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BUSINESS & TRANSACTIONS
Pentagon: Contractor Mergers Hurt National Security, Economy
The Associated Press reported that the Department of Defense (DOD) released a report, which says mergers and consolidation among its contractors pose risks to the U.S. economy and national security. The report lays out steps to block mergers that run contrary to DOD interests and reduce barriers to entry for new contractors. It also seeks to ensure that a company’s intellectual property protections are not anti-competitive. Read more here. Related reporting from Bloomberg is available here.
What Does Another Continuing Resolution Mean for Federal Contractors?
Government Executive reported that members of the contracting community laid out the various workforce and operational challenges associated with short-term funding measures ahead of the Senate vote on the continuing resolution that President Biden signed into law on February 18, 2022. Read more here.
Congress Races to Clinch Government Funding Deal
The Hill reported that congressional negotiators are moving quickly to try to finalize work on a sprawling package to fund the government through the remainder of the fiscal year, though sticking points remain. Read more here.
Biden Readies $30 Billion Request for New Covid-19 Funding
Bloomberg reported that Biden Administration officials told lawmakers they plan to seek $30 billion in new spending to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in conjunction with a $1.5 trillion government funding package lawmakers want to complete by March 11, 2022. Read more here.
Biden to Seek More Than $770 Billion in 2023 Defense Budget
Reuters reported that, according to three sources familiar with the negotiations, President Biden is expected to ask Congress for a U.S. defense budget exceeding $770 billion for the next fiscal year as the Pentagon seeks to modernize the military, eclipsing the record budget requests by former President Trump. Read more here.
Court’s Move Hamstrings Climate Actions Across the Board
The Hill reported that dozens of federal actions dealing with everything from energy efficiency standards to funding for transit projects have been upended by a recent court ruling against the Biden Administration’s climate change calculations. Read more here.
White House to Unveil Multi-Pronged Approach to Reduce Emissions in the Manufacturing Sector
CNN reported that the White House will unveil new efforts to reduce emissions in the manufacturing sector, including nearly $10 billion in Department of Energy funding from President Biden’s signature infrastructure law aimed at “clean hydrogen” manufacturing. Read more here.
Biden Blocks Investment in Ukraine Regions Recognized as Independent by Putin
The Hill reported that President Biden signed an executive order on blocking new U.S. investment, trade and financing from flowing into two Russian separatist-held regions in Ukraine, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing the areas as independent. Read more here.
Russian Hackers Are Hitting Cleared Defense Contractors, Security Agencies Warn
Federal Computer Week reported a multi-agency alert warned that Russian hackers are getting a look at U.S. military weapons development and delivery timelines through a two-year cyber campaign targeting defense industrial base companies. Read more here.
China Sanctioning U.S. Defense Contractors Over Arms Sales to Taiwan
The Hill reported that China is imposing sanctions on two U.S. defense contractors over a pending $100 million arms sale to Taiwan announced earlier this month. Read more here.
SBA’s Business Development Assistance to 8(a) Program Participants
The Small Business Administration (SBA) published a report on the extent to which SBA measures and monitors an 8(a) firm’s progress and ensures 8(a) firms receive the help needed to meet their goals. The report also examines whether the program adapted successfully during the COVID-19 pandemic to help firms. Read more here.
Financial Audit: Fiscal Years 2021 and 2020 Consolidated Financial Statements of the U.S. Government
The Government Accountability Office published a report on the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statements for fiscal years 2021 and 2020. The report discusses progress that has been made but underscores that much work remains to improve federal financial management and that the federal government continues to face an unsustainable long-term fiscal path. Read more here.
Agencies Need to Measure Improvements to Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, Report Says
Government Executive reported that, as critical infrastructure sectors adopt federal cybersecurity guidelines, a group of federal agencies tasked with cyber risk management are not measuring and assessing security improvements, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office. Read more here.
Navy Plans to Become ‘Cyber Ready’ by Ditching Compliance-Obsessed ATO Processes
Federal News Network reported that an influx of money from the CARES Act helped the Department of the Navy make major strides in modernizing its networks. Now, leaders say, it’s time to focus on bolstering those networks’ cybersecurity, including with a major pivot from compliance-driven approaches to a new philosophy called “Cyber Ready,” which focuses instead on continuous monitoring and ongoing risk assessments. Read more here.
Air Force Planning Project to Cut Extraneous S&T Programs
Federal News Network reported that the Air Force will take a comprehensive look at its science and technologies projects for its 2024 budget to see which it will try to take to fruition, and which will be getting the axe. Read more here.
The GSA-VA Partnership and Opportunities for Success
The Coalition for Government Procurement reported that the General Services Administration posted the signed Delegation of Authority/Assignment of Function agreement (the delegation) for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue its management and operation of the healthcare-related Federal Supply Schedules (FSS). The delegation provides the VA with the authority to operate and manage the healthcare FSS. The healthcare FSS includes Federal Supply Group (FSG) 65 – Medical, Dental, and Veterinary Equipment and Supplies; FSG 66 – Instruments and Laboratory Equipment; Federal Supply Classification (FSC) J065 – Maintenance, Repair, and Rebuilding of Equipment – Medical, Dental and Veterinary Supply; FSC Q301 – Medical, Laboratory Testing; and FSC Q999 – Medical, Other (including 621-1 Temp Healthcare Staffing Services). Under the delegation, the VA is responsible for internal oversight of the healthcare FSS to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, including VA-specific VA FSS policies and procedures. Read more here.
