Flow-Down Clauses: Best Practices

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Merle M. DeLancey Jr. and Amanda C. DeLaPerriere 

Federal government contractors and subcontractors often struggle with flow-down clauses. Fundamentally, prime and subcontractors squabble over flow-down clauses because they involve assumption of risk. A prime contractor has committed to comply with all of the clauses in its prime contract. To the extent a prime contractor does not flow down a clause to its subcontractor, the prime contractor assumes the risk of any subcontractor non-compliance. This is because, if a contracting officer identifies regulatory non-compliance, the government only looks to the party with which it has privity to enforce compliance: the prime contractor. If the prime contractor has not flowed down the applicable clause to its subcontractor, the prime contractor is responsible for its subcontractor’s non-compliance. If the clause has been flowed down, the prime contractor can enforce compliance upon its subcontractor. From a subcontractor perspective, the more flow-down clauses it accepts from its prime contractor, the more compliance risk it assumes.

As a result, prime contractors seek to flow down as many FAR clauses as possible—well beyond the mandatory flow downs discussed below. Subcontractors, meanwhile, seek to keep flow-down clauses to a minimum. Subcontractors must analyze when it is appropriate and productive to resist non-mandatory flow-down clauses, and sometimes the answers to these questions may not be straightforward. Below we address the mandatory flow-down clauses for commercial subcontracts with commercial and non-commercial prime contractors, how subcontractors can handle irrelevant clauses, and best flow-down practices for prime contractors and subcontractors.

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Westlaw Today: The ICTS Supply Chain Rules: Towards a U.S.-China Tech Decoupling?

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Westlaw Today, August 9, 2022

Anthony Rapa ●

A July 2022 report relayed the news that the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) is investigating the installation of Huawei equipment into cell towers situated near U.S. military bases and missile silos, based on concerns the equipment could hoover up sensitive data and transmit it to China.

The report indicates that Commerce is carrying out the investigation pursuant to its rules implementing Executive Order (EO) 13873 on “Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain” (the ICTS Rules).

What are the ICTS Rules, and how will they be enforced? The ICTS Rules empower Commerce to review — and as warranted, to mitigate, block, or unwind — dealings in information and communications technology and services (ICTS) that have a nexus with a designated “foreign adversary,” including China and Russia.

You can read more on our website.

Lifecycle of a Claim, Part II: Submitting a Request for Equitable Adjustment and Negotiation

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Stephanie M. Harden and David L. Bodner ●

Stephanie Harden's Headshot Photo

Welcome back to our “Lifecycle of a Claim” series. This series explores the Contract Disputes Act claims process, with practical guidance stemming from recent case law every step of the way. Click the subscribe button on the right to get timely updates right in your inbox!

This series walks through this infographic (click here or the image below to expand), which illustrates the lifecycle of a typical claim:

Click here to read our first post (covering Steps 1 and 2 of the infographic). This post focuses on Steps 3 and 4 of this process: submitting a request for equitable adjustment (“REA”) and negotiating the REA with the contracting officer.

Terminology Defined: What Is the Difference between an REA and a Claim?

There are two primary methods for pursuing a contract adjustment following a change: submitting an REA or filing a claim.

      • REA: A request (rather than a demand) to negotiate with the contracting officer to adjust the contract for price, time, or other terms. There is no FAR definition of an REA but generally an REA does not expressly or implicitly request a contracting officer’s final decision (“COFD”) or contain the FAR 33.207(a) certification.
      • Claim: A “written demand or written assertion by one of the contracting parties seeking, as a matter of right, the payment of money in a sum certain, the adjustment or interpretation of contract terms, or other relief arising under or relating to the contract.” FAR 2.101; FAR 52.233-1(c).
Continue readingLifecycle of a Claim, Part II: Submitting a Request for Equitable Adjustment and Negotiation

Court of Federal Claims Confirms “Technical Data” Grants No General Right of Access to Contractor Information

Samarth Barot and Luke W. Meier 

In an important decision for preserving contractor data rights, the Court of Federal Claims recently confirmed that “technical data” has a limited scope and, per the DFARS, includes only information “of a scientific or technical nature.” Raytheon Co. v. United States, No. 19-883C, 2022 WL 2353085 (Fed. Cl. June 15, 2022).

Pursuant to DFARS 252.227-7013, if any data is identified as “technical data” the Government may be able to assert licensing rights in a contractor’s noncommercial technical data. See DFARS 252.227-7013(b). In contrast, for any data identified as proprietary non-technical data, the Government cannot assert any licensing rights in the proprietary non-technical data.

Continue reading “Court of Federal Claims Confirms “Technical Data” Grants No General Right of Access to Contractor Information”

New SBA Rule on Small Business Past Performance Also Has Implications for Large Businesses

Merle M. DeLancey Jr. 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) recently issued a final rule that creates new opportunities for small businesses to submit relevant past performance, and new requirements for large/other than small prime contractors to provide past performance reviews to first-tier small business subcontractors.

