GAO issued three sustain decisions in June, but the Sparksoft Corporation decision stands out for its discussion of prejudice.  In Sparksoft, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sought to procure supplemental security testing for the agency’s Center for Clinical Standards and Quality (CCSQ).  CMS evaluated Sparksoft and the eventual awardee, TSG, as follows:Continue Reading June 2024 Bid Protest Sustain of the Month

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FAR Part 40, Cyber Reporting, Bid Protest

This week’s episode covers a proposed rule to replace the phrase “significant deficiency” with “material weakness” for the government’s evaluation of contractor business systems, a GAO report on Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency’s current cybersecurity policies and procedures, and a nationwide preliminary injunction that halts the U.S. Department

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On June 24, 2024, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued a nationwide preliminary injunction, stopping the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) from enforcing three key elements of regulations related to the Davis-Bacon Act and Related Acts (“DBA” or “Act”).  The court order issued in Associated General Contractors v. U.S. Department of Labor will provide significant comfort and certainty to contractors that perform work on federally funded construction projects.Continue Reading Nationwide Injunction Halts Key Provisions of Davis-Bacon Act Regulations

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On June 26, 2024, a 6-3 majority of the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the scope of federal bribery law by ruling that 18 U.S.C. § 666 does not cover gratuities provided to officials for past acts. The Court held that Section 666, which outlaws bribery of state and local officials when federal funds are involved, does not extend to “gratuities” that follow an official act, in large part because regulation of such gifts is a matter of state and local law. Continue Reading Supreme Court Rules Gratuity Insufficient For Conviction Under Federal Bribery Law

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The Department of Defense (DoD) recently announced that it seeks public comments on a proposed change to the contractor business systems regime.  The proposed rule would amend the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) by replacing the phrase “significant deficiency” with the new defined term “material weakness,” to mean “a deficiency or combination of deficiencies in the internal control over information in contractor business systems, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of such information will not be prevented, or detected and corrected, on a timely basis.”  In addition, the term would provide that a “reasonable possibility exists when the likelihood of an event occurring is— (1) Probable; or (2) More than remote but less than likely.” Continue Reading Taking Care of Business (Systems): DoD Proposes to Change the Definition of a Business System Deficiency 

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On June 17, 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a $11.3 million False Claims Act (FCA) settlement that touches on two key enforcement priorities:  the DOJ’s Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative and pandemic-related fraud.  This settlement, the largest under the Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative to date, resolved allegations that Guidehouse Inc. (Guidehouse) and its subcontractor, Nan McKay and Associates (Nan McKay), violated the FCA because they failed to conduct pre‑production cybersecurity testing on New York State’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) technology product before public launch, and that Guidehouse used an unapproved third-party data cloud software program to store personally identifiable information (PII).Continue Reading Another One: It Pays to Consult the DOJ under the Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative

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On May 30, 2024, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a final rule amending the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to implement Section 803 of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, which modified 10 U.S.C. § 3455 to provide additional guidance regarding data requirements needed to support determinations of commerciality and price reasonableness under procurements for major weapon systems.  The rule applies to products that (i) have not previously been deemed commercial by the DoD; and (ii) are proposed as either a subsystem of a major weapon system or as a component or spare part of a major weapon system or subsystem. Continue Reading Commerciality Guidance for Major Weapon System Procurements

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The Cost Accounting Standards Board (CASB) recently announced that it seeks public comments on “whether and how” to amend the rules to clarify whether the CAS apply to indefinite value contract vehicles (or IDVs, otherwise known as indefinite-delivery / indefinite-quantity, or IDIQ, contracts).  Comments are due no later than August 19, 2024.  The full text of the notice is available here.  The CASB also published a paper discussing six possible approaches and the criteria it will use to evaluate those approaches, but welcomed the public to identify alternatives for the CASB to consider. Continue Reading At Long Last: CAS Board Seeks Input Regarding CAS Coverage of Indefinite Value Contract Vehicles

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On June 6, 2024, the General Services Administration (GSA) issued a final rule seeking to minimize the use of single-use plastic (SUP) packaging materials in goods procured through the Federal Supply Schedules (FSS).  Rather than instituting an outright ban on SUP packaging, GSA opted to incentivize FSS contractors to offer SUP-free products through providing a special icon in GSA Advantage for FSS contractors self-certifying that their products are SUP-free.  The final rule explains that the SUP-free icon is intended to act “as an important discriminator when buyers are making purchasing decisions” so that FSS contractors that adopt this voluntary measure will become more marketable in the federal procurement space.  While application of the final rule is limited to purchases from the FSS, GSA believes that the final rule will “also create positive spillovers as non-FSS contracting firms adopt similar policies to compete with FSS contractors in non-FSS markets.”  GSA also explained that the final rule is an “initial step” in providing more sustainable packaging and that the goal is to encourage other federal agencies to eventually adopt these practices into other government contracts.  Importantly, GSA will rely on self-certification that identified products are SUP-free and will not require any third-party verification, as the increased regulatory burden could discourage participation of small businesses.  The final rule is effective starting July 8, 2024.Continue Reading GSA Incentivizes FSS Contractors to Reduce Single-Use Plastic but Rejects Banning Plastic in Federal Procurement

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Federal Circuit Protest Ruling in, Inc. v. United States

This special edition covers the Federal Circuit’s June 2024 protest decision in, Inc. v. United States, and is hosted by Yuan Zhou and Anuj Vohra. Crowell & Moring’s “Fastest 5 Minutes” is a biweekly podcast that provides a brief summary of significant government