Changes in Government Contracting

What Proposal Managers need to know from the COVID-19 fallout

Thinking back to January we couldn’t have predicted we would find ourselves in a completely ‘new normal’. As a proposal professional, you are working from home, with no corporate travel. Virtual events proliferate. As we wrote in this recent blog-post, COVID-19 means remote working is here to stay. No wall-walks, no war rooms.

But COVID-19 has also changed how the government is behaving too. We’ve been speaking with customers and experts alike. From these conversations we have put together 4 key pieces of information Proposal Managers should keep in mind.

1. Identify “Excusable Delay Clauses”

During a time of uncertainty, it’s likely that contractors will incur increased costs that they didn’t plan for. Think about events that are out of your hands, Acts of Gods, etc. FAR Clauses that are “Excusable Delay Clauses” will compensate for those loses. It’s important that you find these now.

How are you finding these clauses? VT Docs users can set up a Search Term Dictionary with these. That means, you can shred a document in seconds and not miss a single clause. Here is a video showing how a VT Docs user applies a ‘Will Shall Must’ Dictionary. It will give you an idea of how it works. For anyone looking to set up an “Excusable Delay Clauses” Dictionary, we have a tutorial you can view here.

2. Modern Workplace arrives in Government and will drive new RFPs

The advice for everyone is clear. If you can, work from home. For many businesses this has meant rapidly modernizing and facilitating IT structures. Teams must arrange security, remote access and even hardware. This is the same for Government who some might argue was already behind on IT modernization.

RFPs to cover the modern federal workplace will be forthcoming. Are you ready to quickly respond to these requests. Check out this video to see how you can shred and RFP in minutes.

3. Subsidies for Government Contractors

These are difficult times, but we all know that things are likely to ramp up quickly again. The Federal Cares Act, Section 3610 addresses how the government will subsidize contractors to avoid layoffs:

“ SEC. 3610. FEDERAL CONTRACTOR AUTHORITY. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, and subject to the availability of appropriations, funds made available to an agency by this Act or any other Act may be used by such agency to modify the terms and conditions of a contract, or other agreement, without consideration, 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, including to protect the life and safety of Government and contractor personnel, but in no event beyond September 30, 2020. Such authority shall apply only to a contractor whose employees or subcontractors cannot perform work on a site that has been approved by the Federal Government, including a federally-owned or leased facility or site, due to facility closures or other restrictions, and who cannot telework because their job duties cannot be performed remotely during the public health emergency declared on January 31, 2020 for COVID–19: Provided, That the maximum reimbursement authorized by this section shall be reduced by the amount of credit a contractor is allowed pursuant to division G of Public Law 116– 127 and any applicable credits a contractor is allowed under this Act.”

Contractors should review whether Sec. 3610 is applicable to them and familiarize themselves with its conditions. Some helpful links come from the DHS and blog posts like this one from CohnReznick.

4. Even busier Contracting Officers

We mentioned the potential for new RFPs in point 2. But we also need to be considering modification requests from proposal managers. These are exceptional and even busier times for contracting officers. They need to make their decisions quickly and confidently. This means your proposals or modification requests must be clear and direct. Readability is key.

Here are 4 readability tips that you can apply today:

1. Keep your sentences to 25 words or fewer

Long sentences make it difficult to follow the writer’s thought from beginning to end. Use short sentences or bullets.
2. Avoid passive voice
Active voice makes sure everyone understands who is taking the action. Think ‘the work will be done’ vs ‘ACME Inc. will do the work’. Make it clear to contracting officers who is taking on roles and responsibilities.
3. Ditch jargon and internal speak
Internal speak and jargon can easily flow into a document. Especially in these stressful times. Readers may misinterpret these terms and this increases risk.
4. Remove complex words and phrases
Sometimes you can’t avoid a complex word. But, consider swapping as many as you can to make things easier on your reader. Think ‘until now’ vs ‘heretofore’. It’s clear which one is simpler to understand.

If you want to learn more about readability for the government contracting sector, check out this video.

We are all adjusting to the ‘new normal’. Many changes have come about since the advent of COVID-19. Some will be here to stay; others will revert back as restrictions ease. Our team will continue to have conversations with you, the GovCon community. And, we’ll continue to share what we learn with you here on the blog and on LinkedIn. Why not follow us today?

Proposal Managers