Raising the Roofs . . . and Floors: Acquisition Thresholds in the Time of Emergency

As many contractors have heard, the President declared a state of emergency under the Stafford Act. What will this mean for acquisitions conducted while the COVID-19 emergency continues? In this post, I’ll dig into some contractor-specific effects of that declaration: modifying the micro-purchase, simplified acquisition, and commercial purchase acquisition thresholds.

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GAO: Trade Agreements Act Inapplicable to Small Business Set-Asides

It’s no secret that federal government contracting has the reputation of being a seemingly endless morass of regulations. In fact, the confusion frequently associated with federal contracting was on full display in a recent GAO protest that implicated the SBA’s nonmanufacturer rule, the Buy American Act, and the Trade Agreements Act. In a procurement that invited bids from both large and small businesses, a large business contractor argued that the application of certain small business contracting regulations would unfairly advantage the small business participants. GAO disagreed, and dismissed the protest because any advantage was the result of the regulations operating as intended. Sometimes it pays to be a small business.

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GAO Investigates Buy American Act Exceptions and Waivers

The Buy American Act includes a number of waivers and exceptions. The Section 809 panel, for one, has called for expanding these exceptions, at least for the DOD. A recent GAO report examines how agencies apply the existing waivers and exceptions to the Buy American Act.

GAO’s general opinion is that agencies should improve their Buy American Act data reporting and enhance training on its waivers and for procument personnel. The report also provides some interesting details about the scope of the Buy American Act, and how agencies implement it.

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Section 809 Panel Recommends Changes to Domestic Purchase Preferences

The Section 809 panel is the Congressionally-mandated group that has made a number of far-reaching recommendations to change current programs that affect DOD acquisitions.

Another one of their ideas is to eliminate certain domestic purchasing preferences by having Congress create exceptions for DOD purchases and create a public interest exception for the Berry Amendment. The panel’s concern is that the purchasing restrictions can result in higher prices, reduced volume, or delivery delays.

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GAO: Bid Was Responsive Despite Missing Information Regarding Buy American Act Exception

The Buy American Act generally requires construction contractors to use domestically-made materials, unless an exception applies. One important exception allows contractors to use foreign-produced materials when the cost of domestic material is six percent more expensive. To quality under this exception, however, a contractor must provide certain information outlined by the FAR with its bid.

But what if a contractor doesn’t provide every piece of required information? Is its proposal automatically doomed as non-responsive? Not necessarily. A recent case shows that offerors may have some wiggle-room.

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SmallGovCon Week In Review: May 30 – June 3, 2016

June seems to have crept up on us, but here we sit enjoying warm temperatures and sunshine. Hopefully you are making plans for some summer rest and relaxation. While you kick back this weekend by the pool, we are happy to bring to you some weekend reading material in this edition of SmallGovCon Week In Review. 

This week’s top governing contracting stories include an inquiry on DoD Buy American Act waivers, the continued push to “dump the DUNS,”  False Claims Act allegations regarding pricing, a construction company settles a SDB fraud claim for $5.4 million, and more.

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Buy American Act Fraud: Contractor To Pay $3 Million

A government contractor will pay a total of $3 million to resolve civil and criminal allegations that it violated the Buy American Act by using non-compliant foreign materials on federally funded construction projects–and falsified documents in an attempt to hide its violations.

According to a Department of Justice Press release, Novum Structures LLC not only will pay $3 million, but will be debarred from federal contracting.

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