The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has reduced its staffing for acquisitions and is encouraging other agencies in the intelligence community to do the same to help battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Guidance issued by the ODNI last week cites the recent health and economic stimulus package allowing the government contract personnel to stay home and be in a “ready state” during the pandemic, adding the office “strongly encourages” agencies to take advantage of this flexibility.
“ODNI has reduced its acquisition and procurement staffing to manage the response to the pandemic—we encourage other Agencies and organizations to minimize staffing related to acquisition and development efforts as well,” said the April 3 guidance from Kevin Meiners, deputy director of National Intelligence for Enterprise Capacity. “ODNI organizations will not be requesting normal activities in those areas during the crisis. ODNI will support Agency decisions, as permitted by law, to slip acquisition and development milestones, even when these are already required by approved documentation, when the rational is that Agencies seek to limit staffing during the critical period for pandemic mitigation.”
The guidance released by the ODNI on Thursday along with a statement from the office said it is working with the intelligence community to use the $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to bolster their federal contractors and contractor workforces during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ODNI statement highlights Section 3610 of the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, that gives U.S. government agencies “flexibility…to reimburse contractors for keeping their employees in a ready state, even when those contractor employees are unable to report to an approved work site or are otherwise unable to telework.”
Meiners’ two-page guidance said that under the legislation agencies can modify contracts for contractors to keep them “financially viable” and retain “skilled (and often cleared)” employees when their employees can’t come to work or work remotely due to health and safety concerns.
This will ensure “the long-term health of the industrial base on which the Intelligence Community, the Defense Department, and other Federal Agencies depend,” Meiners said.