On August 6, 2014, plaintiff-relator Andrew Scollick filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against eighteen defendants for multiple violations of the False Claims Act (“FCA”) in connection with an alleged scheme to submit bids and obtain millions of dollars in government construction contracts by fraudulently claiming or obtaining service-disabled veteran-owned small business (“SDVOSB”) status, HUBZone status, or Section 8(a) status, when the bidders did not qualify for the statuses claimed. United States ex. rel. Scollick v. Narula, et al., No. 14-cv-1339 (D.D.C.). Unique in this case were not the claims against the contractors, who were alleged to have falsely certified their status or ownership. Rather, what set this case apart was that Scollick also named as defendants the insurance broker who helped secure the bonding that the contractor defendants needed to bid and obtain the contracts, and the surety that issued bid and performance bonds to the contractor defendants. Scollick alleged that the bonding companies “knew or should have known” that the construction companies were shells acting as fronts for larger, non-veteran-owned entities violating the government’s contracting requirements—and thus the bonding companies should be held equally liable with the contractors for “indirect presentment” and “reverse false claims” under the FCA.

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As the frequency and sophistication of existential threats to national security over the past decade have drastically increased, the United States’ reliance on software to identify threats, rapidly share information, and manage its military resources has increased. Accordingly, the federal government’s ability to timely develop, procure, and deploy software to the field has been—and continues to be—a critical component of national security. Notwithstanding the growing importance of software to national security, the Department of Defense (DoD) software-acquisition process mirrors the lengthy, inflexible process typically reserved for the acquisition of major weapon systems. As a result, the DoD’s software development and acquisition cycles are significantly longer for their commercial counterparts, thus affecting the DoD’s ability to deliver timely solutions to users and rapidly respond to urgent threats.

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As we reported last month, the Department of Defense (DoD) has been engaging in an unusual rollout of its new cybersecurity certification program by way of  road tours—led by Katie Arrington, the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment for Cyber—that address the tiered, five-level Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC). At bottom, DoD intends for the CMMC to help streamline the acquisition process by providing acquiring agencies and consenting contractors with more exacting cybersecurity requirements for future acquisitions. What’s unique about the CMMC rollout is the lack of written guidance on the program. DoD representatives have orally provided a majority of publicly available information about CMMC only during various webinars and defense-industry events held over the past couple of months. Indeed, a quick Google search for “CMMC” indicates that, at this time, hard facts about the program appear to be limited to FAQs on a DoD website.

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Cybersecurity. It’s never over, is it? In what can only be described as a “soft” release, the Department of Defense (DoD) has slowly and quietly begun to reveal its intent to provide federal contractors with formal cybersecurity certification as early as next year. The program, known as the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC), is an effort to streamline the acquisition process by providing acquiring agencies and consenting contractors with more exacting cybersecurity requirements for forthcoming acquisitions.

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As federal agencies have exponentially increased the use of “Other Transaction Agreements,” or OTAs, over the past few years, the question of the extent to which OTAs are subject to judicial review has arisen and, fortunately, recently been answered by GAO.  Although GAO will not review an agency’s award decision once it properly elects to utilize an OTA, GAO will examine the transaction to assess whether the agency properly chose to use the OTA instead of a procurement contract. The MD Helicopters decision, B-417379, April 4, 2019, 2019 WL 1505296, is GAO’s most recent decision on the subject.  With this in mind, federal contractors considering OTAs as a procurement vehicle should take note of GAO’s limited scope of review regarding such agreements and tread carefully.

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On December 12, 2017, President Trump signed the $700 billion 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) into law. Following negotiations between the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, the NDAA includes new provisions relating to software acquisition within Title VIII — Acquisition Policy, Acquisition Management, and Related Matters, Subtitle H, and the following five sections:

SEC. 871. Noncommercial Computer Software Acquisition Considerations.

SEC. 872. Defense Innovation Board Analysis of Software Acquisition Regulations.

SEC. 873. Pilot Program to Use Agile or Iterative Development Methods to Tailor Major
Software-Intensive Warfighting Systems and Defense Business Systems.

SEC. 874. Software Development Pilot Program Using Agile Best Practices.

SEC. 875. Pilot Program for Open Source Software.


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This article focuses on contractor licenses that grant “Restricted Rights” in “Noncommercial Software” to the federal Government under Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) 252.227-7014.  DFARS 252.227-7014 only applies to “Noncommercial Computer Software,” meaning software that is licensed to or developed for the Government, but that is not also licensed to the public.  In contrast to the commercial world, where software licensors generally set the terms under which they wish to license their products, DFARS 252.227-7014 dictates such terms, and codifies required license grants for software developed for the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”).  Under DFARS 252.227-7014, even if a licensor develops Noncommercial Software at private expense, the licensor must at least grant Restricted Rights to the Government — although title and ownership of the software always remain with the contractor licensor.

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Following up on his repeated promises that the government will buy American and hire American, President Trump signed a Presidential Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American (the “Order”) on Tuesday, April 18, 2017, directing executive agencies to enhance acquisition preferences for domestic products and labor under federal contracts and federal grants. Federal contractors should note that the Order serves only as a blueprint for the administration’s intentions and imposes no immediate requirements. Those will follow — but in what form and to what degree, we can only guess. Contractors should prepare for those changes and be assured that – with respect to the Order’s impact on supply chains and contractor purchasing systems – the devil will indeed be in the details.

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The comment period for DoD’s proposed rule amending DFARS 212 has been extended to November 10. Click here.

The passage of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 and the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 saw the dawning of a new era in procurement policy, pursuant to which sweeping changes to the procurement laws and regulations governing the acquisition of goods and services offered and sold in the commercial marketplace took hold. These goods and services are referred to, and defined, in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) as “commercial items.” Two major effects of these legislative landmarks were: (1) the streamlining and modification of certifications and clauses required in solicitations and contracts for commercial items; and (2) the exemption of commercial item suppliers from the requirement to submit certified cost or pricing data under the Truth in Negotiations Act (“TINA”).


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