I am looking forward to presenting at ETEBA’s 2019 Business Opportunities & Technical Conference (BOTC) which takes place at the Knoxville Convention Center on October 8-10, 2019. More than 400 participants will gather at the 20th annual BOTC to learn about upcoming opportunities with prime contractors and government procurement officials in the energy, environmental and defense markets, and to build contacts and relationships with key decision-makers, teaming partners, and potential clients.

In addition, there will be technical and training sessions featuring outstanding speakers who will showcase their specialized technical expertise, new and unique technological advances, and project success stories. My session is titled, “Mentor Protégé Joint Ventures – the new ‘Small Business’ Frontier – but only if Done Right!”

Stop by the exhibit hall to visit Bass, Berry & Sims at booth number 121.

For information and registration, please visit the ETEBA website. Let us know if you’ll be there!

  • U.S. government continues to impose sanctions on parties supporting Iran
  • One Cypriot and three Panamanian companies sanctioned for connection to Venezuela
  • European bank fined for prohibited transactions involving Sudan

The U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the main U.S. government body that administers U.S. economic sanctions and embargoes, continues to be busy.  In September 2019 alone, OFAC has announced new sanctions designations, new penalties, and new regulations on a nearly daily basis.

Many of these actions are largely administrative in nature.  For example, in the September 4 Federal Register, OFAC announced new U.S. sanctions on Nicaragua.  While the regulations (at 31 CFR Part 582) are in fact new, the prohibitions contained in the regulations are not: the regulations merely implement Executive Order 13,851, which was issued by President Trump in November 2018.

We nonetheless want to briefly summarize three actions taken by OFAC to date in September 2019.  As described below, we think these actions provide useful insight into how OFAC is operating currently.

Continue Reading Sanctions Update: Additional Iran and Venezuela Designations, Penalty for Sudan Violations

A recent decision in Sotera Defense Solutions, Inc. v. Department of Agriculture, CBCA 6029, 6030, by the United States Civilian Board of Contract Appeals (CBCA), upheld a contract provision that imposed greater obligations on the government than required by the Service Contract Act (SCA). The validity of this contract provision ultimately proved dispositive in the outcome of the case with the CBCA holding the government liable for costs.

In 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded Sotera a contract for the provision of information technology (IT) services. The contract stated that the positions in the contract were exempt from the SCA but advised that a contracting officer would have to determine whether the SCA applied to any positions requested within the task order. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued three task orders against the NIH contract to Sotera in which the USDA sought IT operations and maintenance support for offices located throughout the United States.

Continue Reading Equitable Adjustment Appropriate Where Agency Assumed Contractor’s Duty to Identify SCA Positions

I am excited to be presenting a training seminar titled, “Trends and Changes in Federal Contracting FY 20” for the Florida Procurement Technical Assistance Center (Florida PTAC).

The interactive seminar will provide insight into the world of federal government contracting for Fiscal Year 2020 and new initiatives that will impact federal businesses in the next 12 months.

Continue Reading Trends and Changes in Federal Contracting for Fiscal Year 2020

In an article published by Law360, we examined a report issued by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General on July 23, which summarizes the findings of an audit into the protection of controlled unclassified information (CUI) on contractor networks.

The DoD reviewed nine contractors’ information systems and revealed some deficiencies that do not meet the standards set forth in National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-171. The exposed deficiencies include: not mitigating vulnerabilities on their networks and systems, not scanning their network for vulnerabilities, not mitigating high vulnerabilities identified in the contractor’s management programs and more.

Continue Reading Findings of DoD Audit and Recommendations for Cyber Enforcement

  • Virtually all transactions with government prohibited
  • Most transactions with private sector parties still permitted
  • Practical challenges make Venezuela transactions difficult, including for non-U.S. parties

On August 5, 2019, President Trump issued Executive Order 13,884 (EO 13,884), which significantly expands existing U.S. sanctions on Venezuela.

Pursuant to EO 13,884, virtually all transactions with the government of Venezuela are now prohibited.  There are some important exceptions to that prohibition, and those are discussed below.

