Keith Webster Keith Webster
President, Defense and Aerospace Council, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
President, Federal Acquisition Council, Cyber, Space and National Security Policy Division, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


April 06, 2020


April 6 OSD A&S COVID conference call notes:

  • Hitting about 3 million companies with the help of Associations and Chamber.
  • Army Corps operating 20 FEMA sites.
  • Comfort, the military medical ship docked in New York City, is engaging now in pier side screening.
  • SecDef issued mandate for masks within buildings and installations; planning to host webinar this Wednesday at 2pm for small businesses and a press release will go out April 6 with information.
  • Working on trouble issues with paycheck protection program (PPP)—numerous calls to issue loans, etc. so this is an issue that will be covered in the webinar Wednesday.
  • For PPP, industries first stop is to the bank small businesses normally work with to begin the PPP approval process; OSD contacting Treasury is going to see what the hold-ups are in the field with the banks.
  • It’s important to keep supply base fragility data coming in as OSD works to address their needs if at all possible whether Title 3 under DPA or some other source to float those in need who are critical.
  • The press release last Friday covered the following: tracking $265M obligated to set up mobile hospitals and additional $100M for masks and PPE supplies; working DLA who has a memo with FEMA and DHS to procure once priorities set; continued messaging to DoD primes to ensure cash flows down the chain as the supply base needs the cash the most; contract mods and pushing more cash out; JATF engagement.
  • Number of press engagements by SecDef over the weekend; delivered over 5M masks to Detroit and New Orleans.
  • The new JATF portal up and working; merging data from new portal with other data to get supply chain illumination to see those voluntarily submitting proposals thru the portal to harmonize and prioritize and not loose site of these industry offers.
  • There are lots of offers pouring in and they are being managed and prioritized by JATF.
  • The JATF portal is the conduit for any company to provide their information and offers to assist with COVID across all solution sets and staff are dedicated to managing this all in a timely way. This greatly helps HHS from having to do all this for themselves.
  • The portal seems open to any source whether company or an individual—to this point the JATF welcomes associations filtering some of the responses to the portal if industry is asking associations for guidance. This portal is not really for individual citizens offering assistance, really designed for industry proposals. Really want to encourage those members who fit the profile listed on the portal website. This new JATF site is duplicative of the FEMA site as FEMA was overwhelmed and DoD set this up to offload to DoD some of the responses, but decisions are harmonized. Prudent for industry to do bot--inputs to JATF and FEMA sites.
  • A total of 109 companies have closed, 32 reopened and another 13 due to open this week.
  • A concerning trend: companies just closing; some have said they have supply chain problems but no evidence yet of sincere supply chain issues. Industry: please keep DCMA informed of closings or intent to close so efforts are harmonized.
  • OMB is issuing top level guidance as guard rails and DPC will get their guidance out soon and most likely ahead of OMB but fully aligned; complex set of scenarios re Sec 3610.
  • OSD guidance will most likely out tomorrow but there will be continuous issuances of FAQs as we all learn more and can bring clarity to issues that will emerge with Sec 3610 of the CARES ACT over the coming days and weeks.
  • Industry can submit questions re Sec 3610 to help with FAQs effort.
  • DLA is ready to award contracts for mask sterilization and next emphasis will be pharma; canceling industry day in August which they host annually—just a heads up.
  • There was aproductive exchange with associations last week re supply chain concerns with Mexico and essentiality.
  • OSD engaged Mexico federal government and they corrected one supply issue and are working to see more corrections; working re India supply chain as well.
  • HON Lord has had a number of conversation with a number of allies and partner nations at her level to address supply chain matters.
  • State Department working a cable to go out to all posts on essentiality and DoD supply chain.
  • Effective April 1st China requires advance notice of need for material to be shipped out of China—this is a change and effecting supply chain. This shipping change for advance notice coupled with lack of supplies due to three-month production break is frustrating the supply chain based in China and movement to the US.
  • PPE banks are coming back with request for substantial additional information thus frustrating the loan process; these are questions not anticipated.
  • There are reports that a task force under CIO is running and addressing telework matters for the IT community.
  • Chamber took action to find data on banking loans to small businesses and getting that back to OSD.

About the authors

Keith Webster

Keith Webster

Keith Webster, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Defense and Aerospace Council, guides the focus of the council to strengthen the U.S. defense and aerospace industries by influencing domestic and international policy on behalf of its members.

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