The General Services Administration (GSA) released its Class Deviation CD-2021-13 (the GSA Deviation), which, effective immediately, “provides instructions for the GSA acquisition workforce on when to include a new clause [i.e., Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 52.223-99] (the Clause) in GSA solicitations and contracts and contract-like instruments.” Unlike the recent instructions and directions provided by the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAAC) and the Department of Defense (DoD) and its DFARS Class Deviation (discussed in detail here), the GSA provided “GSA-specific implementation timelines for solicitations, new contracts, and existing contracts” to ensure that by October 8, 2021, all covered solicitations, new contracts, and existing contracts subject to Executive Order 14042, “Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors” (EO 14042), adhere to its mandates and the evolving guidance issued by the Safer Federal Task Force. This implementation includes the insertion of the Clause into new and existing GSA solicitations and Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts awarded after October 15, 2021, and new contracts and leases awarded after November 14, 2021. The instruction applies broadly even to solicitations or contracts that have a value equal to or less than the simplified acquisition threshold (SAT) or are for the supply of products (either solely for products or for products and services). Moreover, the GSA is instructing its contracting officers to issue a letter to all existing contractors asking for their consent to a modification including the Clause. The end result is the expectation that virtually all GSA contracts and contract-like instruments will require all covered employees to be fully vaccinated by December 8, 2021. An analysis of the GSA Deviation’s key points, highlighting the confusion related to subcontract flow-downs, follows below.

Continue Reading This Will Only Hurt a Bit: The GSA Mandates COVID-19 Vaccines in Nearly All Existing Contract Types

Four memoranda, released in the last several business days, provide federal contracting officers guidance and suggested clauses to implement President Biden’s Executive Order 14042 (the Executive Order) in federal contracts imposing mandatory vaccination and workplace safety protocols for covered federal contractors and their employees as early as October 15, 2021. Issued by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR Council) (the FAR Council Memo), the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council (CAAC) (the CAAC Memo), the Principal Director, Defense Pricing and Contracting for the Department of Defense (DoD) (the DoD Memo), and the General Services Administration’s Senior Procurement Executive (the GSA Memo) (which we will be discussing in a separate posting), the memoranda move quickly to provide all procuring activities the necessary tools to ensure that by October 8, all solicitations and contract subject to the Executive Order adhere to its mandates and the evolving guidance issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (issued September 24) (Task Force Guidance). For those unfamiliar with the Executive Order and the resulting Task Force Guidance, please feel free to review our prior discussions of those issues here and here.

Continue Reading The Clauses Implementing Vaccination Mandate for Federal Contractors Are Out—Key Considerations for Contractors

While most of us have been returning to some normality this summer by heading back to favorite vacation spots, the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (“PCSF”)—an arm of the United States Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division—remained in the office. The PCSF’s diligence was rewarded, as earlier this summer it announced the first antitrust actions concerning foreign companies and federal procurement dollars spent overseas; specifically, the prosecutions of two Belgian security companies for alleged bid-rigging and price-fixing in association with the procurement of various security services for military installations in Belgium. The prosecutions underscore the PCSF’s commitment to root out and prosecute anticompetitive conduct impacting U.S. procurement dollars—no matter where in the world those dollars are spent. With the PCSF’s expanding investigatory scope and increasing cooperation with similar agencies worldwide, international entities—or domestic entities with an international presence—that contract with the federal government should be on high alert.

Continue Reading Summer In Bruges: The Procurement Collusion Strike Force Turns its Eye Overseas

As you may recall, Section 818 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY 2018 NDAA required the US Department of Defense (DoD) to draft regulations to establish comprehensive post-award debriefing rights for disappointed offerors involved in applicable DoD procurements. On March 22, 2018, the DoD responded by issuing a Class Deviation that implemented certain FY 2018 NDAA requirements—i.e., those requirements affording disappointed offerors the opportunity to submit additional written questions to the cognizant DoD agency within two business days of its agency debriefing conducted in accordance with FAR 15.506(d). In such circumstances, the cognizant DoD agency must provide written responses to the questions within five business days after receipt of the questions. Moreover, if a disappointed offeror chooses to submit timely post-debriefing questions, the debriefing does not conclude—and thus the disappointed offeror’s GAO protest “clock” does not begin to run—until the agency provides its written response. On May 20, 2021, the DoD published a Proposed Rule to amend the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement to (1) codify the March 2018 Class Deviation and (2) implement the additional post-award debriefing requirements from the FY 2018 NDAA.

