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Ariel Debin is an associate in the Governmental Practice in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

GSA long has stated that the “MAS program is designed to mirror commercial buying practices.” (Don’t laugh – I’m serious! Slide 12 if you don’t believe me.) In the commercial marketplace, SaaS licenses are sold for set periods of time (typically annual terms) and paid for in advance. Historically, GSA refused to accept this commercial term, explicitly prohibiting customer agencies from paying in advance when acquiring SaaS through the MAS program. Software companies, rejoice, because GSA finally has seen the light!Continue Reading Paid in Full: GSA Approves Advance Payment for SaaS Licenses

In addition to prohibiting the flow-down of non-mandatory FAR/DFARS clauses (which we talk about here), the Department of Defense (“DOD”) Final Rule in connection with the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) Case 2017-D010 also touched on the decades-long debate as to which entities actually are subcontractors performing under a Federal prime contract. Yes, you read that correctly – there is no single definition for the terms “subcontract” or “subcontractor.” After almost 40 years of confusion, it appears the DFARS and Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) Councils are trying to end the debate once and for all.Continue Reading New Year, (Potentially) New Definition for “Subcontract”

On November 17, 2023, the Department of Defense (“DOD”) published a Final Ruleover five years in the making – addressing DOD policies regarding the applicability of laws to commercial products, commercial services, and commercially available off-the-shelf (“COTS”) products (DFARS Case 2017-D010). Partially implementing Section 874 of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, DOD has imposed new regulations that expressly prohibit Contracting Officers (“CO”) and prime contractors alike from incorporating regulatory requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) in prime contracts and subcontracts unless mandated by regulatory text.Continue Reading It’s the Most Wonderful Time for New DOD Flow Down Policies: Flowing Down Too Many Clauses Will Get Prime Contractors More Than a Lump of Coal

On October 5, 2023, the FAR Council released an Interim Rule on “Implementation of Federal Acquisition Supply Chain Security Act (FASCSA) Orders.” The Interim Rule implements requirements from Section 202 of the Federal Acquisition Supply Chain Security Act of 2018 (“FASCSA”), which will require contractors to ensure certain products and services are excluded from the U.S. Government supply chain as directed by the Federal Acquisition Security Council (“FASC”). The Interim Rule becomes effective 60 days after publication, requiring new FAR clauses to be incorporated into all solicitations and contracts (including orders and modifications) issued after December 4, 2023.Continue Reading Interim Rule Effective in December Establishes Requirements for Contractors to Remove Identified Products and Services from the U.S. Government Supply Chain

On August 23, 2023, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) issued its notification of final guidance implementing Title IX of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”) – the Build America, Buy America (“BABA”) Act. The Guidance amends Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations, by adding a new Part 184 and a new provision to the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards at 2 C.F.R. Part 200 (the “Uniform Guidance”). The publication provides key clarifications arising from industry input after releasing the Proposed Rule back in February (and discussed previously here). These clarifications proffer what is perhaps the most comprehensive set of guidance of which we are aware in the world of domestic content preferences and country of origin requirements, and borrow significantly from current regimes (e.g., the Buy American Act (“BAA”)). Because we already covered the primary requirements of the OMB’s proposed Guidance, and the Final Rule does not deviate significantly from the original guidance, we focus instead on our top 10 takeaways and lingering questions for compliance.Continue Reading Top 10 Takeaways from OMB’s “Build America, Buy America” Guidance for Infrastructure Projects

In fiscal year 2022 alone, the Federal Government is estimated to have spent over $1 trillion in grant and assistance programs – a little less than double the Federal Government’s estimated procurement budget for the same year. This spending reflects a trend in recent years towards making more Federal dollars available for more assistance programs. The American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and even the CHIPS Act (to name a few), have created significant financial incentives for largely commercial entities to partner for the first time with the Federal Government. What marks a shift in policy are the primary partners the Federal Government is targeting for these funding opportunities: for-profit, commercial companies for providing broadband infrastructure or developing semiconductors domestically. These programs are geared towards incentivizing non-traditional grant recipients to take a bite at this ever-growing apple. From a business perspective, the trillions of dollars ripe for the taking seem too good an opportunity to pass up – but as we know from our experience in the procurement sector, doing business with the Federal Government is a different beast entirely from the commercial marketplace.Continue Reading Hot off the Presses: Sheppard Mullin Publishes its “Federal Grants Survival Guide” for Commercial, For-Profit Companies

