It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected the Department of Defense (“DoD”) and the defense industrial base.  And while Congress has taken steps to mitigate these impacts, the sheer scale of the pandemic’s effects pose a continuing challenge to both DoD and its contractors.  Now a group of major defense contractors has submitted a pair of joint letters to the Pentagon and OMB highlighting the need for further action and the risk to the defense industrial base if such actions are not taken.

Continue Reading Defense Contractors Say Section 3610 and Other Contractor Support Measures Require Relief

The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 (the “Flexibility Act”) was signed into law on June 5, revising a number of key requirements for loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).  The Program has provided support to a number of organizations negatively impacted by COVID-19 in the form of loans that can be forgiven if used for certain eligible expenses.

The Flexibility Act extends the period in which organizations can incur or pay for such expenditures and allows employers to avoid reductions in forgiveness amounts when they are unable to (i) rehire qualified employees or (ii) maintain prior employment levels due to operational changes resulting from the pandemic.  The Act also reduces the amount of eligible expenditures that must be spent on payroll costs when seeking forgiveness from 75 to 60 percent.

Yet, as with most aspects of the Program to date, a number of outstanding questions remain regarding how the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) intends to implement these changes, particularly with respect to potential reductions in forgiveness amounts.  The SBA has consistently deviated from the statutory framework that initially established PPP loans, so it would not be surprising if Congress’s revisions to the Program lead to additional unexpected changes at the regulatory level in the coming weeks.


Continue Reading Congress Increases Flexibility for Forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program, yet Uncertainty about Implementation Remains

Last week, DoD released a draft of its much-anticipated guidance implementing Section 3610 of the CARES Act, which authorizes the government to reimburse qualifying contractors for the costs of providing certain paid leave to employees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  DoD previously published a collection of memoranda, Q&A documents, and a class deviation addressing Section 3610 reimbursement, but the new draft guidance (“Guidance”), which includes a “reimbursement checklist” and accompanying instructions, provides significantly more detail regarding the process for requesting and substantiating claims for reimbursement under the statute.

A number of open questions remain pending the issuance of final guidance, as discussed below, but the contours of DoD’s Section 3610 process are becoming increasingly clear.  Contractors interested in pursuing recovery under the statute should start preparing now to satisfy these emerging rules and requirements.


Continue Reading DoD Releases Draft Section 3610 Reimbursement Guidance

Two notices recently published in the Federal Register indicate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) intends to exercise Defense Production Act (“DPA”) authority in novel ways during the current coronavirus pandemic.

On May 12th, FEMA announced that it plans to invoke DPA authority which permits the President to consult with representatives of industry, business, financing, agriculture, labor, and other interests in order to enter into voluntary agreements or plans of action to help provide for the national defense.

The following day, FEMA published the Emergency Management Priorities and Allocations System (“EMPAS”) regulations governing FEMA’s use of DPA priorities and allocations authority — which, as we’ve previously covered on several occasions, permit the executive branch to require private companies to prioritize its orders and allocate resources in the private sector as needed to promote the national defense.  FEMA included a new concept of third-party rated orders in its version of DPA regulations.
Continue Reading FEMA Continues to Push Defense Production Act Authority On Several Fronts

The government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic implicates a host of authorities of interest to contractors, from those under the Stafford Act to its recently invoked Defense Production Act powers.  The government has another critical, and perhaps under-examined, set of tools at its disposal to meet the demands of the pandemic:  FAR Part 18, “Emergency Acquisitions,” catalogues authorities that give the government greater ability to acquire goods in a streamlined, accelerated manner.  Contractors should take note of FAR Part 18 given the government’s urgent needs for COVID-19 related supplies and services.

Continue Reading Emergency Contracting During COVID-19: A Guide to FAR Part 18

Contractors sidelined by facility closures and stay-at-home orders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic may now have a new pathway to recovering idle labor costs.  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act includes a provision, Section 3610, that provides a new form of relief for contractors facing delays and additional costs as a result of employees being unable to work due to quarantine restrictions.

Continue Reading CARES Act Includes New Route to Recovery for Contractors Affected By COVID-19

The Department of Health and Human Services published a notice on March 30, 2020 — effective March 25, 2020 — designating certain COVID-19-related personal protective equipment (“PPE”) and materials as “scarce” or “threatened” materials subject to the Defense Production Act’s (“DPA”) anti-hoarding provisions.  As a result of this notice, the DPA now prohibits the accumulation of these materials in excess of reasonable demands of business, personal, or home consumption.  The notice also results in a prohibition of the accumulation of these materials for the purpose of resale at prices in excess of the prevailing market rate.

Continue Reading Defense Production Act Anti-Hoarding Provisions Invoked for Coronavirus

As a result of novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and COVID-19, federal and state governments have a sudden and unanticipated need for more goods and services.  Some of those goods and services are highly specialized and specific to Coronavirus and COVID-19.  But governments also have an increased and urgent need to buy otherwise-routine goods and services that have become newly critical in the wake of COVID-19.

All of this means that there are and will be procurements where speed is the priority, and where there is no time for the normal pace and cadence of the procurement process and contract formation.  It also means that resources necessarily will get taken away from routine procurement tasks and reallocated to urgent matters.

Here are a few things to watch for:


Continue Reading The Likely Effects of COVID-19 on Contract Awards and Contract Formation

On March 13, the President declared a national emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Doing so activated the authorities available to the President under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 5121-5207 (the “Stafford Act”) to provide federal assistance to state and local governments responding to the emergency, including financial assistance.

The federal assistance is coordinated and provided through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) under the National Response Framework.  Although the Stafford Act generally does not make funding directly available to private businesses, a large portion of the nearly $50 billion that the President said will be available to FEMA may be used to procure goods and services from contractors assisting the relief effort.


Continue Reading State of Emergency: COVID-19, the Stafford Act, and What It All Means for Contractors

As federal agencies adjust their worksites to the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, these changes will likely have a direct impact on government contractors and their employees who work at those sites.  If the government closes or reduces operations at a site, a contractor may be forced to furlough or reduce the hours of employees.  Some reduction actions could result in an employee who was exempt from overtime payments under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) being reclassified as non-exempt, which would require the employer to pay the employee overtime wages, with negative long-term repercussions.

An employee may volunteer to reduce her salary for any period of time without any FLSA consequences so long as her decision is completely voluntary.  To the extent the employer must impose involuntary reductions on an exempt employee, the following options are available that should not result in the employee being reclassified as non-exempt under FLSA:


Continue Reading FLSA Considerations In Response to Government COVID-19-Related Directions