COVID19 UPDATE
MARCH 20, 2020
Today ACEC of Louisiana joined its A/E/C fellow organizations in drafting and submitting letters to Governor Edwards and the state's leading mayors pushing for construction activities to be designated as essential services and for no delay or shut down of construction activities across the state.
ACEC MEMBER FIRM SURVEY RESPONSES

ACEC had a great response to the member firm survey on COVID-19 sent out this week. There will be more detailed results to share on geographic differences (if any) on Monday, March 23. ACEC will be sending the survey out again on Tuesday, March 24 so all Louisiana firm principles receiving the survey are encouraged to participate.

Survey Results:
  • There were 794 respondents to the survey. Of them, 53% were firms under 25 FTEs. 
  • Most of our firms do not travel internationally (60%) and therefore, there was no change to their policies.
  • For domestic travel: 66% of respondents have restricted travel to training or conferences. 52% have restricted air travel.
  • For work from home: 20% have not changed their policy and said it’s business as usual. Most (64%) are either encouraging or allowing employees to work from home. Only 8% have made work from home mandatory.
  • 23% of responding firms are providing paid emergency leave, 13% are providing emergency unpaid leave. Interestingly, 13% already have an unrestricted leave policy.
  • When asked how firms are working with clients to ensure work can continue- 77% are ensuring social distancing, 73% are allowing virtual work, 52% are focusing on meeting and project hygiene, and 52% are limiting access to offices, project and construction sites.
  • 96% said they have not had problems with public clients when protective measures may conflict with contract terms.
  • 56% have not experienced project delays or cancellations; 44% have experienced delays/cancellations.
  • 76% have not experienced delays in the issuance of RFPs/RFQs or awards; 24% have experienced delays in issuance of RFPs/RFQs.

When asked to describe any other business issues that you are experiencing related to COVID-19 respondents answers fell into several main categories:
  • Significant interest in what will pass Congress and how it will affect their business-particularly small firms
  • Many not experiencing major project delays as of now but expecting that to change
  • Worry that work will slow- starting to see it happening
  • Worry that clients will pay more slowly (particularly public clients)- starting to see it happening
  • Office going remote resulting in uncertainty of workflow
  • General employee distraction due to depth of crisis and rate of change
  • Economic uncertainty
Would an ACECL specific survey concerning COVID19 be of value to you?
Yes
No
Would you participate in an ACEC of La. Virtual Roundtable?
Yes
No
MESSAGE FROM NEW ORLEANS MAYOR LATOYA CANTRELL
Mayor LaToya Cantrell invited ACEC to participate in a limited conference call late Thursday with representatives of the A/E/C community and her key infrastructure staff. 

The purpose of the call was to deliver the message to the A/E/C community that the City of New Orleans is not slowing down any infrastructure work. The Mayor strongly stated that infrastructure projects cannot stop while acknowledging the city is taking all precautions to adhere to safety and social distancing protocols (i.e. distance between individuals at in person meetings such as bid meetings). 

She wanted to ensure the A/E/C community directly that bids are moving, RFPs are moving. They are not slowing down. Unlike other disasters, the staff associated with infrastructure (capital projects, DPW, PDU, Ramsey’s office) are working. They are considered essential personnel. The Mayor understands that public works projects infuse money into the economy. She knows the federal money must be spent. Work cannot come to a halt. She expects the continued highest quality from her staff and the A/E/C partners. She stressed we were all partners of the City in this. 

Mayor’s Talking Points:

  • Continuing our infrastructure work during this trying time for our city is absolutely critical. 

  • The infrastructure needs in our city have not gone away, so we will push forward for as long as we safely can.
 
  • This includes the combined Department of Public Works (DPW) and Sewerage and Water Board Joint Infrastructure Program projects, Capital Projects, NDR-HUD Green Infrastructure projects as well as DPW maintenance projects. 

  • On our capital side, we currently have 17 projects under construction valued at more than $75 million dollarsWork is continuing on all of these projects.

  • Between maintenance projects and the Joint Infrastructure Program, we currently have 26 DPW projects under construction valued at nearly $160 million dollarsWork is continuing on all of these projects. 

  • The safety and well-being of the crews working at these sites is paramount - and that's why are we are talking with our contractors to ensure that all crews are working safely by washing hands, practicing social distancing on sites and furthermore staying home if they are feeling sick in any way. 