A few months ago we wrote about Congress utilizing the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 to offer bonus tax credits[1] to certain energy facilities for meeting specified “domestic content” requirements.[2] Relying heavily on the Government’s prior experience with domestic content authorities, including the Federal Transit Authority’s (“FTA”) “Buy America” regulations, we discussed how the regulations, as written, left the renewable energy industry with more questions than answers on the applicability of the domestic content bonus tax credit to their current and future projects. Though we walked through our then-understanding of the regulations, including providing our own step-by-step analysis of how to comply with, and therefore receive, this domestic content bonus credit, we recognized that Treasury was in the process of issuing guidance that (we hoped) would shed more light on compliance obligations. After months of waiting, on May 12, 2023, Treasury, along with the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), released its long awaited Guidance (Notice 2023-38). In all fairness to Treasury, the Guidance does provide answers to many lingering questions. But, at the same time, the Guidance provides analysis that differs both from industry’s expectations and the FTA’s Buy America regulations in several significant respects – potentially opening a new can of compliance questions and concerns.Continue Reading Treasury Issues New Proposed Guidance on Domestic Content Requirements of the Inflation Reduction Act – Updated Qualification Analysis and (Still) Lingering Questions

Coinciding nicely with the discussion of “Buy America” priorities at the February 7, 2023 State of the Union address, on February 9, 2023 the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) issued a proposed rule to implement Title IX of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”) – the Build America, Buy America (“BABA”) Act. See 88 Fed. Reg. 8374. The new Proposed Rule would amend OMB’s Guidance for Grants and Agreements to support federal agencies implementing the BABA requirements. In short, OMB is proposing to add a new Part 184 to Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations (“C.F.R.”), as well as clarifying language to the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards at 2 C.F.R. Part 200 (the “Uniform Guidance”), that address Congress’ “Buy America” mandate involving iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in federally-funded infrastructure projects. Though this new Proposed Rule does not provide perfect clarity reconciling all “Buy America” requirements, the Proposed Rule is an important piece of the puzzle that companies performing infrastructure work must understand. OMB is accepting comments on the proposed rule through March 13, 2023.Continue Reading Another Piece to the Puzzle: OMB Issues Proposed Guidance on “Build America, Buy America” Requirements

For years, domestic content requirements have been a point of pain and frustration for government contractors. Historically, these regimes typically come in the form of the proverbial stick – that is, provide products and/or services that meet these country of origin requirements, or risk severe consequences (the billions in False Claims Act Trade Agreements Act settlements speak for themselves). But through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, Congress has taken a unique approach by authorizing the Department of Treasury to use country of origin as a carrot – offering certain energy facilities bonus tax credits for meeting specified “domestic content” requirements. To create this new carrot, Congress relied heavily on the Government’s prior experience with domestic content regimes – pulling predominantly from the Federal Transit Authority’s (“FTA”) “Buy America” regulations, but with a Buy American Act twist. In doing so, Congress has left the renewable energy industry with more questions than answers on the applicability of the bonus tax credit to their facilities.Continue Reading Domestic Content Requirements of the Inflation Reduction Act: Basic Requirements, Qualification Analysis, and Lingering Questions

Updated as of May 24, 2022

The United States is engaging in a new form of warfare. Russia invaded Ukraine just over two months ago and, rather than join the fight directly by sending troops to defend Ukraine, the United States is fighting indirectly by engaging in unprecedented financial warfare against the Russian Federation. The initial export and sanctions actions were swift and severe – but somewhat expected. As the invasion persists, the U.S. Federal Government and individual States also have begun to leverage procurement policy to amplify the financial harm to Russia. This Guide will try to help make sense of the current efforts targeting Russia, the potential impact to government contractors, and proactive steps to mitigate risk.Continue Reading The Government Contractor’s Guide to (Not) Doing Business with Russia

On April 18, 2022, the Biden Administration (through the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”)) issued OMB Memorandum M-22-11 (the “Guidance”)[1] relating to the “Buy America” sourcing requirements under the “Build America, Buy America” portion of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”), Pub. L. No. 117-58, §§ 70901-70953. The Act aimed to strengthen Made in America Laws in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order 14005, “Ensuring the Future is Made in America by All of America’s Workers” (discussed previously here). In addition to tasking the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council with amending FAR regulations for the Buy American Act (“BAA”), Congress also imposed new “Buy America” requirements on federal infrastructure programs.
Continue Reading “Build America, Buy America” – New Guidelines Issued for U.S. Infrastructure Projects