On October 2, 2019, the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and NASA issued a proposed rule that would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation to establish new restrictions on when and under what circumstances civilian agencies may employ Lowest Price Technically Acceptable source selection procedures.  The proposed rule would implement Section 880 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, and follows hot on the heels of DoD’s final rule making similar — but not identical — amendments to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement.  (See our recent blog post on the new DFARS rule.)

Continue Reading Lowest Priced Technically Acceptable Procurements Are Less and Less Acceptable: Proposed FAR Rule Further Continues Shake-Up of LPTA Procurements

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

A recently proposed rule would update the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) to incorporate statutory changes to limitations on subcontracting that have been in effect since 2013. The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) has long since revised its own regulations to implement these changes, but some contracting officers have been reluctant to follow these changes in the SBA regulations because the FAR contains contradictory provisions.

The proposed rule is a sign of progress. In particular, it should add significant clarity to the current disconnect between the FAR and SBA regulations. However, the proposed rule is not perfect, and a number of recent developments highlight that outstanding questions remain.

Continue Reading Signs of Progress with the Limitations on Subcontracting, but Outstanding Questions Remain

[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”

This past March marked the beginning of a more fulsome required debriefing process for defense contracts.  The Director of Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy (“DPAP”) issued a class deviation memorandum, effective March 22, 2018, requiring contracting officers to: (1) provide unsuccessful offerors an opportunity to submit additional questions within two days after receiving a debriefing; and (2) hold the debriefing open until the agency delivers written responses.  The class deviation implements Section 818 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (“NDAA”).
Continue Reading Any Questions? : Department of Defense Implements FY 2018 NDAA Requirement for Post-Debriefing Q&A Process

Under a new FAR rule, standard language in confidentiality agreements could lead to disqualification from contracting or False Claims Act liability.

Continue Reading New FAR Rule: Government May Disqualify Contractors Who Use Standard Confidentiality Language with Employees and Subcontractors

Just two days before Donald Trump’s Inauguration, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council published a proposed rule to implement Executive Order 13693, Planning for Federal Sustainability in the Next Decade, and certain biobased acquisition provisions of the Agricultural Act of 2014.  The Council characterized the rule as advancing policies put into effect by an interim rule from May 2011, which “established a culture within the Federal acquisition community to. . . foster markets for sustainable technologies and materials, products and services.”  The proposed rule represents a shift in the FAR towards greater alignment with existing government programs that set forth sustainability standards for products and services.
Continue Reading New Policies on Sustainable Acquisition: Among the Last Proposed FAR Rules of the Obama Administration

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

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