Nearly three years ago, on September 27, 2010, the President signed into law the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (“Jobs Act”), which directed the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) to implement a variety of small business size and integrity requirements. As noted in our prior blog posting discussing many of these requirements, many of these provisions posed a significant threat to government contractors – both large and small businesses alike. On October 7, 2011, the SBA published its blueprint for implementing the statutory requirements. See 76 Fed. Reg. 52313 (the “Proposed Rule”). The Proposed Rule contained language that many industry participants and observers found alarming, particularly the requirements that:
In 1997, the Virginia Supreme Court sent a chill down the spines of many companies operating under teaming agreements with a Virginia choice of law provision. In W.J. Schafer Associates, Inc. v. Cordant, Inc., 493 S.E. 2d 514 (Va. 1997), that court held a teaming agreement to be unenforceable on the ground that “agreements to agree in the future” are “too vague and too indefinite to be enforced.” After an initial outpouring of articles and commentaries on the future of teaming agreements under Virginia law, the dust appeared to have settled and, in 2002, the Virginia courts actually issued an affirmative injunction compelling specific performance of a teaming agreement in EG&G, Inc. v. Cube Corp., 63 Va. Cir. 634, 2002 WL 31950215 (Va. Cir. Ct. Dec. 23, 2002).
On March 30, 2013, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision imposing certain socio-economic contract requirements on subcontractors operating hospitals associated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centers. See UPMC Braddock, et al. v. Harris, Civ. 09-1210 (PLF) (D.D.C. Mar. 30, 2013) (“UPMC Braddock”). Even though the hospitals’ subcontracts did not include these socio-economic clauses, the court applied the age-old “Christian Doctrine,” which assumes that certain contract requirements reflecting a “significant or deeply ingrained strand of public procurement policy” will apply to a Government contract even if those requirements have been omitted from the text of the actual contract. See G.L. Christian & Associates v. United States, 312 F.2d 418, 426 (Ct. Cl. 1963). Even though no court has ever before held in the 50-year history of the Christian Doctrine that this legal rule applies to subcontractors (Christian and its progeny apply only to prime contractors doing business directly with the U.S. Government), the court has now radically expanded the doctrine.
On September 27, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act of 2010 (Pub. L. No. 111-240). The Act is intended to free up capital by providing tax cuts for small businesses (some of which are temporary) and to promote exports of U.S. products, all with a view to stimulating the small business sector as an engine of job creation. But, as usual, the Administration’s efforts to improve the economy through stimulus measures also give rise to new risks for companies doing business with the federal Government – whether as a prime or a subcontractor, as a large or a small business.
While Vice President Biden was busy touting Summer 2010 as the “Summer of Recovery” and the economic effects of the February 2009 Stimulus Act (a.k.a. the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Recovery Act, ARRA, the Stimulus Act, etc.), the gears of the regulatory process ground steadily onward. Throughout the summer, the White House Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) issued updated policy guidance implementing the ARRA requirements, and the rule-makers in the FAR Councils remained hard at work updating and (hopefully) finalizing the regulations implementing the finer details of the Recovery Act. Despite the fact that the ARRA funding officially expired on September 30, 2010 (meaning that any unobligated ARRA funds will now revert to the federal treasury to be saved or spent another day), the Government spent its summer fine-tuning the regulations. As the sun begins to set on the Recovery Act, and as the Summer of Recovery fades into the past, we summarize here some of the key features of the final Recovery Act rules promulgated over the last few months.
On July 8, 2010, the FAR Councils issued an interim rule, effective immediately, that requires contractors to report information regarding executive compensation and first-tier subcontract awards. See 75 Fed. Reg. 39414. The interim rule implements the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (“FFATA”) (Pub. L. No. 109-282), as amended by the Government Funding Transparency Act of 2008 (“GFTA”) (Pub. L. No. 110-252). In accordance with the requirements of FFATA and GFTA, the Government will disseminate the information reported under the interim rule – including the names and total compensation of the contractor’s five most highly compensated executives – to the general public via the USASpending.gov website.
It has long been questioned whether the “Christian Doctrine,” pursuant to which mandatory contract clauses reflecting core procurement policy are incorporated into government prime contracts by operation of law, can be used to incorporate such clauses into subcontracts. That question may now have an answer. In a non-CDA decision issued last year that has flown somewhat “under the radar,” the Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board (“ARB”) held that at least some such clauses are incorporated into subcontracts by operation of law. OFCCP v. UPMC-Braddock, ARB Case No. 08-048 (“UPMC-Braddock”).