The Department of Homeland Security is not requiring contractors working at its facilities to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, but beginning this Wednesday it is requiring that industry personnel who are not vaccinated be tested regularly, the department’s new chief procurement officer said last Friday.
“Consistent with this guidance and beginning Wednesday, August 25, 2021, on-site contractor employees, who are not fully vaccinated or who decline to provide their vaccination status to their employers, are required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test not later than three days old when attempting to enter DHS facilities and operations,” Paul Courtney wrote in a letter to industry posted on the federal government’s Sam.gov business opportunities website.
DHS won’t be examining contractor employees’ COVID test results and is putting the onus on their employers to comply with the department’s guidelines, Courtney said.
If contractor employees can telework, that is preferred, as long as it doesn’t inhibit mission performance, Courtney said.
While the COVID-19 pandemic appeared to be on the wane in the U.S. earlier this summer, a new variant of the virus is surging, particularly among unvaccinated individuals, leading to the reimposition and extension of mask requirements in certain environments.
“We are still in the midst of a global pandemic and therefore, Government-wide guidance continues to evolve, including recently issued guidance regarding mask wearing and testing for federal employees, on-site contractors and visitors,” Courtney said. “While it is understood that many contractors must perform work at DHS operations and facilities, compliance with the new guidance is required.”
Courtney was appointed chief procurement officer on Aug. 15 following the retirement of his predecessor Soraya Correa at the end of July. Courtney had been Correa’s deputy since June 2019.