On July 10, 2020, the interim rule implementing Section 889(a)(1)(B) of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (Pub. L. No. 115-232) was released by the U.S. Government’s Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council. Section 889 prohibits the U.S. Government from buying (as of August 2019)—or contracting with an entity that uses
Section 889 Update: First Wave of Acquisition Prohibitions Take Effect
The FAR Council released an Interim Rule in August implementing part of Section 889 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019. In this briefing, we highlight points where the Interim Rule provides clarity; definitional issues that remain unresolved; and new procedural requirements that government contractors should track.
The Interim Rule covers the portion of Section 889, subsection (a)(1)(A), that prohibits the federal government from acquiring certain telecommunications equipment/services from Huawei, ZTE, and other Chinese companies. Specifically: “The head of an executive agency may not … procure or obtain or extend or renew a contract to procure or obtain any equipment, system, or service that uses covered telecommunications equipment or services as a substantial or essential component of any system, or as critical technology as part of any system.”
Section (a)(1)(A) took effect on August 13, 2019, although a 60-day window remains open for stakeholders to submit comments to be considered in the development of a final rule. Comments on the (a)(1)(A) Interim Rule are due by October 15, 2019.
The second part of Section 889 implementation, sections (a)(1)(B) and (b)(1), go into effect on August 13, 2020. Regulations for those sections remain pending within the government, but the definitions and waiver process established by (a)(1)(A) will be instructive for those regulations as well.
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Jumping to Exclusions: New Law Provides Government-Wide Exclusion Authorities to Address Supply Chain Risks
On the eve of the recent government shutdown over border security, Congress and the President were in agreement on a different issue of national security: mitigating supply chain risk. On December 21, 2018, the President signed into law the Strengthening and Enhancing Cyber-capabilities by Utilizing Risk Exposure Technology Act (the “SECURE Technology Act”) (P.L. 115-390). The Act includes a trio of bills that were designed to strengthen the cyber defenses of the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and mitigate supply chain risks in the procurement of information technology. The last of these three bills, the Federal Acquisition Supply Chain Security Act, should be of particular interest to contractors that procure information technology-related items related to the performance of a U.S. government contract. Among other things, the bill establishes a Federal Acquisition Security Council, which is charged with several functions, including assessing supply chain risk. The bill also gives the Secretary of DHS, the Secretary of the Department of Defense (“DoD”) and the Director of National Intelligence authority to issue exclusion and removal orders as to sources and/or covered articles based on the Council’s recommendation. Finally, the bill allows federal agencies to exclude sources and/or covered articles deemed to pose a supply chain risk from certain procurements.
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