As we reported late last month, one-third of the Senate Democratic caucus doubled down on efforts to keep “Buy American” protections intact for certain defense items. Now Senate Democrats are declaring a “Buy American” victory as the FY 2018 NDAA conference report revealed that some of these protections will remain.
Continue Reading Senate Democrats Notch a “Buy American” Victory

As we reported last month, four Senate Democrats published an article about “strengthen[ing]” the U.S. Government’s “Buy American policies” through certain proposed amendments to the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”). Although most of the proposed “Buy American” amendments were left out of the version of the bill that was sent to conference, 16 Senate Democrats – including Senators Tammy Baldwin (WI), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Al Franken (MN), Chris Murphy (CT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) – are now doubling down on their efforts to remove a section in the Senate-passed FY 2018 NDAA that would eliminate “Buy American” protections for certain defense items.
Continue Reading Senate Democrats Double Down on “Buy American”

Last week a group of four Senate Democrats – led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) – jointly published an article about “strengthen[ing]” the U.S. Government’s “Buy American policies.” While the senators acknowledged President Trump’s recent efforts to “re-examine the use of . . . Buy American waivers” (see our blog post regarding the “Buy American” Executive Order), they also expressed concern that these efforts would “not fundamentally change . . . Buy American policies.” In other words, both sides of the aisle are targeting “Buy American” reforms.

[A more in-depth version of this blog post was published in Law360.]

Continue Reading Senate Democrats Look to Strengthen “Buy American” Policies and Requirements

In its Report on the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, the Senate Armed Services Committee (the “Committee”) included an “Item of Special Interest” directing the DoD to exercise its rights under the Bayh-Dole Act “to authorize third parties to use inventions that benefited from DOD funding whenever the price of a drug, vaccine, or other medical technology is higher in the United States” as compared to prices in foreign countries.  This directive does not have the force of law, and was included as an item of special interest after an amendment to incorporate the clause into the NDAA failed.  However, it represents an example of efforts to use the Bayh-Dole Act to influence drug product pricing. 
Continue Reading Senate Committee Directs DoD to Reduce Drug Prices

Congress has weighed in on Executive Order 13673, known officially as the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order” and unofficially as the “Blacklisting Order.”  While the Office of Management and Budget reviews the Labor Department’s draft of the final regulations and guidance, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have added language to the Fiscal

On May 4, the Labor Department and Federal Acquisition Regulatory (“FAR”) Council submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) their final versions of regulations and guidance (respectively) implementing Executive Order 13673, entitled “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” (“FPSW Order”).  The FPSW Order, which requires contractors bidding on government contracts to disclose past violations of any one of at least 14 federal labor laws and their state law counterparts, has been met with harsh criticism from contractors and members of congress since its July 2014 issuance by President Obama.  (See our blog post here for more analysis of the proposed regulations implementing the Order.)  The most recent attack occurred just one week prior to the Labor Department and FAR Council submissions: the House Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment that would exempt the entire Department of Defense (“DOD”) from the FPSW Order.
Continue Reading Battle over “Blacklisting” Order: Obama Administration Moves Forward with Fair Pay Order as House Members Attempt to Exempt DOD

On March 28, 2015, the Department of State (“State”) issued a proposed rule to update various procedural aspects of the agency’s suspension and debarment actions.  The proposed rule appears intended to streamline the suspension and debarment process and reinforce the independence of the agency’s suspension and debarment official (“SDO”).  Yet despite these laudable aims, the proposed rule raises substantial questions about the scope and implementation of the contemplated changes.

The proposed rule would amend the debarment-related portion of the Department of State Acquisition Regulation (“DOSAR”), State’s agency-specific procurement regulations.  While many of the proposed changes are technical or administrative in nature, two are worthy of particular mention.

Continue Reading A Job Half-Done? Questions Remain Following State Department’s Announcement of New Debarment Procedures

Defense acquisition reform took another step forward this month with the launch of HASC Chairman Mac Thornberry’s “discussion draft” of legislation that will work its way into the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act.  Chairman Thornberry continues to press with his commitment to an iterative, incremental drive for acquisition reform.  This year’s bill focuses on key priorities that complement the efforts of Secretary Carter and Under Secretary Kendall to capitalize on private-sector innovation.  The draft bill promotes experimentation and prototyping and takes some steps to attract nontraditional defense contractors into government contracting.

Unlike last year’s reform bill, however, this legislation has not yet garnered the support of HASC Ranking Member Adam Smith.  He and other commentators have argued that the bill’s language might actually increase bureaucratic oversight and constrain the military services’ existing procurement authorities.  In this post, we summarize the bill’s key provisions and discuss its potential path through Congress. 
Continue Reading HASC Chairman Proposes New Acquisition Reforms

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

On October 22, 2015, President Obama vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Year 2016.  In so doing, the President cited concerns over provisions keeping in place the sequester, preventing reforms to modernize the military, and making it more difficult to close Guantanamo Bay.  As a result, the acquisition provisions of the 2016 NDAA are likely to remain unchanged in the version of the bill that is ultimately passed.  Those provisions will have a significant impact on government contractors.  This post addresses some of the key cybersecurity aspects of the bill.
Continue Reading NDAA — Vetoed for Now — Includes New Cybersecurity Provisions for Contractors