Continue Reading DoD Issues Proposed Rule on Enhanced Post-Award Debriefing Rights

On January 4, 2021, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published proposed rules for comment changing regulations promulgated under the Bayh-Dole Act (35 U.S.C. §§ 200-204), which allow businesses and nonprofit institutions, in most circumstances, to take title to inventions made under federally funded projects (subject inventions) and to freely commercialize items, and methods used to produce items, embodying subject inventions.

Continue Reading NIST on Track to Clarify Bayh-Dole to Ensure High Prices Cannot Be Used as Grounds for Exercising March-in Rights – Or Is It?

On December 21, 2020, the Department of Defense (DoD) Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence & Security published a Final Rule codifying the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual (NISPOM)—currently published as part of DoD Manual 5220.22-M—in Title 34, Part 117 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The Final Rule became effective on February 24, 2021.

Continue Reading DOD Issues Final Rule Codifying The NISPOM

Each year, Congress presents us in Title VIII of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) a potpourri of procurement reforms, changes, and additions. Some are effective immediately, while some are bound for rulemaking and regulation and surface years from enactment. Some require analyses, reports, and studies which have no immediate impact but provide a roadmap that can and should be used by government contractors in their business planning. Finally, some provisions of the NDAAs just wither away and have no impact whatsoever. Nineteen days before the Trump Administration ended, the US Senate followed the US House of Representatives in overriding the President’s veto of the William (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 (H.R. 6395) (FY2021 NDAA), making it law on January 1, 2021.  Happy New Year! As for its Title VIII, the FY2021 NDAA is no different from its predecessors in its procurement potpourri. Here’s a tour of key provisions you oughta know.

Continue Reading Here to Remind You of the Key Provisions of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act – You Oughta Know!

When last we left the Federal Government, agency buyers were staring down the Interim Rule prohibiting them from contracting with entities that use “covered telecommunications equipment” under Section 889(a)(1)(B) (“Section B”) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 after August 13, 2020. But then August 13 came and went. Did federal agencies do all they needed to follow the requirement? Did modifications go out to industry yet? Were amendments made? Was FAR 52.204-24 (2019) appropriately corrected to FAR 52.204-24 (2020)? What of 52.204-25 or 52.204-26? Can federal agencies act in time?


Continue Reading The Perils of Section 889 Part B Execution: The DoD Waiver

As covered recently in this blog, the Department of Defense (DoD), the General Services Administration (GSA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration released on July 14, 2020, an Interim Rule covering prohibitions on contracting with entities that use “covered telecommunications equipment” under Section 889(a)(1)(B) (“Section B”) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (“NDAA for FY19”). Effective August 13, 2020, Section B prohibits federal contractors from “entering into, or extending or renewing, a contract with an entity that uses any equipment, system, or service that uses covered telecommunications equipment or services as a substantial or essential component of any system, or as critical technology as part of any system.” In addition, “covered telecommunications equipment or services” includes telecommunications or video surveillance equipment and services produced by (1) Huawei Technologies Company, ZTE Corporation, Hytera Communications Corporation, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Company, or Dahua Technology Company, or any subsidiary or affiliate thereof, or (2) an entity “owned or controlled by, or otherwise connected to, the government of [The People’s Republic of China].”

Continue Reading DoD and GSA Release Guidance on Implementation of Section 889 Part B

Relying upon the cryptic answers provided by a Magic 8-Ball when deciding to file a protest at the United States Court of Federal Claims (COFC) may sound farcical, but a recent decision by a split panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit may render this method commonplace.  In Inserso Corporation v. United States, the Federal Circuit held that the Blue & Gold waiver rule regarding the timeliness of protests against patent solicitation errors barred Inserso’s opportunity to protest the Defense Information Systems Agency’s (DISA’s) allegedly improper disclosure of total evaluated pricing and previously unreleased evaluation methodology during debriefings with certain offerors.  In what can only be described as requiring an offeror to possess preternatural foresight of all potential agency errors in a procurement, the Federal Circuit reasoned that Inserso should have known the type of information it challenged was likely to be disclosed in the debriefings.  In effect, the majority’s decision unmoors the venerable Blue & Gold waiver rule from its narrow application by requiring – remarkably – that contractors protest non-patent, non-solicitation issues before the deadline for receipt of proposals.  Yet the majority’s opinion isn’t the only feature of this decision that should raise contractors’ eyebrows.  As noted below, the full-throated dissent questions, inter alia, the continuing validity of Blue & Gold.


Continue Reading Dear Magic 8-Ball—Should I Protest? Critical Protest Implications Following the Federal Circuit’s Expansion of Blue & Gold’s Waiver Rule in Inserso