SEWP cuts turnaround time to support COVID-19 response

Shutterstock ID 577492282 By William Potter 

NASA's Services for Enterprise-Wide Procurement has been busy filling agencies' COVID-19 support orders, but agencies, particularly the Defense Department, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have told the governmentwide acquisition contract they can't wait the normal average of three days for order quotes to be turned around.

SEWP said on March 20 it had temporarily expedited that turn-around to one day.

SEWP typically shortens quote responses to a single day during the hectic end-of-fiscal-year spending in September, SEWP Manager Joanne Woytek told FCW in an email on March 23.

"We have heard from a number of key agencies including DOD and DHS/FEMA that they have emergency needs that cannot wait for five-day turnarounds for quotes," Woytek said. "We have also heard from industry -- both our contract holders and from major IT distributors -- that they are seeing an increase in emergency requirements including use of DPAS ratings for prioritizations," she said. DPAS is the Defense Priorities and Allocations System used to prioritize national defense-related contracts/orders.

February orders were about normal, she said, but things picked up in early March.

"My expectation is that we will see smaller orders as people utilize government cards for individual telework needs; but that is an opinion as it is too early in the situation to have clear stats," she said.

On March 23, federal market intelligence firm The Pulse of Govcon provided some perspective, tweeting out that SEWP had seen $28 million in agency spending on COVID-19 requirements by March 22.

Along with those expedited orders, Woytek said, normal IT purchasing and needs continue. In the past week or two, she said she's seen items like web cameras and teleconferencing services and equipment being added to contracts, however.

With the spike in remote working, a new concern has come up -- taking physical delivery of items ordered.

In response to the effort to limit the transmission of the coronavirus, delivery companies have adjusted how their drivers get signatures for deliveries. FedEx temporarily suspended requiring signatures for most deliveries in the U.S. as a safety precaution to minimize interpersonal contact. UPS said it has modified its delivery signature requirements by having its drivers validate and record the name of the recipient in lieu of a signature.

Woytek said she has heard anecdotal reports that some delivery companies are just dropping off packages with no signature.

"This would be concerning in terms of accountability and responsibility. It would also be concerning if they are dropping off packages without getting a signature and the office is actually closed," she said. She advised SEWP contractors and federal customers to keep in close contact about deliveries and insure packages are accounted for, especially at telework-emptied offices.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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