June 18, 2024

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Key Considerations When Subcontracting with a Federal Government Contractor | Kristi Morgan Aronica – Weitz Morgan PLLC

Key Considerations When Subcontracting with a Federal Government Contractor | Kristi Morgan Aronica – Weitz Morgan PLLC

Federal procurement contracts can be a rewarding line of revenue for numerous corporations. But promotions among personal entities and the government are intensely regulated and increase myriad issues not observed in regular industrial options. Importantly, these one of a kind difficulties are not restricted to key contractors. Subcontractors, also, are certain by some of the authorized and contractual obligations that govern these procurements. The outcome is that private get-togethers working on govt jobs conclusion up with industrial agreements that consist of aspects of public deal legislation. These types of a scenario makes uncommon dilemmas and probable hazards for a practitioner unfamiliar with govt contracting. This report aims to assist by discussing some key things to consider when reviewing and negotiating a subcontract arrangement on a federal project.

Movement-Down Clauses

When an entity is awarded a authorities deal, specified provisions showing up in the prime deal invariably will have to be imposed on subcontractors. Other provisions are not expected, but ideal techniques dictate they ought to also be inserted as phrase against the sub. These are recognised as movement-down clauses. And, as alluded to, movement-downs can be necessary or discretionary. How they are labeled meaningfully impacts subcontract negotiations.

Flow-down clauses derive from the Federal Acquisition Restrictions as nicely as any applicable supplemental company-specific procurement rules. In some occasions, the rules mandate the clause be flowed down to subcontractors. Inclusion of required flow-downs in the subcontract settlement is non-negotiable. But if the regulation only calls for that the substance of the clause look in the subcontract, as opposed to the full textual content, then subcontractors are free to negotiate the language of the circulation-down provision.

Most movement-down clauses that prime contractors try to include in subcontracts, even so, are discretionary—the rules are silent on their imposition. In these cases, subcontractors are neither certain to acknowledge their inclusion nor the proposed language. And normally, they should really not, specifically when a prime contractor attempts to insert a slew of primary agreement clauses by way of incorporation by reference.

Terminations for Comfort

A termination-for-advantage provision is an illustration of a discretionary move-down that routinely seems in subcontract agreements. Each individual federal procurement agreement confers a termination-for-benefit appropriate on the federal government, irrespective of whether the language is particularly bundled, incorporated by reference, or fully remaining out and go through into the agreement by procedure of regulation. Therefore, any key contractor going through the chance of a termination for ease will want to hold a equivalent suitable against its subcontractor.

As a end result, termination-for-usefulness clauses in subcontracts are ubiquitous. And a subcontractor would be challenging-pressed to influence a key to strike it entirely. The far better class of action is to negotiate favorable conditions. For example, a subcontractor really should drive for a termination-for-ease clause in the subcontract that mirrors what seems in the key contract, as at the primary level, charges associated with the termination are normally recoverable. Moreover, subcontractors will want to negotiate a “government-only” provision these that the primary may well only training its termination-for-advantage legal rights as a consequence of the federal government terminating the primary agreement.

Privity and Pass-Via Promises

A fundamental tenet of public contract legislation is that subcontractors do not have privity of agreement with the government. Therefore, absent a willingness or contractual obligation for the key to sponsor a assert by a sub from the authorities, regarded as a go-by claim, the sub are unable to find recovery of any damages versus the entity that straight induced the harm (absent a number of judicially created exceptions to the privity rule). Move-through declare provisions in subcontracts are consequently critical for subcontractors in any other case, they are remaining bearing the possibility of and perhaps struggling from the damage triggered by the authorities with no recourse.

The go-via arrangement involving the events ought to be set up in a way that will endure a jurisdictional assault by the federal government defendant, having said that. It is critically essential that the key stay liable to the subcontractor for the damages. Comprehensive discharge of the prime contractor’s legal responsibility will defeat its capacity to deliver a assert versus the authorities for the damages sustained by its subcontractor. A superior approach is one based on contingent legal responsibility, where the sub releases the primary from liability if the primary agrees to convey the motion versus the governing administration and remit any recovery to the subcontractor.

Bogus Promises Act Liability and Indemnification

The False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729–33, is a federal statute utilized to fight fraud from the government. It delivers that any person who knowingly submits phony statements to the federal government is subject matter to considerable civil penalties. In depth and complicated jurisprudence exists above the requisite evidence required to make an FCA scenario. But contractors and subcontractors need to very well know that even an inadvertent fake submission can topic them to legal responsibility.

With that claimed, primary contractors normally include indemnification provisions specifically addressing FCA legal responsibility. But the indemnity must go the two ways. Subcontractors will want to negotiate for reciprocal indemnification in the FCA context. Moreover, the two parties will want to take into consideration and define indemnification language for losses incurred in situations that could guide to FCA legal responsibility, these as failure to comply with applicable regulatory demands or neglecting to recognize any non-compliance.

Dispute Clauses

The intermingling of business and public contract terms in subcontract agreements needs mindful critique of the dispute provisions. Normally, the key contractor will move down the disputes clause in the federal government deal, which, in many situations, is useful to the subcontractor. But generally, the subcontract will also have its individual dispute provision. And if the movement-down is through incorporation by reference, an inconsistency occurs over which just one applies. Courts vary on how to take care of this variety of conflict, and their decisions ordinarily include how the certain jurisdiction interprets the enforceability of move-down clauses. So it is vital for counsel to negotiate the exclusion of the primary contract’s dispute provision and in its place incorporate any factors of that clause agreed on by the functions into the textual content of the agreement’s dispute clause.


As adduced, a person of the numerous distinctive facets of procurement contracting is that the government’s arrive at extends past its deal with the awardee and into the industrial contracts involving the contractor and its subcontractors. And with the prevalence of government spending and teaming, it is probable that practitioners in varying fields will have a customer needing support with a subcontract settlement on a federal venture. The criteria higher than will give important perception to counsel enterprise subcontract evaluate and negotiation. And in transform, the shopper will be far better positioned to make the most out of a excellent option.