FCW Insider: December 3, 2021

The latest news and analysis from FCW's reporters and editors.

White House instructs agencies on contracting equity goals

The Biden administration detailed policy pivots needed to fulfill a commitment to steer $100 billion in federal contracting opportunities to small disadvantaged businesses over the next five years.

Could faster buying undermine electronic warfare prep?

Some measures that protect weapons systems against electronic vulnerabilities can be “pushed aside” during rapid acquisitions, according to David Tremper, the electronic warfare director for the Defense Department.

USDA finalizes more expansive telework, remote work policies

The new policy reverses telework restrictions put in place during the Trump administration before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Comment: Creating greater opportunity for women in digital services

The government can use its purchasing power to grow contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses.

Quick Hits

*** The U.S. Senate voted 69-28 to approve a continuing resolution funding the federal government through Feb. 18, 2021 on Thursday evening. The bill was passed on a 221-212 party line vote in the House of Representatives earlier in the day -- just one Republican joined Democrats in supporting the continuing resolution.

Before the vote on the stopgap funding measure, senators voted on an amendment to defund enforcement of multiple Biden administration COVID-19 vaccine mandates including those covering the uniformed military services personnel, federal civilian government employees, federal contract employees, health care workers working for providers that accept Medicare payments and employees of businesses of 100 employees or more. That amendment failed by a vote of 50-48.

*** The Defense Department is going to begin tracking refusals from contractors to abide by government mandated COVID-19 safety protocols. According to a Nov. 30 memo, DOD components will have to file refusal reports documenting when contractors reject a new or modified contracts exceeding $10 million or with significant impact on missions because of objections to contract clauses requiring COVID safety protocols. The reporting requirement begins Dec. 9 and components must identify a point of contact to communicate those reports with Defense Pricing and Contracting by Dec. 6.

*** Federal agencies need to give feds administrative leave to get a COVID-19 booster shot, or to take a family member to be vaccinated, according to a new Office of Personnel Management memo to agencies. Agencies have to give up to four hours of leave per dose, including boosters if employees are eligible for the shoot. Feds are under a mandate to be fully vaccinated, but that doesn’t yet include boosters. Because of that, agencies can’t give duty time for booster shots. The Centers for Disease Control is recommending that everyone over 18 should get a booster shot. Encouraging boosters for all adults has also become a central part of the Biden administration’s plan to fight the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.