(Arlington, VA) December 11, 2020—The CEOs of 15 large federal contractors urged congressional leaders today to extend a legislative provision that has kept tens of thousands of cleared contractors employed during the pandemic, according to the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), an industry association whose members support the Defense Department and U.S. Intelligence Community.
The legislative provision, Section 3610 of the CARES Act, was included as part of the first pandemic relief bill passed in March. The provision authorizes agencies to continue paying contractors if pandemic safety restrictions prevent them from accessing secure workspaces suitable for classified work and security rules prevent them from working remotely. The provision is due to expire on December 18.
As these industry leaders note in their letter, 3610 authorities “are used by many federal agencies to maintain the capabilities and workforce necessary to meet mission needs and protect our national security.” INSA and seven other industry organizations urged congressional leadership to extend Section 3610 in a November 20 letter. Both letters are available are available on INSA's website.
Given worsening pandemic conditions, the need for 3610 authorities to maintain the health, safety, and viability of the workforce remains critical. “If 3610 lapses, companies will be unable to provide unhindered support to DOD, the Intelligence Community, and other agencies,” said Larry Hanauer, Vice President for Policy at INSA. “Critical national security missions will be under-staffed and under-resourced.”
The expiration of 3610 authorities could force companies to lay off thousands of workers who are unable to execute their contracts. “Once highly skilled, cleared workers leave the Trusted Workforce for commercial companies, they will be difficult to replace,” Hanauer said. “Their departure would be a huge loss to the national security agencies that depend on their expertise.”
Extending 3610 requires no additional funds to be appropriated, as the provision authorizes agencies to draw on funding already made available to them.
Two legislative vehicles remain for Congress to extend this critical authority before the end of the year: The Omnibus Appropriations bill that will fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, which is expected to pass next week, and a proposed pandemic relief bill, whose prospects for passage are unclear.