As the Federal Government struggles to secure a sufficient volume of Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) – i.e., gloves, masks, gowns, face shields, etc. – for the nation’s health care workers and first responders, states and localities have begun taking it upon themselves to identify and protect the resources available within their geographic boundaries. These efforts have resulted in a growing number of state and local orders targeted at manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors of PPE and medical equipment.
Continue Reading Seize The Day (and the PPE) – An Overview of State and Local Rules Governing the Possession and/or Sale of Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

To further assist the contractor community with the effects of the unprecedented Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) issued on April 8, 2020 a Class Deviation authorizing contracting officers to use a new clause – DFARS 231.205-79, CARES Act Section 3610 Implementation – to address contractor reimbursement under Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Pub. L. 116-136).  Section 3610 allows agencies to reimburse paid leave, including sick leave, that a contractor provides to keep its employees or subcontractors in a ready state, including to protect the life and safety of Government and contractor personnel, during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Paid leave is reimbursable at the contractor’s minimum billing rates under its contracts, and may be allowed for up to an average of 40 hours per week.
Continue Reading DoD Issues Class Deviation to Address Contractor Reimbursement for Paid Leave Required to Maintain a Mission-Ready Workforce During the COVID-19 Outbreak Pursuant to Section 3610 of the CARES Act

Last week, we (Ryan and Jonathan) published the COVID-19 Federal Contractor’s Survival Guide in the Coalition For Government Procurement’s Friday Flash. The Guide was very well received – perhaps because it didn’t once instruct anyone to wash his/her hands – and several readers asked us to expand it to cover additional topics and new developments. Because the COVID-19 contracting landscape is changing so fast, we agreed an update made sense. To make the update as comprehensive as possible, we have retained the information from the original Survival Guide, and supplemented it with a wealth of new information, including answers to the questions asked during last week’s Coalition Survival Guide webinar, which is available for free download from the Coalition here.

Thus, without further ado, we offer you the COVID-19 Federal Contractor’s Survival Guide 2.0.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Federal Contractor’s Survival Guide 2.0

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

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently affirmed a May 2017 Court of Federal Claims decision requiring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) to give veteran-owned small businesses first priority before purchasing from the AbilityOne Program.
Continue Reading Federal Circuit Affirms Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Are the VA’s First Priority

Over the past couple of years, the crypto industry has come under heavy scrutiny from skeptical regulators seeking to root out fraud and protect investors amid the initial coin offering boom that generated over $4 billion in 2017. However, this skepticism is starting to give way to a more business-friendly attitude.

Crypto firms have made notable headway with regulators in recent months, securing authorizations to act as custodians of digital assets and working towards approval of the first bitcoin-based exchange traded fund (“ETF”). These developments may reflect an evolving collaborative environment that bodes well for the future of blockchain-based innovations.
Continue Reading Crypto Firms Make Inroads with State and Federal Regulators

On April 18, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission published its proposed Regulation Best Interest. Regulation Best Interest would require broker-dealers and affiliated persons to act in the best interest of a retail customer when making a recommendation of any securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities.
Continue Reading Regulation Best Interest: The SEC’s Responds to the DOL’s Fiduciary Rule

On April 17, 2018, the New York State Attorney General (“NYAG”) sent a “Virtual Markets Integrity Initiative Questionnaire” to 13 companies operating virtual currency trading platforms. The questionnaire consists of 34 questions covering a number of topics, including ownership and control, operation and fees, trading policies and procedures, outages and other suspensions of trading, internal controls, and privacy and money laundering.  
Continue Reading New York’s AG Enters the Cryptocurrency Ring as Federal, State Authorities Find Regulatory Footing

In January 2018, the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (“KoFIU”)[1] and the Financial Supervisory Service (“FSS”)[2] conducted a joint inspection of six Korean banks that provide trading accounts for cryptocurrency exchanges. The joint inspection was conducted to collect information and to provide guidance regarding servicing these types of exchanges. The inspection represents a significant step by the Korean authorities to regulate virtual-currency exchanges in one of the most active cryptocurrency markets. According to a report by the BBC, South Korea is the world’s third-largest market for bitcoin trades, behind Japan and the United States. In January 2018, CNBC reported that major cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum are priced higher in Korea’s exchanges. As an example, the report cited a bitcoin sale on a Korean local exchange, Bithumb, priced at $17,169.65 per token, a 31% premium to the CoinDesk average price.
Continue Reading South Korea Steps Up Oversight of Cryptocurrency Exchanges

There is universal acknowledgement that anti-money laundering (“AML”) monitoring has become progressively costlier (both in terms of time and money) since the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) was passed nearly five decades ago, and that compliance has become increasingly burdensome, especially for smaller regional and community institutions. According to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”), nearly one million suspicious activity reports (“SAR”) were filed in 2016 (up from 669,000 in 2013). According to a 2016 report by the Heritage Foundation, the cost of compliance with current AML rules could be as much as $8 billion a year. Notwithstanding the tremendous resources spent on AML compliance, money laundering is still rampant. The U.N. has estimated that the amount of money laundered every year is between $800 billion and $2 trillion dollars. However, according to a 2011 report issued by the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, less than one percent of this amount is seized by law enforcement.
Continue Reading New Legislation Introduced in 2017 Signals the Beginning of a Strong Push for AML Reform

Blockchain technology (“Blockchain”), also known as Distributed Ledger Technology, stands poised to transform the future of the financial industry. Generally speaking, Blockchain enables the creation of a continuously growing ledger of transactions that is resistant to alteration and ensures the integrity of new transactions through a system of checks-and-balances built into the system’s code. The combination of its speed, versatility, and built-in security features lend the technology well to applications in the financial industry. In a timely effort, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) recently gathered top U.S. financial regulators and industry stakeholders to participate in its 2017 Blockchain Symposium. In a series of engaging discussions, panelists hashed out the potential benefits and pitfalls of the dynamic technology.
Continue Reading FINRA Fetes Emerging Blockchain Technology at Industry Conference