Lifecycle of a Claim, Part IV: Contracting Officer’s Final Decision

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Stephanie M. Harden and David L. Bodner ●

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 this page 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:

Our previous posts are available at the following hyperlinks: Part I, Part II, and Part III. This post focuses on Steps 6 through 8 of this process: reviewing the Contracting Officer’s Final Decision (“COFD”), accepting or the appealing the COFD, and resolving or litigating the matter.

We begin with these essential questions: What is a COFD? What can a contractor do if it does not like the COFD? And what is the timeline to appeal a COFD?

What Is a COFD?

A COFD is a Contracting Officer’s (“CO”) decision on the merits, which provides the reasons for the decision and notifies the contractor of its appeal rights. 41 U.S.C. § 7103(d)-(e). The FAR describes a COFD as a written decision that:

i. Describes the claim or dispute

ii. References pertinent contract terms

iii. States the factual areas of disagreement

iv. States the CO’s decision, with supporting rationale

v. includes notice of contractor’s appeal rights “substantially as follows:”

Continue reading “Lifecycle of a Claim, Part IV: Contracting Officer’s Final Decision”

The Once and Future King: SCOTUS Maintains the Government May Intervene in Previously Declined FCA Matters to Seek Dismissal

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Luke W. Meier and Carolyn R. Cody-Jones

Last Friday, June 16, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court (“SCOTUS”) ruled that the federal government may seek to dismiss a qui tam False Claims Act (“FCA”) suit over the relator’s objection, even where it previously declined to intervene in the case and the relator invested in moving the case forward. The 8-1 decision by the high Court firmly established the broad authority for the government to intervene in such circumstances under a Rule 41(a) “reasonableness” standard, explaining that the key reason for this is that “the government’s interest in [an FCA] suit … is the predominant one” based on the “FCA’s government-centered purposes.” United States Ex Rel. Polansky v. Executive Health Resources, Inc., Slip. Op. No. 21–1052, at 12, 599 U.S. ____ (2023).

When an FCA suit is filed, the government has 60 days (which is typically extended) under the FCA statute to decide whether to decline or intervene in the case. See 31 U.S.C. § 3730. If declined, the relator may proceed with the litigation without the government’s support. The statute also allows the government to intervene “at a later date upon a showing of good cause.” § 3730(c)(3). As of 2022, publicly available statistics show that the government has elected to intervene only in about 40 percent of all qui tam FCA matters subject to judgment or settlement.

Continue reading “The Once and Future King: SCOTUS Maintains the Government May Intervene in Previously Declined FCA Matters to Seek Dismissal”

And No Longer Trending: 7 FAQs Regarding the Federal Contractor TikTok Ban

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Justin A. ChiarodoLuke W. Meier, and Robyn N. Burrows ●

Building on recent and ongoing efforts to limit Chinese government access to government contractor supply chains, the FAR Councils published an interim rule effective June 2, 2023, that will broadly ban TikTok on contractor and contractor employee electronic devices used in the performance of federal contracts. The ban will be implemented through a new contract clause at FAR 52.204-27. Expect to see the clause added in all future solicitations (including commercially available off-the-shelf (“COTS”) acquisitions and micro-purchases) and added to existing contracts over the next month. We answer seven common questions on this new interim rule and offer several compliance tips.

What’s banned?

The new TikTok ban broadly prohibits contractors from having or using a “covered application” (e.g., TikTok or other successor applications by ByteDance Limited, a privately held company headquartered in Beijing, China) on any “information technology” used in the performance of a government contract. The ban applies regardless of whether the technology is owned by the government, the contractor, or the contractor’s employees. Bottom line, the rule has a (very) broad reach—it applies to contracts below the micro-purchase threshold, contracts for commercial products and services, and COTS items.

Continue reading “And No Longer Trending: 7 FAQs Regarding the Federal Contractor TikTok Ban”

Blank Rome’s Government Contracts Practice and Attorneys Highly Ranked in Chambers USA and The Legal 500

On the heels of Law360’s recognition of Blank Rome’s Government Contracts Practice as a 2022 Practice Group of the Year, the practice was recently highly ranked by two prestigious legal rankings publications:

Chambers USA 2023

We are thrilled to share that Blank Rome’s Government Contracts Practice was elevated to Band 2 in Government Contracts: The Elite, USA in the recent Chambers USA 2023 rankings, placing our team among the very top group of fewer than 50 law firms in the nationwide rankings

Chambers quoted a reference as saying that Blank Rome has “…a good mix of associates and partners with expertise in a wide variety of areas. The firm is a one-stop shop for government contractors’ legal needs.”

