A recent federal court decision vacating a staggering 15-year debarment based on shortcomings in the administrative record offers a glimmer of hope to contractors facing exclusion from federal programs, and reinforces the importance that any final debarment decision be based on a fulsome record—particularly in “fact-based” debarments where there are disputed material facts. The big takeaway for contractors facing an exclusion is to ensure that the administrative record on which a debarment decision is based reflects all information showing why an exclusion is unwarranted (or unnecessary) to protect the Government.
President Trump signed an Executive Order yesterday, marking another step forward in his promotion of “Buy American” and “Hire American” policies. The Executive Order focuses on two areas: cracking down abuse of the H-1B guest worker program and promoting the purchase of American products in federal procurements. We tackle in this post the “Buy American” portion of the Executive Order, which is of particular importance to federal contractors. Continue reading “How Is Your Domestic Preference Compliance? President Trump Signals More Scrutiny of “Buy American, Hire American” Practices”
It is no secret that deregulation is a top priority for the Trump Administration and the Republican-led Congress. In the early weeks of governing together, President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have dusted off the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) as the tool of choice for undoing federal rules and regulatory initiatives implemented by the Obama Administration. The little-known but important law, enacted by President Clinton in 1996, provides Congress with the ability to enact legislation overturning certain federal agency rules. In the more than two decades on the books, the CRA has only been used to overturn a federal rule on one occasion when, in 2001, President George W. Bush signed a resolution overturning an ergonomics rule issued by the preceding administration. However, despite its past obscurity, the CRA is now more important than ever. Continue reading “How a Clinton-Era Law Could Reduce Regulations on Government Contractors under President Trump”
The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) recently issued three new proposed cybersecurity regulations for DHS contractors which warrant careful attention. Although a freeze on new regulations by the Trump administration will likely delay any final agency action, and extensive comments and meaningful changes to any final rules are expected, these new regulations could radically impact the compliance landscape for DHS contractors. As with recent cybersecurity amendments to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (“DFARS”) (which we’ve covered here and here), these proposed rules seek to impose more safeguarding, handling, reporting, and training requirements on covered contractors. We continue to see cybersecurity as a major business risk in the industry today, and recommend contractors pay close attention to their operational, technology, and risk management practices relating to cybersecurity. We highlight the key elements of the proposed rules below. Continue reading “DHS Contractor? Pricey New Cybersecurity Requirements (and Hidden Risks) May Await You”
There is no question cybersecurity is a critical compliance and risk area for federal contractors. A seemingly endless stream of cyberattacks—on corporate databases, government servers, even baby monitors—shows the breadth of these problems and the need for action. Government contractors have the added challenge of specialized regulatory obligations, with compliance (or non-compliance) having a direct impact on the value of their business. Continue reading “Does Your Cybersecurity Program Satisfy Recent DFARS Amendments?”
The 2016 election season is unlike any other in recent memory. But like elections past and yet to come, political contributions and lobbying remain a mainstay of the political process. This is particularly true in the federal government contracting community, which is heavily influenced by executive and legislative action (and inaction). Though we can expect the unexpected in the three months leading up to the election, we offer below five fundamental “do’s and don’ts” that government contractors should keep in mind to guide their political activities. Continue reading “Five Things Government Contractors Should Keep in Mind about Political Activities this Election Season”
After a long wait and much anticipation, the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) issued its final rule expanding the mentor-protégé program to all small businesses on July 25, 2016. The new rule broadly expands upon the existing 8(a) mentor-protégé program, and is projected to result in $2 billion in federal contracts to program participants. Though the final rule largely tracks the February 2015 proposed rule, which we previously wrote about here, the final rule does make some key changes, including changes regarding size certification and reporting. As the new rule goes into effect on August 24, 2016, contractors both large and small should prepare now to take advantage of what the newly expanded program has to offer. Continue reading “SBA Final Rule Expanding Mentor-Protégé Program to Take Effect This Month”