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Update of Federal Acquisition Regulation Proposed to Implement Refreshed 508 Standards

Update of Federal Acquisition Regulation Proposed to Implement Refreshed 508 Standards 

Federal Acquisition Regulation (cover)The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council has proposed to update its regulations governing federal procurements by incorporating the Access Board’s Section 508 Standards, which were revised in 2017. These standards address the accessibility of information and communication technology in the federal sector. The FAR Council’s proposed rule, which is available for public comment for 60 days, would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to ensure that the revised 508 Standards are appropriately considered in Federal ICT acquisitions.

The Federal Acquisition Regulations System, which is overseen by the FAR Council, codifies and publishes uniform policies and procedures for acquisition of supplies and services by all executive agencies. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council is responsible for incorporating the 508 Standards and updates of the standards. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council is comprised of representatives from the Department of Defense (DOD), the General Services Administration (GAS), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which jointly issued the proposed notice. The Office of Federal Procurement Policy and the Office of Management and Budget are also represented on the Council.

The proposed rule and instructions for submitting comments are posted on regulations.gov. Comments are due June 1, 2020. For further information, contact Camara Francis of GSA’s Office of Government-wide Acquisition Policy at (202) 550-0935.

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FEMA – FEMA Offers Ways for Private Sector to Help Fight COVID-19

March 27, 2020 Contact: Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Division

Advisory

FEMA Offers Ways for Private Sector to Help Fight COVID-19

Under the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s direction, FEMA, HHS and our federal partners continue to work closely with state, local, tribal and territorial governments in executing a whole-of-government response to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the public. The outpouring of support from the private sector to provide medical supplies and equipment has been tremendous. To help us match the many offers of assistance to the right place, at the right time, and in the right quantity, we ask for your help in ensuring partners know how to connect.  

To sell medical supplies or equipment to the federal government, please submit a price quote under theCOVID-19 PPE and Medical Supplies Request for Quotation. Full details can be found in the solicitation (Updated Notice ID 70FA2020R00000011). This solicitation requires registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) in order to be considered for award, pursuant to applicable regulations and guidelines. Registration information can be found at www.sam.gov. Registration must be “ACTIVE” at the time of award. 

If you have medical supplies or equipment to donate, please provide us details on what you are offering through our online medical supplies and equipment form athttps://www.fema.gov/covid19offers.

If you are interested in doing business with FEMA and supporting the response to COVID-19 with your company’s non-medical goods and/or services, please submit your inquiry to the Department of Homeland Security’s Procurement Action Innovative Response (PAIR) team atDHSIndustryLiaison@hq.dhs.gov

In addition to these avenues to help, licensed healthcare professionals that want to volunteer can get information on eligibility, view credential levels by clinical competency and register with the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals in their state. 

If you are a hospital or healthcare provider in need of medical supplies, please contact your state, local, tribal or territory department of public health and/or emergency management agency. Any needs that cannot be met by the state or tribe are then sent to the respective FEMA regional office who are coordinating requirements through the FEMA National Response Coordination Center. FEMA is working with the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies to fulfill requests and ship supplies as quickly as possible. 

Additional ways to help can be found atwww.fema.gov/coronavirus/how-to-help

If you have any questions, please contact the National Business Emergency Operations Center at NBEOC@max.gov.

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FEMA – CISA releases Version 2.0 of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Worker Guidance originally published on March 19, 2020

