This article appeared in Law360

The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued on Sept. 24 its guidance for federal contractors and subcontractors[[1] as required by President Joe Biden’s Sept. 9 executive order on ensuring adequate COVID-19 safety protocols for federal contractors.[2] The guidance was approved by the Office of Management and Budget on the same day.[3]

The guidance contains three key provisions:

  • Mandatory vaccination of covered contractor employees who are not legally entitled to accommodation;
  • Masking and physical distancing while in covered contractor workplaces in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines; and
  • The designation by each covered contractor of a point person or persons to coordinate COVID-19 workplace safety efforts at covered contractor workplaces.[4]


Continue Reading Broad Categories of Employees of Federal Contractors Now Required to Be Fully Vaccinated by December 8–Law360

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council has returned from an extended vacation to publish a final rule to align the FAR with similar subcontracting regulations implemented by the Small Business Administration more than a half decade ago. McCarter & English Government Contracts and Global Trade co-leaders Franklin Turner and Alex Major and Senior Associates Cara


Continue Reading What’s Next for Federal Contractors and Mandatory COVID-19 Safety Protocols

A major pillar of President Biden’s campaign was strengthening the Buy American requirements in procurement law, promising both before and after the election that “[n]o government contracts will be given to companies that don’t make their products here in America.” Five days into office, the President issued an Executive Order designed to bring that promise closer to fruition. As we wrote here, the January 25, 2021 Executive Order directed both dramatic changes to domestic preference regulations and increased enforcement of existing requirements through a variety of means. Now, seven months later, amendments to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) are being proposed by the Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration—collectively, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council—to implement, at least in part, President Biden’s Executive Order (Proposed Rule).

Continue Reading Enhanced Buy American Requirements Coming Soon; Proposed Rule Foretells Big Changes

After 15 months of quarantines, restrictions, and mandatory home schooling, summer 2021 is luring with escape and excitement across the country.  We all hope for beach days and reunions with loved ones as we (hopefully) paddle toward normalcy once again. However, before setting up the “out-of-office” auto-replies and heading for the sand and surf, Government contractors interested in the implications of the Biden Administration’s January 25, 2021 Executive Order on Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers (EO) will want to take note of a June 11, 2021 Memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget on Increasing Opportunities for Domestic Sourcing and Reducing the Need for Waivers from Made in America Laws (Memorandum). This Memorandum outlines the wave of changes the Made In America Office (MIAO) is poised to make over the summer of 2021 as it begins to implement the mandates of the EO.

Continue Reading Catching Waves: OMB Issues New Implementation Guidance for Biden Administration Buy American Executive Order

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?

Akin to the exasperations of the newly minted “homeschool teachers” the pandemic has created, the Biden administration’s recent Executive Order on Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity (Order) is a mix of sound logic and utter frustration. The lengthy and sweeping Order is resoundingly one of the most comprehensive national cybersecurity overhauls to date and ushers the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) into a forward-leaning position of leadership that has been missing since its inception. In addition to requiring significant improvements to the cybersecurity posture of the Federal Civilian Executive Branch (FCEB) agencies, the Order also prescribes (i) the implementation of cyber incident sharing requirements between the Government and private industry; (ii) the necessary demands of security on software development; and (iii) the inclusion of software bills of materials, operational technology (e.g., industrial machining), and the internet of things in the fabric of cybersecurity regulations. Set against the backdrop of an ambitious timeline that calls for drastic changes before the end of this fiscal year—i.e., September 30, 2021—the Order requires that the Federal government scale administrative mountains at breakneck speed while simultaneously working with the industry and developing new regulations with which contractors will have to comply in short order. Accordingly, while a brief summary of the Order is provided below, the size and magnitude of the Order call for a larger analysis. Accordingly, we have prepared a user-friendly Analysis of the Order that includes considerations for manufacturers and government contractors. Additionally, to better explain the compliance timeline associated with the Order, a listing of the EO Key Dates is provided for convenience.

Continue Reading Enough’s Enough: A New Executive Order Signals Sweeping Changes to Federal Cybersecurity Requirements

In a time of uncertain federal budgets and an increasingly crowded marketplace, contractors of all sizes are on the lookout for ways to enhance their chances of winning federal business opportunities. Step one in this process is, of course, the identification of the government’s needs—which are typically codified in requests for proposals or quotations. Step two (i.e., the “pursuit” phase) involves the preparation of an offer designed to fulfill the government’s requirements. As most government contractors know all too well, this is an often laborious and expensive process that requires painstaking attention to detail. But what happens when there is, in fact, a real devil lurking in those details? What if the RFP or RFQ simply doesn’t make sense? What if the terms are in conflict with one another? What if the government includes requirements that run afoul of a law or regulation? Enter the pre-award protest exorcism.

Continue Reading Recent GAO Decision Demonstrates the Utility of Pre-Award Protests

In the months since President Biden took office, legislators have tried—and thus far failed—to pass legislation raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. While the debate rages on, the Biden-Harris administration has taken executive action to ensure that some workers receive a higher wage for work under federal contracts. On April 27, 2021, President Biden issued the Executive Order on Increasing the Minimum Wage for Federal Contractors, which will have a (relatively) short-term impact on thousands of contractors and their employees. The Executive Order aims to “promote economy and efficiency in procurement by contracting with sources that adequately compensate their workers.” It would increase the minimum wage paid by federal contractors from $10.95 per hour to $15 per hour. The increased minimum wage will begin appearing in solicitations and contracts, and thereby subcontracts, in early 2022, and contractors should begin preparing now to meet the increased minimum wage requirements.

Continue Reading Raising the Wage: Biden-Harris Administration Dramatically Increases Minimum Wage for Federal Government Contractors