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
On May 2, 2019, the General Services Administration (“GSA”) and the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) finally released their Phase 2 Implementation Report (the “Phase 2 Report”) for “Procurement Through E-Commerce Portals,” as directed by Section 846 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (“FY 2018 NDAA”).
GSA/OMB offered a sneak preview of the Phase 2 Report at an Industry Day held on December 12, 2018, during which GSA/OMB revealed their intent to proceed with a proof of concept contract utilizing only the E-Marketplace model. Industry pushback against a single model proof of concept was both quick and severe and, coupled with the lengthy delay issuing the Phase 2 Report, many wondered whether GSA/OMB were reevaluating their proposed approach. Continue Reading
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Controls (“OFAC”) both issued guidance regarding their expectations for corporate compliance programs. Both documents are geared towards establishing more rigid frameworks for assessing compliance programs. A common theme among both pieces of guidance appears to be the identification and allocation of responsibility to individuals, especially management. Additionally, the fact that the agencies released their guidance within days of each other could be read as a clear signal from federal authorities that they are serious about increasing their focus on individual accountability for corporate wrongdoing. Continue Reading
The C-Suite rarely wants to consider, much less worry about, the impacts of criminal conduct on their business. The reality is, however, companies can and do get pulled into criminal and quasi-criminal enforcement actions as both victims and (albeit unintentional) perpetrators. Two areas of criminal conduct that perhaps do not receive the amount of C-Suite attention they deserve are internal trade secret theft and human trafficking. Continue Reading
On April 29, 2019, just months into her new job at the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”), acting DFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell announced a significant reorganization within the financial and insurance regulator. The new Consumer Protection and Financial Enforcement Division (the “CPFED”) combines seven previously separate divisions and units – Enforcement, Investigations and Intelligence, the Civil Investigations Unit, the Producers Unit, the Consumer Examinations Unit, the Student Protection Unit, and the Holocaust Claims Processing Office – under a single executive deputy superintendent. Lacewell appointed Katherine Lemire, a former state and federal prosecutor, to head the newly-minted division. Continue Reading
On May 15, 2019, President Trump issued an Executive Order (“EO”) targeting activities of certain foreign telecommunications companies based in hostile countries. Entitled “Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain,” the EO declares a national emergency based on a Presidential finding that “foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services … in order to commit malicious cyber-enabled actions” rising to the level of “an unusual and extraordinary threat to national security.” As a result, the EO allows the Federal Government, led by the Secretary of Commerce, to bar U.S. companies from doing business with foreign entities it determines are contributing to the threat. For more on this issue, see our Global Trade Law blog posting here. Continue Reading
If you follow professional football, you are familiar with the message generally given to an aspiring player just before he is cut – “Coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook.” The playbook, that step-by-step guide to on-the-field success, is something that teams guard zealously.
Not all teams, however, maintain the secrecy of their playbooks, and the U.S. Government is a case in point. The Government actually publishes its playbook of bargaining techniques recommended for its contract negotiators. Like the Commandments Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, the Government playbook consists of 10 Rules. These Rules can be found in Chapter 6 of Volume 5 of the DoD’s Contract Pricing Reference Guides. The Rules are all reasonable and, in many ways, predictable. Because “Forewarned is forearmed,” here they are – Continue Reading
In 2019, cybersecurity has become top-of-mind for most federal government contractors and agencies that share sensitive information. In addition to updated Department of Defense guidance and procedures for evaluating contractors’ compliance with cybersecurity requirements, as well as an increase in Department of Defense cybersecurity audits, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) council also has promised a new FAR clause that will require compliance with NIST SP 800-171 security controls for civilian agency contractors that receive or create Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). Continue Reading
Earlier this month, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) took a break from its recent focus on digital assets and the Best Interest fiduciary standard to publish a Risk Alert encouraging investment advisers and broker-dealers to revisit their policies and procedures relating to Regulation S-P (“Reg S-P”) (17 C.F.R. Part 248, Subpart A), which sets out requirements designed to protect customer information and records. The Alert highlights several key compliance issues identified by the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (“OCIE”) during exams completed in the past two years. Continue Reading
The April issue of National Defense Magazine brought a well-written article by Susan Cassidy and her colleagues at Covington & Burling LLP on a recent DOD IG report analyzing (and criticizing) spare aviation parts pricing, even though the report concluded that the contractor in question had complied with the Truthful Cost or Pricing Data Act. The article addresses the IG’s concept of a fair profit – which is abjectly divorced from reality – and it notes that the GAO has been conducting a study of spare parts purchasing with a promise of recommendations to improve transparency in this area. I commend the article to anyone who operates in the spares market and wants to know where the Government is heading in relation to spares pricing.
With the IG and the GAO injecting themselves – yet again – into the spare parts market and decrying the rapacious contractors who dare to sell at prices that the Government regards as outrageous (after all, why in the world would anyone think that a profit rate in excess of 15% on a firm fixed price contract was reasonable?) it seems like a good time to revisit the reasons why the Government’s periodic complaints about spare parts pricing are generally myopic and wrong. And so, because no criticism of Government contractors ever goes away forever, I offer for your consumption a refresher: the re-publication of a posting that I authored in November 2014, entitled “How Dare You Charge That for a Spare Part!” – The Untold Story of the X27 Interface Assembly” – Continue Reading