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.
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.
This article appeared in Law360.
The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued on Sept. 24 its guidance for federal contractors and subcontractors[ as required by President Joe Biden’s Sept. 9 executive order on ensuring adequate COVID-19 safety protocols for federal contractors. The guidance was approved by the Office of Management and Budget on the same day.
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.
On March 31, 2020, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment issued a memorandum attaching a class Commercial Item Determination (CID) promulgated by the Defense Contract Management Agency Commercial Item Group (DCMA CIG) identifying as commercial items specific products and services needed by the Department of Defense (DoD) to address the COVID-19 pandemic (Memorandum). The Memorandum is specifically intended to “allow contracting officers maximum flexibility” in awarding critical contracts for supplies and services needed for the DoD to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The Memorandum is expected to facilitate the award of “urgent commercial item procurements,” and the class CID is specifically “limited to the information pertaining to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.”