Ellen Lord: Defense Industrial Base Workforce Should Continue Working as Part of Critical Infrastructure

Jeff Brody
Ellen Lord

The Department of Defense on Friday released two memos to address key concerns identified by defense trade groups during the four daily update calls on the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic led by Jennifer Santos, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy.

Ellen Lord, defense undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment and a 2020 Wash100 award winner, on Friday issued a memo saying the defense industrial base is considered as a critical infrastructure sector by the Department of Homeland Security and that its workforce should maintain normal work schedules to meet national security requirements, Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, a spokesman for DoD, said in a statement published Sunday.

“Essential critical infrastructure” employees are personnel who are involved in the development, testing, deployment or sustainment of weapons and software systems as well as those who man, train, field, equip or support the country’s military forces.

Kim Herrington, acting principal director of defense pricing and contracting, released a memo that increases the progress payment rates to 90 percent for large businesses and to 95 percent for small businesses in an effort to ensure cash flow into the industrial base.

Andrews said the Pentagon is expediting payments to prime contractors through several measures and ordering such primes to accelerate payments to subcontractors. The Defense Contract Management Agency will use existing authorities to facilitate mass modifications to contracts.

The small business office within DoD acquisition and sustainment is collaborating with the Small Business Administration and its emergency loan program to provide support for small companies.

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