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  2. We're having them conduct floor checks virtually. However, in this environment, not everyone they are floor checking has a camera on their computer and they've been trying to use FaceTime or similar app on a smart phone. Our employees don't like getting an unannounced video call while working from home during this situation, especially with ITC concerns. We've had some concerns about social engineering, too.
  3. Interesting points. I've checked a couple of legal sites and I'm seeing that the FFCRA only applies to companies with less than 500 employees. If a contractor has more than 500 employees, then the FFCRA is not applicable.
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  6. I agree with bob7947. The contractor must first figure out the amount of the refundable tax credit to which it is entitled under the FFCRA (Division G) before it can seek relief under section 3610 of the CARES Act (Division A). That shouldn't be too difficult to do; however, because the CARES Act was enacted in March and FFCRA did not go into effect until April 1, contractors will have to look to CARES to recover reimbursement for the cost of paid leave they provided to their employees during parts of March to keep them in a ready state and to protect contractor-employees and federal employees. Of course, other conditions must be met, too to recover under CARES. The reason for the paid leave must have been because the job site (e.g., building) was closed or because other restrictions were in place, AND the contractor's work was not portable, meaning the work could not be done remotely. For example, we instructed employees and contractors not to come to our building if they were exhibiting flu-like symptoms, if they had been tested for COVID-19, tested positive for COVID-19 or if they felt ill, or if they had been in contact with anyone that had these symptoms. If their work was not portable (e.g., maintenance technicians, lighting technicians), the restriction we imposed entitles them to recover under CARES. Also noteworthy, FFCRA also provides funds to employers to allow its employees to take leave for childcare reasons if a child's school is closed. However, CARES does not appear to provide authority to reimburse contractors for leave they give their employees to stay home for childcare reasons. So, unless FFCRA is applicable retroactively, contractors who provided paid leave for childcare reasons in March may not be able to recover under CARES.
  7. Circling back to report that after reviewing several active FAPIIS records, we found that it is common for the CO to attach the termination notice and the termination modification. I didn't see an instance of a CO posting a copy of the CO's memo to file, but that does not mean it isn't permissible. The contractor has a 7-day period to review the information and assert to the CO that the posted information is covered by a disclosure exemption under FOIA. At that point, the CO must within 7 calendar days remove the posting while it determines whether the information is releasable or protected. If it isn't, the information can be re-posted. So it seems that the CO can pretty much post anything it deems appropriate for other agencies to review when making responsibility determinations, unless the contractor claims the information is exempted from release (and the CO confirms this). It is worthy to note that the information is publicly viewable 14 days after the CO posts it in FAPIIS.
  8. Telecommute by contractors goes back so long I had to look it up. The FAR was revised in 2003 to allow it based on a statutory action.
  9. Research pointer: For some reason, the FAR uses the words, "telecommuting" and "telecommute" rather than "teleworking" or "telework."
  10. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act created the Paycheck Protection Program as one tool to help small businesses. But it also provided for additional emergency funds under the SBA’s existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Congress appropriated $10 billion for the program. Here are some of the main details on this program. The CARES Act expands and modifies the existing EIDL program in a number of important ways. The existing loan rules, unless modified, will still apply. The SBA West Virginia office has a helpful overview of the EIDL program here that goes through some of those existing rules. Here are some main items that the CARES Act modifies. Eligible Entities. Disaster declarations have been issued for each State and Territory of the U.S., which means these loans are available throughout the U.S. Eligible entities includes a business, cooperative, ESOP, or certain tribal small business concerns that have 500 employees or less. Also included are individuals operating as a sole proprietorship or independent contractor. This is in addition to the small business concerns, private nonprofit organizations, and small agricultural cooperatives that were already eligible under the existing disaster loan program. Interest Rates. For Businesses and Small Agricultural Cooperatives without Credit Available Elsewhere, the interest rate will be 3.750%. For Non-Profit Organizations without Credit Available Elsewhere, the rate will be 2.750%. Advances. The SBA can provide up to $10,000 within within 3 days after the SBA receives an application, as long as the advance for allowable purposes such as sick leave for employees due to COVID–19, maintaining payroll, meeting increased costs for materials, making rent or mortgage payment, or paying other debts. Interestingly, the “applicant shall not be required to repay any amounts of an advance provided