GSA Still Conducting Market Research for Governmentwide Cloud BPA
FedScoop reported that the General Services Administration continues to conduct market research for its forthcoming Governmentwide Cloud Blanket Purchase Agreement, the first set of awards for which were originally planned for January, according to a supplemental special notice on SAM.gov. Read more here.
60-Day Extensions for Entity Registration Renewals During Transition to the New Unique Entity ID
The General Services Administration reported that, starting Monday, April 4, 2022, the new Unique Entity ID (generated in SAM.gov) will be the official, governmentwide identifier used for federal awards. To reduce burden during the transition, there will be an automatic, 60-day extension for any existing SAM.gov entity registration needing to renew with an expiration date ranging between March 18, 2022, and April 18, 2022. No action is required on the part of entity registrants. Read more here.
GSA Announces Actions to Reduce Emissions from Building Materials
The General Services Administration (GSA) reported that, as part of a governmentwide effort to strengthen American leadership on clean manufacturing, GSA announced actions to reduce emissions from building materials and released two requests for information (RFIs) to gather current marketplace insights from industry, including small businesses, on the national availability of concrete and asphalt materials with environmental product declarations, low embodied carbon or superior environmental attributes. GSA will also participate in the first ever Buy Clean Task Force established by The White House Council on Environmental Quality to find ways to harness the federal government’s massive purchasing power to support low-carbon materials. Read more here.
NRC Receipts-Based Size Standards
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) published a final rule. It amends NRC small business size standards, which are used to qualify an NRC licensee as a “small entity” under the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended. The purpose of these size standards is for reducing annual NRC license fees for small entities. These standards do not apply to the NRC’s contracts for goods and services. The NRC is increasing the upper and lower tiers for its receipts-based small entity size standards for small businesses and small not-for-profit organizations. This change allows NRC standards to remain consistent with the inflation adjustments made by the Small Business Administration size standard for nonmanufacturing concerns. In addition, in accordance with the Small Business Runway Extension Act of 2018, the NRC is changing the calculation of annual average receipts for the receipts-based NRC size standard for small businesses that provide a service or small businesses not engaged in manufacturing from a 3-year averaging period to a 5-year averaging period. This final rule is effective on March 21, 2022. Read more here.
Notice of Consultations on Appeals From Administrative Actions
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) published a notification of Tribal consultation sessions. BIA will conduct consultation sessions with federally recognized Tribes to obtain oral and written comments concerning appeals from administrative actions. Tribes are also invited to submit written input by 11:59 p.m. ET on March 24, 2022. Read more here.
Upcoming Government Contracts Presentations
EVENT: Changes to SBA Rules, March 9, Peter Ford. Read more here.
WEBINAR: Legal Issues for Small Business Enterprises, March 9, Meghan Leemon. Read more here.
WEBINAR: Commercial Businesses New to Government Contracting: GovCon Basics, March 10, Lauren Brier and Eric Valle. Read more here.
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT
C.D.C. Director Says Agency Is Working on ‘Relevant’ Health Guidance
The New York Times reported that the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency was working on guidance that was “relevant” and would encourage measures where they are most needed to safeguard public health. Read more here.
The Pandemic Is a ‘Wild Card’ as Biden Plans His State of the Union Address
Government Executive reported that the Office of Management and Budget released an update on the president’s management agenda, which was released in November and seeks to leverage lessons learned during the pandemic about the federal workforce in order to “make the federal government a more ideal and forward-thinking employer,” among other things. The update recaps progress made since November and said more updates will come in the weeks and months ahead on Performance.gov. Read more here.
Minimum Wage Hikes Will Dent Pentagon Budget
Roll Call reported that new federal rules issued by President Biden requiring that federal employees and government contractors must earn at least $15 an hour could cost the Defense Department $880 million a year, according to estimates from the Pentagon and congressional budget experts. Read more here.
DOL Announces Proposed Rule to Update Powered Industrial Trucks Standard for General Industry, Construction
The Department of Labor announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to improve worker safety and health by ensuring the agency’s general industry and construction industry rules reflect current industry practice and state-of-the-art technology. The proposed rule will update the design and construction requirements for OSHA’s powered industrial trucks standards for general industry and construction, including fork trucks, tractors, platform lift trucks, motorized hand trucks and other specialized industrial trucks powered by an electric motor or an internal combustion engine. Read more here.
DOL Investigation Recovers $1.3M in Back Wages, Finds Texas Potato Farm Denied Nearly 500 Farmworkers Full Wages, Overtime
The Department of Labor reported that a recent investigation found Blaine Larsen Farms Inc. failed to pay workers with H-2A visas, in addition to workers from the U.S., all of the wages they are legally due. Specifically, the department’s Wage and Hour Division found Larsen Farms failed to pay warehouse workers time and one-half of their regular rate of pay when they worked more than 40 hours in a workweek as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act. The investigation led to the recovery of $1,345,960 in back wages for the warehouse workers, and assessment by the division of $10,900 in civil money penalties to the employer for violating the law. Read more here.