On Friday, April 17 the Trump administration released guidance to clarify how and when agencies can reimburse contractors as outlined in the recently enacted novel coronavirus economic relief legislation.
The Office of Management and Budget published a memo to supplement Section 3610 of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act, which allows federal agencies to use their funds to give contractors sick or paid leave during the pandemic if they are not able to access their worksites or telework. Although the administration advised agencies to “maximize telework” for contractors, that is not possible for many contractor jobs, including some involving sensitive or classified work. Trade associations that represent federal contractors previously welcomed this provision, but then asked for more clarification.
For applicable contractors, agencies can “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,” according to the legislation. The new guidance says agencies can use their funds to reimburse contractors from the period of March 27 (when the CARE Act was signed) to September 30, 2020. Initially, the bill did not give a start date.
Additionally, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy within OMB “has developed [the] guidance to help agencies make rational business decisions that balance the need for contractor resiliency with the need for good stewardship,” Michael Wooten, OFPP administrator, told Government Executive on Friday. This includes being mindful of the challenges small businesses face and helping contractors secure the correct documentation they need for reimbursement.
The Contracting Education Academy at Georgia Tech has established a webpage where all contract-related developments related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) are summarized. Find the page at: https://contractingacademy.gatech.edu/coronavirus-information-for-contracting-officers-and-contractors/