The final rule is intended to help small businesses overcome the hurdle of having minimal past performance to use in competitive procurements. The rule creates new mechanisms to permit small businesses to use the past performance of a joint venture in which it was a member, or to use its performance as a first-tier subcontractor. The new rule takes effect on August 22, 2022.

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Complying with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act’s Strict Supply Chain Rules

Anthony Rapa, Matthew J. Thomas, and Patrick F. Collins 


The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (“UFLPA” or “Act”), which took effect last month, ushers in a new era of supply chain diligence for importers. The Act creates a rebuttable presumption that any goods produced in whole or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (“XUAR”) of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”), or by entities identified by the U.S. government on the UFLPA Entity List (“Entity List”), are presumed to be made with forced labor and thus are prohibited from entry into the United States under Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. § 1307). Notably, the presumption applies to downstream products that incorporate restricted goods, regardless of where the downstream products are made.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) is now authorized to detain and exclude and/or seize goods that it suspects were produced in the XUAR or by entities on the Entity List.

Importers whose supply chains have links to the XUAR and China should be aware of the implications of UFLPA enforcement, including with respect to due diligence considerations, supply chain tracing and management, and the evidence required to overcome the UFLPA’s rebuttable presumption. There is no grace period for enforcement.

UFLPA OVERVIEW

President Biden signed the UFLPA into law on December 23, 2021. Effective on June 21, 2022, the UFLPA established a rebuttable presumption that the importation of any “goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part” in the XUAR, or produced by entities designated by the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (“FLETF”) as involved in specified XUAR-related activity, is prohibited by Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930, which prohibits the importation of items made from forced labor. The presumption applies unless CBP determines that the importer completely and substantively responded to all CBP inquiries, fully complied with FLETF’s guidance, and established by clear and convincing evidence that the goods were not produced using forced labor.

To read the full client alert, please visit our website

Lifecycle of a Claim, Part I: Identifying the Change and Providing Notice

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Stephanie M. Harden and David L. Bodner ●

Stephanie Harden's Headshot Photo

Welcome to our new “Lifecycle of a Claim” series. This series will explore the Contract Disputes Act claims process, with practical guidance stemming from recent case law every step of the way. Click the subscribe button on the right to get timely updates right in your inbox!

The claims landscape for government contractors can be a minefield of both procedural and substantive issues. Through this series, we are providing a guide to one common type of claim: those arising out of a “change” to the contract.

We are pleased to introduce this infographic (click here or the image below to expand), which illustrates the lifecycle of a typical claim:

This post focuses on Steps 1 and 2 of this process: identifying when a change has occurred and providing timely notice to the Contracting Officer. We begin with a few foundational questions:

What is a change?

There are two primary types of changes:

      • Actual Changes: According to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”), a change occurs when the Contracting Officer issues a written order to make changes within the general scope of the contract to matters such as drawings, designs, or specifications; the method of shipment or packing; or the place of delivery. See, e.g., FAR 52.243-1.
      • Constructive Changes: A constructive change arises when the contractor is required to perform work beyond the contract requirements, but the Government does not issue a formal change order. Constructive changes can arise from informal orders, defective specifications or other misrepresentations, interference from the Government, or constructive accelerations of performance.
Continue reading “Lifecycle of a Claim, Part I: Identifying the Change and Providing Notice”

Law360 Rising Star: Elizabeth N. Jochum

Blank Rome partner Elizabeth N. Jochum was profiled as a 2022 Government Contracts Rising Star by Law360, notably honoring her as one of the top five government contracts attorneys nationwide under the age of 40. (See Law360 Names Elizabeth N. Jochum a 2022 Government Contracts Rising Star)

In her profile, Elizabeth talks about why she’s a government contracts attorney, her biggest recent case and other important cases throughout her career, and her proudest moments as an attorney.

You can read an excerpt on our website

Register Your Affirmative Action Plan Now!

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Merle M. DeLancey Jr. 

Federal government contractors and subcontractors with 50 or more employees and a federal contract or subcontract with a value of $50,000 or more measured during any 12-month period are required to develop a written Affirmative Action Program (“AAP”) within 120 days from the start of the federal contract.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (“OFCCP”) has established a Contractor Portal for federal government contractors to register and certify that they have developed and maintained affirmative action programs at each of their establishments or functional units: OFCCP Contractor Portal. Contractors that do not register and certify are more likely to be selected for an OFCCP AAP audit.

The deadline to register and submit AAP certifications is June 30, 2022.

DoD Offers Guidance for Contractors on Inflation and Economic Price Adjustment Clauses

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Amanda C. DeLaPerriere 

On May 25, 2022, the Department of Defense (“DoD”) issued a memorandum recognizing that contractors are not immune from the “period of unusually high” inflation. The memorandum, titled “Guidance on Inflation and Economic Price Adjustments,” provides guidelines on when relief from cost increases due to inflation is appropriate and provides considerations for the proper use of economic price adjustment (“EPA”) clauses when entering into new contracts.

For existing DoD contracts, whether contractors can get relief from inflation depends on the type of contract.

Continue reading “DoD Offers Guidance for Contractors on Inflation and Economic Price Adjustment Clauses”
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