Last week, the FAR Council issued a Final Rule, setting forth new FAR provisions that require the reporting of certain counterfeit and suspect counterfeit parts and certain major or critical nonconformances to the Government – Industry Data Exchange Program (“GIDEP”).[1]  This Final Rule comes more than five years after the rule was first proposed in the Federal Register in June 2014.  The FAR Council describes the Final Rule as “significantly de-scoped” from the version proposed in 2014, but it nonetheless constitutes a significant expansion of the existing counterfeit part reporting obligations, which to date have applied only to electronic parts under DOD contracts.

Continue Reading New FAR Rule Expands Counterfeit Reporting Obligations

[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

[Updated August 13, 2018]

If an agreement qualifies as a “subcontract” under a government contract, then it may be subject to certain flow-down, compliance, and reporting requirements.  These requirements are intended to protect the government’s interests, and have significant ramifications for contractors, e.g., increasing transaction costs, expanding potential areas of exposure.  These compliance obligations and risks can even deter some companies from performing under government contracts, especially those companies offering commercial items.

Currently, there is no uniform definition of “subcontract” in the applicable procurement regulations or in the procurement chapters under Titles 10 and 41 of the U.S. Code.  Indeed, there are more than twenty varying definitions of “subcontract” in the FAR and DFARS, with many clauses failing to specify which definition applies.  Now Congress is looking to address this lack of uniformity through the FY 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).


Continue Reading Congress Aims to Redefine the “Subcontract”

On January 31, 2018, the Department of Defense (“DoD” or the “Department”) published a final rule regarding commercial item purchasing requirements.  Among other key amendments, the final rule modifies the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) by:  (i) formalizing a presumption of commerciality for items that DoD previously treated as commercial; (ii) providing commercial item treatment to goods and services offered by nontraditional defense contractors; and (iii) prioritizing the types of information that the contracting officer (“CO”) can consider when determining price reasonableness in the absence of adequate competition.

The final rule adopts much of DoD’s August 2016 proposed rule, which itself was a revised version of a retracted August 2015 proposed version.  We discussed the August 2016 proposed rule on this subject (and linked to an article regarding the August 2015 version) in a prior post.  Despite receiving repeated input from industry and Congress, DoD’s final rule still provides little concrete guidance, and although these changes were made with the stated purpose of promoting consistency across purchasing components, it appears likely that inconsistencies will persist.  In particular, the final rule continues to leave the door open for individual contracting officers to make potentially burdensome requests for information to support the proposed pricing of commercial items.
Continue Reading Third Time Around: Inconsistencies Persist with Final DFARS Commercial Items Rule

Federal contractors who require employees to sign confidentiality agreements—including those selling only commercial products or in small quantities—need to examine their agreements closely. For the last two years, the government has sought to prohibit confidentiality agreements that restrict employees’ ability to report fraud, waste, or abuse to “designated investigative or law enforcement representative[s]” for federal agencies authorized to receive that information.”[1]  Most recently, the Department of Defense issued a new class deviation on November 14, 2016 prohibiting DoD from using funds from recent appropriations to contract with companies using overbroad confidentiality agreements.[2]  While these restrictions may not be new, the deviation’s broad application and significant consequences mean that contractors should give close scrutiny to ensure any agreements with employees comply with the prohibition.

Continue Reading Confidentiality Agreements Continue To Pose Potential Compliance Trap for Contractors

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

Last week, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) quietly withdrew its ill-received proposed rule on the evaluation of price reasonableness in commercial items acquisitions.  Issued on August 3, 2015, the Proposed Rule purported to provide guidance for evaluating the reasonableness of prices using data other than certified cost or pricing data.  As we previously reported, it fell short of this goal and, instead, increased confusion in the determination of price reasonableness for commercial goods that have been “offered for sale” but not sold.  It also adopted open-ended data provisions that arguably permit the agency to request almost unlimited information to substantiate the reasonableness of prices.
Continue Reading DoD Retreats on Evaluation of Price Reasonableness

The Department of Defense published a long awaited proposed rule on August 3, 2015, amending the DFARS to provide guidance for evaluating the reasonableness of prices using data other than certified cost or pricing data.  The proposed rule falls short of its goal, instead increasing confusion in the determination of price reasonableness for commercial goods

Late last week the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved H.R. 400, which would require the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to propose a definition of recruitment fees within 180 days of the statute’s enactment.  H.R. 400 explains that “contractors sometimes employ foreign workers who are citizens neither of the United States nor of the host country and are recruited from developing countries where low wages and recruitment methods often make them vulnerable to a variety of trafficking-related abuses,” including the charging of certain fees during recruitment.  Highlighting the potential for harm associated with such fees, H.R. 400 discusses a  report of the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of State, which found that 77 percent of foreign workers reported paying fees to recruiters and that a majority of these fees resulted in “debt bondage at their destinations.”
Continue Reading Efforts to Define Recruitment Fees Move Forward as Newly-Revised Human Trafficking Rule Goes into Effect

On January 29, 2015, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) Council published the long-awaited  final rule (“the Final Rule”) implementing Executive Order 13627 and title XVII of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, significantly augmenting existing human trafficking-related prohibitions for Federal contractors and subcontractors.  The Final Rule is similar to the previously summarized proposed rule.
Continue Reading New Human Trafficking Rule Imposes Compliance Obligations on All Government Contractors and Subcontractors Starting March 2015