Socio Economic Procurement Requirements

On October 21, 2020 the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) published a Request for Information (“RFI”) seeking voluntary submissions of workplace diversity and inclusion training information and materials from federal contractors, federal subcontractors, and their employees. The RFI was published pursuant to Executive Order 13950, Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping (“EO”) issued on September 22, 2020, which prohibited certain “divisive concepts” in workplace trainings and instructed OFCCP to solicit information from federal agencies and contractors about the content of their training programs.  The EO also directed OFCCP to establish a hotline to investigate complaints received under the EO, as well as Executive Order 11246. The hotline, and a corresponding email address, were established on September 28, 2020. We provided a full description and explanation of the requirements of the EO here.

Under the new RFI, contractors may submit comments and other information to OFCCP by December 1, 2020, but any submission of information is strictly voluntary.  As discussed below, prior to making any submission, contractors should consider carefully the nuances of the EO and RFI and the potential implications of making a voluntary submission.


Continue Reading Department of Labor Requesting Information on Federal Contractor Workplace Diversity Training

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

The Trump Administration has declared this month National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, calling on industry associations, law enforcement, private businesses, and others to work toward ending modern slavery and human trafficking. This proclamation follows the Administration’s efforts to combat human trafficking, which we have previously discussed here, and comes on the heels of an OMB memorandum released last fall aimed at “enhanc[ing] the effectiveness of anti-trafficking requirements in Federal acquisition while helping contractors manage and reduce the burden associated with meeting these responsibilities.”

Continue Reading Trump Administration Renews Focus on Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts

The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) recently announced that it was initiating an audit to determine whether agencies within DoD awarded Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (“SDVOSB”) set-aside and sole-source contracts to eligible companies. The audit is set to begin this month, and likely will evaluate the number and value of contracts awarded to SDVOSBs under set-asides and sole-source procurements, as well as whether and how agencies confirm that awardees qualify as SDVOSBs at the time of award. The audit, which comes six years after the OIG previously determined that DoD did not have adequate controls in place to ensure the integrity of the SDVOSB set-aside program, signals that SDVOSB eligibility issues are likely to become a greater point of emphasis in future enforcement proceedings.

Continue Reading DoD OIG Audit: What SDVOSBs Need to Know

Last Thursday, President Trump and his senior advisors met with representatives of organizations committed to fighting human trafficking. As reported by several news outlets (e.g., AP, NYT, and Reuters), the President stated during the meeting that he would commit the “full force and weight” of the U.S. government against what he views as an “epidemic” of human trafficking around the world.  He explained that he would “direct the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies that have a role in preventing human trafficking to take a hard look at the resources and personnel that they are currently devoting to this fight.”  He noted that these agencies “are devoting a lot, but we are going to be devoting more.”  The next day, President Trump appeared to reiterate his commitment on Twitter.

Continue Reading Trump’s Commitment Against Human Trafficking Brings Greater Uncertainty for Contractors

This week, the Department of State (“State”), Verité, and other global NGOs, unveiled a sample human trafficking compliance plan and online resource to help contractors comply with the FAR’s anti-human trafficking rule (the “Rule”).  As we have previously summarized, the Rule requires contractors to implement a compliance plan for contracts exceeding $500,000 that are for non-COTS goods or services acquired outside the United States.  Because the final Rule included few specifics on compliance plan requirements, contractors have sought guidance regarding their responsibilities to implement a plan and perform supply chain due diligence.  The recently-released sample compliance plan and other web-based tools at ResponsibleSourcingTool.org appear to provide some guidance.

Continue Reading Sample Human Trafficking Compliance Plan Finally Released

DoD, GSA, and NASA published a definition of “recruitment fees” for purposes of FAR 52.222-50 in today’s Federal Register.  As we have previously discussed, the anti-trafficking requirements in FAR 52.222-50 were amended almost a year and a half ago to prohibit contractors from charging employees recruitment fees, without defining such fees.  Subsequent efforts to define the term have included (1) the House’s passage of the Trafficking Prevention in Foreign Affairs Contracting Act (H.R. 400), which would require USAID to propose a definition of recruitment fees, and (2) the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council and the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council’s (the “Councils”) release of a proposed definition and request for public input.
Continue Reading Proposed Definition of “Recruitment Fees” Published

The Department of State (“State”) recently announced the upcoming release of the model anti-human trafficking compliance plan. State and Verité, a global NGO, developed this highly-anticipated model compliance plan in response to the amendments to FAR 52.222-50, which require contractors to perform supply chain due diligence and implement a compliance plan for contracts exceeding $500,000 that are for the acquisition of services or non-COTS goods outside the United States.  Because the rule contains relatively little guidance regarding these requirements, the model could provide the contracting community much needed direction regarding supply chain due diligence and compliance plan obligations.
Continue Reading Human Trafficking Model Compliance Plan and Internet-Based Compliance Tools Set for Release this Month

Almost one year after the amendments to the FAR’s anti-human trafficking rule went into effect, Congress is showing signs of bi-partisan support for enforcement of human trafficking prohibitions through the House’s passage of the Trafficking Prevention in Foreign Affairs Contracting Act (H.R. 400) (the “Act”).  As we have previously discussed, the Act would require the United States Agency for International Development (“USAID”) to propose a definition of recruitment fees within 180 days of its enactment.  Although the definition would apply to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, 22 U.S.C. § 7104(g)(iv)(IV), it is likely to inform undefined references to recruitment fees in other contexts, such as in the FAR’s anti-human trafficking rule at FAR 52.222-50.  Indeed, until the open FAR case to define recruitment fees moves forward, the Act may serve as the only definition of recruitment fees for anti-human trafficking regulations. 
Continue Reading Congress Advances Efforts to Define “Recruitment Fees” as the Department of State Prepares a Model Anti-Human Trafficking Compliance Plan

On November 6, 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) issued a proposed rule (the “Proposed Rule”) to clarify the byzantine verification process for veteran-owned small businesses (“VOSB”) and veteran-owned service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (“SDVOSB”)1 who want to participate in the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program.  VA Veteran-Owned Small Business Verification Guidelines, Proposed Rule, 80 Fed. Reg. 68,795 (to be codified at 38 C.F.R. Part 74). The Proposed Rule revises a 2013 advanced notice of proposed rulemaking and considers 39 public comments received in response to the prior notice.  Comments on the latest proposed rule are due on or before January 5, 2016.

Under the Veterans First Contracting Program, the VA offers set-asides and sole source opportunities to certified VOSB and SDVOSB firms.  Unfortunately, the program has struggled to gain a foothold in the government procurement landscape because its VA-administered regulations are confusing and the set-aside opportunities are limited to VA procurements.  At the same time, the Government Accountability Office and the VA’s Office of the Inspector General have targeted the program for pervasive fraud, and stakeholders have criticized the verification program as unnecessarily rigorous when compared against other socio-economic programs administered by the Small Business Administration (“SBA”).

As a result, through its Proposed Rule, the VA “seeks to find an appropriate balance between preventing fraud . . . and providing a process that would make it easier for more VOSBs to become verified.”  The VA attempts to strike this balance by significantly amending the VOSB ownership regulations to make them easier to understand, and bringing many of the requirements in line with SBA interpretations of similar requirements under similar programs.


Continue Reading VA Proposes to Make VOSB Verification Easier Under the Veterans First Contracting Program