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Government Contracts Monitor

Solicitations / Proposal Preparation

Exemption 4: Protection of Confidential Information - The Ground May be Shifting

The Supreme Court recently granted a petition for writ of certiorari over (that is, agreed to review) an Eight Circuit decision involving Exemption 4 of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).  What is Exemption 4?  It is the exemption that protects from public disclosure “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.” Why is this…

GAO Sustains Limiting the Number of Projects Allocable to a Large Business Mentor's Experience, but Rejects Treating a Mentor-Protégé Joint Venture Differently than a Prime/Subcontractor Contractor Teaming Agreement

One of the principal advantages of an approved Mentor/Protégé Agreement (MPA) is that the Mentor and Protégé can enter into a joint venture (JV) that can compete as small for any contract for which the Protégé would be eligible (see, e.g., 13 C.F.R. § 125.109(d)(1)).  In turn, one of the principal advantages of a JV - now enshrined in statute and regulation - is that in evaluating experience and…

Agency Waiver of Solicitation Requirement - Fatal or Non-Prejudicial?

A recent protest demonstrates why it is not sufficient for a disappointed offeror to challenge an agency’s award as improper solely because the agency relaxed or waived a material solicitation requirement in evaluating the awardee’s proposal and thus the awardee’s proposal was deficient.  Such a challenge, in order to succeed, must include another key element: demonstrated prejudice to the …

A Preference for U.S. Goods and Services: Buy American Receives A Booster Shot

On January 31, 2019 President Trump signed yet another Executive Order addressing Buy American issues: Buy American, Hire American [here]. This Order requires that federal agencies purchase U.S. goods and services in any and all infrastructure projects including, interestingly, cybersecurity projects. Among other things, this recent Order underscores the Trump Administration’s policy of enforcing…

Changing Key Personnel After Proposal Submission? Not So Fast....

As the GAO recently determined, and the Court of Federal Claims affirmed, an offeror who finds itself in a position of having to modify key personnel specified in its proposal, after the deadline for proposal submission, may end up with an unacceptable proposal.  If an agency notified offerors that it might award without discussions, an offeror will not be able to "re-open" the proposal process to…

New Statute Extends Small Business Size Standard Reference Period to Five (from Three) Years, Enabling More Companies to Qualify as Small

In December 2018 – just before Christmas – the Senate approved, and the President signed into law, the so-called “Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018,” Pub. L. No. 115-324 (the “Act” or “statute”).  This statute extends the three-year reference period for calculating a revenue-based small business’s size status to five years.  This Act was intended – as implied by its name – to extend the…

So Long, Farewell, Goodbye, to Low Price Technically Acceptable

The Department of Defense (“DoD”) recently proposed a new rule (click here) that would restrict the use of the lowest price technically acceptable (“LPTA”) source selection method.  The rule will apply to FAR Part 15 negotiated procurements, Federal Supply Schedule orders, commercial item acquisitions, simplified acquisitions, and orders against multiple award indefinite delivery contracts. The…

New Year's Resolutions, 2019 - Reassess Your Size Status, Update Your SAM and DSBS Listings, Check Your Past Performance Ratings, and Update Your Employment Policies, Handbooks and Postings

Happy New Year!  The start of a new year is the time for New Year’s Resolutions.  Here are several we strongly urge you to follow-through on early in 2019.

 

     1.  Reassess Your (and Any Subcontractors’) Small Business Size Status:  Most companies operate on a calendar year for tax reporting purposes.  For such companies the start of a new tax year, and the end of the prior year, means a change and…

FAR Change Clarifies that Offerors (Including Joint Ventures) Must Register in SAM Before Submitting Offers

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) has been amended to make clear that offerors, including joint ventures, must be registered and active in the System for Award Management (SAM) prior to submitting bids or offers responding to Federal Government solicitations.  Such registration includes completing the standard annual Representations and Certifications (Reps & Certs) required by most…

The Cardinal Change - A Dramatic But Important Remedy

All experienced government contractors know that it is often impossible to predict (and therefore to price), the wide range of risks involved in performing federal government contracts. When a dramatic change occurs, it can sometimes be compensable as a cardinal change - a change that occurs when a contractor is directed to perform additional work beyond the scope of the contract. Case in point: …

Pay Attention to What the Solicitation Says

The recent decision in Distributed Solutions, Inc., B-416394 (August 13, 2018) serves as another reminder of the importance of strict adherence with all solicitation requirements. Just as contract interpretation strives to ensure that every provision in the agreement is given meaning, an offeror’s review of--and response to--a solicitation cannot ignore any of its terms.

In Distributed Solutions,…

Identifying Unequal Access OCIs Is Harder Than It looks

Unequal access to competitively useful, non-public information can give contractors an unfair advantage in the procurement process. Accordingly, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) requires contracting officers to identify and evaluate potential “unequal access” organizational conflicts of interest (OCIs) and directs agencies to avoid or mitigate potential conflicts. Following this…

 

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