OH SNAP! Supreme Court Rejects Substantial Competitive Harm Test For Key FOIA Exemption

On June 24, 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), which protects from public disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential,” does not require a showing of substantial competitive harm for information to qualify as “confidential.” The Court’s ruling represents a sea-change in how the Government must protect information under this important exemption. Continue Reading

Cyber Update: DoD Contractor Cybersecurity Certification and 33 New Enhanced Controls to Combat the Advanced Persistent Threat

The Government remains intensely focused on how best to protect its Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) once it is released to contractors. In a shift from its initial approach of “we will take the contractor’s word for it,” the Department of Defense (DoD) announced in June 2019 it is in the process of developing a new cybersecurity certification program for its contractors, which will involve using third party auditors to validate contractor compliance with required security controls. In addition, on June 19, 2019, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released two new highly-anticipated draft special publications – NIST SP 800-171, Rev 2 and NIST SP 800-171B – with a tight turnaround time for comments by July 19, 2019. Continue Reading

VA Begins Seeking MSPV 2.0 Partners

The Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”), Veterans Health Administration (“VHA”) has begun the move toward its new Medical/Surgical Prime Vendor (“MSPV”) 2.0 program by issuing the formal RFP seeking prime vendors for distribution and supply management services on June 3, 2019. The MSPV 2.0 program will replace the current MSPV-Next Generation program, and is designed to deliver medical, surgical, dental, and laboratory supplies to VA medical centers using a just-in-time model. Under MSPV 2.0, several prime vendors will manage distribution of some 49,000 different supplies, which they acquire from manufacturers and other suppliers, to all VA medical centers around the United States and U.S. territories. MSPV 2.0 involves three interrelated sets of agreements: (1) prime vendor IDIQs with the VA, (2) VA BPAs with suppliers, and (3) prime vendor agreements with the suppliers. Continue Reading

CBCA Rules Contractor Under GWAC Task Orders Properly Submitted Claims to the Agency Ordering Contracting Officer Instead of the Procuring Contracting Officer

In a case of first impression, the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (“CBCA”) ruled that a contractor performing task orders issued against a government-wide acquisition contract (“GWAC”) properly submitted its claims to the Agency Ordering Contracting Officer (“OCO”) instead of the Procuring Contracting Officer (“PCO”). The case – Sotera Defense Solutions, Inc. v. Department of Agriculture, CBCA 6029, 6030, 2019 WL 1977388 (Apr. 25, 2019) – involved two task orders issued by the Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) to Sotera Defense Solutions, Inc. (“Sotera”) for the provision of information technology (“IT”) support services at agency locations throughout the country. The USDA issued the task orders against a GWAC awarded by the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”). A GWAC, as explained by the CBCA in its decision, is defined by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) as a “task-order or delivery order contract for [IT] established by one agency for Governmentwide use.” Continue Reading

Veterans Are First at the VA Following New Class Deviation Implementing Recent Federal Circuit Mandate

In its most recent attempt to strike the appropriate balance between the Veterans First and AbilityOne programs, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) issued on May 20, 2019 a class deviation to the VA Acquisition Regulations (“VAAR,” 48 C.F.R. Chapter 8), instructing contracting officers to conduct a “Rule of Two” analysis before procuring from the AbilityOne Procurement List. Continue Reading

The Future of COTS Procurement: Top 10 Questions from GSA’s Section 846 Phase 2 Report

On May 2, 2019, the General Services Administration (“GSA”) and the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) finally released their Phase 2 Implementation Report (the “Phase 2 Report”) for “Procurement Through E-Commerce Portals,” as directed by Section 846 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (“FY 2018 NDAA”).[1]

GSA/OMB offered a sneak preview of the Phase 2 Report at an Industry Day held on December 12, 2018, during which GSA/OMB revealed their intent to proceed with a proof of concept contract utilizing only the E-Marketplace model. Industry pushback against a single model proof of concept was both quick and severe and, coupled with the lengthy delay issuing the Phase 2 Report, many wondered whether GSA/OMB were reevaluating their proposed approach. Continue Reading

Feds Focus on Individuals in Evaluating Corporate Compliance Programs

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls (“OFAC”) both issued guidance regarding their expectations for corporate compliance programs. Both documents are geared towards establishing more rigid frameworks for assessing compliance programs. A common theme among both pieces of guidance appears to be the identification and allocation of responsibility to individuals, especially management. Additionally, the fact that the agencies released their guidance within days of each other could be read as a clear signal from federal authorities that they are serious about increasing their focus on individual accountability for corporate wrongdoing. Continue Reading

How to Prevent or Defend Against Business Crimes, including Trade Secrets and Human Trafficking

The C-Suite rarely wants to consider, much less worry about, the impacts of criminal conduct on their business. The reality is, however, companies can and do get pulled into criminal and quasi-criminal enforcement actions as both victims and (albeit unintentional) perpetrators. Two areas of criminal conduct that perhaps do not receive the amount of C-Suite attention they deserve are internal trade secret theft and human trafficking. Continue Reading

New York DFS Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division: New Name, New Look, Old Mandate

On April 29, 2019, just months into her new job at the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”), acting DFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell announced a significant reorganization within the financial and insurance regulator. The new Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division (the “CPFED”) combines seven previously separate divisions and units – Enforcement, Investigations and Intelligence, the Civil Investigations Unit, the Producers Unit, the Consumer Examinations Unit, the Student Protection Unit, and the Holocaust Claims Processing Office – under a single executive deputy superintendent. Lacewell appointed Katherine Lemire, a former state and federal prosecutor, to head the newly-minted division. Continue Reading

New Executive Order To Further Restrict Business with Huawei and Other Foreign Adversaries Engaged in Cyber Espionage

On May 15, 2019, President Trump issued an Executive Order (“EO”) targeting activities of certain foreign telecommunications companies based in hostile countries. Entitled “Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain,” the EO declares a national emergency based on a Presidential finding that “foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services … in order to commit malicious cyber-enabled actions” rising to the level of “an unusual and extraordinary threat to national security.”[1] As a result, the EO allows the Federal Government, led by the Secretary of Commerce, to bar U.S. companies from doing business with foreign entities it determines are contributing to the threat. For more on this issue, see our Global Trade Law blog posting hereContinue Reading

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