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 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

Like most businesses, government contractors are in the customer service field and have been conditioned to operate by the old adage that the “The customer is always right.” After all, the customer pays the bills, right? As a general matter, this is true. Uncle Sam is responsible for paying the bills submitted by contractors and—most of the time—payment arrives without issue. That said, there are circumstances in which the government refuses to pay for work performed. One of the more common reasons for such nonpayment is the government’s contention that the work at issue was “not authorized” under the operative contract, notwithstanding the fact that the contracting officer’s representative (COR) was well aware of the work being performed. There are, in fact, many decades of decisional law emanating from courts and boards of contract appeals relating to the nuances of this precise issue. This means that an untold (but stratospherically high) number of frustrated contractors have suffered very expensive battle scars trying to litigate their way to payment by convincing judges that the work performed actually was authorized by the appropriate government personnel. A recent publication by the Department of Defense (DoD) provides contractors with an important reminder as to how to avoid this costly fate.
Continue Reading “Respect My Authority!”—An Important Reminder as DoD Issues an Updated Guidebook for Contracting Officer Representatives

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or on a self-sustaining deserted island, the chances are high that you have become quite familiar with the term “inflation” (i.e., the rising costs of goods and services) over the past few years. Indeed, everything (from gasoline to gumballs and milk to movie tickets) appears to be more expensive as of late. Unfortunately, government contractors are not immune from this current economic reality. As most of us know all too well, many contracts that were negotiated and priced over the past 18 to 24 months are simply more expensive to perform now than was reasonably anticipated when bids were prepared.

In recognition of these soaring prices, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a May 25, 2022, Memorandum titled “Guidance on Inflation and Economic Price Adjustments,” the purpose of which is to assist contracting officers (COs) in (i) navigating the impacts of inflation on existing contracts and (ii) managing downstream inflation risks on prospective contracts. Here are the key takeaways and our suggested courses of action to best protect your company’s bottom line:Continue Reading DoD Braces for Inflation: Guidance for Contractors Battling Rising Costs

The Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification version 2.0 (CMMC 2.0) is here! Like a song you’ve heard before, the revised standards are a throwback but no less significant change to the standards that have evolved over the past three and a half years. McCarter & English Government Contracts and Global Trade co-leaders Alex Major and Franklin Turner detail the changes coming to federal contractors in a Feature Comment for Thomson Reuters’ The Government Contractor. Set against the recent Beatles documentary, the comment examines the impact of the Department of Defense’s most recent effort while detailing what contractors need to do before its new standards go into effect.
Continue Reading Get Back: DOD Retreats While Revealing Plans for CMMC 2.0

Judge R. Stan Baker of the US District Court for the Southern District of Georgia issued an order (Order) on December 7, 2021, enjoining the federal government “from enforcing the vaccine mandate for federal contractors and subcontractors in all covered contracts in any state or territory of the United States of America.” This comes on the heels of the November 30, 2021 order by a federal court in Kentucky (see our article here) blocking the federal government’s ability to enforce the obligation embedded in clauses in federal government contracts and other instruments requiring employees of federal contractors with covered contracts in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee to be fully vaccinated by January 18, 2022.
Continue Reading Georgia Federal Court Blocks Federal Contractor COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Nationwide

The Government’s enforcement of contract provisions implementing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate with regard to federal contractors and subcontractors required by President Biden’s Executive Order 14042 (the EO) was preliminarily enjoined by a federal court in Kentucky in a case brought by the states of Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee (and two Ohio sheriffs). In his Opinion and Order of November 30, 2021 (the Order), Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky (the Kentucky court) concluded, among other findings, that it was likely that the President exceeded his authority under laws delegating to the President management of federal procurement and requiring federal agencies to engage in “full and open competition” procurements. The court also raised concerns about whether the President’s actions violated the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution and the “nondelegation doctrine,” a constitutional principle recognized by the US Supreme Court that Congress does not have unlimited discretion in delegating to the President the power to make laws.
Continue Reading Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate Enjoined in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee: The Implications

UPDATE: The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued updated Guidance on November 10 confirming that the date a covered employee must be fully vaccinated is January 18, 2022.

With the addition of new answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) on November 1, and the November 4 “Fact Sheet” issued by the White House accompanying the rollout of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccination requirements for, respectively, employers with 100 or more employees and health care workers and facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid, federal contractors have been given additional breathing room to address recalcitrant covered employees who are resisting the vaccination mandate.Continue Reading Important Updates on Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate—Deadline Extended and Flexibility Added

The Government Contracts and Global Trade Group is pleased to provide a summary of some of the key class deviations and other memoranda published by U.S. Government agencies implementing the federal contractor COVID-19 vaccine mandate (Executive Order 14042). You may find a complete listing of all class deviations at Acquisition.gov.

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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