With the exponential spread of COVID-19, owners, contractors, and design professionals are recognizing the substantial impact this pandemic will have on the construction industry. Several states issued shelter-in-place orders, resulting in the suspension of some construction work.[1] In some states, this has resulted in work stoppages on some of our nation’s largest infrastructure projects. The financial impact of these work stoppages will be significant. As a result, parties to construction agreements have looked to their force majeure clauses for guidance on how these issues should be addressed.
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Federal contractors already subject to a myriad of reporting requirements should be prepared for yet another. Effective December 23, 2019, a new Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) provision entitled “Reporting of Nonconforming Items to the Government Industry Data Exchange Program” requires federal contractors and subcontractors to report to the Government-Industry Data Exchange Program (“GIDEP”) certain counterfeit or suspect counterfeit parts and certain major or critical nonconformances. The new FAR provision (48 C.F.R. § 46.317) and clause (FAR 52.246-26) applies to both civilian and defense contracts over the simplified acquisition threshold, currently $150,000.

Where did this rule come from?


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President Trump continues to push forward with his “Buy American, Hire American” initiative with the issuance of his third Executive Order No. 13881 (the “Order”) on July 15, 2019, entitled “Maximizing Use of American-Made Goods, Products, and Materials.” This Order attempts to strengthen the standards that federal agencies must follow under the Buy American Act (“BAA”) by raising the threshold for domestic purchasing requirements.
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Congress enacted the Buy American Act (“BAA”) during the Great Depression, in order to protect American industry from foreign competition on federal procurement contracts. While the BAA is simplistic in its policy goal of promoting domestic purchasing, government contractors and subcontractors are often faced with complex and confusing rules for compliance.
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The typical government contract contains a laundry list of standard Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) or Defense Federal Regulation Acquisition Supplement (DFARS) clauses that outline the requirements for the construction or services to be provided. These clauses are either expressly stated, i.e. written out in full length in the contract, or incorporated by reference to a particular provision which the contractor must research for the specific language. But contractors beware: not all contracts are what they seem. Since 1963, courts have held that certain clauses are so integral to public procurements that they are deemed incorporated by operation of law, even if they are omitted from the contract.
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