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Generally, a GAO protest challenging the terms of a solicitation is timely if filed within 10 days after the denial of an agency-level protest, “even if filed after bid opening or the closing time for receipt of proposals.”  4 C.F.R. § 21.2(a)(3).  Accordingly, the salient consideration for determining when that 10-day clock begins to run is when the agency denies the agency-level protest.  But in Marathon Medical Corp., B-422168.2, February 14, 2024, GAO held that if an agency has not ruled on a pre-award agency-level protest as of the closing date for receipt of proposals, then the protest is deemed denied as of that date—and the protester’s clock for filing a GAO protest begins to run—even if the agency later issues an actual decision denying the protest. 

Continue Reading Yet Another Timeliness Trap for the Unsuspecting Protester: A Pre-Award Agency-Level Protest Is Functionally Denied as of the Closing Date for Receipt of Proposals, Even if the Agency Actually Denies it Later
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“Now or later?”  As individuals, we are constantly asked to prioritize our time, identifying the tasks that need to be done NOW versus those that can be put off until later.  In the bid protest context, the question arises as well when agencies seek to “fill in the gaps” in the administrative record with additional detail, a practice GAO has permitted so long as those details are consistent with the contemporaneous record.  But, as highlighted by two recent GAO sustain decisions, when agencies attempt to perform new analyses “later” in response to a protest, those efforts are often unsuccessful. 

Continue Reading “Better Late Than Never?” Not Really. Two Recent GAO Sustains Highlight the Importance of Contemporaneous Documentation
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In Strategic Technology Institute, Inc. v. Sec’y of Def., 91 F.4th 1140 (Fed. Cir. 2024), the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA), which held that the government’s 2018 claim was not time-barred by the Contract Dispute Act’s (CDA) six-year statute of limitations.  The ASBCA found that the government’s claim did not begin to accrue until 2014, the date the government received the contractor’s indirect cost rate proposals for fiscal year (FY) 2008 and FY 2009. 

Continue Reading Start the Clock: Government’s Indirect Cost Rate Claim Accrued upon Submission of Indirect Cost Rate Proposal
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Criminal Investigations and the False Claims Act

In this episode, Steve Byers, Jason Crawford, and Agustin Orozco discuss the intersection between False Claims Act investigations and parallel criminal proceedings. “Let’s Talk FCA” is Crowell & Moring’s podcast covering the latest developments with the False Claims Act.

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Offerors understand that missing a submission deadline can sink even the best proposal because “late is late.”  But what happens when an offeror timely emails its proposal only to have an agency server reject it without any notification to the offeror?  GAO’s recent decision in Guidehouse, Inc., B-422115.2, Jan. 19, 2024, says that the proposal is still late and emphasizes the potentially draconian impact of the “late is late” rule.

Continue Reading The Agency’s Email Server Ate My Proposal! – GAO Rejects Challenge to “Late is Late” Rule
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Salary-History Bans and Pay Transparency, Section 3610 of the CARES Act

This week’s episode covers a proposed rule on salary-history bans and pay transparency for job applicants and employees of federal contractors and subcontractors, a claim relating to Section 3610 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, new requirements for U.S.-based Infrastructure as a Service providers, and recent updates to the 1260H List, 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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In Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. United States, No. 23-629C (Fed. Cl. 2024), 2024 WL 201890, the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) addressed whether government disclosure of a company’s trade secrets and commercial information could create a viable claim for a taking under the Fifth Amendment or for breach of an implied-in-fact contract.  The company, Vanda Pharmaceuticals (Vanda), claimed that the government’s disclosure of its confidential trade secrets—including its trademarked drugs’ dissolution rates—to competitors seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of generic drug alternatives was an unlawful regulatory taking that diminished the value of Vanda’s brand name drugs and infringed upon Vanda’s right to exclude generics from the market.  The government moved to dismiss Vanda’s claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim.  The COFC denied the government’s motion in part, holding as a matter of first impression that Vanda adequately stated a takings claim based on the government’s disclosures but failed to state a claim for breach of an implied-in-fact contract.  The COFC also held that Vanda’s claims involving one generic drug manufacturer were outside the Tucker Act’s six-year statute of limitations and were time barred. 

Continue Reading Does Government Disclosure of a Company’s Trade Secrets Amount to an Unlawful Taking Under the Fifth Amendment?  
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Following a January 29, 2024 White House announcement and Fact Sheet, on January 30, 2024, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Proposed Rule) on salary-history bans and pay transparency for applicants and employees of federal contractors and subcontractors. On the same day, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued some FAQs on the compensation history issue. These actions by the federal government to ban prior salary information and require compensation information in job postings echo the efforts of multiple states and municipal governments that have enacted similar salary history bans and/or compensation disclosure requirements:

Continue Reading Show Me the Money: Contractors and Subcontractors May Soon Be Subject to Pay Transparency Requirements, Which May Also Trigger New Bid Protest Issues
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On January 29, 2024, the Department of Commerce released a proposed rule:  Taking Additional Steps To Address the National Emergency With Respect to Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities, which solicits comments regarding a proposed  new set of regulations that would introduce significant new requirements for U.S.-based Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers.  The proposed rule implements requirements from the January 2021 Executive Order Taking Additional Steps To Address the National Emergency With Respect to Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities and part of the October 2023 Executive Order Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence.  If Commerce implements the regulations as proposed, IaaS providers would be required to create a Customer Identification Program (CIP), ensure any foreign resellers maintain a CIP, track all customer identities, verify the identities of foreign customers, and report certain transactions implicating large AI models that could be used for malicious cyber-enabled activities.  The Department is soliciting comments on all aspects of the proposed rule by April 29, 2024.

Continue Reading Who I(aa)S Your Foreign Customer? Department of Commerce Proposes Foreign Customer Identification Requirements For U.S. IaaS Providers
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On January 31, 2024, the Department of Defense (DoD) updated the 1260H List of entities identified as “Chinese military companies” operating in the United States, as it is required to do at least annually by Section 1260H of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021.  Section 1260H defines a “Chinese military company” as an entity that is:

Continue Reading DoD is Making its List, and Checking it Twice: DoD Updates 1260H Chinese Military Companies List