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Coronavirus Impact

Coronavirus Impact  

26 members have voted

  1. 1. What Impact has the Coronavirus outbreak made to your work environment?

    • No Impact - Conduct business as usual
      6
    • Some Impact - Conducting business but with some limitations
      9
    • Significant Impact - Conducting business has been degraded or shut down
      1
    • My office is allowing the option to work from home
      10


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4 hours ago, joel hoffman said:

There isn’t necessarily a blank check available to KO’s or Contractors within the four corners of the contract “if contractors are injured financially” for every aspect of  financial loss.

Agreed.  And I’m not saying that.  But what I am saying is many contracting officers don’t know what to do, but they should, or afraid to act unless someone tells them word for word what they must say and write.  Guidance to contractors say work with your COs, tell them how you are addressing issues, and get CO buy in.  
 

When companies incur significant costs from teleworking such as need to purchase computers, licenses for specialized software, communications, etc, they must tell COs their plans, provide documentation and supporting rational, and COs need to quickly analyze , negotiate, and modify the contracts.  Not the normal six months that often is the case.

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Does anyone know if the federal government is going appointment an office within the acquisition community to start collecting the lessons learned during the Corona virus outbreak?

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formerfed,

It is too easy just to point at contracting officers.  Really, agency heads and senior executives should be taking the lead in determining agency policies and providing direction and cover to their contracting officers.  If agency heads and senior executives want the process to speed up, they can make it happen.  Or not.

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42 minutes ago, AAC said:

Does anyone know if the federal government is going appointment an office within the acquisition community to start collecting the lessons learned during the Corona virus outbreak?

Not saying this is exactly it but it might the basis for a start.   Sharing in case you had not yet seen.....

https://www.acquisition.gov/coronavirus

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Thank You! Other resources a NCMA website as well:

 

 

Law Firm Guidance 

 

Articles 

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4 hours ago, ji20874 said:

formerfed,

It is too easy just to point at contracting officers.  Really, agency heads and senior executives should be taking the lead in determining agency policies and providing direction and cover to their contracting officers.  If agency heads and senior executives want the process to speed up, they can make it happen.  Or not.

ji20874,

Perhaps.  Certainly those agencies where the procurement function is well understood, including its importance, getting prompt action may not be an issue.  However in lots of agencies, the OMB memo and other policy guidance just refers to COs.  Likely the assumption by senior management is COs will take care of things.

I view this as an opportunity for 1102s to take charge, show initiative, and makes things happen.  

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I was interested to see that the Memo came from OMB but not OFPP.

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formerfed,

The OMB memo talks about three things:

1.  Contractor telework. Changes clause for services already allows the Government to change the place of performance with equitable adjustment as needed.

2.  Performance difficulties.  It reminds us to provide period of performance extensions when contractors face problems because of the virus — extensions, not money.

3.  New procurements.  It reminds us of existing authorities for new procurements during an emergency.

However, the OMB memo does not authorize individual contracting officers to push money to contractors.  The OMB memo changes nothing — it only reminds of already-existing correct principles.  It does not authorize individual contracting officers to make contractors whole from financial loss caused by circumstances associated with the virus situation.

I agree that contracting officers should be engaged and should use the flexibilities they have to be as responsive as possible in contract administration.  But they must not act without support from agency heads and senior executives — they need to be involved.

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2 hours ago, ji20874 said:

The OMB memo talks about three things:

I suggest an adjustment to No. 2. and adding a number 4.

Number 2 is "Performance delay".  Performance difficulties are left to existing agency practices.

Number 4.  "Performance Retooling"  to adapt or alter a contract to make it more useful or suitable within the exiting contract's scope in addressing needed actions with regard to COVID-19. 

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That's a good add, Carl.  And that fits within the existing Changes clauses.  The key point is that the OMB memo only reminds us of existing authorities within the contracts -- it does not grant new authorities to contracting officers.

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Suggest Bob consider creating a new topic for COVID-19 discussions.

In the meantime, on 20 March ASN (RD&D) issued a memo to all Navy Syscom Commanders and PEOs, directing (among other actions) the following--

  • Immediately reduce retentions/withholds to an absolute minimum
  • Pay all settled REAs immediately
  • Submit requests for obligation of expired funds where required to support REA payments immediately
  • Resolve all remaining REAs "as quickly as possible, including preparing provisional payments where appropriate with reservation of right to recoup any overpayment upon final settlement" -- the phrase "max pace" was used
  • Adjust inspection criteria where needed "to enable work execution at a faster rate"
  • Accelerate negotiations and award for future work including the use of UCAs as necessary, "including contract changes in the pipeline [for] existing contracts"
  • Maximize obligations and allowable expenditures against UCAs. "Consult with DASN (P) on additional authorities up to and including obligations up to 100%"

The memo concludes "This is not business as usual situation."

