By: Edward T. DeLisle & Maria L. Panichelli
On August 27, 2012, FAR council issued a final rule entitled Reporting Executive Compensation and First-Tier Subcontract Awards (“the Rule”). Although this Final Rule was implemented just last month, it has been a topic of discussion on Capitol Hill for over six years.
In 2006, the Federal Funding Accountability & Transparency Act of 2006 (Pub. L. 109-282, 31 U.S.C. § 6101 note) (“FFATA”) was enacted, with a two-fold purpose: (1) to reduce “wasteful and unnecessary spending;” and (2) to ensure that the public can access financial information on entities and organizations receiving federal funds, which included federal government contractors and their subcontractors. FFATA required all federal contractors to divulge, through the use of a website set up by the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), contract and subcontract award information for all contracts over $25,000. Contractors’ reporting responsibilities were further expanded by the Government Funding Transparency Act of 2008 (“GFTA”). GFTA amended the FFATA to provide that contractors report, in addition to contract and subcontract award information, the names and total compensation of the five most highly compensated officers of those entitities. On July 8, 2010 an interim rule was put in place, requiring Federal contractors to comply with the new reporting requirements.
It was this interim rule (with a few minor modifications) that was ultimately implemented on August 27, 2012. Under the Final Rule, prime contractors must report contract and first-tier subcontract awards, and the names and executive compensation of the five most highly compensated officers of both the prime contractor, and its first-tier subcontractors. The information must be reported by the end of the month following the month of a contract award, and annually thereafter, in the Central Contactor Registration system (“CCR”)(now the “System of Award Management” or “SAM”). All of the information is to be made accessible to the public through www.usaspending.gov.
Compliance with the rule requires that contractors fully understand the reporting requirements, which can be rather complicated. Accordingly, some guidance concerning the reporting requirements is set forth below.
Subcontract Award Reporting
This requirement is applicable to all Contracts with a value of $25,000 or more, but there is no requirement to disclose classified information. This represents a change from the interim rule, which included language stating that it did not apply to classified contracts; the Final Rule expands this provision to state that nothing in the statute requires disclosure of “classified information.” The Final Rule deleted an additional exception that had been contained in the interim rule, namely that the rule did not apply to contracts with individuals. There is no such exemption in the Final Rule. There is also no exemption for COTS or commercial items.
A “First-Tier Subcontract” is defined as a subcontract “entered into by the [Prime] Contractor to furnish supplies or services for performance… It includes, but is not limited to, purchase orders and changes and modifications to purchase orders, but does not include contracts that provide supplies or services benefiting two or more contracts.” FAR 52.204-10(a). This too represents a change from the interim rule. The interim rule’s definition of “first-tier subcontracts” has been modified slightly, to clarify that the definition does not include long-term contracts for supplies and materials that are not solely related to a single, applicable contract. According to the preamble of the Final Rule, this change is meant to give contractors “greater flexibility” in determining what type of company qualifies as a “first-tier subcontractor.”
An extensive list of the information contractors must report regarding first-tier subcontract awards can be found at FAR 52.204-10(a).
Executive Compensation Reporting
Contractors and applicable Subcontractors must comply with this requirement only if that contractor or subcontractor, in the preceding fiscal year, received eighty percent (80%) or more of its annual gross revenues and twenty-five million or more in annual gross revenues from federal contract awards, AND if the public did not otherwise have access to this executive compensation information from other publically available sources (for example, through SEC or IRS filings).
The category of subcontractors required to report executive compensation is limited to “First-Tier Subcontractors,” which is defined in the same manner as set forth above. The Subcontractor is required to report to the prime contractor names and total compensation of each of the five most highly compensated executives for that subcontractor’s preceding completed fiscal year. The Prime Contractor, in turn, is required to report this information, along with its own executive compensation information to the extent that it falls within the parameters of the Rule.
For purposes of disclosure under the final Rule, both “executive” and “compensation” are defined broadly. Compensation includes not only salary, but also:
– (1) bonus;
– (2) awards of stock, stock options, and stock appreciation rights;
– (3) earnings for services under non-equity incentive plans;
– (4) change in pension value;
– (5) above-market earnings on deferred compensation which is not tax-qualified; and
– (6) other compensation, if the aggregate value of all such other compensation (e.g., severance, termination payments, value of life insurance paid on behalf of the employee, perquisites or property) for the executive exceeds $10,000.
“Executive” is defined as any officer, managing partner, or any employee in a management position.
The prime contractor must report executive compensation information in two different locations. For subcontractors, the information is entered into the FFATA Sub-award Reporting System (“FSRS”). For contractor information, primes must use the Federal Procurement Data System (“FPDS”), where certain required information will be pre-populated by the government. Prime Contractors must note two things here: First, as to first-tier subcontractors, the prime is responsible for notifying its subcontractors that the required information will be made public. Second, regarding its own information, under the Final Rule it is the prime’s responsibility to check and correct any inaccurate information pre-populated in FPDS.
This Rule places prime contractors in the precarious position of collecting and reporting not simply their own information, but information from others. How can a prime assure itself that it is collecting and reporting the full extent of the subcontractor information required? How can it ensure that the information it receives from its subcontractors is accurate? These are troubling issues and prime contractors will have to develop risk management systems to assist with compliance. Specifically, prime contractors should establish a mechanism, through their subcontracts, for example, to notify subcontractors of the reporting requirements and what information must be provided. However, since the reporting obligation applies to the prime contractor and not subcontractors, it will not be sufficient to merely “flow down” the actual reporting responsibilities. Having subcontractors certify the information provided may also assist prime contractors in protecting themselves from the risks associated with the Rule. And primes must not forget about reporting their own information. Systems for collecting, reporting and updating this information must be established to remain compliant. Oh, the joy of dealing with the federal government…
Edward T. DeLisle & Maria L. Panichelli has been closely following the development of this Rule since its inception and has advised many contractors with regards to compliance.