The Department of Agriculture’s Office of Procurement and Property Management has issued a direct final rule that would require its contractors to attest that they and their subcontractors, to the best of their knowledge, are in compliance with all applicable labor laws, and report any violations to their contracting officer. Specifically, the rule would add a subpart and clause entitled “Labor Law Violations” to the Agriculture Acquisition Regulation (AGAR) providing the language that must be included in all UDSA solicitations and contracts exceeding the simplified acquisition threshold (currently $150,000). If adopted, the provision would read as follows:
Labor Law Violations
In accepting this contract award, the contractor certifies that it is in compliance with all applicable labor laws and that, to the best of its knowledge, its subcontractors of any tier, and suppliers, are also in compliance with all applicable labor laws. The Department of Agriculture will vigorously pursue corrective action against the contractor and/or any tier subcontractor (or supplier) in the event of a violation of labor law made in the provision of supplies and/or services under this or any other government contract. The contractor is responsible for promptly reporting to the contracting officer when formal allegations or formal findings of noncompliance of labor laws are determined. The Department of Agriculture considers certification under this clause to be a certification for purposes of the False Claims Act. The Department will cooperate as appropriate regarding labor laws applicable to the contract which are enforced by other agencies.
The agency issued a substantively identical proposed rule along with the direct final rule explaining that if no adverse comments on the proposal are received within the 60-day response window, no further action will be taken and the terms will take effect 90 days after the rule’s December 1, 2011 publication in the Federal Register. In the event the USDA receives adverse comments, the agency would withdraw the direct final rule and address those comments in a subsequent rulemaking.
Comments for either the proposed rule or direct final rule may be submitted electronically through the federal eRulemaking portal, or by email to: Procurement@usda.gov with the subject line “48 CFR 422 Direct Final Rule” or “48 CFR 422 Proposed Rule.” Alternatively, written comments may be mailed to: Office of Procurement and Property Management, Procurement Policy Division, MAIL STOP 9306, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-9303, or hand-delivered to Room 262, Reporters’ Building, 300 7th Street SW, Washington, DC.
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