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That last quote in the memo that “this is not business as unusual” is what this is all about.  Of course nothing from OMB or other agencies say give away money, don’t use business judgement, or grant new authorities.  You all are missing the issue which is make things happen quickly.  That’s why OMB sent the memo to agency heads instead of OFPP.  That’s why lots of phone calls are going on about “this isn’t business as usual”.

You can’t tell contractors to suddenly telework, shut down the government, and curtail many routine government/industry interactions and expect contractors to perform without any financial impact.  All this says is for contractors to get with COs, explain matters, and submit documentation of impacts.  It’s also saying for COs to quickly analyze, negotiate, and issue modifications and renegotiate contracts when applicable.

As I mentioned earlier, many agencies aren’t set up to do that.  COs aren’t capable, procurement offices are filled with bureaucratic reviews and approvals, and typical actions like this takes many months to perform. Be honest and ask yourself what’s the typical time at your agency to process and settle REAs?

All of this is within existing rules and regulations.  

I just saw DoD now is using 95% progress payments for small and 90% for large.  I also heard CFOs are being told to speed up all payments and delays won’t be tolerated.  

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Should there be a centralized Federal Acquisitions Emergency Operations Center established to control all this guidance that is coming out?   How are people learning what works and what does not work in this chaotic environment? ............Not business as usual.

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formerfed,

  • I am sympathetic.  But has any agency has waived or relaxed any of the bureaucratic reviews and approvals you mentioned?  Any single agency?  Just one?  That takes agency heads and senior executives -- that takes leadership -- individual contracting officers cannot do that.  

here_2_help,

  • That Navy memo will only make things worse for Navy contracting officers.  For example". "Pay all settled REAs immediately."  Okay, first, the contracting officer's boss is going to ask the contracting officer to prepare a report on all REAs.  Then, the contracting officer's boss is going to as the contracting officer to provide weekly (no, how about daily!) reports on REA progress.  Thus, the contracting officer will not be working on REAs with the contractor; rather, the contracting officer will be satisfying the bureaucratic review and approval chain mentioned by formerfed.  Multiply this for every item on your list.

I'm trying to be practical -- we cannot point fingers at the contracting officer as the problem -- they are not the problem (well, individually, some of them might be, but I'm speaking more systemically).  Agency heads and senior executives need to step up -- a first step might be waiving or relaxing some of the steps in the bureaucratic reviews and approvals processes.  And giving cover from the top -- how any contracting officers expect understanding or support six months from now when the file is undergoing an internal audit? 

p.s.  Our entire culture seems to be set up to take away any flexibilities that the FAR allegedly gives to contracting officers -- a contracting officer can't even blow his or her nose without getting permission from someone else.  That is the problem.  And six months from now, the culture will be finding fault with anything done by competent and forward-thinking problem-solving contracting officers -- and where will their top cover be then?

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57 minutes ago, here_2_help said:

Suggest Bob consider creating a new topic for COVID-19 discussions.

In the meantime, on 20 March ASN (RD&D) issued a memo to all Navy Syscom Commanders and PEOs, directing (among other actions) the following--

H2H:  

I will.  Do you have a link to the Navy memo.

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ji20874,

I couldn’t agree more.  You hit the nail on the head.  
Its like the old chicken and egg analogy.  Do COs lack boldness and promptness in taking actions because they get second guessed and delayed to the point where they lack motivation and confidence, or are all the reviews and approvals in place because COs weren’t capable? 
 

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1 hour ago, bob7947 said:

H2H:  

I will.  Do you have a link to the Navy memo.

I have the memo in my possession, but I do not have a link to give you. Sorry!

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1 hour ago, ji20874 said:

here_2_help,

  • That Navy memo will only make things worse for Navy contracting officers.  For example". "Pay all settled REAs immediately."  Okay, first, the contracting officer's boss is going to ask the contracting officer to prepare a report on all REAs.  Then, the contracting officer's boss is going to as the contracting officer to provide weekly (no, how about daily!) reports on REA progress.  Thus, the contracting officer will not be working on REAs with the contractor; rather, the contracting officer will be satisfying the bureaucratic review and approval chain mentioned by formerfed.  Multiply this for every item on your list.

I agree! This top-down direction puts tremendous pressure on the COs. One area that comes to mind is the review process for FPRAs. No contractor is going to achieve the rates in current FPRAs, and many may start cancelling them. At a minimum, they are going to look for a quick modification to increase bid rates for estimated impacts from the pandemic. If those changes will need to be boarded, that's not going to play well.

The press releases indicate that DOD leadership is speaking daily with industry associations. We know which associations. And we know which contractors dominate them. If the bureaucracy doesn't support the messaging from DOD leadership to the big contractors, I'm fairly confident the situation is going to be raised, quickly and loudly.

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I opened a new sub-forum for Covid under the Contracting Forum.  It should operate as any other sub-forum under contracting.  I won't close this topic yet because it still appears to be ongoing.  However, transition new discussions to the COVID-19 sub-topic.  I'm sure there will be plenty to talk about.

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