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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Contractor past performance evaluations are important factors in source selection decisions under Parts 8 and 15 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”), and they can easily make or break a contractor’s federal customer base. Especially vulnerable are contractors competing in Lowest Price Technically Acceptable (“LPTA”) procurements, where a bad past performance rating can make contractors ineligible due to an “unacceptable” technical rating even though they may offer the lowest price. The submission by Government contracting officials of a contractor’s performance evaluation to the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (“CPARS”) is required in most instances; however, the contractor’s remedies for correcting poor performance evaluations due to mistakes and material omissions by the evaluator are limited in both time and scope. And as the DoD’s Inspector General (“IG”) has repeatedly pointed out, most recently in its May 9, 2017 report, Summary of Audits on Assessing Contractor Performance (noting a large percentage of DoD performance assessment reports are late and not prepared correctly and accurately), mistakes often happen. Contractors looking to sustain their business in the federal marketplace need to be properly armed with the weapons available to challenge poor performance evaluations when the agency gets it wrong.

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One common complaint we hear from our subcontractor clients is “HOW CAN WE GET PAID????” Our experience has shown that whether through inadvertence, lack of subcontract management resources – or even as a predatory business strategy – some prime contractors will dance, dither and delay upon receipt of requests for payment by their subs for work performed, services rendered and/or products delivered. This can be particularly onerous for small business subcontractors whose payroll and other obligations depend upon prompt payment by their customers. Subs are put in an untenable position. Should they stop work and risk breach of contract? Should they threaten to sue and risk breaching the relationship? New changes to the FAR now impose mandatory reporting obligations on primes should they fail to make timely and full payments to their small business subs. Chronic and unjustified payments now must go into an agency’s evaluation of the prime’s past performance in bidding contests. Primes are well advised to make sure their supply chain management is in order to minimize the additional obligations and risks confronting them should they fail to meet their obligations to their small business subs.
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Colleges and universities receive billions of dollars in federal funds, whether through research grants or student financial aid, or even by billing Medicare or Medicaid for services rendered at academic medical centers. As a result, institutions of higher education must be vigilant to ensure that their receipt of federal funding does not implicate the broad scope of the civil False Claims Act (FCA), a federal statute that seeks to combat fraud against the government. Those found liable of violating the FCA by submitting false claims to the government face treble damages and penalties ranging from $10,781 to $21,563 per violation. In recent years, there has been an unprecedented and steady rise in the number and types of cases brought under the FCA. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recovered more than $4.7 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud against the government under the FCA, a $1.2 billion increase over the $3.5 billion recouped last year in 2015.

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Carrier. UTC. Boeing. Swamp-draining rhetoric. While many ponder what America can expect from the next administration, one thing is clear – it appears to have its eyes on government contractors. However, it is important for those eyes to study the volumes of acquisition regulations under which the government is required to operate when contracting with commercial companies. Accordingly, we thought it would be helpful to describe – through a series of explanations of 140 or fewer characters – why recent tweets about Boeing’s Air Force One contract do not reflect the current state of government contracts law and, in particular, the provisions governing termination of contracts.

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On August 8, 2016, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) promulgated an Open Source Software (“OSS”) policy via the Memorandum for the Heads of Departments and Agencies, M-16-21 (“Memorandum” or “M-16-21”). The high-level purposes of the Memorandum are to promote reuse of federal contractor and employee custom-developed code, and to improve the quality of such software through public participation. To these ends, the Memorandum has two major directives: (1) all custom-developed code must be broadly available for reuse across the federal government subject to limited exceptions (e.g., for national security and defense) and (2) under a three-year pilot program, federal agencies are required to release at least 20% of their custom-developed code to the public as OSS. The intent here is to enable continual quality improvements to the code as a result of broader public community efforts. As discussed below, the requirement to release custom-developed code as OSS may effectively reduce the creator’s ownership rights, and have economic impacts on both the value of ownership and pricing when bidding on government contracts.

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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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New FAR Rules and U.S. Department of Labor Guidance Implement the Long-Anticipated (and Much-Dreaded) Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order

Burdensome disclosure obligations, pay transparency, and other affirmative requirements as a condition of doing business with the federal government continue. Sound familiar? The trend continues with new Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) rules and accompanying U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) guidance issued on August 25, 2016, implementing the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order. In a nutshell – boiling down over 800 pages of rulemaking materials – the rules will soon require:


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Forrest Gump’s mama was a brilliant woman. As anyone who watched the 1994 Academy Award-winning classic can confirm, Mrs. Gump’s advice to her son provided an indispensable well of wisdom from which Forrest often drew to navigate life’s many adversities. Perhaps the most famous of Mrs. Gump’s quotes equated the unpredictability of life with the somewhat surprising discoveries one can make after removing the lid from a box of chocolates. As it turns out, contractors can learn a lot from Mrs. Gump.

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