HUBZone Joint Ventures: FAR Council Gets It Wrong

The FAR Council’s proposed update to the limitations on subcontracting, and the DoD’s subsequent FAR deviation, have been met with widespread approval by small contractors.

But for HUBZone Program participants, the proposed rule and DoD deviation contain a glaring problem: a requirement that the HUBZone member of a joint venture take sole responsibility for meeting the applicable limitations on subcontracting.  This requirement, which doesn’t apply to joint venturers in other socioeconomic programs, is unfair to HUBZones, and at odds with SBA regulations.

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Limitations on Subcontracting: DoD Issues Comprehensive FAR Deviation

Earlier this week, the FAR Council issued a proposed rule to conform the FAR to the SBA’s regulation governing limitations on subcontracting.  But the DoD isn’t waiting around while the FAR Council finishes the process.

The DoD has issued a comprehensive FAR deviation, effective immediately.  The DoD’s FAR deviation will, effectively, temporarily conform the DoD’s use of the FAR to the SBA’s regulation while the FAR Council works on a final rule.

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FAR Update Clarifies SAM Registration Deadline

In last week’s edition of the SmallGovCon Week In Review, we referenced a FAR update that has important ramifications for prospective small business government contractors. This rule is potentially important enough that we figured it deserved its own stand-alone SmallGovCon post.

So what’s so important about this new rule? In a nutshell, it clarifies that offerors must be registered in SAM at the time of bid submission to be considered for an award.

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Limitations on Subcontracting: FAR Revisions May Be Delayed

At least a couple times a month, I’m asked when the FAR’s limitations on subcontracting provisions will be updated to correspond with SBA regulations adopted in 2016, and underlying statutory changes adopted way back in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.

Well, now it seems that the FAR updates may take longer than I’d hoped.  In its most recent “Open Cases” update, the FAR Council says that it’s made a switch in the procedure that will be used to implement the changes to the limitations on subcontracting–and that switch will likely delay the implementation of those changes by several months.

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Civilian Agencies May Increase Simplified Acquisition and Micro-Purchase Thresholds

Civilian agencies may issue class deviations to quickly implement provisions of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act increasing the micro-purchase threshold to $10,000 and the simplified acquisition threshold to $250,000.

In a memorandum for civilian agencies issued on February 16, the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council says that agencies may elect to adopt interim authority allowing their Contracting Officers to take advantage of these higher thresholds, even as the FAR Council goes through the formal process of codifying those changes.

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Limitations On Subcontracting: FAR Change In The Works

It’s been more than a year since the SBA issued a final rule overhauling the limitations on subcontracting for small business contracts.  The SBA’s rule, now codified at 13 C.F.R. 125.6, changes the formulas for calculating compliance with the limitations on subcontracting, and allows small businesses to take credit for work performed by similarly situated subcontractors.

But the FAR’s corresponding clauses have yet to be changed, and this has led to a lot of confusion about which rule applies–especially since many contracting officers abide by the legally-dubious proposition that “if it ain’t in the FAR, it doesn’t count.”  Now, finally, there is some good news: the FAR Council is moving forward with a proposed rule to align the FAR with the SBA’s regulations.

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New FAR Rule Restricts Employee Confidentiality Agreements

The FAR Council has added a new provision to the FAR to restrict the permissible terms of employee confidentiality agreements.

Effective January 19, 2017, contractors wishing to do business with the federal government will need to certify that they do not limit the ability of their employees to report waste, fraud, or abuse to appropriate government officials.

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