 
CISA releases Version 2.0 of the Essential Critical Infrastructure Worker Guidance originally published on March 19, 2020 As the Nation comes together to slow the spread of COVID-19, on March 16th the President issued updated Coronavirus Guidance for America that highlighted the importance of the critical infrastructure workforce.The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) executes the Secretary of Homeland Security’s authorities to secure critical infrastructure. Consistent with these authorities, CISA has developed, in collaboration with other federal agencies, State and local governments, and the private sector, an “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” advisory list. This list is intended to help State, local, tribal and territorial officials as they work to protect their communities, while ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. Decisions informed by this list should also take into consideration additional public health considerations based on the specific COVID-19-related concerns of particular jurisdictions. This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard. Additionally, this advisory list is not intended to be the exclusive list of critical infrastructure sectors, workers, and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response across all jurisdictions. Individual jurisdictions should add or subtract essential workforce categories based on their own requirements and discretion.   The advisory list identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are typically essential to continued critical infrastructure viability, including staffing operations centers, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, working construction, and performing operational functions, among others. It also includes workers who support crucial supply chains and enable functions for critical infrastructure. The industries they support represent, but are not limited to, medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement, and public works. State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are responsible for implementing and executing response activities, including decisions about access and reentry, in their communities, while the Federal Government is in a supporting role. Officials should use their own judgment in issuing implementation directives and guidance. Similarly, while adhering to relevant public health guidance, critical infrastructure owners and operators are expected to use their own judgement on issues of the prioritization of business processes and workforce allocation to best ensure continuity of the essential goods and services they support. All decisions should appropriately balance public safety, the health and safety of the workforce, and the continued delivery of essential critical infrastructure services and functions. While this advisory list is meant to help public officials and employers identify essential work functions, it allows for the reality that some workers engaged in activity determined to be essential may be unable to perform those functions because of health-related concerns. CISA will continue to work with our partners in the critical infrastructure community to update this advisory list if necessary as the Nation’s response to COVID-19 evolves.
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EPA Urges States to Support Drinking Water and Wastewater Operations during COVID-19

EPA Urges States to Support Drinking Water and Wastewater Operations during COVID-19
On Friday, March 27, 2020, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to Governors in all 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C. urging them to ensure that drinking water and wastewater employees are considered essential workers by state authorities when enacting restrictions such as shelter in place orders to curb the spread of COVID-19. Supporting water utilities as they work to provide clean water for drinking and handwashing is essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Ensuring that all Americans have clean and safe water is a high priority for the agency and I want to thank the water sector for their courageous efforts at a time when workforces are being challenged and stretched,” said Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Having fully operational drinking water and wastewater services is critical to containing COVID-19 and protecting Americans from other public health risks. Our nation’s water and wastewater employees are everyday heroes who are on the frontline of protecting human health and the environment every single day.”
Over the past two days, Administrator Wheeler has held teleconferences with water sector stakeholders, including small and rural operators, to acknowledge the importance of their work and identify ways that EPA and its partners can support the sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of these meetings, the Administrator discussed the importance of the steps he outlined in his letter to Governors to ensure that state and local communities consider the water workforce as essential in the process of granting access and credentials to restricted areas in order to sustain critical water and wastewater services. They also discussed the importance of supply chain businesses, including chemical manufacturers and distributors. These businesses support the daily operations of the nation’s water and wastewater facilities and should also be designated as essential.
“The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators appreciates EPA recognizing the critical role of states and water system play in ensuring the delivery of safe drinking water to the public,” said ASDWA Executive Director Alan Roberson. “Continuing the ongoing partnership between EPA, states, water systems and the public is as important as ever during these challenging times.”
“Small community water and wastewater systems are the lifeblood of rural and tribal communities across the country. With more than 97 percent of public water systems and 72 percent of public wastewater systems serving communities of 10,000 people or fewer, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will reverberate in rural and tribal communities for years to come,” said CEO of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) Nathan Ohle. “We are grateful to be able to bring the voice of small communities to discussions like this with EPA, and greatly appreciate the opportunity to ensure that small system issues are raised and addressed.”
“National and State Rural Water Associations have implemented emergency protocols to bring the full range of capabilities and resources to assist small systems for the duration of the pandemic,” said Deputy CEO, National Rural Water Association Matthew Holmes. “Literally hundreds of certified operators have volunteered to assist their neighboring systems in case of workforce shortages. NRWA acknowledges that any emergency affecting critical water and wastewater utilities places heightened stresses on the professionals responsible for the public’s safety. My expectation is that these individuals will rise to meet the challenges facing our Nation, and they all deserve increased recognition and gratitude for the service they provide each and every day.”
“Water professionals are doing heroic work to keep water flowing and that assure that citizens stay hydrated, wash their hands and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said American Water Works Association CEO David LaFrance. “Our preliminary research shows that nearly half of water utilities either already have plans to assure essential workers can live on-site at their jobs or are considering developing those plans. Water workers are literally saving lives, and we owe them our gratitude and support.”
Background
EPA has also posted new information and resources that water stakeholders-including states, municipalities, utilities and their workforce-can use to support operations during the pandemic. For example, on the website, the agency is summarizing resources that can support utilities, including by helping maintain adequate staffing and laboratory capacity. Included in the materials is an incident action checklist to support water utilities as they prepare for, respond to, and recover from a pandemic. While most water systems already have continuity plans in place as part of best-management practices, EPA recommends that states work with their utilities to review these plans and to keep up with the latest announcements on COVID-19.
Additionally, EPA supports states and cities that are taking proactive measures to ensure continued access to clean water during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many drinking water systems are discontinuing service cut-offs, restoring service to customers whose service was previously cut-off, and refraining from imposing penalties for nonpayment. EPA recommends widespread adoption of these practices, which provide critical support for public health.
For the latest information from EPA about COVID-19 and water, see: www.epa.gov/coronavirus.
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APWA – Are you a Member? Then submit a committee nomination!

