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On Monday, our colleague Caleb Skeath posted on Inside Privacy an engaging article that discusses the new Office of Management and Budget policy setting forth minimum standards for federal agencies in preparing for and responding to breaches of personally identifiable information (PII) and the expected contractual changes that agencies will impose on contractors whose systems

You are reviewing a contract modification and notice a paragraph titled “Release of Claims.”  Do you know what claims will be released by this language?  Or worse, the contracting officer just issued a final decision rejecting your claim (under the Contract Disputes Act) because the release in a contract modification constituted an accord and satisfaction.  Did you sign that release and realize its impact?

The Civilian Board of Contract Appeals’ (CBCA) recent decision in Perry Bartsch Jr., Constr. Co. v. Dept. of the Int., CBCA 4865, 5071 (December 8, 2016) helps contractors answer these questions and understand the scope and contours of a release.  Generally, this case offers  important guidance about how to draft a release in an effective and narrow way, and the types of factors that the CBCA will consider when interpreting a release.  Specifically, this decision addresses the issue of whether an apparent global release of claims, contained in just one of many contract modifications, can extinguish all potential claims against the Government.

For a more complete review of Bartsch and its implications, please continue reading.

Continue Reading When does a contract release release a claim? A classic contract tongue twister.

On November 29, 2016, the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration proposed an amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) aiming to encourage pre-acquisition communications between industry professionals and federal agencies.  This amendment is part of a five-year long effort by the Obama Administration to clarify that communications between potential government contractors and federal agencies are not only allowed, but encouraged. 
Continue Reading New FAR Rule Encourages “Constructive Exchanges” between Federal Agencies and Contractors

EgyptAir Flight 648 was hijacked on November 23, 1985. Fifty-eight of the ninety-eight passengers died. Three years later, Pam Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland at 7:03 PM on December 21, 1988. All of the 259 passengers died.

Advancing a novel takings theory, the Plaintiffs in Aviation & Gen. Ins. Co., Ltd. v. United States—insurance companies and an asset management company—asserted that President George W. Bush’s restoration of sovereign immunity to Libya in 2008 constituted an unconstitutional taking of their property interest in insurance contracts. No. 14-687C, 2016 WL 3675437 (Fed. Cl. July 7, 2016). Judge Wheeler granted Defendants’ motion for summary judgment on July 7, 2016.

This post describes the legal background of the case and the Court’s opinion. It also discusses how Aviation & Gen. Ins. Co. should be a warning to clients and attorneys considering filing a takings claim. First, alternative methods of framing the takings claim may increase the likelihood of overcoming summary judgment. Second, litigants and lawyers must use Takings Claims as a strategic part of their larger litigation plan.[1]

Continue Reading The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause

We recently wrote about GSA’s new Transactional Data Reporting (“TDR”) pilot program, which requires participating Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contractors to report 11 items of transactional data to GSA each month. The TDR rule also eliminates the requirement to provide a Commercial Sales Practices (“CSP”) format as well as the Price Reductions Clause.  As we noted in our earlier post, the TDR rule promises to give GSA contracting officers greater flexibility in evaluating FSS offers and proposed pricing, but there still is significant uncertainty as to how GSA will apply the rule in practice.

Recognizing this uncertainty, the Coalition for Government Procurement recently submitted 65 questions to GSA focused on five aspects of the TDR rule: Use of the Data, Pricing, Pilot Administration and Operations, Public Disclosure of Information, and Evaluating the Pilot. GSA responded to the Coalition’s questions on September 19th.  While GSA’s efforts to engage with industry are commendable, GSA left unanswered many key questions that are of significance to FSS contractors, including how the TDR rule will impact FSS contract pricing negotiations.

Continue Reading GSA Leaves Many Questions Unanswered, As Industry Assesses The New Transactional Data Reporting Rule

On August 11, 2016, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) published a revised proposed rule to amend the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) to implement sections of the National Defense Authorization Acts for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2016 relating to commercial item acquisitions. This proposed rule replaces the rule that DoD proposed last August and retracted last December following critical commentary from the acquisition community.  We wrote about the prior proposed rule here.  While the revised proposed rule seemingly lessens the burden on contractors selling commercial items to the DoD by, among other things, restricting the contracting officer’s discretion to conclude that an item is not commercial when a DoD component has previously determined that it is and establishing a “hierarchy” of data for contracting officers to consider when making determinations of price reasonableness, both of these provisions fall short. 
Continue Reading Take Two: Proposed DFARS Commercial Item Rule Still Fails to Rein in Contracting Officer Discretion

The Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (“ASBCA” or the “Board”) recently issued an opinion addressing several important, and controversial, topics of interest to government contractors.  The lengthy opinion addressed key issues related to the Board’s jurisdiction over government claims and affirmative defenses based on alleged contractor fraud, the Contract Disputes Act (“CDA”) statute of limitations, and the impact of criminal plea agreements and civil False Claims Act settlements on contract disputes.

Continue Reading ASBCA Addresses CDA Jurisdiction Over Claims Involving Contractor Fraud

At the intersection of bid protests and claims, in Optimum Services, Inc. v. Department of the Interior, CBCA 4968 (May 2, 2016), the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (“CBCA” or “Board”) recently encountered the question of whether a decision by the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) can preclude a contractor from later maintaining an appeal of a contracting officer’s final decision about a claim that arises out of the facts considered by GAO.  Noting that this question did not appear to have yet been decided, the Board engaged in a fulsome comparison of the authority and available remedies at GAO and the CBCA, as it refused to accept the National Park Service’s (“NPS” or “agency”) argument that Optimum Services, Inc.’s (“OSI”) appeal should be dismissed because of the doctrine of res judicata, which generally precludes a party to a lawsuit from re-litigating aspects of a case that were decided in a prior proceeding by a tribunal of competent jurisdiction and authority to grant the relief sought in the later proceeding.  This case’s reasoning and result can be reassuring to contractors who may find themselves responding to an agency’s motion to dismiss based on an erroneous assertion that another forum’s pronouncement on an issue precludes them from having their day in court. 
Continue Reading The CBCA Chews Up Agency’s Erroneous Allegation that Contractor Is Getting a ‘Second Bite at the Apple’

Recently, the General Services Administration (“GSA”) issued a proposed rule to codify a class deviation regarding GSA’s approach to common Commercial Supplier Agreement (“CSA”) and End User License Agreement (“EULA”) terms.  We have previously addressed the class deviation here and in an article for the Coalition for Government Procurement available here.  While the Proposed Rule apparently is intended to assuage contractor concerns about the class deviation, it falls short of this goal, so contractors must remain vigilant if and when the Proposed Rule is finalized and GSA begins to attempt to implement it through contract modifications.  Comments on the Proposed Rule are due by August 1, 2016.

Continue Reading GSA Doubles Down on CSA/EULA Deviation

The Department of Defense (DoD) is considering a proposed rule that would help contractors protect their technical data rights in privately-developed commercial items that are incorporated into major systems, including major weapons systems. The proposed rule likely will be welcomed news to the defense industry, which has long sought to defend contractors’ intellectual property rights in commercial items that were developed exclusively at private expense.

Continue Reading DoD Rule Would Help Contractors Protect Their Technical Data Rights in Commercial Items Used in Major Systems