It is not unusual for agency personnel to request extracontractual changes during performance of a contract, many of which may seem fairly innocuous at first glance. From changing the type of screw used in a machine, to altering the background colors displayed on computer screens, extracontractual changes requested by agency personnel can seem minor or inconsequential, and contractors often readily agree without immediately recognizing the potential adverse consequences or taking the necessary steps to adequately protect themselves.
Just when you didn’t think things could get any weirder, on Friday, January 21, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia issued a ruling clarifying its prior EO 14042 injunction (currently on appeal to the 11th Circuit, and discussed previously here) by refusing to clarify the injunction. Yes, you read that right. Let us explain.
Continue Reading Executive Order 14042 – Update 15.0: U.S. District Court “Clarifies” Its Injunction Applies Only To The Vaccine Mandate
It’s official: the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) Medical Surgical Prime Vendor (“MSPV”) 2.0 Program is no more. The VA has announced that it will not revive MSPV 2.0 following several unusually painful protests at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (see our prior blogs here and here). Instead the VA will move on to MSPV-“Z”. Generally speaking, there seems to be little difference between “2.0” and “Z,” except that some division of geographies may change. But importantly, the VA plans to make clear in the MSPV-Z solicitation—which currently is in the works—whether and when it will transfer the contracts’ requirements to the Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”), an issue that has drawn significant criticism to date. The VA says it is developing the business case for the transfer, and the business case analysis will determine both whether it will happen at all, and how the VA will execute the transfer. In the meantime, the VA will extend the current bridge contracts under MSPV-Next Generation (“MSPV-NG”) for a full year, running December 2021 to December 2022, while the VA (and likely the DLA) get their ducks in a row.
Continue Reading MSPV 2.0 Is Dead – Long Live MSPV
On September 9, 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) to implement COVID safety protocols for Federal service contractors. While the EO did not identify specific safety protocols, it did direct a Federal task force (the “Safer Federal Workforce Task Force,” created by Executive Order in January 2021) to issue COVID-19-related workplace safety guidance for prime contractors and subcontractors in the near future. Specifically, the Task Force is charged with issuing contractor guidance by September 24, 2021, including definitions of relevant terms, specific workplace safety protocols, and applicable exceptions.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Oversight and Enforcement: President Biden’s COVID Executive Order
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
All respirators approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (“NIOSH”) now are “covered countermeasures” under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (“PREP”) Act provisions of the Public Health Service Act, and their manufacturers and distributors are eligible for immunity from suits for injury and death resulting from use of the masks in the public health response to COVID-19. The Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued an updated PREP Act declaration implementing this addition to the covered countermeasures eligible for PREP Act immunity, with retroactive effect to March 27, 2020.
Continue Reading PREP Act Update: All NIOSH-Approved Respirators Now Are Covered Countermeasures Eligible for Immunity
The novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic has given Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) contractors several powerful new tools in their toolbelts, and VA contractors should not leave available protections on the table. VA contractors, including those supplying medical devices under the MSPV-NG bridge contract and pharmaceuticals on a VA Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”), now can negotiate for extraordinary limitations on liability (in addition to some provided by statute), among other opportunities. Particularly for contractors providing goods and services used in the COVID-19 pandemic response, it is crucial to understand both new protections available and other changes to the rules of VA contracting.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Changes Contracting at the VA
There is more than $2 trillion on the line and the multi-trillion-dollar question is: Who’s minding the store? On March 27, 2020, in response to the financial set-back created by the novel COVID-19 pandemic, President Trump signed into law the more than $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”) – by far the largest economic relief package in U.S. history. The CARES Act’s purpose is to keep the U.S. economy afloat and provide relief to struggling Americans, large corporate sectors, and small businesses while the nation battles this pandemic. With $500 billion allocated for big corporations, $377 billion for small businesses, and another $153.5 billion for healthcare, these relief moneys (like with most government funds) are sure to come with strings attached in the form of complex regulations and substantial oversight, with enforcement not far behind.
Continue Reading The CARES Act – Who’s Minding the Store?
Last week the White House issued two additional Executive Orders (“EOs”) related to EO 13909, the subject of our March 20, 2020 blog post: Presidential Executive Order Calls on HHS to Issue Priority Contracts and Allocate Scarce Medical Resources.…
Continue Reading Presidential Executive Orders Delegate Additional Authorities To Respond To COVID-19 Outbreak
COVID-19 (a.k.a. the Coronavirus) is upon us and it looks like it is here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. In January, the Department of Health and Human Services declared the Coronavirus outbreak to constitute a Public Health Emergency, and on March 13, 2020, President Trump declared it a National Emergency. The President noted that the spread of the virus “threatens to strain our Nation’s healthcare systems.” As medical needs surge coupled with increases in state and city shutdowns to combat and contain the virus, a drain on government resources is almost certain. As such, in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, many companies are looking for ways to help, and some are willing to do so at no cost through free goods and services to the United States Government in hopes of alleviating such strain. Many companies, however, fear that such gifts might be prohibited under federal gift rules and the Antideficiency Act (an Act originating in the 1880s that, in some cases, prevents the Government from accepting voluntary services). This article explores how companies can provide free goods and services to the Government within the strictures of applicable statutes and regulations.
Continue Reading Gifting Goods & Services to the U.S. Government in the Wake of the Coronavirus Outbreak
On March 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law a Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) resolution repealing the so-called “blacklisting” rule, which would have imposed strict labor reporting and other requirements upon government contractors. This was followed by an Executive Order (“EO”) signed by President Trump the same day, effectively nullifying President Barack Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces EO that first called for the blacklisting rule.
Continue Reading UPDATE: Congress and Trump Administration Repeal “Blacklisting” Rule, Relieving Contractors from Strict Labor Reporting and Other Requirements