United States: What’s New Out There? Highlights From The Federal Register - September 29, 2014

SBA Proposes to Increase Small Business Size Standards (79 Fed. Reg. 54145; 79 Fed. Reg. 53646)

The U.S. Small Business Administration ("SBA") proposes to increase small business size standards for: (1) 209 industries in North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) in the manufacturing sector; and (2) industries with employee based size standards not part of manufacturing, wholesale trade, or retail trade.  These proposed rules are parts of a series of proposed rules that will review the size standards of industries.

To be eligible for Federal small business assistance, SBA has established size definitions for small private sector businesses.  There are two basic metrics that SBA uses for these standards: average annual receipts and average number of employees.  Depending on the industry and program, other factors such as financial assets, electric output, refining capacity, industry-based standards, or net income may also be used.  Since the last time the SBA conducted a comprehensive review of the size standards in the late 1970s and early 1980s, SBA has received a barrage of comments stating that the size standards have not kept up with the changing economy, particularly in the Federal contracting marketplace.  Accordingly in 2007, SBA began a comprehensive size standards review to determine whether they are consistent with existing data and to make adjustments where appropriate. SBA is reviewing size standards on a sector by sector basis.  A NAICS Sector generally includes 25-75 industries, but the NAICS Sector 31-33 (Manufacturing) in this proposed rule includes more than 350 industries. The second proposed rule in this category increases employee based small business size standards for 30 industries and three sub-industries, and decreases them for three industries that are not part of NAICS Sector 31-33, Sector 42 (wholesale trade) or Sector 44-55 (retail trade).

DoD Proposes Rule for Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") Program to Improve Disclosure of Information (79 Fed. Reg. 52499)

The Department of Defense ("DoD") has proposed a rule that would promote uniformity in the FOIA program.  The rule incorporates Executive Order 13392, which directs agencies to improve the way information is disclosed.  Under the rule, DoD's policies and procedures will be streamlined and enhanced to process FOIA requests in an efficient manner.

DoD, GSA, and NASA Propose to Amend the FAR to Create a Uniform Federal Procurement Line Item System (79 Fed. Reg. 45408)

The Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration have jointly proposed amendments to the FAR that would create a standardized line item identification structure. The proposed uniform system of line items would be implemented in Fiscal Year 2016.

DoD Issues an Interim Rule to Prohibit the Procurement of Commercial Satellite Services from Certain Foreign Entities (79 Fed. Reg. 45662)

The Department of Defense issued an interim rule, effective August 5, 2014, amending the DFARS to prohibit the award of commercial satellite services contracts to certain foreign entities.  Prohibited foreign entities include any entity the Secretary of Defense reasonably believes is: 1) "an entity in which the government of a covered foreign country has an ownership interest that enables the government to affect satellite operations"; or 2) an entity that "plans to, or is expected to, provide or use launch or other satellite services under the contract from a covered foreign country." The People's Republic of China, North Korea, and any state sponsors of terrorism are covered foreign countries (the Secretary of State has determined that Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria are currently state sponsors of terrorism). Offerors must represent whether they are, or are offering commercial satellite services provided by, a covered foreign entity. The government may award to one of the prohibited foreign entities if it is determined to be in the national security interest of the United States and a national security assessment is submitted to the congressional defense committees. The amendment implements Section 1602 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014.

OFCCP Proposes That Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Provide a "Equal Pay Report" (79 Fed. Reg. 46561)

The Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs issued a proposed amendment to 41 C.F.R. § 60-1.7 that would require certain Federal contractors and subcontractors to submit annually an "Equal Pay Report." OFCCP foresees using the reports to identify potential pay violations and deter compensation discrimination. The report would contain a summary of compensation information by sex, race, ethnicity, and total hours worked by job category. While the categories mirror those in the EEO-1 Report, the Equal Pay Report would include all W-2 earnings information for the entire calendar year. The information contained in the report would be protected to the maximum extent allowable under the Freedom of Information Act. OFCCP will publish an Equal Pay Report in an Information Collection Request.

The proposed report would be required of Federal contractors with more than 100 employees and with a contract, subcontract, or purchase order of $50,000 or more that will be performed for at least 30 days. Contractors who fail to file the Equal Pay Report would be subject to contract cancelation, suspension, termination, or debarment.

DoD Proposes to Amend DFARS to Require E-Submission of Scientific and Technical Reports (79 Fed. Reg. 51293)

The Department of Defense proposed a rule to amend DFARS 252.235-7011, Final Scientific or Technical Reports, to require contractors electronically submit the approved final scientific or technical report. Currently, contractors must mail two printed copies of the report.

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