Photo of Peter J. EyrePhoto of Anuj VohraPhoto of M.Yuan ZhouPhoto of Cherie Owen

On December 27, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Preventing Organizational Conflicts of Interest in Federal Acquisition Act (S.3905) to strengthen the current rules relating to identification and mitigation of organizational conflicts of interest (OCIs) in federal acquisition. The Act focuses on updating the current FAR provision, Subpart 9.5, to provide clear definitions, examples, and guidance on potential OCIs and to consider expanding the Subpart to cover certain commercial and foreign relationships.

As currently drafted, FAR Subpart 9.5 provides general rules governing OCIs. Case law at the Court of Federal Claims and the Government Accountability Office have further identified three types of OCIs, “biased ground rules,” “impaired objectivity,” and “unequal access to information.” Under the Act, the FAR Council is meant to provide specific definitions and examples of the three types of OCIs.

The Act also instructs the FAR Council to provide executive agencies with standard solicitation provisions and contract clauses to address OCIs. Executive agencies will be able to tailor the solicitation provisions and contract clauses as necessary to address concerns associated with conflicts of interest and any considerations unique to the executive agency.

The Act directs the FAR Council to update the FAR’s OCI provisions in the next 18 months.  We are expecting the FAR Council to issue proposed regulations, and contractors should be prepared to review the proposed changes and modify practices if needed once the final rules are issued.

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Photo of Peter J. Eyre Peter J. Eyre

Peter J. Eyre is a partner and co-chair of Crowell & Moring’s Government Contracts Group. He is also a member of the firm’s Management Board. Peter was named to BTI Consulting Group’s list of “Client Service All-Stars” in 2016, 2017, and 2019 and…

Peter J. Eyre is a partner and co-chair of Crowell & Moring’s Government Contracts Group. He is also a member of the firm’s Management Board. Peter was named to BTI Consulting Group’s list of “Client Service All-Stars” in 2016, 2017, and 2019 and has been named an Acritas Star, Acritas Stars Independently Rated Lawyers (2016, 2017, 2019). He is nationally ranked by Chambers USA in Government Contracts since 2014, and by Super Lawyers since 2017.

Photo of Anuj Vohra Anuj Vohra

Anuj Vohra litigates high-stakes disputes on behalf of government contractors in federal and state court, and maintains an active bid protest practice before the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. He also assists clients with an array of…

Anuj Vohra litigates high-stakes disputes on behalf of government contractors in federal and state court, and maintains an active bid protest practice before the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. He also assists clients with an array of issues related to contract formation (including subcontracts and teaming agreements), regulatory compliance, internal and government-facing investigations, suspension and debarment, organizational conflicts of interest (“OCIs”), intellectual property and data rights, and the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).

Prior to entering private practice, Anuj spent six years as a Trial Attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Commercial Litigation Branch. At DOJ, he was a member of the Bid Protest Team—which handles the department’s largest and most complex protests—and served as lead counsel in dozens of matters representing the United States in commercial disputes before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Court of International Trade.

Photo of M.Yuan Zhou M.Yuan Zhou

M. Yuan Zhou is a counsel in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring, where she is a member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group.

Yuan’s practice includes a wide range of investigatory, counseling, and transactional capabilities, including: internal investigations related to…

M. Yuan Zhou is a counsel in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring, where she is a member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group.

Yuan’s practice includes a wide range of investigatory, counseling, and transactional capabilities, including: internal investigations related to the False Claims Act, the Procurement Integrity Act, and other civil and criminal matters; compliance reviews and enhancing contractor compliance programs; representing clients in suspension and debarment proceedings; counseling on data rights issues, challenges, and disputes; mandatory disclosures; and providing government contracts due diligence in transactional matters. As part of the firm’s State and Local Practice, Yuan also counsels clients on state and local procurement issues, ranging from bid protests to contract negotiations with state agencies, and advises prime contractors and subcontractors on a variety of issues including prime/sub contract formation, disputes, and other government contracts issues.

Photo of Cherie Owen Cherie Owen

Cherie Owen is a senior counsel in the Government Contracts group. Cherie counsels and represents clients in a wide array of government contracts issues, with a focus on bid protests at the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the United States Court…

Cherie Owen is a senior counsel in the Government Contracts group. Cherie counsels and represents clients in a wide array of government contracts issues, with a focus on bid protests at the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the United States Court of Federal Claims. As a former GAO bid protest hearing officer, she resolved some of the most challenging bid protests on procurements ranging from thousands to billions of dollars involving solicitation challenges, proposal evaluation challenges, organizational conflicts of interest, Procurement Integrity Act violations, affirmative responsibility determinations, the conduct of discussions, and competitive range determinations. In this role, Cherie held numerous bid protest hearings. At GAO she handled more than 600 protests and issued more than 500 decisions.