Agencies Are Implementing New COVID-19 Protocols for Contractors
Several thanked contractors for their work during the pandemic.
Agencies are starting to implement and issue guidance to carry out the Biden administration’s vaccine attestation and testing protocols for onsite contractors.
President Biden announced on July 29 that onsite federal contractors, as well as federal employees, must attest to their coronavirus vaccination status or be subject to restrictions. The administration's Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has released several guidance updates to help agencies carry out the directives. One of the updates says that onsite federal contractors who provide false information on their vaccination form could be removed from contracts.
Since the president made the announcement, there has been some form of message or guidance on the process posted on the official website for doing businesses with the federal government for contractors with the Homeland Security, State and Health and Human Services departments; HHS inspector general; Federal Aviation Administration; Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility; and in General Services Administration-owned or leased facilities secured by the Federal Protective Service.
The effective dates for the new policies range from immediately to September 3, for those noted.
“I recognize the contractor community plays a vital role in achieving the department’s mission,” Michael Derrios, senior procurement executive at the State Department, wrote in a notice posted on August 13. “I wish to express my continued gratitude to the contractor employees who have been part of our workforce throughout this pandemic.”
Government Executive reached out to other major agencies to see what they have been communicating to their onsite contractors.
The Veterans Affairs Department shared a message the chief acquisition officer sent to the contracting community on August 26, which Government Executive put into a document that can be viewed here.
“The Department of Veterans Affairs greatly appreciates our industry partners and their employees who have been working onsite at our VA facilities during this ongoing pandemic, and I thank you for your dedication to the VA mission,” said the message. “Since March 2020, many functions, including contract support functions, have been provided effectively in a telework environment. Unless notified otherwise, contractor telework should continue.”
The note recapped the Biden administration’s actions and said more details will be coming from contracting officers or contracting officer representatives.
“Treasury is in the process of implementing the COVID-19 Workplace Safety Agency Model Safety Principles issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force,” said a Treasury Department spokesperson. “This includes the requirement for Treasury to ask onsite contractors about their COVID-19 vaccination status. Contractors that are not fully vaccinated or who decline to provide information about their vaccination status must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test from no earlier than the previous three days prior to [gain] entry to a federal building.”
The Education and Labor departments and Environmental Protection Agency referred to the Office of Management and Budget.
OMB had no comment beyond the guidance the task force has released.
The Biden administration has still not published what the exact definition of an “onsite contractor” is and has not outlined what happens if a contractor works at multiple agencies. These are questions many in the contracting community have.
Separately, some agencies have been posting contract opportunities and requests for information for services to help facilitate the new public health procedures.
The Federal Maritime Commission, NASA, Environmental Protection Agency and 55th Contracting Squadron at the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska put out requests to solicit information on possible sources for a testing program for employees.
NASA also put out a “sources sought notice” on August 26 seeking “technologies and software capabilities that would allow for quick and efficient survey of employees prior to entrance into a NASA facility by either verifying the employee’s COVID-19 vaccination status or a recent negative COVID test.”
Additionally, the VA put out a “sources sought notice” on August 5 looking for a contractor to provide coronavirus screening services.