President Biden’s September 9, 2021 Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors, directs the federal Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”) to develop COVID-19 workplace safety guidance for federal contractors and subcontractors providing services to or for the federal government. The Executive Order requires the guidance to apply broadly, not only to contracts governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulations (“FAR”), but also to “contracts and contract-like” instruments not covered by the FAR. The Executive Order also directs the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council to develop new contract clauses that will incorporate the Task Force’s guidance into new and newly-amended federal contracts.

Continue Reading Federal Contractor Specific COVID-19 Workplace Safety Guidance Issued By The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force

Imagine as a supplier of medical oxygen cylinders and tanks in your region, you enter into an arrangement with HHS or DHS to provide oxygen to nearby hospital facilities dealing with surges in the COVID-19 pandemic. However, due to the recent dramatic surge in your area and the significant demand for oxygen, the government moved quickly to award you a contract that appears very different from other federal contracts you have previously signed.

Continue Reading Terminations for Convenience Clauses vs. Mutual Termination Clauses: What are the Limits on the Government’s Right to Terminate?

Effective September 1, 2021, Texas Senate Bill 19 prohibits government entities from contracting with companies that have policies that restrict business with the firearms industry. The bill specifically targets banks and other financial institutions that have at least ten employees and are seeking government contracts of at least $100,000. Under the bill, such institutions are required to provide written verification that they do not have practices, policies, guidance, or directives that “discriminate” against a firearm entity or firearm trade association.

Continue Reading Government Contracting Implications of Texas Senate Bill 19: Navigating State Regulation of Corporate Firearm Policies

On July 29th, 2021, President Biden announced additional efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates and to protect the federal workforce, including strengthening safety protocols for federal employees and contractors. Under the Biden Administration’s new guidance, in areas of high or substantial transmission of COVID-19, federal employees, contractors, and visitors must wear a mask inside federal buildings with limited exceptions. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask regardless of community transmission level.

Continue Reading President Biden Announces New COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Onsite Federal Contractors

In September 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) made a formal request to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for approval of a new information collection request (ICR) to collect and monitor Affirmative Action Plans (AAP), and will soon require federal contractors and subcontractors to regularly certify that they have compliant AAPs. OFCCP recently posted on its website a new page titled “Affirmative Action Plan Verification Interface” and indicated that it was “Coming Soon.” The page further explains “Affirmative Action Plan Verification Interface (AAVI) is a secure web based interface created to improve communication and the transfer of Affirmative Action Plan data, between Federal Contractors and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.”

Continue Reading OFCCP Affirmative Action Plan Verification Interface is “Coming Soon”

In March, we wrote about how we still were awaiting guidance from the White House about how the Made in America Office’s waiver process would work under President Biden’s January 25, 2021 EO 14005, Ensuring the Future is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers. This month, the White House released its initial guidance on the new waiver process, identifying four main areas of implementation:

Continue Reading Biden Administration Issues Additional Guidance on the Made in America Waiver Process

Breaking into federal government contracting can be daunting. There are ever-changing compliance obligations to consider and complex bidding and proposal submission requirements to navigate. An entire industry of sales consultants, proposal writers, and lobbyists promising to help tap into the $600 Billion plus federal marketplace are only a Google search away. Engaging the services from one of these firms is generally allowed, but there are restrictions. This post deals with one of those restrictions—the Covenant Against Contingent Fees (FAR 52.203-5) which restricts how government contractors pay third-party sales agents.

Continue Reading “Vernon’s got prospects. He’s bona fide.” — Understanding the Covenant Against Contingent Fees

It has been two months since President Biden issued his Buy American Executive Order on January 25, 2021. But it would seem we still have more questions than answers: What specific actions will agencies take to promote the Order’s policy? What will the Made in America Office look like? Where can I find more information about proposed waivers? While the answers to these questions are probably still months away, it is important for contractors to understand the possible implications now and plan accordingly.

Continue Reading President Biden’s Buy American Executive Order—Where Are We Now?

Have you received a Section 889 letter yet? If not, you may soon. The letters ask whether you provide or use “covered telecommunications equipment or services.” They are part of the implementation of Section 889 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (the 2019 NDAA), which has two phases. The first phase started in August 2019 but has a limited scope. The second phase—which started in August 2020—is much broader and raises a lot more questions. This article answers some of those questions and provides some tips on how to comply.

Keep in mind that Section 889 is still being implemented. Much of this analysis is based on interim rulemakings at 85 F.R. 42665 and 85 F.R. 53126. Final rules may change based on public comments.
Continue Reading Frequently asked contractor questions about Section 889

We’ve all heard the expression that those who deal with the Government must turn square corners. This is because the Government has a broad array of tools at its disposal to motivate, coax, and cajole contractors and federal grant recipients to play by the rules. Those tools include harsh measures such as criminal prosecution and civil false claims act enforcement on the one hand and poor CPARS ratings on the other. A seemingly less severe administrative option available to the Government is suspension and debarment. However, any entity that has been suspended or debarred knows that these measures can prove harsh and disruptive. While the numbers of suspensions and debarments have declined from the all-time high in 2011, there is still significant activity. In its FY 2018 report, the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee reported 2444 referrals, 480 suspensions, 1542 proposed debarments, and 1334 debarments. The number of referrals for suspension and debarment in FY 2018 is almost exactly the same as the number of GAO bid protests filed that year.

What is Suspension and Debarment?

Like any consumer, the Government has inherent authority to pick with whom it will do business. Not everyone makes the cut. Suspension and debarment are the Government’s tool to avoid entities it views as a high risk for poor performance, fraud, waste, and abuse. Suspension and debarment preclude a business entity or individual from contracting with the Government or from receiving grants, loans, loan guarantees or other forms of assistance from the Government.  A suspension is a temporary exclusion when the Government determines immediate action is necessary pending the completion of an investigation or legal proceeding. A debarment is an exclusion for a defined, reasonable period of time—often three years.
Continue Reading A primer on Suspension and Debarment