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On May 3, 2024, in Geospatial Technology Associates, LLC v. United States, COFC No. 16-346C, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims denied the government’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and, alternatively, for summary judgment due to alleged inaccuracies in a copyright registration, holding that plaintiff Geospatial Technology Associates, LLC’s (“plaintiff” or “GTA”) patent and copyright infringement claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1498 raise issues that “must be addressed at trial.” This newest development follows GTA’s original March 2016 lawsuit against several government agencies—including the Department of the Army, the Department of the Air Force, and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (“NGA”)—alleging patent and copyright infringement of the underlying software code of its product, “NINJA.pro.” Continue Reading Contractor’s Copyright Infringement Claims Raise Issues That “Must be Addressed at Trial”  

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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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A wave of recent changes in federal and state law pertaining to PFAS chemicals is likely to present both immediate and long-term challenges to the government contracting community. At the federal level, contractors that import products, parts, packaging, equipment or other articles with components that contain PFAS must confront new and extensive regulatory reporting requirements relating to such imports going back to 2011, and they must do so by May 2025. At the state level, a growing list of states are enacting total bans on the sale and distribution of such products and components. On top of this flurry of environmental regulatory activity, the Biden Administration continues to direct federal agencies to develop procurement strategies that prioritize the purchase of PFAS-free articles as part the Administration’s broader effort to leverage the federal procurement function in pursuit of climate and sustainability policy objectives.Continue Reading New Federal and State PFAS Requirements Pose Unique Challenges to the Government Contracting Community

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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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The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024, signed into law on December 22, 2023, makes numerous changes to acquisition policy. Crowell & Moring’s Government Contracts Group discusses the most consequential changes for government contractors here. These include changes that impose a new conflict of interest regime for government contractors with a connection to China, impose new restrictions and requirements, require government reporting to Congress on acquisition authorities and programs, and alter other processes and procedures to which government contractors are subject. The FY 2024 NDAA also includes the Federal Data Center Enhancement Act, the American Security Drone Act, and the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2024.Continue Reading The FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act: Key Provisions Government Contractors Should Know

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Federal contractors must be registered on SAM.gov to be eligible for award of federal contracts.  Failure to do so can have significant consequences, as the recent U.S. Court of Federal Claims (CFC) decision in Myriddian, LLC v. United States, No. 23-443 makes clear. 

In Myriddian, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

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On November 1, 2022, the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) published its FY 2022 Report of Transactions and Proceedings, which provides statistics regarding the adjudication of appeals between contractors and the Army, Navy, Air Force, Corps of Engineers, Central Intelligence Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Contract Management Agency

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On February 4, 2022, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects (the “Order”) for federal construction projects valued at $35 million or more. The Order instructs federal agencies to require “every contractor or subcontractor engaged in construction” on projects valued at $35 million or more to “agree, for that project, to negotiate or become a party to” a Project Labor Agreement (“PLA”) with “one or more appropriate labor organizations.”

Federal agencies are authorized to grant exceptions to this PLA requirement under certain defined circumstances. The Order supersedes an executive order issued by then-President Obama in 2009, which had encouraged, but not mandated, the use of PLAs on construction projects valued at more than $25 million. The Order is characterized as a measure that will “promote economy and efficiency in Federal procurement” and advance “small business interests” and represents a noteworthy shift in United States federal labor policy, underscoring President Biden’s commitment to fulfilling his campaign promise to be the most labor-friendly President in history.

The Order applies to all “large-scale construction projects,” defined as a “Federal construction project within the United States for which the total estimated cost of the construction contract to the federal government is $35 million or more.” The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (“FAR Council”), in consultation with the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, may adjust this threshold based on inflation. “Construction” is defined to mean “construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, modernization, alteration, conversion, extension, repair, or improvement of buildings, structures, highways, or other real property.” It appears that the Order does not apply to federally funded projects under the control of state and/or local governments.Continue Reading President Biden’s Executive Order Mandates Project Labor Agreements for All “Large-Scale” Federal Construction Projects

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In U.S. ex rel. Foreman v. AECOM, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit confirmed that the materiality factors set forth by the Supreme Court in Universal Health Services, Inc. v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar apply to all types of False Claims Act claims and reinforced the relator’s heavy burden even at the pleading stage. This precedential opinion provides several key takeaways for defendants facing FCA liability where the significance of the allegations to the government’s payment decision is in doubt.

Foreman involved a contract to provide maintenance and management support services for the Army, including tactical vehicle and equipment maintenance, facilities management and maintenance, supply and inventory management, and transportation services. The alleged violations stemmed from the contractor submitting timesheets with improper labor hours, failing to properly log and track government property, and hitting a consistently low man-hour utilization (“MHU”) rate—the ratio of time personnel would spend actively engaged in maintenance projects. After the government declined to intervene, the district court dismissed the relator’s claims for failure to plausibly allege materiality.

On appeal, the Second Circuit largely affirmed the district court, while reversing only as to the allegations of labor overcharging due to the lower court’s improper reliance on a document not incorporated into the complaint. The Court’s discussion with respect to the other allegations provides important guidance as to the materiality analysis and the burdens that apply at the pleading stage.Continue Reading Second Circuit Reinforces the Relator’s Burden to Plead Materiality

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In Tolliver Group, Inc. v. United States, No. 2020-2341, 2021 WL 5872256 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 13, 2021), the Federal Circuit vacated and remanded the Court of Federal Claims’ (“COFC”) decision holding that the contractor was entitled to an equitable adjustment for damages caused by the Government’s breach of the implied warranty that satisfactory contract