under this subsection, even if subsequently denied a loan.” If the applicant gets a loan, “the advance amount shall be reduced from the loan forgiveness amount for a loan for payroll costs.” Other Terms. In addition, certain restrictions are waived for loans made in response to COVID–19: Rules related the personal guarantee on advances and loans of not more than $200,000 during the covered period for all applicants; The requirement that an applicant needs to be in business for the 1-year period before the disaster, as long as the business was in operation on January 31, 2020; and The requirement that an applicant be unable to obtain credit elsewhere. (although there is still a requirement that the loan cannot cover losses covered by insurance–no double recovery) In addition, the SBA cannot require a tax return to establish credit. Rather, it can be based on credit score or an alternative method. The law also keeps the existing maximum for these loans, which is $2 million per applicant. Covered Period. Loans are allowed for the period January 31, 2020 through December 31, 2020 (what the law calls the covered period). According to the SBA, though, the application deadline is from December 16, 2020 through December 21, 2020, depending on the date of the disaster declaration. For instance, SBA declared disaster in California on March 16, so the deadline to apply is December 16. For additional details, be sure to check the SBA’s guidance, as the details on this program are being filled in rapidly. View the full article
  11. This past week, SmallGovCon continued to provide important updates and insights related to how federal contractors can prepare and support their business during this unprecedented response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because we’ve provided a lot of information, I’ve summarized what our authors discussed in the past week, as well as providing a roundup of other news in the government contracting arena. Here’s what our authors wrote about: Details on the new Paycheck Protection Program, including whether foreign-owned entities qualify based on the application form. Defense Department guidance on contractors dealing with challenges caused by COVID-19 and watching out for adversarial capital Our tips on how contractors can deal with work stoppages and suspensions, what the increase in acquisition thresholds means for various contracting rules, and a refresher on the Buy American Act. A spotlight on our client Penn Parking and its push to make face shields for healthcare professionals. But there is plenty more information out there. Here are some other interesting news stories in the world of federal contracting: Air Force ramps up use of white-hat hackers to test its IT networks. [fedscoop] Will the latest deadline begin to change the trajectory of GSA’s EIS program? [federalnewsnetwork] Pentagon looks to help keep small federal contractors afloat. [federalnewsnetwork] Pentagon to Modify Hundreds of Contracts for COVID-19 Response. [nextgov] Coronavirus Roundup: Government Prepares to Send Stimulus Checks, IRS Begins Mandatory Telework for Nearly All Employees. [govexec] Coronavirus Rewrites Business Rules for Small Federal Contractors. [afcea.org] Katie Arrington Offers Updates on Pentagon’s CMMC Program. [govconwire] Coronavirus spending heating up as March comes to a close. [washingtontechnology] Wartime Production Law Has Been Used Routinely, but Not With Coronavirus. [nytimes] GSA opens up MAS contracts to state and local governments. [federalnewsnetwork] Vendors pile on the telework bandwagon. [fcw] Corps of Engineers Converts NYC’s Javits Center Into Hospital. [defense.gov] Federal contracts for coronavirus needs get money moving. [federalnewsnetwork] View the full article
  12. Well-stated @formerfed. If we kept simplified procedures simple, to include proposals and evaluation criteria, even a complete explanation wouldn't take much effort. While there are simplified procedures for awarding contracts, there is no simplified procedure for handling a protest. With few exceptions, the same protest rules apply regardless of the contract's dollar value. Here's a way to look at it: The "brief explanation" (for FAR Subpart 8.4 and FAR 13.106-3(d)), like the debriefing for Part 15, is not the last step in the source selection process, it is the first step in the bid protest process. Just to be clear, I'm not advocating any particular level of detail. I'm suggesting that the considerations a PCO looks to in deciding the level of detail of an explanation are the same considerations a PCO would look to in deciding the level of detail (beyond the minimum) of a debriefing.
  13. Taxpayers Paid Millions to Design a Low-Cost Ventilator for a Pandemic. Instead, the Company Is Selling Versions of It Overseas.
  14. This again reminds me of something Steve Kelman said - the federal government procurement process is the only place where a company can sue their customer.
  15. Two different opinions expressed by ji20874 and Jacques. I’m guessing that’s based upon different approaches using FAR part 8.4. Ji20874 is correct in that FAR 8.4 uses a streamlined ordering process with very simple rules and debriefings don’t apply. I always tell people to disclose price and rational why a company was selected. That should be it. i think Jacques advise pertains to situations where people apply a FAR 15 selection process to GSA Schedule ordering. In that case if a selection looks like a formal process, probably a debriefing type explanation is needed, especially to avoid a protest where an offeror wants more information. The lesson is don’t complicate 8.4 but lots of agencies don’t seem to get it.
