Just in time for the season of new backpacks, lunch boxes, and school supplies, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has assigned some homework to contractors looking to participate in Federal financial assistance programs for infrastructure. Consistent with its Build America, Buy America Act (BABA) mandates, on August 23, 2023, OMB published a Final Rule revising its Guidance for Grants and Agreements to implement BABA (Final Rule). This Final Rule follows the Proposed Rule of February 9, 2023 (Proposed Rule), which we previously discussed, in which OMB proposed creating a new part 184 in 2 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), and revising 2 CFR 200.322, Domestic preferences for procurements, to implement the requirements in Section 70914 of BABA. With the guidance becoming effective October 23, 2023, contractors should not put off studying these requirements if they want to be prepared for the BABA tests that will undoubtedly come as agencies begin to implement this guidance.Continue Reading Back to School: Time to Study the OMB Final Rule Implementing BABA
Approximately 15 months ago, on November 15, 2021, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), commonly known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The IIJA is one of the Biden administration’s signature legislative achievements to date and provides $1.2 trillion in funding for a broad range of infrastructure projects. A key part of the IIJA is the Build America, Buy America (BABA) Act, which requires that the head of each covered federal agency ensure that “none of the federal funds made available for a Federal financial assistance program for infrastructure may be obligated for a project unless all of the iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in the project are produced in the United States.” BABA Act at § 70914. The BABA Act required agencies to implement these requirements by May 14, 2022; however, as that deadline came and went, contractors eagerly awaiting opportunities to build the nation’s infrastructure were left wondering how (and when) these requirements would be applied to affected projects.Continue Reading (No Longer) Building a Mystery—Biden Administration Issues Long-Awaited Guidance Implementing BABA Requirements for Infrastructure Projects
With Spring Training just a few weeks away it looks like the Biden Administration is stepping up to the plate to ensure the plans in its $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act can avoid strikes. On February 4, 2022, President Biden signed the Executive Order on the Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects (the Executive Order), which requires the federal government, in an effort to avoid potential labor disputes and delays in any “large-scale construction contract” (a project valued at over $35 million), to use project labor agreements before awarding a contract. The Executive Order is effective immediately, and construction contractors should begin seeing it applied in future and maybe even pending solicitations or orders. How, exactly, the Executive Order will appear in immediate solicitations is unclear, but the FAR Council is tasked with implementing the Executive Order within 120 days before promptly issuing a final rule. Before that happens, let’s tap the mud off the cleats and make sure you’re ready to play ball.
Continue Reading PLAy Ball! Executive Order Directs Project Labor Agreements for Construction Projects Over $35 Million
“Now, the next part is very important…”
As scrutiny of domestic preference requirements increases in the wake of the Biden Administration’s Executive Order on Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers, the time is now for contractors to brush up on those requirements, examine supply chains to identify non-domestic content, and implement internal policies and procedures to ensure they are compliant with the domestic preference rules applicable to their contracts. On May 20, 2021, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced a settlement under which a contractor agreed to pay $54,983 and implement “enhanced compliance measures” to resolve claims arising from its use of Chinese-made parts during a fire alarm installation and renovation project at Amtrak’s 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, PA. While the settlement amount is relatively minimal, the settlement is remarkable in that it telegraphs that funding agencies, along with the Department of Justice (DOJ), are willing to go to great lengths to be a nightmare for suppliers that do not adhere to the “Buy America” statutes and regulations.Continue Reading I Will Find You: DOJ Uses Its Particular Set of Skills to Enforce Domestic Preference Rules