On April 22, 2024, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a Final Rule titled HIPAA Privacy Rule to Support Reproductive Health Care Privacy. The Final Rule strengthens the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule by prohibiting disclosure of protected health information (PHI) related to lawful reproductive health care under

In March 2024, the Department of Health and Human Services—through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC)—released a draft 2024-2030 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for public comment. A collaborative effort between ONC and more than two dozen federal agencies, the plan outlines federal health information technology (health IT) goals and objectives

On December 26, 2023, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) belatedly gifted defense contractors and subcontractors a Proposed Rule on the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (“CMMC”) Program. DoD also released eight CMMC guidance documents, providing interested parties a one-two combo of what to expect under the Program. The Proposed Rule has already received over 100 comments. With commenting open until February 26, 2024, will DoD proceed with a final rule, or is the Proposed Rule a Groundhog Day scenario with DoD further delaying final implementation of the CMMC Program?Continue Reading DoD’s Proposed CMMC Rule: Groundhog Day… or a Final Rule in the Works?

On June 2, 2023, the FAR Council issued an Interim Rule to implement the prohibition on having or using TikTok or any successor application or service developed or provided by ByteDance Limited (covered application). Importantly, the prohibition applies not only to Government-issued devices but encompasses contractor and contractor employee-owned devices (e.g., employee devices used as part of a bring-your-own-device program) as well. The Interim Rule took immediate effect and requires new FAR clause FAR 52.204-27, Prohibition on a ByteDance Covered Application, to be included in solicitations issued on or after June 2, 2023. In addition, solicitations issued before the effective date were required to be amended by July 3, 2023, provided that award of the resulting contract(s) occurs on or after the effective date. Existing indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contracts were required to be modified to include the new clause by July 3, 2023, to apply to future orders. Finally, if exercising an option or modifying an existing contract to extend the period of performance, contracting officers must include the clause. In short, this clause will soon be in most if not all Federal government contracts. Contractors should take action now to ensure that they are prepared to comply with these requirements and that employees are familiar with and trained regarding the prohibition.Continue Reading TikTok Dances Off of Contractor IT Devices—Interim Rule Prohibits ByteDance Limited Applications

As most government contractors have experienced firsthand, procuring agencies routinely engage in a wide variety of communications after bids have been submitted. On occasion, these exchanges are quite minor and afford an offeror the limited opportunity to clarify aspects of its proposal and/or to resolve clerical errors. Sometimes, however, the exchanges are more critical in nature and allow the contractor to submit proposal revisions as part of the negotiation process. When this occurs, the agency is said to have engaged in “discussions” with the contractor. In this scenario, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) imposes a host of obligations on the agency’s conduct.Continue Reading Sometimes Post-Proposal Communications Are More Than Sweet Nothings …

One of the most dynamic areas of the law that is of keen concern to federal contractors is the issue of employee noncompetition agreements (NCAs). Historically, NCAs were a common and valuable tool employers used to protect their businesses from unfair competition or misuse of confidential company information; NCAs prevented former employees from leveraging their on-the-job training and introductions to key customers in order to poach those same customers if the employees moved to a competitor or launched a rival business. But in recent years, a number of states have increasingly limited the enforceability of NCAs in employment and separation agreements. Last year, the District of Columbia joined California, North Dakota, and Oklahoma in essentially banning outright the use of NCAs in most circumstances. There has also been a gradual trend in many other states (e.g., Virginia, Maryland, Nevada) to limit or void noncompetes for low-wage or hourly workers. Hawaii passed a law in 2015 that specifically prohibits including a noncompete clause in the employment contract of an employee of a “technology business,” defined as any business that derives most of its gross income from the sale or license of products or services resulting from its software and/or information technology development. Everywhere you look, NCAs are increasingly under threat in most jurisdictions across the country.Continue Reading What Every Federal Contractor Should Know About the FTC’s Proposed Rule to Void Noncompete Agreements Nationwide—and What to Do About It

In 2006, the documentary An Inconvenient Truth chronicled former Vice President Al Gore’s efforts to educate the public on the consequences of climate change. In the sixteen years since the Academy Award-winning film was released, public interest in the impact that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have had, are having, and will have on our planet has increased exponentially. Most recently, at the 27th U.N. Climate Conference (COP27), countries from around the globe came together to discuss the implementation of battle plans to combat climate change. One such plan, which was discussed at COP 27 by President Biden, is a new Proposed Rule that would require “significant” and “major” federal contractors to disclose their GHG emissions and climate-related financial risk as well as set science-based targets to reduce their GHG emissions. If and when the Proposed Rule is finalized, it will have seismic implications for contractors, in that it ties contractor responsibility (i.e., a contractor’s ability to receive federal awards) to compliance with these requirements.
Continue Reading An Inconvenient Requirement: New Proposed Rule Would Require Federal Contractors to Disclose Greenhouse Gas Emissions

According to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), since 2019, Will Evans, a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, has sought the Employment Information Report (EEO-1) data of federal contractors through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to OFCCP. Mr. Evans amended his FOIA request on June 2, 2022, and now seeks the Type 2 Consolidated EEO-1 Report demographic data of federal prime contractors and first-tier subcontractors for 2016–2020. OFCCP estimates that this impacts approximately 15,000 contractors and first-tier subcontractors.

What does this mean? Absent an objection, OFCCP could disclose your company’s Type 2 Consolidated EEO-1 Reports Component 1 data for 2016–2020 in response to Mr. Evans’s FOIA request.

What is an EEO-1 Report? The EEO-1 Report is the form used annually by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and OFCCP to collect a summary of an employer’s workforce data.Continue Reading Attention Federal Contractors and First-Tier Subcontractors: Your EEO-1 Reports May Be Responsive to an OFCCP FOIA Request, and You Have Only until September 19, 2022, to Object.

McCarter partner Cara Wulf has authored an article which appeared in Law360 under the title “Cos. Should Prepare for Gov’t Grantee IP Reporting Update”. The article discusses the updated IP reporting system (iEdison) the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be launching this month and outlines several steps recipients of federal funding should

Regardless of whether they were eagerly anticipated or begrudgingly unavoidable, the changes promised to the Buy American Act (BAA) early last year have at last arrived, or at least are quickly approaching. On March 4, 2022, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council released its long-anticipated Final Rule implementing important revisions to the BAA provisions of the FAR and incorporating the requirements outlined in President Biden’s January 28, 2021 executive order, “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers.” Although the Final Rule, for the most part, conforms with the Proposed Rule issued in July 2021 (which we previously discussed here), the most notable aspect may be that the Final Rule’s effective date was delayed until October 25, 2022. This generous gap provides contractors with roughly 235 days to fortify their compliance efforts and ensure that necessary policies and procedures are in place to meet the necessary supply chain and regulatory changes imposed by the Final Rule — well  in advance of Halloween.
Continue Reading With Just a Little Ado: Significant Buy American Changes Are Coming Before Halloween