  16. Based on the text of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the fact that a company has foreign owners shouldn’t necessarily disqualify it from participating in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). But the form used to apply says otherwise. A company seeking to participate in the program must fill out an application designated as Small Business Administration Form 2483. It requires the applicant to answer several questions, one of which is whether it is a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Legal Resident. If the applicant answers “no” to the question, the application, according to the form, is automatically denied. The program, however, is for “small business concerns”–not necessarily domestically-owned small business concerns. In fact, the CARES Act defines small business concern according to the Small Business Act. In general, the Small Business Act gives the SBA the authority to determine what businesses are small and what are not. As mentioned previously, the SBA has defined a “business concern” as “a business entity organized for profit, with a place of business located in the United States, and which operates primarily within the United States or which makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy through payment of taxes or use of American products, materials, or labor.” Did you catch the “or” in there? As we’ve written about before—although under wildly different circumstances—that “or” means that a foreign-owned entity can be a small business under the SBA’s rules so long as it is 1) organized for profit, 2) has a place of business in the U.S., and 3) contributes to the U.S. economy by paying taxes or using American products, materials, or labor. In short, if you have a U.S. office and you employ U.S. citizens, the SBA says you can be a small business concern. So why does the PPP application say you have to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident? No idea. We know the purpose of the program is provide funds that allow businesses to keep workers on payroll who might otherwise be laid off due to the coronavirus. In fact, the form in question requires the applicant to certify that it will use the funds to retain workers and maintain payroll (or to make certain payments) or face criminal fraud charges. So, there should be no reason why a domestically-owned entity that employs 20 U.S. citizens should be eligible while a foreign-owned entity that employs 400 U.S. citizens should not if the overall goal is to keep jobs from going away. You might be asking yourself, what’s to prevent such an entity from using that money to fund overseas jobs? Well, the application already requires the offeror to make certain promises as to how it will use the money or face criminal fraud charges. It could easily say that the applicant certifies it will use the funds to keep American workers on payroll. Reportedly, the approval process will be handled by the lender, with no SBA oversight. That means, even if the SBA might consider a foreign-owned entity eligible, a lender would probably default to what the form says, and the form says U.S. Citizens and permanent residents only. Where does that leave a foreign-owned entity with a significant U.S. presence, and more importantly where does that leave their workers? Potentially, in the lurch. If this is a mistake, there’s not much time to correct it. PPP loans go live April 3. View the full article
  17. I have a hard time forming any opinion withOUT knowing the circumstances of the protest.
  18. I didn’t find anything either. Maybe an agency level protest?
  19. I have searched the GAO website using "Agiliti," "ventilators" and "Vyaire" but have not found a recent decision mentioning any. Maybe someone else may have better success.
  20. By Julia Coon, As you are completing your annual spring cleaning, do not forget to spruce up your Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) contract. It is important to regularly review and update your MAS contract to ensure your company is in compliance with your contract requirements. Some of the key areas to review when sprucing up your MAS contract are highlighted below. Digital Certificates & Authorized Negotiators: All contractors should ensure their digital certificates are active and the information entered in eMod matches your digital certificate. It is highly recommended that at least two authorized negotiators with signature authority maintain active digital certificates. It is also important to review and adjust, if necessary, the authorized negotiators and contract points of contact. If this information is not updated, you could be missing important communication from your Contracting Officer. Mass Modifications: GSA periodically issues mass modifications to incorporate solicitation changes to your contract. Current Schedule contractors should have received mass modification #A812 for the MAS Consolidation. Ensure that you have reviewed and accepted this mass modification before the deadline of July 31, 2020. Sales Reporting & Industrial Funding Fee (IFF) Payments: All contractors are required to submit either monthly or quarterly sales reports in the FAS Sales Reporting Portal (SRP) within thirty (30) days following the end of the reporting period. The IFF of 0.75% must be remitted to GSA within thirty (30) days following the end of each quarter. Contractors should verify in the FAS SRP that all sales reports and IFF payments have been submitted. Electronic Subcontracting Reporting System (eSRS) Reports: Contractors who are an Other than Small Business and have a small business subcontracting plan incorporated into their contract must submit their Individual Subcontract Reports (ISR) and/or the Summary Subcontract Report (SSR). Contractors with a commercial subcontracting plan must submit one SSR for the 10/01 – 09/30 period by October 30th. Contractors with individual subcontracting plans, must submit the ISR for the 10/01 – 03/31 period by April 30th and the ISR for the 04/01 – 09/30 period and the SSR for the 10/01 – 09/30 period by October 30th. GSA Advantage Pricelist: The recent MAS Consolidation mass modification #A812 requires contractors to upload a new price list reflecting the new Multiple Award Schedule and Special Item Numbers (SINs) within thirty (30) days after acceptance of the mass modification. If you have already accepted the mass modification, ensure you have submitted a new price list in the Schedules Input Program (SIP). Contract Modifications: Contractors should continually review their product/service offerings, pricing, and terms and conditions on contract. If any updates are required, a formal modification must be submitted in eMod to your Contracting Officer. GSA recently released modification guidance for the Multiple Award Schedule that all contractors must follow when preparing new modifications. Centre’s Consulting Team is ready to assist you with cleaning up your MAS contract. If you have any questions, you may reach out to us here. About the Author: Julia Coon Consultant Julia Coon is GSA and VA Contract Consultant at Centre Law & Consulting. Julia works with the GSA/VA team in preparing new schedule proposals and post-award contract administration. She has experience in producing schedule renewal packages, various modification packages, small business subcontracting plans, and updates to GSA price lists. The post Spring Cleaning: It’s Time to Spruce Up Your Multiple Award Schedule appeared first on Centre Law & Consulting. View the full article
