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

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

During the past few years, discussions in Washington, D.C. have intensified over the battle to modernize the Federal Government’s information technology (IT) systems. In May 2016, Representative Jason Chaffetz—Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the U.S. House of Representatives—boldly stated that American “[t]axpayers deserve a government that leverages technology to serve

The House version of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) (passed July 14, 2017) includes key provisions that would radically change the way the Government purchases certain commercial items, and it may result in the extinction of large parts of the Federal Supply Schedules as we know them. Section 801 of the NDAA promotes Government wide use of online commercial marketplaces (“online marketplaces”) such as Amazon, Staples, and Grainger for the acquisition of certain commercial off-the shelf (“COTS”) items, defined as “commercial products” in the proposed legislation. If enacted, the NDAA would be a revolutionary development in the way the Government buys many of its products, allowing agencies to leapfrog over competitive bidding requirements and numerous mandatory clauses now included in Government contracts for commercial items.

Continue Reading House Wants Uncle Sam to Purchase COTS Items From Amazon and Other Online Sellers

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.

Continue Reading The Buy American–Hire American Executive Order: There Will Be Devils in the Details When Buying American

In the course of responding to a Request for Proposals (“RFP”) or Request for Quotations (“RFQ”), have you ever encountered technical specifications that you regard as unreasonable? Have you ever wondered why the Government included those specifications in the first place and, more generally, whether those specifications are even necessary to fulfill the requirements giving rise to the acquisition? If your company is like most out there, the answer to these questions is a resounding “yes!” What to do next, you ask? A recent case before the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) is instructive.

Continue Reading Recent GAO Decision Gives Ammunition To Protesters Challenging Technical Specifications