The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is responsible for developing information security standards and guidelines—including minimum requirements for federal information systems. At the end of February, NIST released its Final Draft of Special Publication (SP) 800-171A—Assessing Security Requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information.

First proposed in November 2017, the publication means to provide agencies and contractors with guidance regarding how to conduct assessments under the prominent cybersecurity standard NIST SP 800-171—Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations. This standard acts as the foundation for how contractors must protect all forms of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).

Continue Reading Final Draft of NIST SP 800-171A Still Open for Comments

On January 24, 2018, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) denied a bid protest that in part, focused on the issue of price credit. VT Halter Marine, Inc. (VT) protested the award of a Department of the Army contract—for design and manufacture of maneuver support vessels (MSVs)—to Vigor Works LLC (VW). VT alleged the agency misevaluated the proposals and made an unreasonable source selection decision. The GAO disagreed. This bid protest provides a great example of the importance of understanding up front how the government plans to calculate price credits and how those credits can make your proposal more advantageous to the government.

Continue Reading Learning from Bid Protests: Price “Credits” for IP Rights

Teaming Arrangements under the FAR

Under Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 9.6, a contractor teaming arrangement is when:

  1. Two or more companies form a partnership or joint venture to act as a potential prime contractor; or
  2. A potential prime contractor agrees with one or more other companies to have them act as its subcontractors under a specified government contract or acquisition program.

Both of these arrangements have the potential to help small businesses increase the number of solicitations they can confidently bid on, but both also come with their own set of limitations to consider.

Continue Reading What Small Businesses Must Consider When Using Teaming Arrangements or Joint Ventures

In 2016, Congress instructed the Department of Defense (DoD) to review its procurement regulations by convening a panel of procurement professionals—from both the public and private sectors. This panel became known as the Section 809 Panel (809 Panel). Congress instructed the 809 Panel to recommend amendments or repeals of defense procurement regulations. The 809 Panel’s objective was to help streamline or improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the defense acquisition process while still maintaining an advantage in defense technology. While Congress and the DoD are not required to adopt these recommendations, the report shows an attempt to define the issues in modern federal procurement and improve upon the old system. Continue Reading Section 809 Panel Releases First Volume of Recommendations for the Overhaul of DoD’s Acquisition Process

In mid-January, the General Services Administration (GSA) released their Semiannual Regulation Agenda. Within this agenda, GSA announced plans to update requirements in the General Services Administration Acquisition Regulation (GSAR)—concerning reporting cyber incidents that potentially affect GSA or its contractors.

The agency will be turning to the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA), along with other cyber regulations, as a model on how to update its policies. These updates would be improvements to the existing cyber incident reporting policy within GSA Order CIO 9297.2—i.e. GSA Information Notification Policy. By integrating these updated policies into the GSAR, contracting officers would be required to include cyber incident reporting requirements within all of their procurement contracts. Continue Reading General Services Administration Announces Plans to Update Cybersecurity Requirements for Contractors

Our attorneys will be participating in a panel discussion on unique M&A issues in government contracts. The panel will address key M&A issues, including due diligence, differences in transactions with public and private companies, and solutions to common government contracts issues.

Sylvia Yi will moderate and Todd Overman will be a panelist for this event that will be held at Wiley Rein in Washington, D.C.


Continue Reading Event: Due Diligence and Unique M&A Issues in Government Contracts

Veteran-owned small businesses have long faced inconsistencies between the regulations of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and those of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). For example, these inconsistencies can lead to companies qualifying as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) under VA standards yet but not SBA standards—or vice versa. This issue came to a head recently at the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (COFC) in Veterans Contracting Group, Inc. v. United States.

In a decision issued on December 15 and made public on December 21, the COFC restored a company’s ability to pursue contracts set aside for small businesses owned by disabled veterans by the VA. The decision came a day after the COFC reluctantly backed the SBA’s determination that the same company did not qualify for set-aside contracts under its rules. These conflicting decisions show the struggle the COFC and contractors face when dealing with inconsistent small business rules from two agencies.  

Continue Reading COFC Decision Foreshadows VA Proposed Rule on Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Eligibility Rules

  • MoneyGram and Ant Financial mutually terminate $1.2 billion proposed merger
  • CFIUS’s concerns focused on cyber and information security
  • Scrutiny of buyers’ information security processes is likely to increase

By Thad McBride and Todd Overman with help from law clerk Nicole Giles

On January 2, 2018, U.S.-based MoneyGram International announced that its proposed acquisition by Ant Financial, a Chinese company owned by Alibaba, was being blocked by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).  CFIUS is the U.S. government’s inter-agency committee tasked with reviewing foreign entities’ purchases of and investments in U.S. companies when the transaction could pose a threat to U.S. national security.

Continue Reading CFIUS Continues Focus on Information Security, Blocks Chinese Acquisition of MoneyGram

The U.S. Court of Federal Claims recently issued a 2017 statistical report—covering the government’s fiscal year October 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017. During this time, 652 suits filed were filed at the Court and 1,035 suits disposed of within the 12 month period. Of the suits filed, over 42% were contract dispute or protest related, almost 15% taking cases, and 8% tax related. With the overall disposal rate of cases increasing by 82% over the previous year, the Court had its most productive year out the past 12 years. Plaintiffs seeking relief at the Court received around $1.3 billion in judgments and settlements—a nearly $500 million increase from 2016 and the largest amount since 2007. The government, on the other hand, was awarded only $4.3 million in counterclaims, sanctions or offsets.

Continue Reading U.S. Court of Federal Claims Reports on Busy and Productive FY17

In an unsealed opinion on October 30, 2017, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Nancy Firestone held that a company, which should have been deemed ineligible from bidding, was allowed to proceed with a contract award because cancelling the deal would be too harmful to the government.

Continue Reading Mentor Protégé Joint Venture Allowed to Proceed with Contract Even Though Ineligible to Bid