Submit a Committee Nomination!

Less than one month remains before the committee nominations process for 2020 closes on March 22. Let’s face it, public works professionals are a humble group, but the truth is that you have so much you can contribute.

  • Do you feel you have something to share with the public works profession?
  • Do you have a network of fellow professionals you interact with regarding the latest techniques and technologies?
  • Do you know someone you think would be an ideal subject matter expert?
  • Are you interested in a leadership role at the national level of APWA?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, click here to learn more about the national committee appointment process.

There are 56 open positions effective August 2020. You could be one of the APWA members who is chosen to fill that void. Members can nominate themselves or a colleague.

To find out more about the Technical Committees, Standing & Program Committees or External Representation, click here.

Contact Teresa Hon (thon@apwa.net or 816-595-5224) with questions.

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APWA – Statement on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

By now, you have probably been inundated with news stories about coronavirus. It is an emerging issue that APWA continues to follow closely. Since many of you are on the front lines and in many cases are first responders, it is important for you to have the tools to respond. The best sources regarding COVID-19 have been: the CDC website and the World Health Organization.  Meanwhile, the CDC recommends the following to help prevent the spread of COVID-19: Avoid close contact with people who are sick.Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.Stay home when you are sick.Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.Clean and disinfect heavily used surfaces and objects on a frequent basis.As of now, all APWA activities will continue as usual.William (Bill) E. Spearman, III, PEAPWA President 2019-2020Scott D. Grayson CAE
Chief Executive Officer 
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EPA – Comment Period Opens for EPA’s Proposed MSGP

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is seeking public comment on the proposed 2020 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP) for stormwater discharges associated with industrial activity in areas where EPA is the NPDES permitting authority. This proposed permit would replace EPA’s 2015 MSGP upon finalization.
EPA will take comments on the proposal during a 60-day comment period, which begins March 2, 2020 and ends May 1, 2020. Comments can be submitted on www.regulations.govfor docket ID # EPA-HQ-OW-2019-0372.The Federal Register Notice, proposed permit documents, and all supporting information can be found on the docket at: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=EPA-HQ-OW-2019-0372.Information is also available on EPA’s Industrial Stormwater website: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater-discharges-industrial-activities.

EPA will host two informational webcasts to give an overview of the proposed changes to the permit. The webinars will be recorded and posted on EPA’s Industrial Stormwater website for those who are unable to attend.
NOTE: The two webcasts will cover the same content.

Webcast 1: Proposed 2020 MSGPTuesday, March 10, 20201:00-2:30 p.m. Eastern TimeRegister
Webcast 2: Proposed 2020 MSGPThursday, April 9, 20201:00-2:30 p.m. Eastern TimeRegister
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FEMA Recruits National Advisory Council Membership

FEMA Recruits National Advisory Council Membership

FEMA is seeking qualified individuals for the 2020 National Advisory Council (NAC) membership cycle. FEMA is now accepting applications for up to 13 open positions in discipline areas to include, but not limited to, the following: standards setting and accrediting; non-elected local tribal official; emergency response provider and others. 

FEMA requests that those interested in serving on the FEMA NAC submit an application by March 13. Detailed instructions on how to apply can be found on the FEMA website.