Two recent developments in Albany suggest that New York is poised to kick its debarment activity into a higher gear. First, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order pointedly reminding state entities of their authority to debar non-responsible contractors and directing all state entities to ensure that contractors remain “responsible” throughout the term of their contracts. Second, the New York legislature recently enacted a bill to reform the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which included far-reaching provisions that allow MTA to debar any contractor that exceeds 10% of the contract cost or time for a construction project. Together, these developments indicate a move towards greater scrutiny of contractor performance, and they highlight the significant consequences of not meeting compliance and performance obligations.

Continue Reading New York Executive Order and Legislation Signal Increased Debarment Activity

On February 25, 2019, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) for the Department of Defense (“DoD”) issued an audit report analyzing the prices of spare aviation parts purchased by the Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”) and the Army from TransDigm Group, Inc. (“TransDigm”).  The audit was conducted in response to letters from certain Members of Congress, who had inquired whether the spare parts were sold at fair and reasonable prices and in compliance with the Truthful Cost or Pricing Data Act (“Act”).[1]  The OIG’s audit confirmed that both TransDigm and the responsible DoD contracting officers fully complied with the Act and related regulations governing the price negotiations, but the OIG nonetheless concluded that the contractor earned excess profit on the majority of parts sold.  In a highly unusual move, the OIG recommended that DoD request a “voluntary refund” from TransDigm of its allegedly “excessive” profits, and the OIG also recommended a number of changes to statutory, regulatory, and administrative policies governing the provision of cost or pricing data.
Continue Reading When Compliance Is Not Enough: OIG Seeks Voluntary Refund Despite Contractor’s Adherence to “TINA” Requirements

The Section 809 Panel recently concluded its monumental analysis of defense acquisition law and regulations and released its third volume of recommended changes.  As we have written previously, the Panel’s work stands out from previous acquisition reform efforts with the appendices of detailed legislative and regulatory changes that accompany the commissioners’ analysis and recommendations.

Given the scope of the Panel’s work, few believe that Congress or the Department of Defense (“DoD”) will — or even could — simply adopt the recommendations in full.  Legislative bandwidth for additional acquisition reform is finite, and some of the Panel’s recommendations will prompt robust debate.  In this post, we analyze some of the recommendations that government contractors should follow most closely.  We highlight key issues and address the political dynamics involved in enacting them.
Continue Reading After the Final Report: Expectations Following the Section 809 Panel’s Third Volume of Acquisition Policy Reforms

(This article was originally published in Law360 and has been modified for this blog.)

Government contractors undergoing an asset transaction know all too well the peculiarity and uncertainty associated with the transfer of a U.S. government contract through the required novation process. In two recent decisions, the Government Accountability Office considered the impact of such transactions and the novation process on the pursuit of new task orders from the U.S. government, with disappointing results for the affected contractors.
Continue Reading More Novation Complexity In Gov’t Contracts M&A?

Pursuant to Sections 817 and 881(b) of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”), the Department of Defense (“DoD”) recently issued a proposed rule to amend certain sourcing restrictions found in DFARS subpart 225.70 and related clauses.  Specifically the proposed rule would amend the DFARS to:

  • extend the Berry Amendment’s domestic sourcing restrictions to the acquisition of certain athletic footwear for members of the Armed Forces, when the procurement is valued at or below the simplified acquisition threshold [Section 817], and
  • recognize that Australia and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (the “UK”) are now members of the National Technology Industrial Base (“NTIB”), thereby permitting the United States to acquire certain items (that are subject to the sourcing restrictions in 10 U.S.C. 2534) if they are manufactured in the UK, Australia, Canada or the United States [Section 881(b)].

We provide our takeaways below.
Continue Reading Takeaways from DoD’s Proposed Changes to Certain Sourcing Restrictions

[This article was originally published in Law360 and has been modified for the blog.]

Over the summer, pursuant to Section 874 of the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”)[1], the Department of Defense (“DoD”) issued a proposed rule[2] to exclude the application of certain laws and regulations to the acquisition of commercial items, including commercially available off-the-shelf (“COTS”) items.  Among other things, the proposed rule identifies certain DFARS and FAR clauses that should be excluded from commercial item contracts and subcontracts, and sets forth a narrower definition of “subcontract” that would carve out a category of lower-tier commercial item agreements from the reach of certain flow-down requirements.  A summary of the proposed rule and our key observations/takeaways are below.
Continue Reading Takeaways From DoD’s Proposed Changes to Commercial Item Contracting

On July 25, the GSA’s Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) published a report summarizing its audit of the GSA Transactional Data Reporting (“TDR”) pilot program.  That ongoing pilot program, which we have covered previously and have been tracking since the beginning, allows participating Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”) contract-holders to report government-sales data each month, in exchange for relief from regulations that would require them to disclose their commercial sales practices.  According to the OIG report, however, GSA cannot objectively measure whether the TDR program is working as intended, because the pilot lacks specific objectives and performance targets.  Moreover, the data that GSA has collected from TDR participants is “not available for . . .  evaluation of the pilot.”  Although the Federal Acquisition Service (“FAS”) disagreed with some of the report’s findings, the report suggests that the TDR program remains a work-in-progress.

Continue Reading OIG Report Criticizes GSA’s TDR Pilot Program

For the first time in several years, the version of the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that just passed the Senate does not contain any major reforms to limit bid protests.  But the bill the Senate sent to the conference committee process does contain two provisions aimed at bid protests.  Although they are minor, they portend and may lay the groundwork for future attempts to change the protest process.  Both provisions call for further study of issues addressed in the RAND Corporation’s January 2018 bid protest report.
Continue Reading Senate Largely Leaves Bid Protests Alone in Passed Version of FY 2019 NDAA After Threatening Major Revisions

The Department of Defense (DoD) has once again emphasized its willingness to engage with commercial companies and other non-traditional contractors to try to expedite and simplify its procurement of innovative technologies. In particular, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) indicated that it plans to enter directly into Other Transaction Authority (OTA) agreements, and DoD issued a class deviation for a commercial solutions opening (CSO) pilot program.

These developments, in connection with the continued promotion of OTA agreements by DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental organization (DIUx), provide commercial companies with additional incentives to enter into creative collaborations with the U.S. Government.

Continue Reading DoD Seeks Streamlined Procurements of Innovative Technologies – Other Transaction Agreements and the Commercial Solutions Opening Pilot Program

[This article was originally published in Law360 and has been modified for the blog.]

Earlier this year, President Trump revealed his plan to facilitate new (and much-needed) federal real property projects in part through a $10 billion “mandatory revolving fund,” commonly known as the Federal Capital Financing Fund or the Federal Capital Revolving Fund (the “Revolving Fund” or “FCRF”).  In this article, we take a close look at the Revolving Fund, and discuss the interaction between the Revolving Fund and the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) budgetary scoring rules.  As described below, the Revolving Fund is structured to allow federal agencies to meet the large, upfront dollar obligations often required by OMB’s budgetary scoring rules.  But despite this welcome and significant development, questions still remain about the scope and operation of the Revolving Fund.

Continue Reading How Trump Plans To Finance Federal Real Property Projects