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AI remains a critical focus of both the federal government and industry, with multiple efforts in recent weeks to address governance of the development and use of AI in the United States.  On February 26, 2024, a U.S. Department of State-commissioned report, titled “Defense in Depth: An Action Plan to Increase the Safety and Security of Advanced AI” (Action Plan), proposed multiple U.S. Government and partner nation lines of effort to address growing national security risks posed by rapidly expanding AI capabilities, including the expectation of achieving artificial general intelligence (AGI).  Just days later, on March 5, 2024, House Chairman Comer and Ranking Member Raskin introduced the Federal AI Governance and Transparency Act.  This bipartisan bill would focus government resources on increasing transparency, oversight, and responsible use of federal AI systems and centrally codifying federal governance of agency AI systems.  Additionally, on March 28, 2024 the Office of Management and Budget released the final guidance on Memorandum M-24-10, Advancing Governance, Innovation, and Risk Management for Agency Use of AI as we address here.

Continue Reading Recent Developments from the Federal Government Relating to AI
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On March 28, 2024, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Memorandum M-24-10Advancing Governance, Innovation, and Risk Management for Agency Use of Artificial Intelligence (Memo), updating and implementing OMB’s November 2023 proposed memorandum of the same name.  The Memo directs agencies “to advance AI governance and innovation while managing risks from the use of AI in the Federal Government.”  In the Memo, OMB focuses on three major areas – strengthening AI governance, advancing responsible AI innovation, and managing risks from the use of AI. 

Continue Reading OMB Releases Final Guidance Memo on the Government’s Use of AI
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What’s the Point?

To set the groundwork for future episodes, Nicole Owren-Wiest and Erin Rankin talk fundamentals: What is the purpose behind the often counter-intuitive and complex government contracts cost and pricing rules? What are the various price analysis techniques available to the world’s largest buyer of goods and services? “It All Adds Up” is Crowell & Moring’s podcast covering the latest government contract accounting, cost, and pricing developments.

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End User License Agreements, Whistleblower Incentives, GHG Disclosures

This week’s episode covers a Federal Circuit decision holding that an end user license agreement incorporated into another contractor’s agreement was sufficient to establish jurisdiction under the Contract Disputes Act, a new DOJ pilot program to incentivize whistleblowers to report corporate misconduct by offering monetary rewards, and a DOD Class Deviation prohibiting DoD from requiring certain defense contractors to disclose a greenhouse gas inventory or any other report on greenhouse gas emissions, and is hosted by Peter Eyre and Yuan Zhou. Crowell & Moring’s “Fastest 5 Minutes” is a biweekly podcast that provides a brief summary of significant government contracts legal and regulatory developments that no government contracts lawyer or executive should be without.

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On March 11, 2024, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) published an updated Secure Software Development Attestation Form, meaning that producers of software and providers of products containing software used by the federal government may be required to submit their attestations in the very near future. The Attestation Form, first published in April 2023, is a key cog in CISA’s implementation of software supply chain security requirements in accordance with Executive Order 14028, Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity and OMB Memoranda M-22-18 and M-23-16.

Continue Reading Software Developments: CISA Finalizes Attestation Form, Triggering Secure Software Development Implementation
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On March 5, 2024, a federal judge in Texas struck down a federally-sponsored racial preference extended to minority groups seeking to access capital and government contracts. Nuziard v. Minority Business Development Agency (“Nuziard”). Plaintiffs, who are non-minority business owners, challenged a preference provided by the Minority Business Development Agency (“MBDA”), a bureau of the Department of Commerce, to “socially or economically disadvantaged individual[s],” defined to include African Americans, Hasidic Jews, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. The court struck down the MBDA’s presumption that such racial minorities are socially disadvantaged, finding the preference violated the Equal Protection Clause.   Nuziard, like the recent decision by a federal court in Tennessee in Ultima Services Corp. v. U.S. Department of Agriculture (“Ultima”), follows the Supreme Court’s decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Pres & Fellows of Harvard College, 600 U.S. 181 (2023) (“SFFA”) and, like Ultima, advances the mission of activist organizations across the country seeking to invalidate race-based presumptions in federally funded and sponsored entitlement programs.  

Continue Reading Nuziard v. Minority Business Development Agency: Another Blow To Federally Sponsored Affirmative Action Efforts
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Government Contracts and International Trade partner Addie Cliffe and Government Contracts counsel Liam O’Reilly discuss the Inflation Reduction Act’s Domestic Content Bonus Credits.Click to read more | Watch now on our YouTube channel

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2023 brought many important False Claims Act developments for companies with business involving government funds.  While overall recoveries remained down compared to pre-2022 levels, the total number of settlements and judgments exceeded any prior year.  Those settlements and judgments also highlight areas of particular focus for the Government, including cybersecurity compliance, pandemic fraud, and small business fraud, among others.  Of particular note, 2023 saw the U.S. Supreme Court issue decisions concerning the Government’s authority to dismiss qui tam actions and the critical element of scienter/knowledge that will have wide-reaching impact.  The courts of appeals also issued significant decisions on damages, materiality, and more.  Crowell attorneys discuss these highlights and others in a “Feature Comment” published in The Government Contractor.

In February 2024, GAO continued its streak of taking a hard look at procurements conducted under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) subpart 8.4.  Subpart 8.4 allows the government to use “simplified” ordering procedures to obtain commercial supplies and services.  However, some agencies have apparently adopted the position that “anything goes” in these simplified procurements.  Not so!  Over the past year, GAO has issued a series of decisions emphasizing that, although this process is supposed to be simplified, it is not intended to be lawless.  (Check out our discussion of the Washington Business Dynamics, LLC, decision in December’s Sustain of the Month post.)  This welcome trend has continued into 2024, with GAO’s issuance of a sustain decision in LOGMET LLC, B-422200, Feb. 21, 2024. 

Continue Reading February 2024 Bid Protest Sustain of the Month
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On March 7, 2024, Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Lisa Monaco delivered remarks at the American Bar Association’s 39th National Institute on White Collar Crime announcing a new Department of Justice (DOJ) pilot program that incentivizes whistleblowers to report corporate misconduct by offering monetary rewards.  Likening the program to “the days of ‘Wanted’ posters across the Old West,” DAG Monaco explained that individuals who help DOJ discover otherwise unknown, “significant” corporate or financial crime could receive a portion of the resulting forfeiture.  This program will encourage whistleblowers to report a broad range of criminal activity by bridging the divide between DOJ’s priorities and other whistleblower mechanisms such as the False Claims Act’s qui tam provision (which is only available for fraud against the government), and programs at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and other federal agencies (which only cover misconduct within their respective jurisdictions).  By placing a bounty on corporate actors, this DOJ pilot program—which will be developed by the Department’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS)—underscores the need for companies to take stock of their compliance programs and enhance their internal reporting infrastructure.    

Continue Reading DOJ Offers Cash “Carrot” to Whistleblowers; Foreshadows “Stick” of More Corporate Enforcement