CONGRESS

House passes stopgap funding bill with welcome news for contractors

With merely a week left on the clock, the House passed a continuing resolution late Tuesday night to keep the government funded through Dec. 11 with the Senate due to vote on the extension next.

Embedded within that stopgap funding bill is an extension of a provision from the CARES Act economic stimulus law signed in March that lets government contractors seek reimbursement of costs for workers who cannot get to federal facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Section 3610 of that law lets federal agencies modify contracts to help companies keep their workforces at a “ready state,” especially those whose designated site is a facility for classified programs. This is meant to help companies keep those employees who cannot work from home.

(Click here to listen to our recent Project 38 episode with Kea Matory of the National Defense Industrial Association on 3610 and what she described as ambiguity across industry about the issue)

The House funding bill does not appropriate the funds for Section 3610 costs, which the Defense Department has estimated will exceed $10 billion. DOD and trade associations representing government contractors such as NDIA and the Professional Services Council have pushed for a dedicated funding stream for those payments instead of using program funds to cover the costs.

Without a 3610 or similar provision, companies have a choice of either laying off workers affected by federal site closures or keep paying them without revenue coming in.

“Retaining skilled employees is strategically sound and financially smart. This extension will help companies preserve key talent that has taken many years to recruit, train, and clear,” PSC President and CEO David Berteau said in a release Tuesday upon the bill text's release.

Some could also deploy those employees to other contracts -- a move Leidos CEO Roger Krone indicated that company could do if 3610 expires, according to Inside Defense.

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also find and connect with him on LinkedIn.

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