Three weeks after the Department of Energy authorized operators of nuclear-weapon sites to bill the government for expenses associated with COVID-19 prevention, most of those prime contractors are still working on trickling down relief to subcontractors.
One of the primes’ main mechanisms for recouping such expenses is to bill the government in accordance with Section 3610 of the CARES Act: the COVID-19 relief package signed into law in March that allows contractors to seek reimbursement for keeping employees in a ready state. That essentially means paying nuclear-weapon workers and experts even if they cannot work on-site because of health concerns and cannot telework due to the security needs of their work.
Subcontractors might or might not need that same relief.
Employees for some subcontractors kept going to work on-site, declared essential along with many other members of DoE’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) workforce. Other subcontractor employees could telework. Yet others availed themselves of different means of hedging against economic damage caused by the novel coronavirus that broke out in Wuhan, China, in 2019.
Below is a list of steps the various NNSA sites had taken to reimburse subcontractors, as of Friday:
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M.: The world’s first nuclear-weapon laboratory has not modified any subcontracts to provide CARES Section 3610 relief, a spokesperson said Friday. According to the spokesperson, lab prime Triad National Security “will work with its NNSA Contracting Officer before approving any subcontractor applications for paid leave under Section 3610. Onsite subcontract work varies within and among Los Alamos’ subcontracts at any given time and the Laboratory is using telework to the maximum extent possible for its subcontractors, so it is difficult to determine exactly how many Lab subcontractors may seek or be eligible for relief under Section 3610 of the CARES Act.”
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif.: A spokesperson for the other nuclear-weapon design laboratory declined to say how it is handling reimbursement for subcontractors. Lawrence Livermore National Security manages the lab.
Kansas City National Security Campus, Kansas City, Mo.: There is no blanket approval for subcontractors to claim Section 3610 reimbursement at the manufacturing hub for non-nuclear nuclear-weapon parts. Site prime Honeywell [HON] Federal Manufacturing and Technologies will process any requests for relief it receives on a case-by-case basis “as appropriate,” a spokesperson said Friday. The prime itself has only about 15 subcontractors that employ some 150 people.
Nevada National Security Site: The prime contractor for the former Nevada Test Site, the Honeywell-led Mission Support and Test Services, would not say what sort of relief, if any, it would give subcontractors — only that it “has evaluated all of our open subcontracts, and we are working with subcontractors as appropriate.”
Pantex Plant, Amarillo, Texas, and Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge, Tenn.: Both of these sites are managed by the Bechtel-led Consolidated Nuclear Security. COVID-19 relief funding has been a mixed bag for subcontractors at those sites, according to a spokesperson. Some subcontractors have telworked through the pandemic and didn’t need relief; others got 3610 relief; and still others applied for Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses under the CARES Act, making them ineligible for 3610 relief.
Sandia National Laboratories, Albuqerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif.: The lab network has yet to modify any subcontracts to provide relief under Section 3610, a spokesperson said Friday. “[W]ork on Sandia subcontracts continues without substantial disruption,” the spokesperson said. Still, subcontractors that want the relief can seek it through the prime. National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia, another Honeywell subsidiary, is the Sandia prime.