A report by George Mason University’s Center for Government Contracting says federal agencies have been using rapid contracting procedures to speed up contract awards in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Agencies are using Federal Supply Schedules as one of the contract flexibility under the Federal Acquisition Regulation. Government-wide contracts accounted for $527 million of COVID-19-related contract obligations, while indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts represented $787 million, according to the report issued Wednesday.
The center analyzed data from the Federal Procurement Data System and found that emergency commercial item authorities or commercial item procedures accounted for 60 percent of non-defense obligations on contract awards in support of COVID-19 response efforts as of April 21.
The report also looked into two other FAR contract flexibility: simplified acquisition and letter contracts or undefinitized contract actions. The center discussed how the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided the Department of Defense (DoD) flexibility when it comes to letter contracts.
The CARES Act has allowed DoD and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand the use of other transaction authorities to advance innovation in response to COVID-19. HHS’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which uses OTAs, secured $3.5 billion in funds through the law.
The center also discussed how the Defense Commercial Solutions Openings Pilot Program offers another approach to speed up the acquisition of innovative commercial products and services amid the pandemic.
Jerry McGinn, executive director of the GMU Center for Government Contracting and GovCon Expert, co-wrote the report “COVID-19 Response – Contracting with Speed” with James Hasik, a senior research fellow, and Eric Lofgren, a research fellow at the center.