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House Passes Sweeping $1.5 Trillion Omnibus Spending Bill
The Hill reported that the House passed a sweeping $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package to fund the government, hours after lawmakers scrapped billions in funding to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers also passed a stopgap measure by voice vote that lasts until next Tuesday to ensure that the Senate has enough time to clear the omnibus package without risking a government shutdown. Read more here.
Russia-Ukraine Crisis Replaces COVID-19 as Top Risk to Global Supply Chains
CNN Business reported that, just as the pandemic has calmed down, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to further scramble fragile supply chains. According to a recent Moody’s report, “[t]he greatest risk facing global supply chains has shifted from the pandemic to the Russia-Ukraine military conflict and the geopolitical and economic uncertainties it has created.” Read more here.
A New Rule Aims to Boost Biden’s ‘Made in America’ Program
Government Executive reported that President Biden announced more actions to honor his “Made in America” commitments for federal procurement. The White House shared details of a pending final rule that will update the Buy American Act, building on the Biden Administration’s “Made in America” efforts, first announced in a January 2021 executive order. Read more here. A related White House fact sheet is available here.
FAR: Amendments to the Buy American Act Requirements
The General Services Administration, Defense Department, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration published a final rule that amends the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to implement Section 8 of Executive Order 14005, Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers.
The final rule will:
- change the domestic content threshold to 60 percent immediately, then to 65 percent for items delivered starting in calendar year 2024, and then to 75 percent for items delivered starting in calendar year 2029;
- create a fallback threshold that would allow for products and construction material meeting a 55 percent domestic content threshold to qualify as “domestic” under certain circumstances; and
- create a framework for application of an enhanced price preference for a domestic product / domestic construction material that is considered a critical item or made up of critical components—the list of critical items and critical components, along with the associated enhanced price preference, will be incorporated in the FAR through separate rulemaking.
The rule will take effect October 25, 2022. Read more here. A related small entity compliance guide is available here, and a summary presentation of the final rule is available here.
Pentagon Separates Rulemakings for NIST Standards, CMMC as Work to Establish Cyber Certification Program Continues
Inside Defense reported that the Department of Defense is moving forward with its plans to split cyber certification requirements for contractors into two separate rulemakings focused on NIST Special Publication 800-171 and the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification program. Read more here.
Updates to the USAID Implementing Partner Community Regarding Ukraine
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) published a resources page that collates guidance for the USAID Implementing Partner community regarding the crisis in Ukraine. Read more here.
Senate Passes Cybersecurity Bill Amid Fears of Russian Cyberattacks
The Hill reported that the Senate unanimously passed The Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act, cybersecurity legislation that would require companies in critical sectors to alert the government of potential hacks or ransomware. The three-bill package comes as U.S. officials urge the private sector to gear up for possible Russian cyberattacks in retaliation for U.S. sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine. Read more here.
Utah Privacy Bill Lacking Right to Sue May Pave GOP States’ Way
Bloomberg Law reported that a consumer privacy law is on the cusp of enactment in Utah. The bill is similar to legislation enacted in Virginia last year, with wide carve-outs for financial and health data and no requirement that companies conduct data protection assessments related to the processing of sensitive information. Read more here.
‘Limited’ Progress Made on the Pentagon’s Plan to Deliver Real-Time Acquisition Data, Report Says
Government Executive reported that, while Congress wants a real-time reporting system to keep tabs on Pentagon spending, little progress has been made on bringing that system to life, and there are several questions around how the Department of Defense will deliver it, according to a recent watchdog report. Read more here.
Advanced Notice for MAS Refresh 10 and Upcoming Mass Modification
The General Services Administration (GSA) published a blog post to announce that the Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) is planning to issue GSA Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) Solicitation 47QSMD20R0001 – Refresh # 10 and an associated mass modification to all existing contracts in March 2022. The post outlines the upcoming changes associated with Solicitation 47QSMD20R0001 – Refresh # 10 and the mass modification. Read more here.
OMB: This Is the Year for Security Clearance Reform
Federal Computer Week reported that a top leader of the governmentwide effort to overhaul the personnel vetting process and its technology infrastructure says that this year “is the most significant, most consequential year for personnel vetting reform,” with policy changes; technology deployments; and onboarding of more employees, agencies and contractors expected in the next deployment of the system, called Trusted Workforce 2.0. The goal is to set up a single vetting system to easily allow clearance holders to move within and across agencies and to ditch periodic reinvestigations in favor of continuous vetting, in which automated record checks regularly review cleared individuals. Read more here.
House Panel Advances DHS Acquisition Bills
Government Executive reported that the House Committee on Homeland Security advanced a slate of bills that aim to provide significant improvements and increased oversight to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acquisition programs, including new congressional reporting requirements. The DHS Acquisition Reform Act and the Reducing Costs of DHS Acquisitions Act were referred out of committee after lawmakers reviewed a dozen bills. The committee focused on homeland security matters ranging from the Transportation Security Administration’s screening technologies to legislation that would prohibit any DHS employees or contractors from downloading the social media app Tik Tok on government-issued devices. The Reducing Costs of DHS Acquisitions Act requires department program managers to report major acquisition programs which have gone over budget or not met their established performance requirements to DHS’ undersecretary for management and Congress. Read more here.
Upcoming Government Contracts Presentations
WEBINAR: Flowdowns, April 6, Cy Alba. Read more here.
WEBINAR: Joint Venture and Mentor-Protege Bidding Strategies, April 26, Peter Ford and Meghan Leemon. Read more here.
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT
Senate Passes Measure Aimed at Undoing the Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Workers
Government Executive reported that the Senate voted to repeal President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for healthcare workers, which had been greenlighted by the Supreme Court. Read more here.
Pentagon Reservation Workers No Longer Need Masks
Federal News Network reported that the Pentagon is easing its COVID-19 restrictions on the reservation and employees are no longer mandated to wear masks. The Pentagon moved its health protection level from Charlie to Bravo. That means office spaces can move from 25% capacity to 50% capacity, meetings can have up to 49 people, and indoor seating will return at the food court. Read more here.
Procedures for the Handling of Retaliation Complaints Under the Taxpayer First Act
The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an interim final rule establishing procedures and timeframes for the handling of retaliation complaints under the Taxpayer First Act. The rule is effective March 7, 2022. OSHA also requested comments on the interim final rule, which are due May 6, 2022. Read more here.
LITIGATION & DISPUTE RESOLUTION
MOX Services to Pay $10 Million to Resolve Allegations That It Knowingly Presented False Claims to Department of Energy for Non-Existent Construction Materials
The Department of Justice reported that MOX Services LLC has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting false invoices for non-existent materials and receiving improper kickbacks. MOX was the prime contractor for the construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Read more here.
DOJ Announces Convictions of Two Texas Men on Fraud and False Statements Charges Involving $3 Million in Contracts Intended for Service-Disabled Veterans
The Department of Justice reported that a jury found two Texas men guilty on federal charges that they agreed to create a pass-through entity to get access to programs set aside for service-disabled veterans. They were charged with unlawfully obtaining more than $3 million in government construction contracts at Cannon Air Force Base. Read more here.
Federal Judge Awards $1M in Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority
Alabama Media Group reported that a U.S. District Court judge said the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority must pay $1,080,000 based on a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit filed by a former employee and former board chair alleging the agency did not comply with all federal regulations regarding grant funding from the Federal Transit Authority. The jury found damages to the U.S. government in the amount of $360,000, which was tripled by U.S. District Judge Corey L. Maze, as required by the FCA. The whistleblowers are entitled to receive up to 25% of the award, or $270,000. Read more here.