BY BORIS HERTSLET

Hertslet

The 3rd quarter of  fiscal 2020 is off to a difficult start, to say the least. COVID-19 has uprooted us from our routines and tossed us into a new, unknown “normal.” Businesses not providing essential services have been temporarily shuttered. While nothing can fully replace the loss of a few months of economic activity, there are various types of federal assistance available to business owners.

After a minor hiccup, the Small Business Administration COVID-19 Relief website is up and running: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options. Here, small business owners can learn about:

  • The Paycheck Protection Program, which provides loan forgiveness for retaining employees;
  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loan, which provides up to $10,000 of economic relief;
  • The Express Bridge , which provide access to $25,000 quickly; and
  • SBA Debt Relief, which assists current SBA loan holders

Some of these applications are completed online and some at participating lenders. Business owners may require assistance with these application. Assistance is offered by the SBA Guam Branch office: phone 671-472-7277 or email [email protected]

Free application assistance is also available via the Pacific Islands Small Business Development Center Network. Small Business Development Centers are located on Guam, Saipan, Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Yap, and Palau. Contact information is available here: https://www.pacificsbdc.com/contact-pisbdcn.

While much work in the private sector has come to a standstill, in times of crisis, federal contracting marches on. However, contractors might have issues with supply or labor shortages during the COVID19 crisis. Because of this, federal contractors should check the FAR and DFARS clauses in their current contracts.

For example, a cost-reimbursable contract might include FAR 52.249-14 Excusable Delays, which provide an exception to default if performance is disrupted for acts outside of the contractor’s control. A labor or supply shortage due to COVID-19 may be applicable. The key is to document any and all changes to your work conditions and to maintain communication with your contracting officer.

Speaking of communication, a March 20 memo from Margaret Weichert, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget to all executive branch agency heads discussed the need to have “…continued communication by agencies with their contractors, both small and large, and effective leveraging of flexibilities and authorities to help minimize work disruption.” Deputy Director Weichert further discusses options like telework, agency flexibility with respect to extending performance dates, and use of the increased micro-purchase threshold (now at $20,000). You can read the memo here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/M-20-18.pdf

In an effort to get payments into the hands of DOD contractors quicker, a class deviation memo was issued by Kim Herrington, acting principal director of defense pricing and contracting. It increased the progress payment rates for contracts subject to DFARS 232.501-1 Progress Payments Based on Costs. Large businesses rates are increased to 90% (up from 80%) and small business rates are increased to 95% (up from 90%). The memo is available here: https://media.defense.gov/2020/Mar/22/2002268032/-1/-1/1/deviation-on-progress-payments-memo.pdf.

The System for Award Management is also assisting federal contractors and subcontractors by granting automatic, 60-day extensions for SAM registrations expiring between 3/19/20 and 5/17/20.

Webinars are becoming part of the “new normal.” The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Accreditation Body is up and running. In the very near future all Department of Defense contractors and subcontractors will have to have some level of CMMC to participate in DOD contracting. The CMMC-AB is offering “National Conversation” webinars to assist DOD contractors and subcontractors. Learn more here: https://www.cmmcab.org/conversations.

Finally, the good thing about all crises is they eventually come to an end. Then, we can truly get back to normal.

Guam PTAC counselors are familiar with all aspects of federal procurement and can assist you with you any of your questions or concerns. Best of all, Guam PTAC services are free of charge. To learn more about government procurement or to contact one of our procurement counselors, please visit our website: www.guamptac.com. mbj

 

— Boris Hertslet is the program manager for the Guam Procurement Technical Assistance Center. He can be reached at [email protected].