Department of Homeland Security Procurement Chief Soraya Correa on Thursday outlined existing and new regulatory and legal authorities the department can wield to help its contractors as DHS and industry cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
“The health and safety of the DHS government and contractor workforce remains a priority to meet our mission in securing the homeland,” Soraya Correa said in a note to the DHS contractor community on the federal government’s procurement website. “We must work together to remain health for the duration of this national emergency, recover from this pandemic and maintain DHS mission readiness.”
Correa pointed to existing “regulatory authorities” in the Federal Acquisition Regulation that allow contracts to be modified due to certain impacts such as the COVID-19 virus, in which case a “contractor may be entitled to an equitable adjustment to contract price using standard” clauses in the regulations. Requests for these adjustments will be “considered on a case-by-case basis,” she said.
The recently passed $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package called the CARES Act also allows the government to help its vendors maintain their workforces, Correa said.
Under the legislation, agencies can modify contracts “to reimburse at the minimum applicable contract billing rates not to exceed an average of 40 hours per week any paid leave, including sick leave, a contractor provides to keep its employees or subcontractors in a ready state” through Sept. 30, Correa said. This benefit only applies to contractors whose employees and subcontractors can’t work at a federally-approved site because it has been shutdown or restricted and they cannot telework, she said.