In a proposed rule issued earlier this month, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) seeks to incorporate into the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations Supplement (“DFARS”) restrictions on the use of the lowest price technically acceptable (“LPTA”) source selection method from the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018.  This proposed rule makes clear that these NDAA-imposed restrictions are not going away any time soon, and that DoD contracting officers need to engage in a thorough and reasoned analysis before conducting an LPTA procurement.
Continue Reading Lowest Price Technically Acceptable Solicitations No Longer Acceptable? Reviewing the Department of Defense’s Proposed Changes to the DFARS

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

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

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

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

On Monday, April 18th, the Health Resources and Services Administration (“HRSA”) and the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) reopened the comment period for their proposed rule “340B Drug Pricing Program Ceiling Price and Manufacturer Civil Monetary Penalties Regulation” (“Proposed Rule”).  Originally issued on June 17, 2015, the Proposed Rule sought to implement the civil monetary penalty (“CMP”) and ceiling price calculation provisions created by the 2010 amendment to Sec. 340B of the Public Health Service Act (“PHSA”) (for additional information on the Proposed Rule, please see our October 2015 webinar materials on the subject).  Comments were due August 17, 2015 and stakeholders vigorously commented on HRSA’s proposed penny policy for the ceiling price calculation, the lack of clarity regarding the new drug estimate calculation, and the liability standard for CMPs.

Continue Reading HRSA Seeks a Second Round of Comments on 340B Penny Pricing, New Drug Estimates, and Civil Monetary Penalties

On January 22, 2016, the FAR Council published a proposed rule that, if adopted, would impose a government-wide prohibition on contracting with companies that limit the ability of employees or subcontractors to lawfully report fraud, waste, and abuse to the government.  Given the proposed rule’s near-universal application and potentially devastating consequences for violators, contractors would be wise to take a hard look at their confidentiality policies and procedures to ensure that they will not run afoul of the proposed rule’s restrictions.

Proposed Rule

The proposed rule implements Section 743 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (Pub. L. 113-235) (hereinafter, “Section 743”) and successor provisions in subsequent appropriations acts and continuing resolutions.  Section 743 prohibits the federal government from using appropriated funds to enter into contract “with an entity that requires employees or subcontractors of such entity . . . to sign internal confidentiality agreements or statements prohibiting or otherwise restricting such employees or contactors from lawfully reporting such waste, fraud, or abuse” to the government.

The new proposed rule aims to implement this prohibition on a government-wide basis.[1]  Given its wide application and significant potential consequences, it is particularly important for contractors to understand the rule’s key components:
Continue Reading Inside New FAR Whistleblower Rule: Key Takeaways for Contractors

On January 20, 2016, the FAR Council published a proposed rule calling for changes to FAR Parts 19 and 52 that address payments to small business subcontractors.  The proposed changes, which are intended to implement regulations adopted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in 2013, will expand the range of small business-related obligations imposed on prime contractors.

The proposed rule stems from the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which, as noted in a previous post, called for regulations governing prime contractors’ compliance with their small business subcontracting plans.  Among the Act’s requirements was that prime contractors notify their contracting officer if they pay a “reduced price” or make an “untimely payment” to a small business subcontractor.  Although the SBA adopted regulations implementing this statutory directive in July 2013, the Far Council is taking on the task for the first time.


Continue Reading FAR Council Adds New Layer to Small Business Subcontracting Rules