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GovCon Live! Podcast: Listen to PilieroMazza’s Podcast Series “Commercial Businesses New to Government Contracting” here.
GAO Sustains Protests of CIO-SP4 Procurement
On June 29, 2023, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) sustained protesters’ challenge of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) exclusion of proposals from phase 1 because evaluations and exclusion decisions were not reasonable. NIH’s initial explanations were incomplete and misleading. The protest challenges NIH’s evaluation of a proposed self-score is sustained because it did not meaningfully respond to the protester’s arguments. The decision is available here.
Protest-Bitten Polaris Information Technology (IT) Vehicle Will Take General Services Administration (GSA) Months to Fix, Bloomberg Government
Upcoming amendments to the Polaris governmentwide IT services solicitations will accommodate an April court decision citing the GSA for improper evaluation of submitted bids, according to an announcement from the agency. Read more here (subscription required).
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released a final rule (Final Rule), effective July 21, 2023, updating the Homeland Security Acquisition Regulation (HSAR) to include cybersecurity provisions aimed at safeguarding Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) and facilitating improved incident reporting. This rule’s promulgation follows a recent trend and overall government-wide effort focused on strengthening our national security against bad actors and foreign adversaries. PilieroMazza recently blogged about some of those efforts, including the TikTok ban (here), new standardized cybersecurity obligations mirroring those in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171 (NIST SP 800-171) (here), and increased cyber requirements under certain Veterans Affairs’ procurements (here). Government contractors working on certain DHS contracts would be wise to familiarize themselves with notable requirements and reporting obligations arising from this Final Rule that could impact their bottom line. PilieroMazza addresses these items in this client alert. Read more here.
Third-Party Contractor Software Exploited in Attack on Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Data, Government Executive
An official with HHS said attackers gained access to data by exploiting a major vulnerability found in the popular MOVEit file transfer service. Cybercriminals gained unwarranted access to data overseen by the HHS after leveraging a mass exploit in Progress Software’s MOVEit file transfer service that was used by the agency’s third-party contractors. Read more here.
PilieroMazza recently shared the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) new rules: (1) Small Business Lending Company (SBLC) Moratorium Rescission and Removal of the Requirement for a Loan Authorization (Moratorium Rule) and (2) Affiliation and Lending Criteria for the SBA Business Loan Programs (Affiliation Rule). These rules focus on combating persistent gaps in access to capital affecting small business owners in underserved communities. Along the same vein, a recent initiative jointly issued by the SBA and the General Services Administration (GSA) is the 8(a) MAS Pool Initiative (the Initiative). The Initiative aims to increase federal contracting opportunities for small-disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) who are part of SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program (8(a) Program) for government contracts in GSA’s MAS Program. Read more here.
Delegations and Designations, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
NASA is amending its delegations and designations rule to make non-substantive changes to correct citations and titles throughout and clarify regulatory text in specific sections. The direct final rule is available here and will be effective September 5, 2023. Comments are due August 4, 2023.
Interest Rates, Small Business Administration (SBA)
SBA publishes an interest rate called the optional “peg” rate (13 C.F.R. § 120.214) on a quarterly basis. This rate is a weighted average cost of money to the government for maturities like the average SBA direct loan. This rate may be used as a base rate for guaranteed fluctuating interest rate SBA loans. This rate will be 3.75 percent for the July–September quarter of fiscal year 2023. The notice is available here.
Acquisition Regulation: Remove Purchase Card Payment Clause, General Services Administration (GSA)
GSA is issuing this final rule as a technical amendment to remove clause 552.232-77 Payment by Government Charge Card in the GSA Acquisition Regulation. The published technical amendment to the final rule is available here and will be effective August 7, 2023.
Billions in Sight for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Small Business Contracts Fourth Quarter, Bloomberg Government
The VA needs to obligate more than $9 Billion in prime contracts to small businesses in the final quarter of fiscal 2023 to meet its annual goal. Read more here (subscription required).
Bid Clock Starts on $5 Billion Overhaul of Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Supply Chain, Bloomberg Government
Vendors with information technology (IT), professional services, and systems engineering expertise have three weeks to submit initial bids for the $5 Billion solicitation to overhaul the fragmented and antiquated supply chain management and inventory systems at the VA. Read more here (subscription required).
Upcoming Government Contracts Presentations
WEBINAR: Unlocking the Secrets of Debriefings, Gov’t Evaluation of Proposals and Protests
WEBINAR: How to Use and Protect your Intellectual Property When Performing Federal Contracts
Clocking in with PilieroMazza: Labor and Employment News for Government Contractors: “What’s New in OFCCP Compliance? Important 2023 Updates for Government Contractors,” PilieroMazza Podcast, Sarah L. Nash and Sara N. Strosser. Click here to listen to the podcast.
Miscellaneous and General Requirements, Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA)
FLRA is implementing an interim final rule with a comment period to enable parties to proceedings before the FLRA’s three-Member, decisional component (the Authority) to voluntarily request—
in individual cases filed through the FLRA’s electronic-filing system—that the Authority use e-mail to serve the requesting parties any decisions, orders, and notices issued in those individual cases. The unpublished interim final rule and request for comments notice is available here. The interim final rule is effective July 10, 2023, and comments are due on August 9, 2023.
Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Reminds Agencies of Workplace Flexibilities Following Disasters, Government Executive
A June 28, 2023, OPM memo highlights telework, paid leave, and other benefits available to feds impacted by disasters and corresponds with the beginning of hurricane season and a recent typhoon in the Pacific Ocean. OPM reminded agencies of the array of workplace flexibilities at their disposal such as leave and telework to help federal workers who have been impacted by natural disasters. Read more here.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Grants Regulation
On July 6, 2023, HHS’ Office for Civil Rights proposed rulemaking that would revise certain nondiscrimination provisions of HHS’ Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for HHS Awards (HHS Grants Rule). More information is available here.
Upcoming Labor & Employment Presentations
General Services Administration (GSA) Debuts New Search Tool to Support Native Governments and Businesses
New search for four Native business categories in GSA Advantage!, eBuy, and eLibrary benefits Indian Country, federal agencies, and Native American-owned small businesses. Tribal governments are limited in their ability to generate traditional government revenues because of their unique federal status, and the income from Tribal businesses is an important source of development for these communities. This new feature will help Native businesses be visible in a diverse range of channels where they can sell products and services. Read more here.