While this is not an absolute embargo on Venezuela, it is quite close.  And even when a transaction with Venezuela may be lawfully permitted, the practical challenges and the risk of conducting the transaction may make it nearly impossible to complete successfully.

Continue Reading Venezuela Update: Significant Sanctions Restrictions Imposed

I am excited to be presenting, along with Bass, Berry & Sims litigation attorney Lindsey Fetzer, a 90-minute CLE webinar hosted by Strafford on FCPA compliance on September 18, 2019 titled, “FCPA Compliance: Meeting FCPA Requirements and Minimizing Liability Risks.”

The webinar will examine the requirements of the FCPA and other anti-bribery laws, and provides insights into the compliance challenges associated with gifts and hospitality, third party due diligence, and maintaining appropriate internal controls. We will also discuss recent enforcement action in the context of offering best practices for compliance.

Other key questions that will be answered:

  • When do gifts to foreign officials cross the line from respecting local customs and culture to being viewed as bribery?
  • What unique FCPA risks are created by different types of third parties?
  • What records are companies mandated to maintain under the FCPA books and records requirement?
  • What steps should companies and counsel take when misconduct is suspected or discovered?

Click the link below for more information and let me know if you register!

Register now for FCPA Compliance: Meeting FCPA Requirements and Minimizing Liability Risks

GovCon & Trade Webinar SeriesPlease join us on September 17, 2019, at 1:00 p.m. EDT as we launch a series of complimentary briefings via webinar that will serve as an extension of this blog and feature timely and practical guidance on key topics of interest.

We will host the first GovCon & Trade briefing that will highlight recent bid protest decisions involving asset deals and corporate reorganizations, and their impact on pending bids.

Given the continued high volume of transactions in the federal marketplace, buyers and sellers need to be aware of the developing body of case law at GAO and COFC regarding how acquisitions are impacting pending bids and the steps that parties can take to protect those bids in certain situations.

The discussion will highlight recent cases and provide practical guidance on diligence, deal timing, and communications with government customers regarding transactions.

Who Should Attend

Executives and management professionals, including general counsel and other in-house legal and compliance personnel of government contractors, financial institutions and manufacturers.

Register Now

 

*IMPORTANT: Audio for this webinar will come through computer speakers, so please be sure you are in a space that can accommodate. If you do not have access to a computer with speakers, please email Claire Krummenacher who will provide you with a call-in option. You can also contact Claire with any other questions regarding this webinar.

The Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General recently issued a report summarizing the findings of an audit into the protection of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) on contractor networks.  Based on an in-depth review into nine contractors, the audit uncovered some common practices that fall short of meeting the standards set forth in NIST SP 800-171, which contractors are obligated to follow under DFARS 252.204-7012.

Shortcomings Discovered in DoD Audit

These common lapses include the following, among others:

  • Inconsistent tracking of cybersecurity threats
  • Failure to consistently mitigate network vulnerabilities
  • Uneven use of strong passwords
  • Inconsistent use of multifactor identification

Continue Reading Vulnerable Systems: Contractor Protection of Controlled Unclassified Information at Risk

  • OFAC proposes new reporting requirement for rejected transactions
  • Agency issues guidance on dealing with Iran
  • Additional parties designated under Magnitsky sanctions program
  • Careful diligence of international transactions and business partners is essential

On a regular basis over the past several months, the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has introduced new sanctions requirements, guidance, and restrictions.  OFAC is the U.S. government agency which administers most U.S. sanctions programs.

Many of these measures have been quite targeted.  For instance, on July 29, 2019, OFAC designated Kim Su Il as a Specially Designated National (SDN) of North Korea.  According to the SDN listing, Kim Su Il is a resident of Vietnam.  Thus the designation, while limited to Kim Su Il, demonstrates one of the challenges of U.S. sanctions compliance: many SDNs reside in or are nationals of countries against which the United States does not otherwise maintain sanctions.

Continue Reading Update on U.S. Sanctions: New Requirements, Continuing Enforcement