To view all of Blank Rome’s Chambers USA 2023 rankings, please visit our website.

The Legal 500 United States 2023

Blank Rome was again highly ranked among top nationwide firms as a “Recommended Firm” in the area of “Government Contracts” in The Legal 500 United States 2023.

“While each member of the team has their own special talents and areas of specialization, as all great teams do, without fail, they unselfishly work together to achieve the client’s goal, in this case, zealously advocating on behalf of their client. From contract formation to interpretation to litigation, they handle the full spectrum and they do it as one, cohesive, disciplined, fighting unit.” ―Testimonial given to The 2023 Legal 500 United States

To view all of Blank Rome’s Legal 500 United States 2023 rankings, please visit our website.

DDTC Extends Open General Licenses for the UK, Canada, and Australia: 3 Takeaways

Anthony Rapa and Patrick F. Collins 

On June 1, 2023, the U.S. Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) published under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”) updated Open General License (“OGL”) Nos. 1 & 2, extending a pilot program facilitating certain defense trade within and among the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia through July 31, 2026. OGLs 1 & 2 were initially set to expire on July 31, 2023.

The updated OGLs signify further enhanced defense cooperation between the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.


On July 20, 2022, DDTC published OGL Nos. 1 & 2, authorizing retransfers within, and reexports among, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia of certain ITAR-controlled defense articles, services, and technical data. The initial OGLs, issued as part of a pilot program, were to be effective from August 1, 2022, through July 31, 2023.

The OGLs authorized retransfers and reexports of certain unclassified defense articles to the governments and DDTC-authorized export communities (as described at Sections 126.17(d) and 126.5(b) of the ITAR) of the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. The OGLs applied only to unclassified defense articles previously exported pursuant to a DDTC-issued license or other approval, and imposed certain exclusions and limitations with respect to: items exported pursuant to the Foreign Military Sales program; certain defense articles relating to missiles and certain missile technology, UAVs, and space launch vehicles; certain ITAR-controlled technical data; and certain “major defense equipment.”

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Three-year extension of OGL pilot program. DDTC’s new rule extends the validity period of OGL Nos. 1 and 2 through July 31, 2026.
  2. DDTC objectives: industry certainty and data collection. DDTC states that it is extending the OGLs for three years (a) to provide industry with comfort that it can use the OGLs without fear that they will expire more quickly than a specific license, and (b) to collect sufficient data on the usefulness of the OGL pilot program.
  3. Clarification. DDTC made what it described as “non-substantive” revisions to the OGLs clarifying that the OGLs can be used to retransfer or reexport a single defense article, and that multiple defense articles need not be retransferred or reexported simultaneously.

CMS Proposing Major Changes to Medicaid Drug Rebate Program

Merle M. DeLancey, Jr. 

While you were at a Memorial Day barbeque, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) proposed major changes to the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program (“MDRP”). 2023-10934.pdf ( Comments on the proposed rules are due July 25 but we recommend that you start working now.

The proposed rules are 187 pages and address drug misclassification and drug pricing and product data misreporting by pharmaceutical manufacturers. Also important for manufacturers, the rules propose program integrity and program administration changes, including limiting the time within which a manufacturer can initiate an audit of a State Medicaid Program’s drug utilization for purposes of Medicaid rebate obligations; clarifying requirements to accumulate or “stack” price concessions when a manufacturer determines best price; and providing for drug price verification and transparency through data collection.

Increased Transparency of Prescription Drug Costs

CMS is proposing to verify certain drug prices reported by manufacturers through an annual Medicaid Drug Price Verification Survey. According to CMS, verifying drug prices and publishing non-proprietary information about drug prices will increase public transparency for high-cost drugs allowing state Medicaid agencies to negotiate covered outpatient drug (“COD”) prices more effectively with manufacturers. This sounds eerily similar to the purposes behind a multitude of State drug pricing transparency programs.

