Blank Rome Welcomes Experienced Government Contracts Partner in Washington, D.C.

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Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that Elizabeth N. Jochum has joined the firm’s Washington, D.C., office as a partner in the Government Contracts practice group. A skilled litigator and counselor with a significant background in white collar defense and investigations matters, Elizabeth joins Blank Rome from Smith Pachter McWhorter PLC where she was a partner.

“We are pleased to welcome Elizabeth to our firm and leading Government Contracts practice,” said Grant S. Palmer, Blank Rome’s Managing Partner and CEO. “Government contractors face a complex landscape right now, and Elizabeth’s significant experience will greatly benefit our clients in both achieving their goals and successfully working with the public sector.”

Read more about Elizabeth on our website.

The Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate: What You Need to Know

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Brian S. Gocial, Stephanie M. Harden, and Frederick G. (“Gus”) Sandstrom

Stephanie Harden's Headshot Photo
Gus Sandstrom's headshot photo

Blank Rome LLP and the National Defense Industrial Association (“NDIA”) Delaware Valley Chapter are pleased to present this new live webinar on Monday, December 6, 2021, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. EST.

The rules and guidance around the federal contractor COVID-19 vaccine mandate are changing by the day. Please join Blank Rome’s Government Contracts and Labor & Employment attorneys for timely analysis of what federal contractors need to be prepared, including an in-depth discussion of:

  • Latest guidance: What do prime contractors need to know to comply? 
  • Which of my employees are covered by the mandate? 
  • Does the mandate apply to subcontractors? 
  • How do I deal with exemption requests? 
  • What should I do if my workforce is not fully vaccinated?

PRESENTERS

ABOUT NDIA

The National Defense Industrial Association drives strategic dialogue in national security by identifying key issues and leveraging the knowledge and experience of its military, government, industry, and academic members to address them. You can learn more about them on their website.

REGISTER HERE

QUESTIONS? Please contact Alena Leon, Business Development Consultant.


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2021 National Law Journal Award for Professional Excellence—DC Rising Star: Luke W. Meier

Blank Rome LLP partner Luke W. Meier was profiled in the 2021 National Law Journal Awards: Professional Excellence—DC Rising Stars supplement, in recognition of being recently honored as one of the region’s 40 most promising lawyers age 40 and under. Announced in August 2021, the 2021 Rising Star list “highlights lawyers who have wielded influence in their practice areas in the D.C. area and beyond.”

To read Luke’s profile, as published in The National Law Journal, please visit our website.

CMMC 2.0 Brings Much Needed Relief to the Defense Industrial Base

Michael J. Montalbano

In response to more than 850 public comments, the Department of Defense (“DOD”) has decided to significantly revamp the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (“CMMC”) program. On November 4, 2021, DOD announced that it was replacing the current CMMC program with CMMC 2.0, which is expected to significantly reduce the regulatory burden on companies in the Defense Industrial Base (“DIB”). DOD made three significant changes through the new CMMC 2.0 program:

Reduces the number of CMMC levels. As we explained in earlier posts, CMMC 1.0 originally had five CMMC levels of ascending sophistication. CMMC 2.0 now only has three levels:

      • CMMC 2.0 Level One: This level will apply to most DIB companies and requires compliance with 17 basic cyber hygiene practices.
      • CMMC 2.0 Level Two: This level applies to DIB companies who will receive controlled unclassified information (“CUI”) and is expected to align with the requirements under NIST SP 800-171. Notably, DOD already requires most DIB companies receiving CUI to comply with NIST SP 800-171 through the cybersecurity DFARS clause 252.204-7012.
      • CMMC 2.0 Level Three: DOD is still developing the requirements for this level, but we expect that this level will apply to only the most sensitive and high-risk DOD projects.
Continue reading “CMMC 2.0 Brings Much Needed Relief to the Defense Industrial Base”

New Government Guidance Sets January 4, 2022, as Uniform Vaccination Deadline

Justin A. Chiarodo, Stephanie M. Harden, and Samarth Barot

Stephanie Harden's Headshot Photo

Earlier today, November 4, 2021, the White House issued a fact sheet addressing its vaccination policies, including the government contractor mandate under EO 14042. Three key points stand out: (1) the compliance deadline for “full vaccination” status will be extended from December 8, 2021, to January 4, 2022; (2) the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) vaccine rule for larger employers (which may permit weekly testing in lieu of vaccination) will not apply to workplaces covered by the federal contractor mandate; and (3) the Government continues to take the position that its mandates will preempt conflicting state or local laws. The full press release can be found at Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Announces Details of Two Major Vaccination Policies.

How does this new guidance impact government contractor compliance with EO 14042?

Most notably, the guidance extends the deadline for full vaccination status for covered contractors from December 8, 2021, to January 4, 2022. Covered contractor employees should receive their final vaccine dose by the new January 4, 2022, deadline.

