The federal government uses its contracting dollars not only to purchase the supplies and services it needs, but also to support broader policy goals. For example, the government has special contracting priorities for veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs), as well as women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs), and others, like the 8(a) business development program and small businesses more generally. In other words, these special types of businesses are able to compete for government contracts with a limited pool of competitors (and limited competition should yield a higher likelihood of business success for these small businesses). But access to these contracting priorities comes with a complex web of regulatory requirements unparalleled in the commercial sector. And one way to make sure that only eligible small businesses are receiving these special set-aside and sole-source awards is through what is known as a “status protest,” where it is alleged that the specialized small business does not actually qualify for the status and priority that is being claimed.

Continue Reading Comparing Two Small Business Status Protests: Veteran-Owned Small Business CVE Protests and Women-Owned Small Business Status Protests—Different Processes but Similar Results

It is not unusual for agency personnel to request extracontractual changes during performance of a contract, many of which may seem fairly innocuous at first glance. From changing the type of screw used in a machine, to altering the background colors displayed on computer screens, extracontractual changes requested by agency personnel can seem minor or inconsequential, and contractors often readily agree without immediately recognizing the potential adverse consequences or taking the necessary steps to adequately protect themselves. 

Continue Reading Small Changes During Contract Performance Can Take A Large Bite Out Of The Bottom Line

On November 1, 2022, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) published its Annual Report to Congress, which contains the statistics for bid protests filed at GAO in Fiscal Year 2022. We have highlighted below several items worth noting from our review of the GAO’s report.

Continue Reading GAO’s FY 2022 Bid Protest Statistics: GAO Protest Filings and Sustain Rates Continue to Decline, but Effectiveness Rates and Alternative Resolutions Continue to Climb

On November 14, 2022, the Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) published a proposed rule that would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to require Federal contractors that receive annual Federal contract obligations over a specified amount to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions[1] and climate-related financial risk, and set science-based targets to reduce GHG emissions.[2] This proposed rule implements section 5(b) of Executive Order 14030, Climate-Related Financial Risk, which we previously wrote about here. The Government will consider comments from interested parties that are submitted by January 13, 2023, after which a final rule will be formulated.

Continue Reading Proposed Rule Requires Contractors to Disclose Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate-Related Financial Risk

The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) recently released its annual Procurement Scorecard, demonstrating the federal government’s continued prioritization of small business contracting and subcontracting. In 2021, the government awarded $154.2 billion dollars in federal prime contracts – an increase of $8.5 billion over the prior year – with at least an additional $72 billion in small business subcontracts – a decrease of $10.8 billion from the prior year. These subcontracting figures continue the trend from prior years, which may lead to increased scrutiny of small business subcontracting plans to reverse the perceived decline. (In 2020, small business subcontracting decreased by an estimated $7.9 billion). Overall, the government yet again exceeded the service-disabled veteran-owned small business goal of 3%, and more than doubled the small disadvantaged business goal of 5%, but continued to struggle to meet the 5% women-owned small business and 3% HUBZone small business goals. The SBA released these figures in its FY 2021 Small Business Procurement Scorecard, available here.

Continue Reading SBA Annual Scorecard Shows Federal Government Continues to Prioritize Small Business Contracting

In the first two parts of this series, we have summarized what constitutes an Organizational Conflict of Interest (“OCI”) in government procurements, and discussed OCIs’ importance in the bid protest arena. But lest you think that, having passed the protest hurdle, you are now free from all harm caused by having an OCI, we now address potential post-award liability stemming from undisclosed and unmitigated OCIs. Contractors found to have undisclosed and unmitigated OCIs, that either existed before award or arose thereafter, can face a variety of bad outcomes—contract termination, suspension or debarment, and liability for fraud under the False Claims Act (“FCA”). Recall that OCIs come in three forms:

Continue Reading Organizational Conflicts of Interest – Part 3: The Next Target for FCA Enforcement

We all know that failure to submit your bid proposal on time typically results in rejection. And the list of exceptions to this “late is late” rule is very short, providing only four notable exceptions: (1) an offeror has acceptable evidence of government control of a proposal; (2) an offeror can establish a systemic failure of government procedures resulting in multiple instances of lost information; (3) if electronically submitted, a proposal was received by government infrastructure by 5:00 p.m. one working day prior to the proposal submission date; and (4) if there is only one offeror. But what if you submitted your proposal on time and the agency’s server rejects the submission without bothering to inform you? And what if the basis for rejection was an undisclosed limitation within a server on email size? Does such delay qualify as an exception to the “late is late” rule? The answer depends on which forum you ask.

Continue Reading The Gap Widens Between COFC and GAO on Late is Late Rule

In an “update” that reads more like a teaser to a B Movie, the OMB on Friday advised that it will have more guidance on EO 14042 for us soon. What precipitated this official warning that more guidance would be forthcoming? Well, it seems that tomorrow (October 18, 2022) OMB expects the Southern District of Georgia to narrow the nationwide injunction prohibiting enforcement of EO 14042. This is the procedural step we’ve all been waiting for since the 11th Circuit issued its decision on August 26, 2022. In anticipation of the narrowed injunction, OMB announced it expects to release three new guidance documents in the near future:

Continue Reading EO 14042 Update 17.0 – Preview of Updated OMB Guidance