Just over a month ago, the Pentagon told its contracting officers and contract administrators to boost the amount of money it pays vendors in the form of progress payments as one way to increase their cash flow amidst a sagging economy. And the dollars have indeed started flowing.
As of last week, DoD had made $1.2 billion in additional progress payments because of the higher rates — which rose from 80% to 90% of the total contract value for large companies, and from 90% to 95% in the case of small firms. Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and sustainment told reporters she expected the figure to rise to $3 billion in “the next week or two.”
For context, the department’s outlays for contracts are about $25 billion in total during an average month, making the $3 billion in accelerated payments a not-insubstantial sum. Lord said the added progress payments happened across 1,400 separate contracts, mostly because of a mass-modification the Defense Contract Management Agency processed to boost payment rates.
However, one open question — in the case of large contracts — is how quickly bigger firms are passing the advance payments down through their supply chains. Those figures, Lord said, are more difficult to track.
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/