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Casey advises contractors on a broad range of federal contracting issues, including the filing of bid protests, interpretation of solicitation and contract provisions, resolution of disputes, and the preparation of contract claims and the litigation of appeals. He also counsels clients on complex questions concerning the intricacies of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR), domestic preference requirements such as the Buy American Act and Trade Agreements Act, and day-to-day issues that arise from contract performance.

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In our last post, we detailed President Biden’s Executive Order 14042 regarding vaccination requirements for government contractors. The order made clear that a new clause requiring vaccinations would be included in new contracts in the near future, but questions remained about which employees would ultimately be subject to the requirements. On September 24, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force) issued guidance that answered many of those questions.
Continue Reading New Guidance on the Vaccination Mandate for Federal Contractors

Government contractors and subcontractors will need to learn—quickly–how to navigate new COVID-19 requirements. On September 9, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order (the order) imposing COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements on government contractors and subcontractors. The new requirements will start appearing in contracts in a matter of weeks. Below are the key points that federal contractors need to know.

How will the vaccine requirement be implemented?

The order directs all executive departments and agencies to begin including a new and yet unwritten clause in solicitations, contracts, and contract-like instruments. The clause must state that the contractor will comply with all guidance issued by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force) that pertains to a contractor or subcontractor’s workplace locations.


Continue Reading New COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Government Contractors

In a typical bid protest, the protester argues that its proposal should have been evaluated more favorably or that its competitors should have received a less favorable evaluation. However, in a recent bid protest, the protester turned those arguments on their head, instead arguing that its proposal was so poor that the government owed the protester an opportunity to remedy its shortcomings.

The solicitation called for awards to be made on the basis of a best-value tradeoff. With regard to price, the solicitation called for consideration of both price realism (whether a price is too low) and price reasonableness (whether a price is too high). After proposals were submitted, the Army conducted multiple rounds of discussions with offerors to provide them an opportunity to clarify and improve the proposals. During those discussions, the Army issued more than 100 evaluation notices (EN) to the protester, DynCorp, noting issues with its proposal, including 39 related to price. Ultimately, DynCorp was not awarded a contract because its proposal received lower technical ratings than its competitors and its prices were the highest of all offerors.
Continue Reading Recent Federal Circuit Decision Highlights the Limitations of Discussions

The SBA made numerous changes to its regulations in the past year, but the FAR Council has largely failed to keep pace. Then, earlier this month, the FAR Council published three final rules to implement long-awaited changes to the FAR’s small business contracting requirements. While the changes concern small business contracting requirements, they will impact business contractors of all sizes. For example, one of the rules makes noteworthy changes to the FAR’s Limitations on Subcontracting, resulting in a more friendly regulatory landscape for small business prime contractors. Another of the rules provides clarity for large business contractors who seek to demonstrate “good faith efforts” to comply with a small business subcontracting plan. The new changes bring the FAR’s small business contracting requirements in line with the SBA’s regulations and will be incorporated into new contracts beginning on September 10, 2021.
Continue Reading What FAR Council Updates to Small Business Contracting Requirements Mean for Large and Small Business Contractors

Elected officials in Washington, DC appear to have identified one topic that both parties can agree on—strengthening domestic content requirements on federal projects. In February 2021, we alerted contractors not only to Buy American Act changes previously implemented by the Trump administration but also to the potential changes addressed in a Biden administration executive order. Holding true to its word, the Biden administration recently issued a proposed rule that would make additional changes to an already complicated legal framework. Below are the key takeaways for contractors.

Continue Reading Contractor’s Guide to Biden’s Buy American Act Changes: Buy More (and More and More) American

The Buy American Act includes a preference for “domestic end products” and “domestic construction materials” on federal projects absent a waiver. Prior to recent revisions, domestic end products and domestic construction materials were those that were: 1) manufactured in the U.S.; and 2) made up of at least 50% domestic components or, alternatively, were Commercially Available Off-The-Shelf (COTS) items.

