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David Gallacher is a partner in the Government Contracts, Investigations and International Trade Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) recently announced that, yet again, the federal government exceeded its small business contracting goal by awarding $145.7 billion dollars in federal prime contracts – 26.01% of the government’s total procurement spending – to small businesses last year, with at least an additional $82.8 billion in small business subcontracts. The SBA released statistics in its FY 2020 Small Business Procurement Scorecard, available here. Notably, while small business contracting increased $13 billion in prime contracts, small business subcontracting may have decreased by an estimated $7.9 billion. Other Scorecard highlights include that the U.S. government exceeded the service-disabled veteran-owned small business goal of 3% and far-exceeded the small disadvantaged business goal of 5%. The government failed, however, to meet the women-owned small business goal of 5% and the HUBZone goal of 3%.

Continue Reading Small Business Federal Government Contracting Dollars Continue to Increase

Change is in the air for the Buy American Act (“BAA”). On July 30, 2021, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council published a proposed rule to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) to implement President Biden’s Executive Order 14005, on “Ensuring the Future is Made in America by All of America’s Workers,” which seeks to further strengthen U.S. Buy American laws and further encourage domestic procurement (previously discussed here). A public meeting to discuss the proposed rule is scheduled for August 26, 2021, and comments will be due September 28, 2021. This blog article summarizes the new BAA proposed rule, offering a primer in advance of the public meeting next week and the public comment deadline next month. Yes, folks – change is in the air. Fasten your seatbelts; we may encounter some turbulence ahead.

Continue Reading Fasten Your Seatbelts – Proposed Rule Implementing Biden’s “Buy American” Mandates

Many small businesses learn the hard way that a “bid protest” and a “size protest” differ in much more than name only. Whereas generally a “bid protest” challenges agency action taken in connection with a procurement and can be timely brought at the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) or in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (“COFC”) after award, a “size protest” challenges an offeror’s eligibility as “small” for a small business set-aside and must be filed with the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) within 5 days of contract award; otherwise, a disappointed offeror will forfeit its right to challenge the awardee’s size. While this consequential distinction may seem clear in a vacuum, a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) demonstrates that distinguishing between a “bid protest” and a “size protest” may not always be so easy. Instead, the Federal Circuit’s decision leaves open the possibility that even when a timely size protest was not filed with the SBA, a disappointed offeror still may be able to challenge the contracting officer’s failure to refer an awardee of a small business set-aside to the SBA for a size status determination by filing a bid protest at the COFC.


Continue Reading “What’s In A Name?”: Federal Circuit Holds Claims Court Blurred Distinction Between ‘Size Protests’ And ‘Bid Protests’ In Dismissal For Failure To Exhaust Administrative Remedies

Ignore our prior prediction—the U.S. Court of Federal Claims definitely is NOT remanding the protest by Medline Industries, Inc. (“Medline Protest’) to the agencies for corrective action.  In a surprisingly scathing opinion issued June 22, 2021 by Judge David A. Tapp, the court made one thing very clear—the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (“VA”) transfer of its Medical Surgical Prime Vendor (“MSPV 2.0”) requirements to the Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”) is dead on arrival.  After issuing a brief order on June 17 denying remand to the agencies for corrective action, the court detailed its reasoning in an opinion issued in a parallel protest filed by Owens & Minor Distribution, Inc. challenging (slightly) different aspects of the shifting MSPV 2.0 procurement (“O&M Protest”).  The government had moved for remand in both protests, and because the Medline Protest and O&M Protest involved the same parties and many common operative facts, the court issued a single opinion denying remand in both—and telegraphing that the outlook for the government in both cases is grim.  Piling on, the court took a few shots at the government for its litigation conduct and (more generally) its lack of acquisition planning.

Continue Reading Duck Hunt – The VA Cannot Escape The Medline Protest, And Takes A Few Shots In The Process

In February 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14017, “Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains” (discussed here), requiring (among other things) a report within 100-days requiring key government agencies to assess vulnerabilities and consider potential improvements to supply chains in four critical industries – (i) semiconductor manufacturing; (ii) high capacity batteries; (iii) rare earth elements; and (iv) pharmaceuticals.