  21. The same way it's done for people working in multiple locations. Nothing new here.
  22. Seems a bid protest contributed to the CDC’s national stockpile of ventilators failing. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/us/politics/coronavirus-ventilators.html In fact, the contract with a company that was maintaining the machines expired at the end of last summer, and a contract protest delayed handing the job to Agiliti, a Minneapolis-based provider of medical equipment services and maintenance. Agiliti was not given the $38 million task until late January, when the scope of the global coronavirus crisis was first becoming clear. It is not known whether problems with the ventilators predated the contract lapse, but maintenance of the machines did halt. That delay may become a potentially deadly lapse. “We were given a stop-work order before we’d even started,” said Tom Leonard, the chief executive of Agiliti, which had won the contract to service the ventilators in the stockpile. “Between the time of the original and the time of this contract award, I don’t know who was responsible or if anybody was responsible for those devices. But it was not us.” This is the protested contract solicitation or contract LTV1200-75A50119R00041 https://fbo.gov.surf/FBO/Solicitation/LTV1200-75A50119R00041 This is the new contract 75A50120C00005 https://govtribe.com/award/federal-contract-award/definitive-contract-75a50119c00070 Thoughts?
  23. Are there any documented “best practices”* for providing a “brief explanation” of the basis of award for orders under a FAR Part 8 MAS? * See ( note the applicable references) https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Best_practice The term “Best practices” should refer to practices adopted through formal processes, not simply personal experiences or personal opinions. Or are you just looking for recommended practices or techniques, based upon someone’s personal experience or other reference?
  24. Last week, John Mattox wrote of OMB’s guidance to contracting officers in dealing with the extraordinary challenges caused by COVID-19. Among other things, OMB instructed agencies to be flexible in providing extensions on performance deadline and encouraged open communication with industry partners on the response to COVID-19. Now, the Department of Defense—the federal government’s largest purchasing unit—has issued its own guidance to constituent agencies. Overall, DoD’s guidance echoes much of what OMB provided, as we’ve discussed in previous posts. For example, DoD notes that its contract “contain clauses that excuse performance delays” and that prevent a contractor from being held in default “because of a failure to perform the contract if the failure arises beyond the control and without the fault or negligence of the contractor.” In such cases, DoD instructs that the contractor should be given an equitable adjustment to the contract schedule and, perhaps, the contract price. Though DoD’s guidance acknowledges that requests for equitable adjustment are no doubt forthcoming, it instructs agencies to consider them “on a case-by-case basis, in consideration of the particular circumstances of each contract, impacts realized from COVID-19, applicable law and regulations, and inclusive of any relief that may be authorized by laws enacted in response to this national emergency.” In other words, requests for equitable adjustment will still not be a sure thing. For this reason, we think that contractors should communicate frequently with their contracting officers and extensively document their COVID-19 related costs and delays, as doing so should help make any future claim easier to establish. Finally, DoD reminded its agencies of their new authority to modify contracts to reimburse contractors for paid leave if contractor employees are not able to access work sites or telework but otherwise needed to retain the employees to keep them in a ready state. Because this authority was only recently granted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, implementing guidance is still being developed. Overall, DoD’s new guidance is a helpful reminder that we’re all in this together. “Both during and after the COVID-19 emergency,” DoD wrote, “contracting officers must work closely with our industry partners to ensure continuity of operations and mission effectiveness” while also maintaining the industrial base serving national security. If you have any questions about dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 on your federal contracts, please give me a call. In the meantime, stay healthy! View the full article
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