Army Improperly Extended Contracts, GAO Says

The Army improperly used FAR 52.217-8 (Option to Extend Services) to extend several contracts for periods much longer than the six-month maximum allowed by the clause.

This conclusion comes from a recent GAO study, in which the GAO determined that the Army improperly applied FAR 52.217-8 in three out of five contracts studied by the GAO.  And although the GAO’s report was narrowly focused on a handful of Army contracts, it leads me to wonder whether FAR 52.217-8 is being improperly used on a much broader scale.

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EEOC’s Proposed Pay Disclosure Rule Will Impact Larger Contractors

On January 29, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a proposed modification to its Employer Information Report (EEO-1) form that will impact employers—including federal government contractors—with 100 employees or more.

Under the proposed modification, beginning in September 2017, these employers will be required to report their employees’ pay ranges and hours worked, broken down by the gender and race/ethnicity of employees. Contractors with 50 to 99 employers, who must also complete EEO-1s, would be exempt from the new requirement.

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New Background Check Agency Will Affect Contractors

Contractors often complaint that the background check process is slow, while contractors and their employee alike worry about information security in the wake of a sensitive OPM data breach that leaked the personal information of millions of government workers and contractors. Now, a change to the background check process is coming.

The White House announced last week that a new government agency would be taking charge of conducting background checks on all federal employees, Armed Services members, and civilian contractors. The government hopes the change will speed up background checks on contractors, many of whom have to wait months before a background check is completed, while also maintaining security over personal information. Of course, as with any government roll-out of a new initiative, it remains to be seen whether the new agency will live up to expectations.

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Buy Indian Act: New Policy Memo Aims To Increase Set-Asides

Buy Indian Act set-asides might increase following the Department of the Interior’s recent release of a Buy Indian Act National Policy Memorandum.

In the January 2016 Memorandum, the DOI establishes a policy of maximizing the use of the Buy Indian Act and increasing the number of Buy Indian Act set-asides.  The Buy Indian Act Memorandum comes in the wake of a GAO Report issued last summer, which criticized the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service for their implementation of the Buy Indian Act.

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New Bill Would Require “Transparency” In Small Business Goaling

A new bill introduced in the House of Representatives would require the SBA to count contracts performed overseas when calculating the government’s achievement of its small business goals.

The bill would codify a policy that the SBA already says it is in the process of adopting–and one that will likely lead to a perceived drop in the government’s small business goaling achievement in Fiscal Year 2016.

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Unpaid Federal Taxes Will Mean “No Contracts” Under New FAR Provision

Under a new FAR provision effective in February 2016, the Government typically will not enter into a contract with any corporation that has an unpaid Federal tax liability that is not being contested or timely repaid.  The same new FAR provision prohibits the Government, in most cases, from awarding a contract to a company recently convicted of a Federal felony.

The new FAR provision requires a corporate offeror to represent whether it has any unpaid tax liabilities or recent felony convictions.  If the answer to either question is “yes,” the Government cannot award a contract unless it has first considered suspension or debarment of the offeror, and determined that suspension or debarment is unnecessary to protect the Government’s interests.

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Bridge Contracts Need Improved Oversight, Says GAO

In a recent GAO review of three agencies’ use of bridge contracts, the agencies in question had “limited or no insight into their use of bridge contracts.”

According to a recent GAO report, a lack of effective guidance for the use of bridge contracts contributed to potential misuse–such as several so-called “bridge” contracts that were longer than three years in duration.

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