On February 24, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order entitled “Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains” (the “Order”). Among other things, the Order is an initial step toward accomplishing the Biden Administration’s goal of building more resilient American supply chains that avoid shortages of critical products, facilitate investments to maintain America’s competitive edge, and
Samantha Clark practices in the firm’s Public Policy Practice Group as well as the CFIUS and Government Contracts groups. Ms. Clark provides advisory and advocacy support to clients facing policy, political, and regulatory challenges in the aerospace, defense, and national security sector.
Before joining the firm, Ms. Clark served in a number of senior staff positions on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, most recently as Deputy Staff Director and General Counsel. In this role, she managed the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual defense policy bill that authorizes the Defense Department’s budget. Ms. Clark worked on Chairman McCain's legislative priorities to modernize the military retirement system and reform the defense acquisition system and served as an investigative counsel for the committee's inquiry into cyber intrusions affecting U.S. Transportation Command contractors. During her time on the committee, she managed a multi-billion dollar policy portfolio that covered acquisition law and policy, national security law and policy, military, civilian, and acquisition workforce policy, congressional investigations, military end strength authorizations, military pay and compensation, law of war and detainee issues, and women in combat.
The Secretary of the Navy awarded Ms. Clark the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award for her "exceptional service to the Department of the Navy as Deputy Staff Director of the Senate Armed Services Committee," and the Department of the Air Force awarded Ms. Clark her second Distinguished Public Service Award for her work leading specific legislative initiatives to modernize acquisition authorities and reform the military and civilian personnel systems in support of the Air Force during her tenure on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
On January 25, 2021, President Biden issued a much-anticipated Executive Order announcing plans to strengthen the U.S. Government’s preference for domestically-sourced goods and services, including a proposal to tighten longstanding exceptions to domestic preference requirements.
On September 29, 2020, the Department of Defense (DoD) released an interim rule that industry hoped would provide clear guidance with regard to DoD’s implementation of its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) framework. The vast majority of the rule focuses on DoD’s increased requirements for confirming that contractors are currently in compliance with all 110 security controls in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171 (NIST 800-171). The interim rule also includes a clause for adding CMMC as a requirement in a DoD contract, but the clause fails to address many of the questions that industry has with regard to implementation of the CMMC program. The rule becomes effective November 30, 2020. We have written previously on NIST 800-171 and the CMMC here and here respectively.
DoD has been focused on improving the cyber resiliency and security of the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) sector for over a decade. The Council of Economic Advisors estimates that malicious cyber activity cost the U.S. economy between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016. The interim rule is one of multiple efforts by DoD focused on the broader supply chain security and resiliency of the DIB and builds on existing FAR and DFARS clause cybersecurity requirements. Increasing security concerns coupled with recent high-profile data breaches have led DoD to move beyond self-certification to auditable verification systems when it comes to protecting sensitive Government information.
On September 22, 2020, President Trump issued the Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping (“EO”) establishing requirements aimed at “promoting unity in the Federal workforce,” by prohibiting workplace training on “divisive concepts,” including “race or sex stereotyping” and “race or sex scapegoating” as newly-defined in the EO. The EO is broadly applicable to executive departments and agencies, Uniformed Services, Federal contractors, and Federal grant recipients. The EO expands on a letter issued in early September by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) that directed all agencies to begin to identify contracts or other agency spending on trainings that include “critical race theory,” “white privilege,” or “un-American propaganda,” in an effort to ensure “fair and equal treatment of all individuals in the United States.”
Following the EO, on September 28, 2020, OMB issued a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies (the “Memo”) with additional guidance aimed at assisting agencies in identifying diversity and inclusion trainings for agency employees that may be subject to the EO. The Memo suggests that agencies conduct keyword searches of training materials for specific terms, such as “intersectionality,” “systemic racism,” and “unconscious bias.” Although the Memo primarily explains the terms of the EO, it also provides additional insight concerning the breadth of agency trainings that may ultimately be considered to violate the terms of the EO, which are described below.
