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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.

On September 14, 2020, the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council published the long anticipated proposed 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 previously discussed here, the Executive Order, signed on July 15, 2019, required significant changes to the implementing regulations of the Buy American Act, 41 U.S.C. §§ 8301-8305, changing policies dating back nearly 70 years. Accordingly, the proposed rule seeks to increase both the domestic content requirements and the evaluation preferences provided by the FAR for domestically manufactured goods, particularly with regard to domestic content requirements for steel or iron end products and products made predominantly from iron or steel. Most significantly, however, the proposed rule will revive heightened restrictions for commercially available-off-the-shelf (“COTS”) products that are made predominantly of iron or steel, requiring both the end product and 95 percent of the component parts be domestically sourced in order to qualify under the rule. The COTS exception remains available for other end products (that are not made predominantly of iron or steel), but the proposed rule still will impose heightened obligations and vendors now need to scrutinize their supply chains even more closely, even for COTS items. The FAR Council is accepting comments through November 13, 2020. A final rule is likely by early-2021.
Continue Reading Proposed Changes to the Buy American Act Regulations Implementing Trump Executive Orders

Beginning October 15, 2020, the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”), implementing the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”), will begin requiring women-owned small businesses (“WOSBs”) and economically disadvantaged WOSBs (“EDWOSBs”) to undergo a formal certification process to be eligible under the Procurement Program for Women-Owned Small Business Concerns (the “Program”). Thus, WOSBs and EDWOSBs no longer will be allowed to self-certify that they meet the Program requirements to compete for set-aside or sole source contracts, as has been the case for the last few decades. Instead, WOSBs and EDWOSBs now must apply for a formal government-issued certification at https://beta.certify.sba.gov/, which includes creating an account and uploading the necessary paperwork to establish eligibility. 13 C.F.R. Subpart C (§§ 127.300 – 127.356).
Continue Reading Women-Owned Small Business Self-Certification Ends October 15, 2020 When SBA Begins Requiring Formal Government-Issued Or Third-Party Certifications for Awards

The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) recently announced that the federal government exceeded its small business contracting goal by awarding $132.9 billion dollars in federal contracts – 26.5% of the government’s total procurement spending – to small businesses last fiscal year, with at least an additional $90.7 billion in subcontracts.  The SBA recently released statistics in its FY 2019 Small Business Procurement Scorecard, available here and here.  Also notable in these reports: (a) for only the second time ever the government met the 5% woman-owned small business goal; (b) the government met the service-disabled veteran-owned small business goal (3%, awarded 4.39%); and (c) the government also met the small disadvantaged business goal (5%, awarded 10.2%).  The government did not, however, meet the 3% HUBZone goal, coming in at 2.28%.  That said, small business contracting was up across all categories.  Here we provide a summary of the SBA’s findings, noting some of the potential opportunities available for small business contractors, while also highlighting some of the risks inherent in doing business with the U.S. government.
Continue Reading Government Small Business Contracting Continues to Increase: Creating Opportunities and Potential Pitfalls

On August 6, 2020, President Trump signed the “Executive Order on Ensuring Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs Are Made in the United States,” requiring, among other things, the U.S. government to purchase “essential” medicines and medical supplies produced domestically, rather than abroad. Citing a need to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign suppliers, the Order sets forth several new requirements aimed at establishing reliable, long-term domestic production of essential drugs and devices, including their component parts. To be clear, this is a tall order: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will need to assemble a list of critical supplies and medicines; agencies will need to assess ways to secure the supply chain for both equipment and medicines; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will need to consider how it can accelerate domestic manufacturing requests; the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and the Department of Defense (DOD) will need to re-negotiate the terms of international agreements; the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may (or may not) be exempted; and – lest it go without saying – everyone will have to update their regulations. While this “Buy American” requirement seems to take effect as soon as the FDA issues its list of critical materials, the Order may leave intact (at least temporarily) some exceptions, which may allow companies time to examine and adjust their supply chains. Over the longer term, most required agency actions are ordered to be realized within 90-180 days, but the inevitable regulatory updates will lag (far?) behind. For now, we find ourselves in a bit of a Twilight Zone – “the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and … between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge” – forced to guess which parts of this new Order are real and immediate, and which will leave us stuck in a “darker dimension.”
Continue Reading “Buy American” in the Twilight Zone: Executive Order Strengthening the U.S. Public Health Industrial Base

Trade Agreements Act compliance changed fundamentally three years ago. Or, so we thought on December 7, 2016, when the U.S. Court of International Trade (“CIT”), the appellate body for country
Continue Reading The Evolution of TAA Compliance Post-Energizer – “Substantially Transformed” Has Substantially Changed

On September 9, 2019, the U.S. General Services Administration (“GSA”) announced it would be issuing a mass modification (expected sometime this month)[1] requiring all new and existing GSA Multiple Award Schedule (“MAS”) contracts include two new clauses. The new clauses come in response to Section 889 of the FY2019 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”), and recently implemented FAR provisions, which impose prohibitions relating to the procurement of certain Chinese telecommunications equipment and services (which we have previously discussed here and here). The two clauses to be added to all MAS contracts are:

  • FAR 52.204-25, Prohibition on Contracting for Certain Telecommunications and Video Surveillance Services or Equipment (Aug 2019)
  • GSAR 552.204-70, Representation Regarding Certain Telecommunications and Video Surveillance Services or Equipment (Aug 2019)


Continue Reading GSA Implements Restrictions on Certain Chinese-Made Telecommunications Services and Equipment

First things first, I’m sorry about the title; I couldn’t resist. The longer, alternate title would have been “Rest In Peace – the Past Performance Information Retrieval System Sleeps with the Fishes.” But that doesn’t have the same kind of obscure, punchy, epitaph-type quality that I’m aiming for. So instead, I give you get a garbled mess of an acronym to remind us that the Past Performance Information Retrieval System (“PPIRS”) – the system once used by the U.S. Government to house the final performance assessments for government contractors – is no more. As far as epitaphs go, I think that most of us would agree that “R.I.P.” is just about what an acronym deserves.
Continue Reading R.I.P. PPIRS

We recently wrote about the FAR Council’s release of an interim rule implementing restrictions on procurements involving certain Chinese telecommunications hardware manufacturers and service providers, such as Huawei and ZTE. The interim rule creates a new FAR Subpart 4.21, as well as two new contract clauses, FAR 52.204-24 and 52.204-25, which were effective August 13, 2019. These restrictions apply not only to prime contractors, but also to all subcontractors and throughout the supply chain. Concurrent with the release of the FAR interim rule, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) issued a memorandum, laying out DoD procedures to implement the prohibitions contained therein. These procedures apply to contracts, task orders, and delivery orders, including basic ordering agreements (BOAs), orders against BOAs, blanket purchase agreements (BPAs), and calls against BPAs.
Continue Reading Effective Last Month! – DoD’s Implementation of New FAR Prohibitions on Chinese Telecommunications Equipment and Services in Government Contracts