overseas, or those that export indirectly by selling to a customer that then exports their products.
- Export Express loan program allows access to capital quickly for businesses that need financing up to $500,000. Businesses can apply for a line of credit or term note prior to finalizing an export sale or while pursuing opportunities overseas, such as identifying a new overseas customer should an export sale be lost due to COVID-19.
- Export Working Capital program enables small businesses to fulfill export orders and finance international sales by providing revolving lines of credit or transaction-based financing of up to $5 million. Businesses could use a loan to obtain or retain overseas customers by offering attractive payment terms.
- International Trade loan program helps small businesses engaged in international trade to retool or expand to better compete and react to changing business conditions. It can also help exporting firms to expand their sales to new markets or to re-shore operations back to the U.S.
SBA is focused on assisting with the continuity of operations for small business contracting programs and small businesses with federal contracts. For more information on federal contracting, visit https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-guide
- 8(a) Business Development program serves to help provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities, and the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate. The 8(a) program offer and acceptance process is available nationwide, and the SBA continues to work with federal agencies to ensure maximum practicable opportunity to small businesses. 8(a) program participants should stay in touch with their Business Opportunity Specialist (BOS).
- HUBZone program offers eligibility assistance every Thursday from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET at 1-202-765-1264; access code 63068189#. Members of the HUBZone team answer questions to help firms navigate the certification process. For specific questions regarding an application, please contact the HUBZone Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Women-owned Small Business firms who have questions, please visit www.sba.gov/wosbready or write to email@example.com.
If a situation occurs that will prevent small businesses with government contracts from successfully performing their contract, they should reach out to their contracting officer and seek to obtain extensions before they receive cure notices or threats of termination. The SBA’s Procurement Center Representatives can assist affected small businesses to engage with their contracting officer. Use the Procurement Center Representative Directory to connect with the representative nearest you.
SBA works with a number of local partners to counsel, mentor, and train small businesses. The SBA has 68 District Offices, as well as support provided by its Resource Partners, such as SCORE offices, Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers. When faced with a business need, use the SBA’s Local Assistance Directory to locate the office nearest you.