Continue Reading At a Glance: White House 100-Day Supply Chain Report

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) Medical Surgical Prime Vendor (“MSPV”) 2.0 Program (discussed previously here and here) has yet to make it off the ground, but in March 2021 the VA announced plans to eliminate the program by September 2023 and instead purchase from the Defense Logistics Agency’s (“DLA”) separate MSPV catalog. The VA and DLA MSPV programs are how the VA and DLA (separately) purchase most of their medical, surgical, and laboratory equipment for care centers across the country (and abroad, in the case of DLA). The VA and DLA have been exploring the possibility of consolidation since at least January 2019, but many vendors relied on the VA’s representations that it would not make any decisions on potential consolidation until at least 2025. So when the VA informed stakeholders of its new September 2023 target, Medline Industries, Inc. (“Medline”), one of the prime vendor awardees under the VA’s MSPV 2.0 Program, responded by filing a bid protest at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. On May 28, 2021, the VA and DLA decided to take corrective action, asking the Court for six months to re-evaluate the issues raised by the protest. It seems that the government did not have all of its ducks in a row prior to announcing the targeted transition.
Continue Reading Ducks (Not) in a Row – VA Agrees to Take Corrective Action in Transitioning MSPV 2.0 Requirements to DLA

The Biden Administration has taken (at least temporarily) the teeth out of a Trump-era Executive Order that directed the government to “Buy American” for essential drugs and medical devices. President
Continue Reading “Buy American” Update: Essential Medicines May Continue to Come From Abroad (For Now)

On February 24, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14017, “Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains,” requiring a review of global supply chains that support key U.S. industries in an attempt to improve supply chain security for the U.S. government and U.S. companies. The new Executive Order appears to be an initial step focused on information gathering. Comprehensive reforms and supply chain strategies are likely to follow once the White House has collected key information.
Continue Reading Finding the Weak Links – President Biden Executive Order Demands Review of Critical U.S. Supply Chains

On January 25, 2021, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order on “Ensuring the Future is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers,” laying his administration’s foundation for further strengthening Buy American laws and encouraging domestic procurement. Using the broad phrase “Made in America Laws,” the EO aims to strengthen “all statutes, regulations, rules, and Executive Orders relating to Federal financial assistance awards or Federal procurement, including those that refer to ‘Buy America’ or ‘Buy American.’” This comes just days after the FAR Council’s implementation of President Trump’s Executive Order 13881, which required significant changes to the regulations implementing the Buy American Act, 41 U.S.C. §§ 8301-8305 (“BAA”), as discussed in our prior blog article. While only time will tell if the FAR Council will revisit the newly released regulations – they probably will, but not until later this year – we have provided below several key points from the EO so companies can start planning now for future developments.
Continue Reading Made in America – President Biden’s Executive Order on Buying (Even More?) American

On January 19, 2021, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council published the final rule amending the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) in accordance with President Trump’s Executive Order 13881, “Maximizing Use of American-Made Goods, Products, and Materials.” As we discussed in our prior blog articles here (discussing the September 2020 proposed rule) and here (discussing the July 15, 2019 order), the Executive Order required significant changes to the regulations implementing the Buy American Act, 41 U.S.C. §§ 8301-8305 (“BAA”). The final rule varies very little from the September 14, 2020 proposed rule (discussed in greater detail here). Accordingly, the final rule amends applicable FAR clauses with three key impacts:
Continue Reading “Buy (More) American” – Final Rule Implements Changes to the Buy American Act Regulations

On October 30, 2020 the FDA published a list of essential medicines, medical countermeasures, and critical inputs as required by President Trump’s August 2020 Executive Order on Ensuring Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs Are Made in the United States (Executive Order 13944), which required the U.S. government to purchase “essential” medicines and medical supplies produced domestically, rather than abroad. We previously wrote about this Executive Order in August (available here), expecting that once the list was issued, government agencies would begin implementing the “Buy American” priorities for these products and materials. The FDA has identified around 227 drugs and 96 devices, along with their respective critical inputs or active ingredients, that the FDA believes “are medically necessary to have available at all times” for the public health. Agencies across the federal government should now begin making non-competitive awards “to the maximum extent permitted by law,” for drugs and medical supplies on this list that are produced in the United States. We have yet to see how agencies will implement these requirements in regulations or class deviations, but publication of this list is an important first step in implementing the rest of the “Buy American” priorities in the Executive Order.
Continue Reading “Buy American” Update: FDA Issues List Of Essential Medicines Required By Executive Order