Although the EO is likely to be subject to legal challenge (as more fully discussed below), federal contractors, including subcontractors and vendors, could be subject to the compliance requirements outlined below as soon as November 21, 2020.…
Continue Reading President Trump Issues Executive Order Prohibiting “Divisive Concepts” in Federal Contractor Trainings
On August 13, 2020, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released new revisions to its Guidance for Grants and Agreements set forth under 2 CFR (commonly referred to as the Uniform Guidance). The Uniform Guidance governs the terms of federal funding issued by agencies, including grants, cooperative agreements, federal loans, and non-cash assistance awards. …
(This article was originally published in Law360 and has been modified for this blog.)
Companies in a range of industries that contract with the U.S. Government—including aerospace, defense, healthcare, technology, and energy—are actively working to assess whether or not their information technology systems comply with significant new restrictions that will take effect on August 13, 2020. These new restrictions prohibit the use of certain Chinese telecommunications equipment and services, and a failure to comply can have dramatic consequences for these companies. The new restrictions also will have an immediate impact on mergers and acquisitions involving a company that does—or hopes to do—business with the Federal government. In this article, we highlight some key considerations for M&A practitioners relating to these restrictions.
On July 14, 2020, the U.S. Government’s Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (“FAR Council”) published an interim rule to implement Section 889(a)(1)(B) of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (“FY19 NDAA”). When the new rule takes effect on August 13, it will prohibit the Department of Defense and all other executive branch agencies from contracting—or extending or renewing a contract—with an “entity” that “uses” “covered telecommunications equipment or services as a substantial or essential part of any system.” The restrictions cover broad categories of equipment and services produced and provided by certain Chinese companies—namely Huawei, ZTE, Hytera, Hangzhou Hikvision, Dahua, and their affiliates.
The new rule will be applicable to all contracts with the U.S. Government, including those for commercial item services and commercially available-off-the-shelf products. Companies with a single one of these contracts will soon have an ongoing obligation to report any new discovery of its internal “use” of certain covered telecommunications equipment and services to the Government within one business day with a report of how the use will be mitigated ten business days later. Further, although companies can seek to obtain a waiver on a contract-by-contract basis from agencies, these waivers must be granted by the head of the agency, and may only extend until August 13, 2022 at the latest.
The new rule is the second part of a two-stage implementation of Section 889’s restrictions on covered telecommunications equipment and services in Government contracting. It builds on an earlier rule that implemented Section 889(a)(1)(A) of the FY19 NDAA on August 13, 2019 by prohibiting an executive branch agency from acquiring certain covered telecommunications equipment or services that is a substantial or essential part of any system.
The new rule is expansive in scope, and its effects will be felt far beyond the traditional defense industrial base. Thus, mergers and acquisitions practitioners are well advised to become familiar with the rule and consider how it might impact any future transaction where an acquisition target does at least some business with the Government or has aspirations to do so in the future.
On July 10, 2020, the interim rule implementing Section 889(a)(1)(B) of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (Pub. L. No. 115-232) was released by the U.S. Government’s Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council. Section 889 prohibits the U.S. Government from buying (as of August 2019)—or contracting with an entity that uses…
In recent years, both Congress and the Executive Branch have made it a key priority to mitigate risks across the industrial and innovation supply chains that provide hardware, software, and services to the U.S. government (“USG”). Five of these initiatives are likely to result in new regulations in 2020, each of which could have a fundamental impact on companies’ ability to sell Information, Communications, Technology and Services (“ICTS”) to the USG. As these requirements begin to take hold, federal contractors should be mindful of potential impacts and the actions that can be taken now to prepare for increased USG scrutiny of their supply chain security.
Continue Reading Contractor Supply Chain Readiness – An Update on Expected Regulatory Changes
At the end of last month, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) issued a class deviation to implement Section 2821 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (“FY20 NDAA”), which seeks to reduce dependence on Russian energy by prohibiting the acquisition of energy sourced from inside Russia for DoD’s main operating bases in…
Defense Department leaders and agencies have been granted much-needed flexibility to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition & Sustainment Ellen Lord delegated approval authority for Other Transaction Agreements (“OTs”) related to the coronavirus response, consistent with Section 13006 of the CARES Act. …
Continue Reading Other Transaction Authorities Given Greater Flexibility to Foster Innovation in Coronavirus Response