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GovCon Updates of the Week Part 5

4/29/2021 - By Saltmarsh, Cleaveland & Gund

Getting Ahead of It … The Fight Against Variants: The “B.1.1.7 (UK) variant,” the “B.1.351 (South African) variant,” the “P.1 (Brazil) variant”…We hear these COVID-19 variant buzzwords daily, and fears of one of these known or possibly unknown variants breaking through our existing vaccines and therapeutics is acutely on the mind of health officials globally.

To track and prepare the U.S. for these potential setbacks to the ongoing COVID-19 battle, the White House has allocated an additional $1.7 billion to specifically track these new variants. This investment will go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the equipment, supplies, trainings and innovative practices needed for the genomic sequencing of these new variants. By sequencing the genomes of new COVID-19 variants, the CDC will have a stronger ability to detect and track them, which will allow health officials, and vaccine and therapeutic developers to better understand the evolving virus and adapt the current response appropriately.

This announcement comes on the heels of a report stating that the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant of COVID-19 made up around 44% of virus cases circulating in the U.S. as of March 27.

As the U.S. and international governments and health agencies continue to expand research and funding for COVID-19 variants and their effects, contractors working in related fields should be on the lookout for upcoming opportunities to support this initiative.

For more information, please click this link.

What Is Your Name? What Is Your Quest? What Is Your Favorite Color? Many current and hopeful government contractors know that getting that first award can feel as difficult as crossing the Bridge of Death on a quest for the Holy Grail. One of the common concerns is how a company is supposed to provide experience when they can’t get their first experience. The General Services Administration (GSA) is acknowledging some barriers / complications to entry for certain companies, especially startups, and has issued a temporary waiver to three requirements under the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program.

The intent of the waiver is to increase the availability of goods and services that directly support COVID-19-related efforts, and it applies to existing MAS contractors and companies that do not yet have contracts with GSA.  The three requirements that are being waived are:

  • A minimum of two years of corporate experience
  • Submission of the previous two years’ financial statements
  • One relevant project experience per Special Item Number (SIN)

The waiver is temporary, but is in effect now.  Existing and potential GSA MAS contractors should plan to make the most of this opportunity before the waiver expires, and they are again asked to provide information that feels as impossible as being able to recite the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow from memory.

For more information, please click this link.

Another Year, Another VA Dollar: Over the last several years, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has experienced consecutive budget increases, and the Biden administration looks to continue that streak into 2022.  The department has requested a total of $113.1 billion in discretionary funding for next year, representing an 8.2% increase from 2021 levels.

The increased budget request included funding for several large projects as the VA looks to revisit its strategies after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the funding would cover healthcare costs, as $97.5 billion has been requested specifically for medical costs, up 8.5% from 2021. “With the cost of providing healthcare to our veterans growing exponentially, we really have to start thinking seriously about how we are going to sustain these needs in years to come,” Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairman of the House Appropriations Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee, said at a hearing on the VA’s budget.

The VA has also emphasized the importance of research and development by requesting a total of $882 million for medical and prosthetic research, the largest year-over-year increase in recent history.  Other major initiatives included in the budget request include a 4.1% increase in the VA’s homelessness programs, $18 billion to modernize its healthcare facilities, and $2.7 billion for an electronic health record modernization project.

Contractors interested in working with VA should keep an eye out for potential solicitations as the department clearly has some big plans.

For more information, please click this link.

Questions? 

If you have specific questions, please reach out to our team. Visit our COVID-19 resource hub for ongoing updates and information. Due to the ever-changing nature of this event, you should always consult the appropriate professionals. 


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