  • There is a lot of work coming down the pipeline and we want to make sure that you know about it and have an opportunity to compete.
  • In the next 60 days, we will have approximately $200 million dollars worth of Joint Infrastructure projects going out to bid
  • In the next 60 days, we will have approximately $20 million dollars worth of capital projects going out to bid.

  • In the next several weeks, the much anticipated staff augmentation RFP will be re-released for bid. 

  • We plan to continue with our quarterly industry days - our next one will be done via webinar sometime in April.
  • We will go into detail about the Joint Infrastructure work, bond work, our capital program as well as our NDR HUD-funded projects.
  • Stay tuned and get ready!

PUBLIC NOTICE ABOUT MOVEBR SELECTION MEETING
The City of Baton Rouge issued the following statement today regarding next MOVEBR Selection meeting. ACEC urged (begged) the City not to delay. They are working on a solution that meets all legal requirements. Stay tuned....
Due to the current COVID-19 crisis the third round of MOVEBR project RFQ’s will be delayed while the Department addresses the immediate needs of the parish. We recognize that the gathering size restrictions that will be in force for some time will effect both public and board member participation at our future selection meetings. Also, projected infection levels could hinder our ability to assemble quorums. We are seeking ways to address these issues and we will keep the professional community informed via the MOVEBR Website.

In order to provide for the collection of information on participation by Disadvantaged Business Enterprises we have revised the CPES form to include places for firms to identify their status in MBE, WBE, and VOB enterprises. In addition, the revision included a change in the Prime’s minimum required level of participation. An MS Word file has been posted for download on the website
US HOMELAND SECURITY ISSUES DEFERMENT OF SOME REQUIREMENTS FOR ONBOARDING EMPLOYEES
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will defer the requirements for employers to review Form I-9 documents in-person with new employees. The change applies to employers and workplaces that are operating completely remotely.

"Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee's identity and employment authorization documents in the employee's physical presence," DHS said.

The physical documentation review requirements will not be excused if any employees are physically present at a work location. "Employers that avail themselves of this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee."

Employers must still inspect the Section 2 documents over video conference, fax, or e-mail and obtain and retain copies of the documents within three business days. Employers are instructed to enter "COVID-19" as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the additional information field in Section 2. 

Once normal operations resume, all employees who were onboarded using remote verification must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of their identity and employment eligibility documentation. Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add "documents physically examined" with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field.

The provisions are in effect until May 19 or within three business days after the termination of the national emergency, whichever comes first.

For employers with nonremote workers who must still meet their obligations for verifying employment authorization, which requires an in-person examination of documents,  please read this.
FIND OUT HOW OTHER FIRMS ARE MANAGING THROUGH COVID19

ACEC is c onvening small, medium, and large firm virtual round table sessions on Monday, March 23 rd as an outreach to member firms during the coronavirus pandemic. These sessions will provide our members with a platform to discuss the issues facing your business as well as share ideas on how our industry can help our communities during the crisis. 

The virtual roundtables are a free event for members. Registration links for each roundtable can be found below. Once registered you will be sent login information- joining the roundtable is easy and can be done through your computer of via phone. If you have questions on registration, contact Maureen Brown at mbrown@acec.org .

Monday, March 23, 2020
2:00-3:00PM Central

Monday, March 23, 2020
11:30-12:30 PM Central

Monday, March 23, 2020
1:00-2:00 PM Central
HOW DOES THE NEW FEDERAL LEGISLATION IMPACT EMPLOYERS?
Free ACEC webinar Tuesday:
COVID-19 Legislation: What Employers Need to Know?
Tuesday, March 24 at 3:30PM (2:30pm Central )
Speaker: Amanda Machin, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP

Webinar will cover the employer-related provisions in HR 6201 as amended: emergency leave, emergency sick leave, and the payroll tax credits for employers that are required to provide the leave.


The webinar will be recorded and available by ACEC on demand after the event for free.
Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response
In collaboration with other federal agencies and the private sector, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) developed an initial list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” to help State and local 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. The list can also inform critical infrastructure community decision-making to determine the sectors, sub-sectors, segments, or critical functions that should continue normal operations, appropriately modified to account for Centers for Disease Control (CDC) workforce and customer protection guidance.

The attached list identifies workers who conduct a range of operations and services that are essential to continued critical infrastructure viability, including staffing operations centers, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, working construction, and performing management functions, among others. The industries they support represent, but are not necessarily 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.
ACEC BLOG WITH COVID19 UPDATES
This blog site adds several articles and information every day relevant to engineering firms and COVID19.