Local small business offices at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio addressed concerns of small business contractors in response to COVID-19 at a roundtable convened by the Dayton Development Coalition. Here are some of the highlights:
- Assistant Undersecretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Dr. Will Roper has placed the Air Force (AF) in a wartime acquisition posture and convened an acquisition task force for COVID-19 response.
- Recognizing that cash flow and liquidity are an urgent need for small business contractors, the AF has released a solicitation for companies that may be able to combat COVID-19.
- All contractors were strongly encouraged to engage their contracting officers (KO), preferably through email, in order to tailor a response to the specific contract and situation. Anyone having difficulty reaching their KOs is encouraged to contact the small business office in that command for assistance.
- Such direction is consistent with direction from senior Department of Defense (DOD) leadership, including the Undersecretary of Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord and the Acting Principal Director of Defense Pricing and Contracting Kim Herrington.
- Small business representatives underscored that AF leadership and DOD leadership expect KOs to be responsive to the particular situation in terms of the government’s needs, the contract itself and the contractor’s abilities in light of COVID-19.
- Essential Workers:
- Contractors with employees or subcontractors who must physically work in a government facility, which has been closed due to COVID-19, should have received written instructions from the KO.
- KOs would have either invoked DFARS 252.237-7023 (Continuation of Essential Contractor Services) and/or 252.237-7024 (Notice of Continuation of Essential Contractor Services) or would be amending the contract to add these clauses, if the KO deemed the contracts essential.
- For contractors who have not heard from their KO and have questions about their essential workforce, contact their KO immediately to clarify.
- Direct AF Response to COVID-19:
- Small businesses can submit questions to the Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL) small business central intake point at email@example.com.
- The DOD released Class Deviation 2020-O0010, raising the ceilings on progress payment rates to improve cash flow for both large and small businesses. For small businesses, the ceiling is raised to 95%, and for large businesses, the ceiling is raised to 90%. Local contracting commands at WPAFB are implementing this class deviation now.
- AFRL has pre-released a direct-to-Phase II Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) opportunity here. The goal is to have these SBIRs awarded by June.
- The Air Force AFWERX has a COVID-19 Response Team collecting information and innovative ideas from government, industry, non-defense industry, academia, venture capital and individual contributors. AFWERX will group the submissions received and match them to one of seven response areas.
- Unsolicited Proposals:
- The AF and the rest of the government are trying to determine requirements, for example, the high priority needs.
- Currently, use the AFWERX portal to submit information only.
- In the next couple of days, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is expected to announce a mechanism for submitting unsolicited proposals.
Please visit our COVID-19 Toolkit for all of Taft’s updates on the coronavirus.