1. Final Rules Regarding the Affirmative Action and Nondiscrimination Obligations of Contractors and Subcontractors

On September 24, 2013, the Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) published a final rule revising the implementing regulations of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974, as amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act of 2002, (VEVRAA). OFCCP is responsible for enforcement of VEVRAA, which prohibits employment discrimination against protected veterans by covered Federal contractors and subcontractors. VEVRAA also requires each covered federal contractor and subcontractor to take affirmative action to employ and advance the employment of these veterans. The final rule strengthens several provisions that are intended to aid in recruitment and hiring efforts, such as clarifying the mandatory job listing requirements, requiring data collection pertaining to protected veteran applicants and hires, and establishing hiring benchmarks to assist in measuring the effectiveness of the affirmative action efforts. 78 Fed. Reg. 58614 (Sept. 23, 2013).


Continue Reading Government Procurement: September and October 2013 Federal Register Update

1. Repeal of Sunset Dates for Protest Authority Over Certain Task Orders

Effective September 3, 2013, FAR 16.505 was amended to eliminate the sunset dates for protests against the issuance of an order under a task-order or delivery-order contract in excess of $10 million by the DoD, NASA and the Coast Guard. Previously, the FAR stated that the authority to bring such a protest would expire on September 30, 2016 and made no distinctions as to which agency the rule applied. The new rule now expressly states that there is no such expiration date for protests against the placement of an order by or on behalf of the DoD, NASA and Coast Guard. However, for the time being, the September 2016 sunset date remains for other agencies. (FAR Case 2013-11).


Continue Reading Details: Highlights from the August & September 2013 Federal Register

The US is generally pretty keen on international free trade agreements. And why shouldn’t it be? After all, free trade agreements have the ability to open up foreign markets to US goods and services, allowing new and expanding opportunities for US companies. But “free trade” does not always mean “free trade” – it usually means “free-er trade, subject to numerous exceptions,” with the exceptions proving a constant irritant to our free trade partners. Case in point: two recent events – one in the European Union and one in Canada – demonstrate that “free trade” (subject to numerous caveats) is still a bone of contention, even among long-established trading partners. While “free-est trade” may be too much to ask for, maybe “free-er trade” with fewer strings attached would at least be a step in the right direction.
Continue Reading Free(er?) Trade – US, EU and Canada Quibble Over Market Access and Domestic Preferences

Every now and then, the FAR Councils issue a Federal Acquisition Circular (FAC) – an update to the Federal Acquisition Regulation implementing a number of changes. Often these changes are rather pro forma. But occasionally, you get a Circular with many different (and interesting) issues. FAC 2005-67, issued in late-June 2013, with rules becoming effective in June and July 2013, is one such circular. We thought it would be helpful to highlight five of these rules that raise interesting and timely issues, especially where they may signal additional changes yet to come.
Continue Reading Lots of Little Things – FAR Updates from the Federal Acquisition Circular

By David Gallacher 

Earlier this month, we wrote about a new proposed rule from the Department of Energy imposing new and onerous requirements relating to compliance with the U.S. export control laws. DOE claimed that this proposed rule was modeled on a prior rule included in the Department of Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) at DFARS Subpart 204.73 and DFARS 252.204-7008, promulgated originally in 2008 (and discussed here). But be aware that those DFARS rules were recently removed. Kind of. In case you were not paying attention, the DFARS export restrictions were recently moved to DFARS Subpart 225.79 and DFARS 252.225-7048. See 78 Fed. Reg. 36108. So, even though the citations may have changed, the song remains the same.


Continue Reading “The Song Remains the Same” – DFARS Removes and Replaces Restrictions on Export Controls

By John W. Chierichella

On September 8, 2008, we posted a commentary on a newly promulgated interim rule relating to “Export-Controlled Items,” that was finalized in 2010 and is now set forth at DFARS Subpart 204.73 and implemented in principal part by the clause set forth at 52.204-7008. Click here. That rule was relatively straightforward, basically reminding DOD contractors (1) that they were obligated to “comply with all applicable laws and regulations regarding export-controlled items” and (2) that those compliance obligations existed independent of the new DFARS rule and its implementing clause. In reality, while the clause had the capacity to transform an export violation into a breach of contract, with all of the attendant liabilities and risks that attend such breaches, it imposed no new substantive obligations on DOD contractors.


Continue Reading DOE Proposes Highly Burdensome Reporting Obligations With Respect To Export Compliance

By David Gallacher

Two months ago, we published a brief list of compliance tips to keep in mind when dealing with Buy American requirements. We got an awful lot of


Continue Reading Buy American Redux – 15 Tips for Navigating the Buy American Maze

By David Gallacher

1. There is no single “Buy American” requirement – there are numerous statutes with differing requirements. Make sure you know which one applies.

2. Whether you are a prime or a subcontractor, certify only to the specific “Buy American” requirements in the RFP; do not make a broader certification than is required.


Continue Reading “Buy American” Compliance Tips

By David Gallacher

2012 saw several updates with regard to free trade agreements (“FTAs”) between the U.S. and its international trading allies. The most notable of these was the U.S.-Korea FTA (“KORUS”), but several other changes were made to the U.S. procurement regulations implementing other free trade agreements. Regrettably, negotiations with China remain stalled with no firm promises on the horizon. Following is a summary of some of the key changes over the last year.


Continue Reading Free Trade Agreement Updates for 2012

By David Gallacher

In December 2011 the World Trade Organization reached an agreement in principle to implement “historic revisions” to the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement (WTO GPA), a trade agreement covering the public procurement markets in more than 40 WTO member states (including the United States). On March 30, 2012, the WTO GPA formally adopted these revisions. While the updates have been formally agreed upon, it may take months until two-thirds of the signatory countries ratify the agreement and make the changes official. Nevertheless, the international community appears to be moving forward with plans to implement, pending ratification.


Continue Reading Free Trade Agreement Updates – Changes to the WTO GPA and KORUS FTA

By David Gallacher and John Bonn

On January 2, 2011, the President signed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-347, which set up a relief fund for victims, first responders, and construction workers who were injured in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City. To pay the estimated $4.3 billion price tag for the Act, Section 301 of the Act imposed on any foreign person a tax equal to 2% of federal procurement payment received by that foreign person. See 26 U.S.C. § 5000C. In addition, any person who makes or otherwise is a withholding agent with respect to such a payment is required to withhold the 2% tax from the federal procurement payment and remit the tax withheld to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) under tax laws and regulations applicable to withholding of United States taxes from payments made to foreign persons. Although the tax has been in place for more than 14 months and the IRS has issued a revised Form 1042 with revised instructions to implement withholding and reporting obligations, the Government is only now turning to the details of how this tax will be accounted for in connection with the procurement process. And – as is often the case – there is quite a lot of devil in those details.


Continue Reading Terrorism and Taxes – Proposed FAR Rule Imposes 2% Tax on Foreign Offers to Fund 9/11 Relief Fund