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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.