Congressional leaders appear to have finally reached a deal on top-line spending and other macro issues that will enable the passage of FY’23 appropriations by December 23rd. A one week CR was required as the previous measure expired on December 16th to give Congress enough time to put a final measure in place. That detail was taken care of last week, just hours before the deadline. This is all good news for contractors and their customers. If events unfold as expected all agencies will receive appropriations for the remainder of the 2023 fiscal year. Each individual office may have its spending number on or about the first week of February. Read more
Contractors can expect to see multiple new contract clauses over the coming months adding new requirements on climate change and cybersecurity to both existing and new contracts. That was the message delivered by GSA recently in an effort to provide industry with a “heads up” on how their government business may be impacted. To be clear, GSA was mostly acting as the messenger as the agency must formulate regulations in response to executive orders and legislation. They deserve kudos for trying to get the message out. GSA officials stated that they are tracking 27 executive orders right now that impact industry, government customers, or both. Four of those orders cover climate change issues. New rules coming soon include green house gas emission tracking and reduction plans, a re-write of FAR Part 23’s sustainable procurement rules, and requirements to minimize acquisition’s impact on climate change. GSA’s new Commercial Platform RFP already contains the green house gas requirements. Cyber-related rules could pose even more significant burdens on industry. Perhaps one of the largest impacts will be on software acquisition, where GSA expects that all companies providing software will have new security and supply chain requirements. Another rule will standardize cyber requirements for contractors that work with unclassified federal information systems. Companies that provide such services can expect to have to meet new security standards and provide enhanced documentation showing their compliance with them. GSA encouraged industry to closely track and submit comments on all proposed or interim rules. That is indeed sound advice. While the rules WILL come, industry can help shape their final forms to minimize some of the most serious impacts. Contractors should participate in the rule-making process and prepare to meet new requirements.
Government contractors, especially GSA companies, should take steps now to ensure that their information technology offerings comply with Section 508 disability access standards. According to an article on the FedScoop website, a new push is coming from Congress and the Department of Justice to oversee how both agencies and contractors have taken steps to comply with long-established rules mandating that most non “back office” IT be made accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. A majority report from Senate Special Committee on Aging specifically called for GSA, including that agency’s IG, to collect and publish Section 508 compliance information. This should be a wake-up call to contractors who must routinely self-certify that the IT solutions they provide are accessible. It may have been some time since contractors reviewed the compliance standards and, like any other area of contract compliance, regular reviews and training are important. It is important to understand that self-certifying is a representation that provided technology does comply. False Claims Act, and potentially other, penalties can be meted out by federal agencies for those that claim compliance, but don’t actually meet applicable standards. To be fair to industry, government agencies have gotten lax on Section 508 oversight as well, assuming that contractor self-certifications let them off the hook. The Majority Staff report, “Unlocking the Virtual Front Door” found that the Department of Veterans Affairs, alone, committed thousands of accessibility violations. The report noted that the issue of oversight extended to other federal agencies. Guidance on the standards your tech must meet can be found here: https://www.section508.gov/. Now is a great time to ensure that the IT your company provides is compliant and update your contracts as needed.
House Democrats are expected to introduce their own version of an FY’23 omnibus appropriations package today, just four days before the current Continuing Resolution (CR) expires. Whether or not this leads to the passage of a final measure this calendar year remains uncertain. Democrats have been moving ahead with their own plans all week, even as they remain about $25 billion apart on top-line non-defense spending with what Congressional Republicans want. The package would require 10 Republican votes to pass in the Senate, something that is not likely at this time, because of the top-line disparity and a desire by Read more
The House passed a unified FY’23 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week and the Senate is now poised to follow suit this week. Contractors should closely read the Section 800 title for procurement-related changes on issues such as increased cybersecurity reporting requirements, steps to create a standard definition of “Controlled Unclassified Information” (CUI), and provisions to support small business contracting. Section 5949 prohibits the government from purchasing semiconductor products from several manufacturers with close ties to the Chinese government after 2027. It also prohibits the government from doing Read more