Continue reading “CMS Proposing Major Changes to Medicaid Drug Rebate Program”

TechCrunch: Western Sanctions against Russia: Tips for Tech Companies Managing Compliance Risk

Anthony Rapa ● TechCrunch ● May 8, 2023 ●

As the war in Ukraine rages on, authorities are cracking down on the smuggling of U.S. technology in support of Russia’s war effort, an initiative with implications for the tech industry. One significant example of this is Russia’s drone program, with a December 2022 expose describing U.S. chips, circuit boards, and amplifiers found in downed Russian drones, and mapping part of the supply chain trafficking such items to Russia in spite of Western sanctions.

This has prompted broader concerns regarding the diversion of Western technology to Russia in support of illicit end-uses, such as, for example, the Russian government’s use of facial recognition technology to crack down on dissidents.

In response to this, the United States and its partners recently imposed new sanctions against Russia to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine, including expanded export controls over drone components, electronics, industrial equipment, and other items. The U.S. government followed this up with an advisory warning companies of the risk of third parties diverting their products to Russia.

Suppliers of electronics, drone components, and other sanctioned items face the risk that third parties will divert their products to Russia’s defense industrial base or to the battlefield in Ukraine, given the Russian military’s continued demand for battlefield equipment. Companies can mitigate this risk by conducting due diligence on counterparties and by auditing sales channels.

Read more on our website.

Two Recent Blank Rome Team Recognitions

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We’re pleased to share two recent accomplishments of our Government Contracts attorneys.

They’ve Got Next: Government Contracts Fresh Face Elizabeth Jochum

Blank Rome partner Elizabeth N. Jochum has been featured in Bloomberg Law’s “They’ve Got Next” series, which spotlights young lawyers who are “raising the bar in various practice groups.”

Elizabeth is one of five attorneys featured in the government contracts installment. The featured attorneys “work at the intersection of litigation, regulation, and government procurement” as they navigate and defend clients against bid protests.

Read more, including an excerpt of Elizabeth’s “They’ve Got Next” spotlight, as published in Bloomberg Law, on our website.

Justin A. Chiarodo Named to Law360’s 2023 Aerospace & Defense Editorial Advisory Board

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that partner Justin A. Chiarodo, who serves as chair of our firm’s Aerospace, Defense & Government Services industry team and Government Contracts practice group, has been named to Law360’s 2023 Aerospace & Defense Editorial Advisory Board.

Learn more about the board and Justin on our website.

Dominique L. Casimir Named Section Chair’s Special Recognition Award Recipient by the ABA Section of Public Contract Law

Blank Rome LLP is pleased to announce that partner Dominique L. Casimir, who serves as co-chair of the firm’s General Litigation group, received the American Bar Association Section of Public Contract Law‘s (“the Section”) Section Chair’s Special Recognition Award. 

Please visit our website to learn more about Dominique’s award.

Federal Contractor Vaccine Mandate to End

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Merle M. DeLancey Jr. and Samarth Barot 

Samarth Barot headshot image

After several Federal District Courts issued injunctions against the federal contractor vaccine mandate in December 2021, the Federal Government issued guidance fully suspending its enforcement of the federal contractor mandate. Despite the guidance, the future of the federal contractor vaccine mandate continued to remain in a state of limbo. This was best demonstrated two weeks ago when the Ninth Circuit sided with the Federal Government by lifting the district court’s preliminary injunction of the federal contractor vaccine mandate. The Ninth Circuit’s decision created a split with the Fifth, Sixth, and Eleventh Circuits that have enjoined the mandate. This Circuit split was likely headed to the United States Supreme Court.

On May 1, 2023, all of this changed. The Biden Administration announced its plan to end its federal contractor vaccine mandate on May 11, 2023, the same day the public health emergency ends. Accordingly, the Administration plans to issue an Executive Order “rescinding the vaccination requirement for federal employees and COVID-19 safety protocols for federal contractors, effective at 12:01 am on May 12, 2023.” For Federal Contractors | Safer Federal Workforce. Until then, the guidance suspending the enforcement of the federal contractor mandate remains in effect.

This should be the end of the federal contractor vaccine mandate; however, we will know more by May 11, 2023. Stay tuned for further developments.

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