The United States Defense Department has published a final cybersecurity regulation concerning unclassified “controlled technical information.” See 78 Fed. Reg. 69,273 (Nov. 18, 2013) [pdf]. The objective of the regulation is to require contractors to maintain “adequate security” on unclassified information systems on which CTI may reside or transit and to implement detailed reporting requirements for “cyber incidents.” The final rule is narrower than the proposed regulation, which sought to safeguard unclassified DoD information generally.  See 76 Fed. Reg. 38,089 (June 29, 2011) [pdf].

Definition of CTI

The final rule includes a new DFARS provision (DFARS 204.7300) and a DFARS contract clause (DFARS 252.204.7012), which impose new security measures and reporting requirements on contractors and subcontractors whose work involves unclassified “controlled technical information resident on or transiting through contractor information systems.”

The rule broadly defines CTI as “technical information with military or space application that is subject to controls on the access, use, reproduction, modification, performance, display, release, disclosure, or dissemination.”  DFARS 204.7301.

The term “technical information” is further defined to mean “recorded information, regardless of the form or method of the recording, of a scientific or technical nature . . . .” See DFARS 252.227-7013. Examples of technical information include research and engineering data, engineering drawings and associated lists, specifications, standards, process sheets, manuals, technical reports, technical orders, catalog-item identifications, data sets, studies and analyses and related information, and computer software executable code and source code.

While this is a broad definition, comments on the new rule limit its application to information requiring controls pursuant to DoD Instruction 5230.24 [pdf] and DoD Directive 5230.25 [pdf]. Contractors should not have to devote resources simply to the task of determining whether information is CTI or not.


Continue Reading DoD’s new cybersecurity rules on unclassified “controlled technical information”

The Contract Disputes Act gives prime contractors a straightforward procedure for resolving claims against the federal government. But there is no mandatory approach to resolving disputes between contractors and subcontractors. Private parties may agree to arbitrate their disputes or designate a specific court to hear them. They may identify the applicable law, provide for the recovery of attorney’s fees, and prescribe any number of other details.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Atlantic Marine Constr. Co. v. United States District Court for Western District of Texas, No. 12-929 (U.S. Dec. 3, 2013), holds that forum selection clauses in subcontracts on federal projects are enforceable. In this first blog post of a two-part series, we discuss the decision in Atlantic Marine and the limits of the Supreme Court’s analysis. In the subsequent one, we will discuss the use of subcontract dispute resolution clauses more broadly.


Continue Reading Forum selection clauses after Atlantic Marine

Under the OFCCP’s final rule announced on August 27, 2013, federal contractors and subcontractors that meet the applicability criteria will be required to meet new goals for hiring protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. For veterans, the new “benchmark” is based on the percentage of veterans in the civilian labor force (currently 8 percent) or

Section 827 of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act [pdf] permanently enhances whistleblower protections for employees of DoD and NASA contractors and sub-contractors. Section 828 establishes a“pilot program” to provide enhanced whistleblower protections for employees of civilian

Alarmagency contractors and subcontractors for the next four years. In plain English, here is a look at what

Congress continues to promote opportunities for small business contractors to do business with the federal government. It also continues to increase the penalties for those taking unfair advantage of small business opportunities. Here is a look at the most recent set of carrots and sticks, which appear in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013.

1. Subcontracts with “similarly situated” small businesses

Section 1651 of the 2013 NDAA provides a new exception to the small business subcontracting cap, which restricts small businesses from subcontracting more than 50 percent of the amount paid under a services contract. With the passage of NDAA, the amount paid under any subcontract with a small business concern that has the same small business status as the prime contractor is excluded from the small business subcontracting cap. The term “similarly situated entities” includes service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses, HUBZone small businesses, women-owned small businesses, and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses.

This provision also changes the method for calculating the 50-percent subcontracting cap. Previously, the subcontracting limits in FAR 52.219-14 counted only direct labor costs. Under section 1651, “amount paid” under a subcontract, including labor, material, and other direct costs, is used to determine the 50-percent subcontracting cap. This is a strong incentive for small business prime contractors to award subcontracts to similarly situated small businesses. The old formula continues to govern subcontracting limitations for construction contracts, but the NDAA directs the SBA to establish similar limitations on construction contracts.

