ACC-RI team learns ins and outs of CARES Act
By Elizabeth UrbaniakDecember 8, 2020
A team of Army Contracting Command-Rock Island (ACC-RI) professionals have been working diligently in helping contractors get information on the 3610 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The members of the team are Cynthia Ball, Stephanie James, Dan Miller, Sue Parker-LeGros, and Justin Trine.Section 3610 of the CARES Act is implemented for the DoD by Class Deviations 2020-O0013, Revision 2, and 2020-O0021, revision 1. It allows the government to reimburse affected contractors for the costs of providing certain paid leave to employees who are required to be maintained in a ready state and aren’t able to perform their job on a government-approved site due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.Stephanie James, chief of ACC-RI’s Quality/S3COE branch, says that there has been little effect on the ACC-RI organization as a whole. She says that at first, there was not a lot of guidance issued and there was a little bit of confusion as to how it would work.“The organization took a very proactive approach to get ahead of the request as well as get ahead of contractor questions,” said James. “A template letter, approved by Mr. Carr [ACC-RI executive director and Senior Contracting Officer (SCO)], was sent to all contractors letting them know that this act was signed into law and potential relief was available if and when they thought it would be needed.”On Aug. 17, Defense Pricing and Contracting (DPC) issued final guidance. James says that there needs to be a rationale for why the contractor put its employees in a “ready state” as well as the accounting behind it to segregate those costs and what those costs include such as direct labor rates or indirect rates.Cynthia Ball, Contract Pricing Directorate branch chief, says that in order to move forward, the contractor needs to be determined affected by COVID-19.“How they’re determined affected is if they have actually incurred the paid leave cost,” said Ball.Ball says that one thing that was not envisioned when the CARES Act first came out was the actual amount of time that the team members have contributed to helping the Center with this act.“It has taken up a lot of time, more than we initially thought it would, to provide the guidance to the Center in a timely and consistent manner,” said Ball.Section 3610 was initially in effect through Sept. 30, however it has been extended through Dec. 11.One of the biggest challenges with implementing this act was that it was developed to help the employee and not the employer.“It has been kind of a slippery slope, because the act clearly states that you have to have incurred paid leave,” said Ball. “Contractors wanted to have the ok to reimburse them prior to incurring the leave and that is something we couldn’t do.”Parker-LeGros says that one would think that this act wouldn’t have been so hard to reimburse contractors, but it has been.“There has been a lot involved,” said Parker-LeGros. “It isn’t quite as straight forward a process as maybe it seemed.”James says that when the section of the law was created, there was no funding associated with it.“It didn’t appropriate funds for 3610, meaning it was possible to sit down and determine a contractor affected, but it was always subject to no availability of funds,” said James.James says that the team is working with 33 contracting officer requests.“I think just being involved in the process is a benefit, because it’s such a unique situation and it’s been a neat learning opportunity for everyone involved,” said James.