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Daniel J. Alvarado is an associate in the Governmental Practice in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

To kick off the New Year, Sheppard Mullin’s Governmental Practice Cybersecurity & Data Protection Team has prepared a cybersecurity-focused 2023 Recap (including links to all of the resources the team has put out over the past year) and 2024 Forecast (that previews what we expect to see in 2024). This Recap & Forecast covers the following five high-interest topic areas related to cybersecurity and data protection:Continue Reading Governmental Practice Cybersecurity and Data Protection, 2023 Recap & 2024 Forecast Alert

Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2024, the Government Accountability Office has published 35 decisions, but only two of which resulted in decisions sustaining the challenge. As contracting activities are busy awarding new contracts, it is important to follow the trends related to successful and effective protests as you consider filing your own bid protest, or as you defend your award as an intervenor. Below we dive into recent bid protest decisions and identify what won, what did not win, and why.Continue Reading Bid Protest Hub – November 2023

Ever wonder what it takes to win a protest? 

With GAO’s statistics for Fiscal Year 2023 (“FY 23”) just released, we thought now is the perfect time to share some insights we gained by reading every published decision in which GAO sustained a protest during FY 23. GAO saw a rise in cases in Fiscal Year 2023 – up 22% from last year, or 2,025 cases, and it conducted hearings in 22 cases, compared to only two last year. GAO’s statistics from Fiscal Year 2022 showed a relatively steady sustain rate percentage hovering between 13% and 15% of the decisions on the merits. This year GAO reports a sustain rate of 31%, listing the number of sustained cases at 188, versus 59 last year. GAO explains the higher number of sustains is, at least in large part, due to “an unusually high number of protests challenging a single procurement,” namely the Department of Health and Human Services’ (“HHS”) Chief Information Officer-Solutions and Partners 4 (“CIO-SP4”) acquisition, in which GAO sustained 119 protests on primarily one ground. Taking this one procurement out of the mix, there are 69 remaining sustains, which would equate to a sustain rate of about 14% – much more in line with GAO’s historic rate over the prior 4 years of 13% to 15%.Continue Reading If Past is Prologue – What Made Protests Successful in Fiscal Year 2023?

On October 27, 2023, the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) released a draft memorandum for public comment regarding Modernizing the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (“FedRAMP”) (the “Draft Memo”). The Draft Memo comes almost one year after Congress passed the FedRAMP Authorization Act (the “Act”) as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which codified FedRAMP.Continue Reading Time for An Upgrade: OMB Releases Draft Memorandum Modernizing FedRAMP

Welcome back to the Cost Corner, where we provide practical insight into the complex cost and pricing requirements that apply to Government contractors. The March 2023 Cost Corner introduced the three principle categories of Government contracts cost and pricing requirements: (1) the Truthful Cost or Pricing Data Statute, also known as the Truth in Negotiations Act (TINA), which defines a contractor’s obligation to disclose cost or pricing data to the Government; (2) the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Cost Principles, which prescribe principles and procedures for determining the allowability of costs; and (3) the Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), which provide standards to ensure uniformity and consistency in the measurement, assignment, and allocation of costs. The September 2023 Cost Corner concluded a three-part series on TINA. We now move on to the FAR Cost Principles, specifically FAR Subpart 31.2, which applies to contracts with commercial organizations. This article addresses the applicability of the FAR Cost Principles and their general criteria for determining the allowability of costs. Subsequent articles will address the allowability of selected items of cost.Continue Reading Government Contracts Cost and Pricing: Introduction to the Federal Acquisition Regulation Cost Principles (Part 1)

While you were asking ChatGPT to create a 3-course menu for the upcoming book club you’re hosting or to explain the Rule Against Perpetuities, several federal government agencies announced initiatives related to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated systems, focusing on the potential threats stemming from the misuse of this powerful technology. As the development and use of AI becomes integrated into our daily lives and employee work routines, and companies begin to leverage such technology in their solutions provided to the government, it is important to understand the developing federal government compliance infrastructure and the potential risks stemming from the misuse of AI and automated systems.Continue Reading ChatUSG: What Companies Doing Business with the Government Need to Know About Artificial Intelligence

The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Program Management Office recently released a revised version of its Obligations and Compliance Standards document for third party assessors – the organizations that conduct reviews and enable security authorizations for cloud service offerings to the federal government. The revised document seeks to further define the performance and compliance expectations for third party assessors (3PAOs) and incorporates changes stemming from the FedRAMP Authorization Act, which was enacted as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act and codified FedRAMP. The revisions reflect recent trends in cyber and supply chain security, focusing on identifying potential foreign influence and enhancing transparency with respect to the activities conducted by the third party assessors. Continue Reading Reassessed: FedRAMP Releases Revised Obligations and Standards for Cybersecurity Assessors

The FedRAMP Program Management Office is seeking comments on its draft FedRAMP Authorization Boundary Guidance, Version 3.0, released on September 14, 2022. The public comment period currently is open and closes on October 17, 2022.Continue Reading Third Time’s The Charm – FedRAMP Releases Draft Authorization Boundary Guidance Version 3 for Public Comment

You might be wondering, “What’s so important about Organizational Conflicts of Interest (“OCIs”)?” The answer is fairly simple: understanding both what causes OCIs and how to mitigate them are critical because unmitigated OCIs can preclude a contractor from (1) competing for future contract work, (2) performing certain tasks under existing contracts, (3) transferring personnel between company organizations, (4) hiring personnel, (5) teaming with certain vendors, and/or (6) entering into certain corporate transactions. Moreover, undisclosed or unmitigated OCIs can create risk of liability under the False Claims Act. In this Part 1 of a three part series, we offer a summary of what creates OCIs and general mitigation strategies. In Part 2, we will detail how OCIs arise in protests, and in Part 3, we will address the risks of False Claims Act liability arising from undisclosed OCIs.Continue Reading Organizational Conflicts of Interest – Part 1: A Refresher on OCIs

Software companies selling indirectly to the Federal Government finally received an answer to a question that has lingered for years – can a software company going to market through a reseller bring a direct claim under the Contract Disputes Act (“CDA”) against the Federal Government for violating a term of the software company’s End User License Agreement? Sadly, the answer is “no.”
Continue Reading Software Companies Beware: Board Holds Subcontractor Cannot Enforce EULA Directly Against Federal Government

Federal contractors and subcontractors across the country were forced to rethink their COVID-safety efforts when, on December 7, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia enjoined enforcement
Continue Reading Executive Order 14042 – Update 12.0: U.S. District Court Issues Nationwide Injunction