Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program and Benefits

The Paycheck Protection Program is a forgivable loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The Small Business Association will forgive loans if used for expenses related to payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

Starting April 10th, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. Officials are encouraging business owners to apply as quickly as possible because there is a funding cap. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020. You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. 

Author: Prasanna Haresh Patil


GAO Report: Telecom and Call Center Federal Contracts

In April 2020, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Published a report which focused Telecommunications and Call Center federal contracts. The reason being that agencies spend billions on telecom and call center work every year. Majority of these services are provided by contractors, thus prompting the GAO to dig a bit deeper to highlight important key factors of this industry, such as amount spent and by whom, data security requirements, and even the use of foreign equipment.

As per the GAO report, The Federal Government obligated over $30 billion for telecommunications contracts and almost $4 billion for call center contracts, from fiscal years 2014 through 2018. On average for the 5-year period, telecommunications and call center obligations were a nominal portion of total federal spending—accounting for 1.2 percent and less than 0.2 percent, respectively. Defense agency obligations accounted for the majority of federal telecommunications spending to support a range of information capabilities across the full spectrum of military operations. The Department of Health and Human Services accounted for the majority of call center obligations to support customer inquiries about Medicare and the health insurance marketplace, among other services.

The GAO also found that many agencies are concerned with security as it pertains to call center and telecom work. Contractors must follow various requirements to protect the systems and the privacy of personal data, which includes implementing controls that limit or detect inappropriate access to data, and not using equipment from certain foreign manufacturers that could include harmful hardware or software and pose national security risks. In addition, most contracts also required that work be conducted in the United States or by U.S. citizens.

In our current global climate, cyber security is paramount. This means that agencies must take substantial precautions when hiring a contractor to perform government work. Watch for more strict requirements to be implemented in the future regarding personnel, equipment, cyber security, and even procedure.

Author: Paul McVeigh


Essential Federal Contracts During COVID-19 Pandemic

Virtually all states and locales have policies on what are “essential” services during the pandemic. So does the federal government — basically, healthcare, grocery stores, pharmacies, transportation, etc. In the case of contracts with federal agencies, Department of Defense contracts are considered essential, but those federal contracts and others may not also meet the test of all states and locales for being essential.

Federal guidance on essential services is general in nature, and Office of Management and Budget guidance to agencies on essential contract services also lacks specifics. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has provided more detail on essential industries, such as the defense industrial base, but its guidance is not binding on states.

State guidance on essential services is varied. What can federal government contractors do to keep open?

Federal contractors should inquire from their contracting officer (CO) in writing whether certain of their services are federally essential or not. With a confirming letter from the CO, contractors’ offices and employees with copies of the CO’s letter on hand will be able to show local officials that they are essential and can remain open, as long as local officials are reasonable and agreeable.

Facility and work site closures also may result from the virus. Implied or express government “stop work” orders can have an effect on contractors. CO “directives” can lead to excusable and/or compensable delays. The contractor cannot be defaulted by government-caused delays, and may be entitled to an extended schedule adjustment and equitable adjustment if the contract costs increase. However, if an order is not directed toward a particular contract but to the public in general, that is a sovereign act not entitling a contractor to an equitable adjustment, only extra time. This ventures into new territory. Preserve your rights with a notice of change letter to the CO.

Finally, beware of the “lessons learned” after other crises, such as Hurricane Katrina. At the outset, emergency government services (food service, equipment, personal protective equipment, housing, construction, etc.) were scrambled for, but down the road inspectors general noted contractor billing errors that resulted in the freezing of payments and false claims issues. Even in emergencies, do not overlook government billing details and the keeping of records and logs of performance. Keep that bad ghost of Christmas future away, while doing the real work.

Author: Prasanna Haresh Patil


Sabre88 Core Values: Work-From-Home

As the world adjusts standard routines and a large majority of businesses transition to working from home, we at Sabre88 have done our best to uphold and incorporate our core values into our new normal. Changing the setting of business has its challenges, but it appears that it certainly has its opportunities, as well. This can be a time to strengthen teams, learn new things, sharpen problem-solving skills, and discover new ways of communicating.

Sabre88’s core values are the following: Teamwork, Accountability, Communication,

Customer Service, Community Service ,and Technology. As a company, we have had the opportunity to create new ways of doing things, all while remaining true to these core values.

Teamwork and communication have played a large role in continuing to operate successfully as we work from home. This means maintaining regular hours, creating a morning routine, taking time to meet virtually to maintain a team environment. It is important to keep communication strong during times of separation. Equally important is staying connected with team members and continuing to draw from the strength of our diverse pool of skills.

Accountability comes from keeping these communications consistent and open. The team relies on each other to perform and must know that each member is accountable for their work. When a unit operates in a manner such that each member is accountable to each other, great work can be done and the result is great customer service and a stronger team.

Customer service is now directly related to our utilization of technology. Making sure to use a VPN on network you don’t control ensures the safety of the information that customers and clients expect to be protected. Technology also drives customer service by allowing quick, effective collaboration in real-time, allowing for smooth communication and decision making to solve every potential problem that may arise. The use of technology also allows for innovation and is presents opportunity for business development.

Finally, community service is what we are able to engage in by remaining productive in our homes during this unprecedented time. By staying home and adhering to the guidelines provided by our leaders, we ensure that we are serving the community as best we can by helping to flatten the curve, as it is appropriately put.

We do wish all our customers and clients health and safety, and we at Sabre88 will continue to prove Precise. Swift. Solutions as we always have.

The following is a list of tips and best practices for maintaining productivity:

  1. Maintain Regular Hours
  2. Create a Morning Routine
  3. Set Ground Rules With the People in Your Space
  4. Schedule Breaks
  5. Take Breaks in Their Entirety
  6. Leave Home (within CDC guidelines)
  7. Don’t Hesitate to Ask for What You Need
  8. Keep a Dedicated Office Space
  9. Use a VPN

Author: Paul McVeigh