On April 22, 2024, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a Final Rule titled HIPAA Privacy Rule to Support Reproductive Health Care Privacy. The Final Rule strengthens the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule by prohibiting disclosure of protected health information (PHI) related to lawful reproductive health care under certain circumstances. The Final Rule is designed to promote high-quality health care by fostering trust and communication between individuals and their health care providers.

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In March 2024, the Department of Health and Human Services—through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC)—released a draft 2024-2030 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for public comment. A collaborative effort between ONC and more than two dozen federal agencies, the plan outlines federal health information technology (health IT) goals and objectives, focusing on improving access to health data, delivering better and more equitable care, and modernizing the nation’s public health data infrastructure. More than just a roadmap of federal government priorities, the plan is also intended to catalyze the private sector.

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What do you think is going to be scarier—artificial intelligence (AI) or the government’s effort to regulate AI? On October 30, 2023, the White House issued Executive Order (E.O.) 14410, Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence. As the federal government’s latest foray into harnessing AI, this E.O.—like those before it, generally—recognizes that AI offers extraordinary potential and promise, provided that it is harnessed responsibly to prevent the exacerbation of societal harms. Since E.O. 14410, there has been a flurry of activity in the federal government, including guidance and policies providing an indication of how agencies can/should/will harness AI to support agency objectives. While we are far from a situation similar to Skynet from the Terminator franchise or HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the government’s accelerated activity to reap AI’s potential benefits far outpaces the provision of actionable guidance so contractors can understand and adapt to what will be required in offering AI products and services to the government. So let’s open the pod bay doors and explore…

Continue Reading Executive Order 14410: An Artificial Intelligence Odyssey

On December 26, 2023, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) belatedly gifted defense contractors and subcontractors a Proposed Rule on the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (“CMMC”) Program. DoD also released eight CMMC guidance documents, providing interested parties a one-two combo of what to expect under the Program. The Proposed Rule has already received over 100 comments. With commenting open until February 26, 2024, will DoD proceed with a final rule, or is the Proposed Rule a Groundhog Day scenario with DoD further delaying final implementation of the CMMC Program?

Continue Reading DoD’s Proposed CMMC Rule: Groundhog Day… or a Final Rule in the Works?

Alex Major and Marcos Gonzalez discuss the Federal Acquisition Supply Chain Security Act and how it affects contractors in this featured comment for the Government Contractor.

Cara Wulf and Marcos Gonzalez provide an overview of Build America, Buy America Act domestic sourcing requirements and discuss the most recent Final Rule issued by the OMB in this feature comment for The Government Contractor.

On October 25, 2023, the Department of Defense (DoD) published a Proposed Rule amending the Department of Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) and permanently authorizing the DoD Mentor-Protégé Program (DoD MP Program). In addition, the Proposed Rule makes several changes to the program—the most prominent of which include (a) lowering barriers to entry and (b) adding additional benefits for prospective mentors and protégés. Before we dive in to the Proposed Rule, a brief history of the DoD MP Program is in order.

Continue Reading DoD Mentor-Protégé Program Solidified under Proposed Rule

The Proposed Rule behind FAR Case 2021-017 may strike fear into the hearts of many contractors, as it implements new recommendations regarding cybersecurity reporting obligations. Alex Major highlights the necessary steps and potential risks federal contractors must consider in the Government Contractor.

Welcome, dear readers, to the height of protest season! Around the end of the federal fiscal year, the number of contract awards being made increases greatly. Which means so do the number of protests challenging those award decisions. If you are currently asserting or defending a protest (or think you will be before October is over), you are certainly not alone. Unfortunately, if you are somewhat confused about the details, mechanics, timing and procedures relating to protests—well, you also are not alone. This is undoubtedly one of the most complex and confusing areas of government contracting. But fear not! We’re here to help clear up the confusion and get you on the right track, to ensure you obtain those awards improperly awarded to a competitor and maintain those awards that you fairly won. To that end, below is a summary list of the 10 most common bid protestor mistakes, with links to more detailed information about each mistake and how to avoid it!

Continue Reading Avoiding Common Bid Protest Mistakes: A Seasonal Guide to Our Top 10 Protest Don’ts!

Just in time for the season of new backpacks, lunch boxes, and school supplies, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has assigned some homework to contractors looking to participate in Federal financial assistance programs for infrastructure. Consistent with its Build America, Buy America Act (BABA) mandates, on August 23, 2023, OMB published a Final Rule revising its Guidance for Grants and Agreements to implement BABA (Final Rule). This Final Rule follows the Proposed Rule of February 9, 2023 (Proposed Rule), which we previously discussed, in which OMB proposed creating a new part 184 in 2 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and revising 2 CFR 200.322, Domestic preferences for procurements, to implement the requirements in Section 70914 of BABA. With the guidance becoming effective October 23, 2023, contractors should not put off studying these requirements if they want to be prepared for the BABA tests that will undoubtedly come as agencies begin to implement this guidance.

Continue Reading Back to School: Time to Study the OMB Final Rule Implementing BABA