The penalty for violating the subcontracting cap is the greater of $500,000 or the dollar amount expended over the cap. The “amount expended” clause is a new penalty.


Continue Reading Small business contracting provisions in the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act

Contributed by Husch Blackwell Associate Thomas J. Rath

It makes sense to require contractors seeking reimbursement of costs they incur in the performance of a government contract to show that the costs were reasonable. According to the latest decision addressing KBR’s effort to recoup costs incurred to support the United States military in Iraq, the rule is no different for work performed in a warzone. Without additional proof of reasonableness, the Court of Federal Claims concluded that $37 million may be too much for a dining facility needed to feed and protect 6,000 American soldiers. See Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States, Nos. 09-428C & 09-578C (Fed. Cl. Sept. 27, 2012).

The decision arises from KBR’s claims for costs incurred to construct and operate a reinforced concrete dining facility needed to feed and protect 6,000 soldiers in Mosul, Iraq. Though KBR’s contract was awarded on a cost-reimbursement basis, KBR awarded a fixed-price subcontract for the work to ABC International Group. Army representatives urged KBR to begin work on the new facility quickly, citing the need for “force protection.” Responding to this pressure, KBR accepted a proposal from ABC that doubled the expected monthly cost of labor without seeking competing bids. KBR concluded the increase was reasonable because the work would be conducted amid “violence and the beheading of hostages by terrorists [which] caused a drastic increase in the cost of labor and a severe shortage of available staff.” By the end of the contract, the government asserted that KBR had paid over $12 million more to ABC for labor than it should have.


Continue Reading $37 million may be too much for a warzone cafeteria

The FAR Council has issued final regulations that include changes to the interim regulations concerning executive compensation and first-tier subcontract reporting found in FAR Subpart 4.14. The newly revised FAR Subpart 4.14 [pdf] becomes effective on August 27, 2012.
Continue Reading The latest news on executive compensation and first-tier subcontract reporting requirements

The SBA has released its Small Business Procurement Scorecards for 2011, and for the second year in a row the results paint a grim picture. In 2011 [pdf], small businesses were awarded an even smaller share of federal contract dollars than they received in 2010—$6.4 billion smaller. Prime contract awards to small businesses in 2011 totaled $91.5 billion, or 21.65 percent of federal agency contract expenditures. The previous year [pdf], small businesses were awarded 22.66 percent of all federal prime contracts, or $97.9 billion. It’s official: federal agencies have failed once again to meet the 23 percent government-wide goal for prime contract awards to small business concerns set by the Small Business Act.
Continue Reading Takeaways from SBA’s 2011 procurement scorecard

BriefcaseThe Contractor’s Perspective is up to three entries on the application of FAR 52.204-10, which requires some federal contractors and first-tier subcontractors to report the compensation of their top-five highest paid executives. Even though it has been almost two years since the requirement first appeared in the FAR, the topic still generates a lot of interest and a lot of questions. Here are answers to some of the questions we received in the executive compensation reporting segment of our recent webinar on Transparency in Government Contracting. We hope you find them useful.

Question: Does FAR 52.204-10 apply only to new contracts or does it also apply retroactively to existing contracts?

Answer: Even though the statutory requirement for reporting executive compensation became law in April 2008 when President Bush signed the Government Funding Transparency Act of 2008, the contractual requirement didn’t go into effect until July 8, 2010, when the FAR Councils published FAR 52.204-10 as an “interim rule.” According to the text of the interim rule, FAR 52.204-10 is required in all contracts over $25,000 that are awarded after July 8, 2010. It does not apply to contracts awarded before on or before July 8, 2010.


Continue Reading The latest on executive compensation reporting under FAR 52.204-10

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 [pdf] puts an end to OFCCP’s effort to impose subcontractor status on retail pharmacies and health care providers serving TRICARE beneficiaries. The controversy had been brewing for some time. As we discussed in an earlier client alert, the October 2010 decision in OFCCP v. Florida Hospital,