Through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”) and the Inflation Reduction Act, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) has awarded billions of dollars to a series of new infrastructure and clean energy programs. The scope and size of these programs have, in turn, attracted scrutiny from the DOE’s Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), as evidenced most recently by an OIG Special Report (“Report”) detailing what the OIG characterized as “Management Challenges” at DOE. The Report is notable for several reasons, but most striking is its sharp criticism of DOE’s apparent reluctance to fully accede to the OIG’s request for vast quantities of agency and contractor data in connection with preventative fraud detection efforts. This blog will cover the key findings of this Report and the most important takeaways for current and prospective DOE implementing partners.Continue Reading Department of Energy Office of Inspector General Management Challenges Report: Key Findings and Insights
Many contractors are familiar with the Davis-Bacon Act (“DBA”), the statute that requires government contractors to pay prevailing wages to workers employed in the construction, alteration, or repair of buildings or other public works. The DBA is enforced by the Department of Labor, which is responsible for issuing the “wage determinations” that list the prevailing wages for different labor categories within a geographical area and for promulgating regulations used to implement the DBA’s requirements.
On March 18, 2022, the Department issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”), announcing that it intends to make a number of revisions to the DBA regulations. In the Department’s view, these revisions represent the largest change to the DBA regulations since the last major rewrite in 1981.Continue Reading Department of Labor Proposes Overhaul to Davis-Bacon Act Regulations
As discussed in our previous post, multiple federal courts have issued preliminary injunctions blocking the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors. On January 27, 2022, the United States District Court of Arizona issued a new and additional injunction barring enforcement of the mandate within the State of Arizona. In so doing, the Arizona court added to the injunctions previously issued by the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Western District of Louisiana, Eastern District of Missouri, Middle District of Florida, and Southern District of Georgia.
The Georgia injunction is the only one of the rulings that applies nationwide. Like the Arizona injunction, the Missouri, Florida, and Kentucky injunctions are limited to specific states (collectively, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Missouri, Nebraska, Alaska, Arkansas, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Florida). The Louisiana injunction is also limited, but its limitations are based on entities rather than geography; it applies to contracts and other agreements between the federal government and the governments of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Indiana. The Biden Administration has appealed these earlier decisions; we expect that an appeal of the Arizona decision to the Ninth Circuit will likewise be forthcoming.
At the same time, the Biden Administration’s other primary COVID-19 initiative for large employers — the vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (the so-called “OSHA Mandate”) — was stayed by the United States Supreme Court on January 13, 2022. In the wake of that decision, OSHA announced on January 25, 2022 that it is withdrawing the enforceable emergency temporary standard.
While the Supreme Court’s decision halted immediate application of the OSHA Mandate, the emergency temporary standard qualifies as a proposed rule for purposes of OSHA’s notice-and-comment rulemaking process under 29 U.S.C. § 655, and OSHA has announced that it will continue to consider the emergency temporary standard pursuant to that process. Accordingly, OSHA could attempt to promulgate a final rule (as opposed to an emergency temporary standard) that addresses vaccines or testing requirements.
The rest of this post consists of (1) an overview of the Arizona decision regarding the federal contractor vaccine mandate; and (2) an update on the status of the other challenges to the federal contractor vaccine mandate, including the Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Florida, and Georgia litigations.Continue Reading COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Update: Arizona District Court Issues Additional Injunction; Mandate Remains Enjoined Nationwide; OSHA Mandate Withdrawn