Later this month, the GSA will issue a refresh to all GSA Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) to incorporate new provisions and clause updates. Even if you are already a GSA Schedule holder, keep reading – a bilateral modification will be issued for your contract.
On March 31, 2017, the United States Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA) dismissed a contractor’s claims against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for a lack of jurisdiction, stating that the contractor should have secured a final decision from the General Services Administration (GSA) prior to filing its claim. According to the CBCA, since the dispute was over the terms of a GSA Schedule contract and not over contract performance, proper procedures call for a decision from the GSA Schedule contracting officer before the CBCA can weigh in on the dispute.
As we previously reported, Congress has taken its final steps in repealing Obama’s Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces rule, one of the most controversial rules enacted by the Federal Acquisition Regulatory (FAR) Council under President Obama. On February 6, the Senate gave the final vote of approval of the House Resolution overturning the rule, and on March 27, President Trump, unsurprisingly, signed the Resolution into law. At the same time, he also signed legislation overturning three other rules, including the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s land use planning rule and two rules issued by the U.S. Department of Education. Though much of the Fair Pay rule had never been implemented due to a court injunction, this legislation formally revokes the rule and ensures that the FAR Council cannot enact a similar rule without Congressional approval.
As we previously reported, following the start of the Trump Administration, Congress has moved aggressively to overturn regulations passed in the final days of the Obama Administration through the rarely-used powers in the Congressional Review Act (CRA). This focus on CRA actions, which is in keeping with the Trump Administration’s broader goal of eliminating costly regulations, has taken time and attention in the early days of the 115th Congress because the CRA gives Congress a limited amount of time to reverse regulations. One of the rules that has been targeted for elimination is the Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces rule, a rule subject to much debate and controversy since its enactment in August 2016. Recent Senate action makes it likely that the rule, which would have imposed billions of dollars in costs on taxpayers over the next decade, will be eliminated next week.
Just a few days into Donald Trump’s presidency, he has already taken actions that raise potential challenges and opportunities for federal contractors. In his Memorandum of January 23, 2017, Trump imposed a hiring freeze on civilian employees. The order also states that “[c]ontracting outside the Government to circumvent the intent of this memorandum shall not be permitted.” The order requires the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to “recommend a long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government’s workforce through attrition” within 90 days (i.e., late April of this year). The order will expire upon implementation of the OMB plan. In the short-term, this creates obvious challenges for agencies and their contractors seeking new employees to perform government services.
On February 2 the House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 37, which would nullify the Fair Pay & Safe Workplaces rule issued on August 25, 2016. If the identical pending joint resolution is passed by the Senate, S. J. Res. 12, and signed by the President, the entire rule will have no force and effect and no similar regulation could be issued in the future without express Congressional authorization. The legislation did not reverse the accompanying Department of Labor guidance or the underlying Obama Executive Order, but both would also be effectively nullified by voiding the regulation.
The U.S. Department of Labor has issued its final rule requiring federal contractors to provide at least seven days or 56 hours of paid sick leave each year to employees who perform work on covered federal contracts. This rule is the final implementation of Executive Order 13706, which President Obama issued in September 2015. The new rule becomes effective on November 29, 2016, though in most instances, as discussed below, it will only be applicable to new contracts awarded on or after January 1, 2017. Contractors should, however, take steps now to ensure compliance.
On July 14, 2016, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a revised version of its proposal to expand pay data collection from federal contractors and other employers with more than 100 workers. The revised proposal pushes back the date of the first required employer report to allow for the use of W-2 wage and salary reports.
The EEOC initially published its proposed rule in late January. The proposed rule expands the information certain employers must report to the federal government on an EEO-1 report. The EEOC’s proposal would add data on pay ranges and hours worked to the information currently collected.
The EEOC considered and adopted specific suggestions made by commenters during the initial 60-day comment period that ended earlier this year. For example, the EEOC moved the due date for the EEO-1 survey from September 30, 2017 to March 31, 2018, to simplify employer reporting by allowing employers to use existing W-2 pay reports, which are calculated based on a calendar year. In addition, the EEOC agreed to give employers the choice of reporting either a 40-hour week for full-time exempt and 20-hour week for part-time exempt workers, or in the alternative, providing an annual report for such employees. This change is in response to employer concerns for the non-standard weekly hours for this category of workers. The updated rule comes with a fresh, 30-day comment period that runs until August 15, 2016.
On Thursday, February 25, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor proposed new rules to implement Executive Order 13706, which requires certain federal contractors to provide qualifying employees with at least seven days of paid sick leave each year, including paid leave for family care. These new rules are scheduled to go into effect by September 30, 2016, and employers who contract with the federal government should prepare for their implementation now. Noncompliance could result in suspension of federal payments or even termination of a federal contract.
The new rules generally apply to any employer who contracts with the federal government, whether pursuant to a prime contract or a subcontract, provided that the contract is either: (1) covered by the Davis-Bacon Act (DBA); (2) covered by the Service Contract Act (SCA); or (3) a contract in connection with federal property or lands and related to offering services for federal employees, their dependents or the general public. A contract is covered by the DBA if the contract is in excess of $2,000 and the principal purpose of the contract is for the construction, alteration and/or repair of public buildings or public works. A contract is covered by the SCA if the contract is in excess of $2,500, and the principal purpose of the contract is to provide services in the United States through the use of service employees.