The Department of Energy through the Office of Science has announced that beginning in FY 2023, all DOE funding solicitations, including the Office of Science Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) and DOE National Lab Announcements, will require applicants to submit as an appendix to proposal narratives, a “Promoting Inclusive and Equitable Research (PIER) Plan.” The purpose of the PIER Plan is to “describe the activities and strategies applicants will incorporate to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in their research projects.” According to the Office of Science’s announcement, the Office of Science will evaluate PIER Plans as “part of the merit review process,” and they “will be used to inform funding decisions.” Applications without PIER Plans will be considered “incomplete” and “will not be evaluated.”Continue Reading DOE Office of Science Adds Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Requirement to Solicitation Process
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, are long-lasting chemicals that are quickly gaining notoriety for both their persistence in the environment and their ubiquity in water, air, and soil. Developed in the 1950s, PFAS are used in a wide range of products including firefighting foam, stain-resistant and water-repellant fabrics, nonstick cookware and many others. Concerns over PFAS contamination are mounting and the associated caselaw is growing. Federal contractors could be impacted by PFAS in two primary ways: first, contractors may face PFAS-related litigation resulting from the manufacture and distribution of affected products and second, contractors may have to adjust specifications to comply with the government’s shift away from products containing PFAS.
Continue Reading PFAS and Federal Contracting: What Contractors Should Know and Why
On April 26, 2022, the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council amended the FAR to include overseas contracts as part of agency small business contracting goals. This would allow small business contracting procedures to apply to overseas procurements. Prior to this rule, FAR 19.000(b) explicitly stated that small business programs did not apply outside the United States and its outlying areas. This new rule from the Councils follows an SBA regulation amendment that sought to apply the Small Business Act to overseas acquisitions—an area that the SBA’s regulations were silent about previously. The primary aim of the Councils’ and SBA’s rule changes are to expand overseas opportunities for small businesses.
Continue Reading Set Asides Will Now Apply to Overseas Procurements
Punctual people often live by the maxim: “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” When submitting electronic proposals under FAR 52.212-1, those are words to live by. Even if you submit your electronic proposal on time, and even if it reaches government servers before the proposal deadline, it might still be considered late if it gets caught in the agency’s spam folder or email quarantine.
Continue Reading With Electronic Proposals, Sometimes Even On-time Submissions Can Be Late
Contractors are well aware that they cannot rely on the apparent authority of government officials. Under Federal Crop Ins. Corp. v. Merrill, 332 U.S. 380 (1947), only an authorized contracting officer may bind the government. But what about the apparent authority of contractor representatives? That was the question presented for consideration in Aspen Consulting, …
As most federal contractors know, the standard FAR clauses grant the government the right to default a contractor for delay. These same clauses, however, protect contractors where the delay is “excusable” and involve “unforeseeable causes beyond the control and without the fault or negligence of the Contractor.” Examples listed in the clauses include, among other…
The Court of Federal Claims (CoFC) recently held that an offeror was not obligated to inform the agency of staffing changes, affecting its key personnel, that occurred following its proposal submission. This new CoFC decision conflicts with longstanding GAO precedent.
Key personnel are often a significant part of proposals and can greatly increase or diminish…
In June 2007, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that a party who fails to object to patent errors in a solicitation before the conclusion of the bidding process waives those objections. Blue & Gold Fleet, L.P. v. United States, 492 F.3d 1308 (Fed. Cir. 2007). Commonly, referred to as Blue & Gold, this decision warned contractors that challenges to the terms of a solicitation must be brought early or risk being lost forever. Blue & Gold was further solidified in 2015 in Bannum. Bannum held that “mere notice of dissatisfaction or objection is insufficient to preserve [a] defective-solicitation challenge.” Bannum, Inc. v. United States, 779 F.3d 1376 (Fed. Cir. 2015). In Bannum the protester’s failure to formally protest the solicitation resulted in a waiver of those challenges. Id. The court indicated that a formal challenge would have likely preserved the protester’s post-award challenges, Id., but this was not solidified until now.
Continue Reading Escaping Blue & Gold: Court holds filing a pre-award agency-level protest preserved protester’s arguments
As predicted, another Obama Administration “oldie but goodie” has made a return in the Biden Administration. On November 18, 2021, President Biden issued a new Executive Order entitled “Executive Order on Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers Under Service Contracts.” Many of the same concepts and requirements have returned, but there are also several notable changes.
Continue Reading Nondisplacement of Qualified Workers is Back, But With Changes
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?