China dominates the rare earth industry, accounting for approximately 60 percent of rare earth metal mining and approximately 90 percent of rare earth metal processing in 2023. In order to combat this near-monopoly and to limit supply chain vulnerabilities and risk to the US defense industry, a final Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) rule, published May 30, 2024, applies broader sourcing prohibitions to the language of DFARS 225.7018 and operative clause DFARS 252.225-7052 to prohibit the use and acquisition of magnets mined in China as of January 1, 2027.Continue Reading DOD Releases Final Rule Prohibiting the Acquisition of Certain Magnets from Nonaligned Foreign Nations

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

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

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

On January 25, 2021, President Biden issued a sweeping Executive Order titled “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers” (Order), which is intended to be the first step toward fulfilling his campaign promise to commit to American businesses by strengthening domestic preference rules in government procurement. The Order states the administration’s policy that the US government should “use terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements to maximize the use of goods, products, and materials produced in, and services offered in, the United States.” While this is not a novel policy objective—indeed, the Trump administration articulated similar goals—the Order introduces certain dramatic steps in furtherance of that objective that may ultimately have significant implications for contractors.
Continue Reading Big Changes to Buy American—Biden Issues Broad Executive Order on the Future of Domestic Purchasing in Federal Procurement

On the eve of the inauguration of President Biden, a lingering Trump-era policy finally made its way into the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). On January 19, 2021, the FAR Council issued a final rule implementing changes first revealed in Executive Order 13881 (the E.O.), Maximizing Use of American-Made Goods, Products, and Materials (84 FR 34257, July 18, 2019). As we discussed in an earlier post on this topic, the E.O. mandated significant modifications to FAR clauses implementing the Buy American statute by (1) substantially increasing domestic content requirements and (2) increasing the price preferences for domestic products. On September 14, 2020, the FAR Council issued a proposed rule designed to implement the requirements of the E.O. (85 FR 56558, Sept. 14, 2020). Our post on that development noted that, while the proposed rule incorporated the overarching objectives of the E.O., it also significantly expanded on the E.O. by reintroducing the domestic content test for commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) items made wholly or predominantly of iron or steel, or a combination of both (with the exception of fasteners).
Continue Reading FAR Council Issues Final Rule to Implement Trump Executive Order on Significant Buy American Changes

Halloween is coming up and, right on cue, the FAR Council has released a proposed rule that has potentially frightening implications for contractors. Last year, on July 15, 2019, the president signed Executive Order 13881 (the E.O.), Maximizing Use of American-Made Goods, Products, and Materials (84 FR 34257, July 18, 2019). As we noted in our previous post on this topic, the E.O. mandated significant changes to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clauses implementing the Buy American statute by substantially increasing both domestic content requirements and price preferences for domestic products. As we also pointed out, the E.O. contained several ambiguities as to how the desired changes would be implemented. At long last, we have (proposed) answers. On September 14, 2020, the FAR Council issued a proposed rule designed to implement the requirements of the E.O. (85 FR 56558, Sept. 14, 2020). While this proposed rule incorporates the overarching objectives of the E.O., it also adds a fairly unsettling spin in that it expands on the E.O.’s mandate by reintroducing the domestic content test for commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) items as it pertains to iron and steel products.
Continue Reading The FAR Council Issues Proposed Rule to Implement Executive Order on Significant Buy American Changes

Although many of us have canceled vacations during this (unusual) year, summer is nevertheless upon us. While we wholeheartedly recommend firing up the grill and enjoying the sunshine in the coming months, companies planning to enter into joint venture (JV) agreements to compete for Government contracts should first make sure that they set aside some time to consider the impacts of proposed changes coming to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). These changes have the potential to create significant opportunities for both veteran Government contractors and new entrants to the federal marketplace who might consider competing for procurements through JV agreements.
Continue Reading Proposed Rule Introduces Critical Changes for SBA Contractors