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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.

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

In accordance with Section 889(a)(1)(A) of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (Pub. L. No. 115-232) (the “2019 NDAA”), which required imposition of broad restrictions on procurements involving certain Chinese telecommunications hardware manufacturers such as Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp within one year, the FAR Council has released an interim rule implementing these restrictions. On August 13, the FAR Council released Federal Acquisition Circular 2019-05 (84 Fed. Reg. 40,216), creating a new FAR Subpart 4.21, as well as two new contract clauses, FAR 52.204-24 and 52.204-25, all of which are effective August 13, 2019. These restrictions apply not only to prime contractors, but also to all subcontractors and throughout the supply chain. Government contractors need to know that these new requirements are effective immediately and that opportunities for waivers are very limited.
Continue Reading Effective Immediately! – FAR Amended to Include Prohibition on Chinese Telecommunications Equipment and Services in Government Contracts

On July 15, 2019, President Trump signed an Executive Order requiring regulations implementing the Buy American Act, 41 U.S.C. §§ 8301-8305, to be changed. While President Trump has previously issued two other policy-based “Buy American” Executive Orders, this new Order directs that specific changes be made, reversing government policies that have been in place for 65 years. These changes have the potential to significantly disrupt many government contractors’ supply chains and internal compliance programs. As such, companies should start planning now for the final regulations that are expected sometime in 2020.
Continue Reading “Buy American” (Again): New Executive Order Requires Changes (By 2020)

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

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acquisitions are about to get a lot more attention – from the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG), the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and possibly Congress, as well. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently published a report (GAO-19-157SP) updating its “High Risk List,” which lists 35 government agencies and programs that may be particularly vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, adding “VA Acquisition Management” to the list of the usual suspects. If, as Aesop opined, “a man is known by the company he keeps,” then the VA has now joined a notorious group. VA vendors should be aware of this development, because any attempt by the VA to “get well” will likely come with heightened compliance obligations for VA vendors.
Continue Reading VA Vendors Beware: Mind the Company You Keep; It’s Time for a Compliance Checkup

Few phrases sum up the Trump administration’s policy goals better than “Buy American.” We hear it in advertising; we hear it in the State of the Union; and we find it littered throughout government buying priorities. Here is a short primer on some recent developments out of the White House regarding the oft-invoked (and often misunderstood) requirement to “Buy American,” including a new Executive Order issued just last month.
Continue Reading “Buy American” Updates: Trump’s Executive Orders, Government Reports, and Other Updates

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

On April 18, President Trump signed a new executive order (EO) at a ceremony in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The EO is entitled “Buy American and Hire American” and focuses on these two themes, with the President’s stated goal of ending the “theft of American prosperity” by focusing on American workers and products. While the details of how the new EO will be applied will undoubtedly take months to implement (pending numerous agency-level reviews), companies doing business with the federal government, or with an interest in foreign high-skill workers, should be aware of these new developments so that they can prepare for the adjustments they will need to make in the near future, as the President’s efforts to put American workers first take shape.
Continue Reading Buy American and Hire American – New Executive Order Promises to Put American Workers First, But Practical Impacts Remain Unclear

On August 2, 2016, the Department of Defense (“DOD”) rolled out new requirements for defense contractors that provide electronic parts and assemblies containing electronic parts. The new rules impose significant risks on DOD contractors.  One clause mandates a specific purchasing hierarchy, with requirements to purchase from the original manufacturer or authorized suppliers thereof when available.  When an original source is not available, contractors are now required essentially to “vouch” for their suppliers, assuming all the risks if a vendor delivers a counterfeit or suspect counterfeit part. Simultaneously, DOD issued a second clause, which requires certain covered contractors in the DOD supply chain to establish and maintain an acceptable electronic part detection and avoidance system. Failure to implement an effective plan may disqualify a vendor from providing products to the DOD. These new rules come very close to imposing a near “strict liability” standard on DOD contractors, asking them to essentially guarantee the supply chain.  Cross your heart and hope to die.
Continue Reading Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die – New DFARS Clauses Target Counterfeit Electronic Parts

Accepting money from the Government, whether through a contract, grant, or other transaction, does not come for free. In the commercial world, companies typically engage in a cost/benefit analysis when they make major decisions, such as whether to enter a new line of business, extend their product line, open new facilities, or expand globally. To make these decisions, the company tries to understand not simply the available business opportunities, but also the obligations that are imposed and the risks that are inherent. This is equally, if not more, true when a commercial company decides to sell anything to the U.S. Government – whether as a prime contractor or subcontractor. The Federal Government is an extremely large consumer of goods and services, and so it is a marketplace that is hard to ignore. But, seller beware – because with the opportunities arising from this marketplace come obligations with which your company may not be able to comply. Moreover, while compliance may cost you more than you anticipate, noncompliance could destroy your business. So make sure that you look before you leap into the federal marketplace.
Continue Reading Look Before You Leap – Pitfalls and Trip Wires Inherent in Government Contracting