September 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 262

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September 17, 2021

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Laws and Regulations Affecting Government Contractors

Supreme Silence on FOIA Exception

Not all information is free. As such, the Supreme Court earlier this month declined to examine the bounds of the “trade secrets” exception to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”). As a result, a group of New Hampshire abortion opponents have been denied access to Planned Parenthood’s Manual of Medical Standards and Guidelines.

The Justices declined New Hampshire Right to Life’s request for review of a lower court’s decision not to release Planned Parenthood’s medical manual. According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, the medical manual is covered by a FOIA exception that protects “trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person [that is] privileged or confidential.” Only two members of the High Court—Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia—voted to hear New Hampshire Right to Life’s case, short of the four Justices required to issue a writ of certiorari. As such, the antiabortion group will not be able to obtain copies of the manual, which was produced to the government as part of a $1 million federal contract.

Sources: Supreme Court Won't Take Up Case Over Planned Parenthood Documents (Available here)

GAO Encourages Greater Tech Competition; Emails Not Under Umbrella of Cloud Services

The Peace Corps has to give more contractors access to a piece of the competition action.

Or so said the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) earlier this month when it sustained the protest of Onix Networking Corp., an IT solutions firm that was precluded from bidding on an email services contract for the international volunteer program.

After issuing a Request for Information to potential contractors, the Peace Corps decided not to issue a Solicitation. Instead, the Corps attempted to wedge the requisite email services into an existing cloud-based services delivery order with En Pointe Gov Inc. The Corps argued that the email services were cloud-based and “merely the next logical step in updating the agency’s existing computing environment.” GAO disagreed, noting that the scope of the Request for Information, which considered using Google and Microsoft based email products, was broader than the scope of the En Pointe Gov delivery order. En Pointe Gov was the awardee under a competition limited to authorized Microsoft resellers; Onix Networking, which responding to the Peace Corps’ Request for Information, is a reseller of Google products.

Ultimately, GAO recommended that the Peace Corps conduct a full and open competition or issue a proper justification and approval for the Microsoft-based product.

Source: Peace Corps Can’t Shoehorn New Email Services Into Existing Order, GAO B-411841, Onix Networking Corporation (Available here)

© Polsinelli PC, Polsinelli LLP in CaliforniaNational Law Review, Volume V, Number 342
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About this Author

Walter A. I. Wilson, Polsinelli PC, Government Contracts Lawyer, Federal Supply Chain Attorney
Senior Partner

With more than 40 years of procurement law and litigation experience, Mr. Wilson is the leader of the firm's Government Contracts practice, and he is involved in all phases of government contracting, representing domestic and international clients in all areas of federal supply, service and construction contracts. He is experienced with bid protests, compliance with federal laws and regulations, Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) and compliance audits, federal supply schedule procurements, contract administration, change order negotiations, claims and disputes. While...

202.626.8394
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