Continue reading “New Government Guidance Sets January 4, 2022, as Uniform Vaccination Deadline”

Government Provides New Compliance Flexibility under Contractor Vaccine Mandate

Justin A. Chiarodo and Stephanie M. Harden

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Stephanie Harden's Headshot Photo



Yesterday, November 1, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued significant new guidance for contractors implementing vaccine mandates. The two key takeaways are: (1) contractors are not required to terminate unvaccinated employees immediately when the mandate goes into effect on December 8, and (2) federal agencies should not terminate contracts if a contractor is actively working toward compliance, even if the contractor faces challenges to achieving full compliance. The full updated FAQ is available on the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force website.

Are contractors still required to mandate vaccination by December 8?

Yes, covered contractors are still required to mandate that employees get vaccinated by December 8. However, rather than terminate noncompliant employees after the December 8 deadline, contractors should “determine the appropriate means of enforcement” for their employees.

Continue reading “Government Provides New Compliance Flexibility under Contractor Vaccine Mandate”

Department of Justice to Prioritize Cybersecurity Fraud through New Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative

Sharon R. Klein, Jennifer A. Short, and Robyn N. Burrows

Sharon R. Klein headshot image
Jennifer A. Short headshot image


On October 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced a new Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative to pursue cybersecurity fraud matters using the enforcement mechanisms of the False Claims Act (“FCA”).

This initiative follows DOJ’s four-month effort to review its cybersecurity strategy and reflects the government’s increased focus on contractor data security. Led by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, Fraud Section—i.e., the DOJ Section responsible for investigating and litigating FCA matters—the initiative targets government contractors and grant recipients that “put U.S. information or systems at risk” by “knowingly”:

      • providing deficient cybersecurity products or services;
      • misrepresenting the company’s cybersecurity practices or protocols; or
      • violating their obligations to monitor and report cybersecurity incidents and breaches.

We discuss the cybersecurity landscape preceding the new initiative, possible impacts and focus areas of the initiative, and how contractors should prepare for potential enforcement.

To read the full client alert, please visit our website

State Vaccine Mandate Bans: What Are Federal Contractors to Do?

Justin A. Chiarodo and Stephanie M. Harden

Stephanie Harden's Headshot Photo

Texas Governor Greg Abbott just raised the stakes in the inevitable tide of litigation about President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates by issuing an Executive Order banning vaccine mandates in Texas. We expect other states to follow suit. This raises important questions for federal contractors, who are working against the clock to ensure compliance with the new vaccine mandate applicable to most federal contracts by December 8, 2021 (see our most recent blog post about the details of the mandate, Government Contractor Vaccine Mandate FAQ: Status of Class Deviations and Accommodations Process).

Continue reading “State Vaccine Mandate Bans: What Are Federal Contractors to Do?”

Government Contractor Vaccine Mandate FAQ: Status of Class Deviations and Accommodations Process


Justin A. Chiarodo
 and Stephanie M. Harden

Stephanie Harden's Headshot Photo

It has been a busy week on the federal contractor COVID-19 vaccine mandate front. We answer questions below about the new class deviations that should start showing up in new contracts and solicitations, and key open issues on exemptions and coverage.

Where do things stand right now?

The Executive Order (“EO”) contemplated formal FAR amendments to be published by October 8, 2021. That date looks like it will slip. The open FAR Case shows an Ad Hoc Team has been tasked with drafting a FAR rule, with a report due on November 17. In the interim, both the Civilian and Defense Agency Acquisition Councils issued class deviations (here and here, respectively) implementing the EO. The deviations largely mirror the September 24, 2021, guidance.

Continue reading “Government Contractor Vaccine Mandate FAQ: Status of Class Deviations and Accommodations Process”

Blank Rome Government Contract and White Collar Defense & Investigations Attorneys Appointed to American Bar Association’s Public Contract Law Section Leadership

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that partners Dominique L. CasimirJustin A. ChiarodoStephanie M. HardenLuke W. Meier, and Jennifer A. Short; senior counsel David M. Nadler; and associate Robyn N. Burrows, of the firm’s nationally recognized Government Contracts group, have been appointed to leadership roles for the American Bar Association’s (“ABA”) Public Contract Law Section.

They will serve in the following roles for the 2021–2022 term:

      • Dominique Casimir: Co-Chair – Debarment & Suspension Committee; Vice-Chair – Diversity Committee
      • Justin Chiarodo: Vice Chair – Mergers & Acquisitions Committee
      • Stephanie Harden: Vice Chair – Accounting, Cost & Pricing Committee
      • Luke Meier: Vice Chair – Bid Protest Committee
      • Jennifer Short: Vice Chair – Procurement Fraud & False Claims Committee
      • Dave Nadler: Vice Chair – Procurement Fraud & False Claims Committee
      • Robyn Burrows: Associate Editor – Procurement Lawyer

The ABA Section of Public Contract Law serves to provide balanced recommendations on procurement policy, provide a forum to engage with colleagues across all segments of the procurement industry, and gain insight into and develop unique perspectives of federal, state, and local public contract law. For more information, please visit the Section’s webpage.

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