The FAR Council recently issued a final rule that makes substantial changes to the FAR’s Buy American requirements (FAR 52.225-1, 52.225-3, 52.225-9 and 52.225-11) in accordance with Executive Order 13881, “Maximizing Use of American-Made Goods, Products, and Materials.” The revised FAR clauses became effective January 21, 2021, and are to be inserted in all new contracts beginning February 22, 2021. The final rule made three key changes to the FAR’s Buy American requirements:
Continue Reading Important Changes to the Buy American Act – Key Updates for Contractors

Late last year, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a lengthy final rule that made changes to various SBA regulations. While the SBA highlighted its changes to the Mentor-Protégé program, the rule will have wide-ranging impacts on small business contracting, including the treatment of a small business offeror’s capabilities, past performance, and experience.

Prior to the issuance of the SBA’s new rule, FAR 15.305(a)(2)(iii) stated that an agency “should” consider the past performance of key subcontractors, but the use of “should” left agencies with broad discretion to consider (or not consider) subcontractor past performance. In many cases, agencies still issued solicitations that explicitly precluded consideration of subcontractor experience. Such limitations prevented small business offerors from using key subcontractors or a teaming arrangement to establish the required experience and past performance.
Continue Reading SBA Changes Ensure Small Businesses Can Utilize Teaming Arrangements and Subcontractor Experience

As the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 evolves and worsens, there are many novel questions that government contractors and government agencies face. Certain FAR clauses that limit a contractor’s right to recover damages need to be revisited, including the clause entitled “Default (Fixed-Price Construction)” found at FAR 52.249-10. Under this clause, delay resulting from an Act of God, such as an epidemic, is excusable, but it is also non-compensable. This holds out the very real possibility of significant financial harm to construction contractors and seems to run counter to the government’s objective of preserving companies so that there will be an economic recovery once the crisis is over.

Currently, Department of Defense agencies are making every effort to treat projects as essential to the national defense and contractors are permitted, and in some cases directed, to continue performance. Since the government wants projects to continue, and government contractors want to keep working, there appears to be a commonality of interest. Contractor employees, however, are increasingly concerned about their personal health and safety and, in some cases, are refusing to report for work. This is compounded by the Permits and Responsibilities clause (FAR 52.236.7), which requires contractors to comply with “State, and municipal laws, codes, and regulations applicable to the performance of the work.” Accordingly, even though the federal government requires work to continue, state and local governments may be requiring people to maintain social distancing and stay at home. Even if exemptions are granted for government contractors working on essential projects, that does not lessen the legitimate concern of workers who are fearful of health risks.
Continue Reading Delays Resulting From Coronavirus May Be Both Excusable and Compensable

The coronavirus crisis has made life difficult for Americans on both a personal and work-related level. While concern about personal health is paramount, the health of the economy cannot be ignored. The recently enacted stimulus package brings vital short-term relief, but the long-term health of the economy will be driven by how quickly people can get back to work.

The construction industry has, in some cases, been exempted from “stay at home” rules because construction projects are frequently regarded as essential activities. That being said, many state and local projects are being delayed as reported by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) as shown on its excellent interactive map. In federal construction, however, the government seems to be doing its best to keep projects moving, although that could become impossible if the pandemic worsens.
Continue Reading Virtual Counsel for Federal Construction Contractors Impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic

The coronavirus epidemic has disrupted our world in ways we could not have imagined a few weeks ago. In the midst of the crisis, the federal government is trying to do everything possible to keep businesses afloat, and that includes the continuation of current federal projects. We recently published a blog post addressing steps contractors should consider in order to protect their rights under contracts they are currently performing, but there is also a question about whether contractors should bid new projects. That is the focus of this article.

Almost all federal construction and supply contracts are solicited on a firm fixed-price basis. This type of contract is designed to provide the greatest opportunity for reward, coupled with the attendant risk of bidding incorrectly and incurring additional costs. The cost estimates that contractors must prepare before submitting a bid or proposal require a reasonable degree of foreseeability and certainty in the marketplace. In times of significant inflation or a shortage of resources as occurred during the energy crisis of the 1970s, it is difficult to predict the cost of materials for the life of a project. What we now face is far more disruptive. We are in the midst of a pandemic that is making it impossible to predict the availability, at any price, of labor, equipment, and materials in the weeks and months ahead. Predicting prices under those circumstances has nothing to do with sound business judgment – it requires a crystal ball.
Continue Reading Bidding Federal Work During the Coronavirus Crisis