On September 9, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14042, “Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors.” The Executive Order requires that federal department and agency contracts include a contractual clause forcing all contractors and subcontractors to comply with COVID-19 safety guidance published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (the “Task Force”). Since the release of the Executive Order, the Task Force issued guidance mandating COVID-19 vaccination for all employees of covered federal contractors by December 8, 2021.
The vaccine mandate applies to the following federal contracts:
(1) new contracts awarded on or after November 14 from solicitations issued before October 15; (2) new solicitations issued on or after October 15 and contracts awarded pursuant to those solicitations; (3) extensions or renewals of existing contracts and orders awarded on or after October 15; and (4) options on existing contracts and orders exercised on or after October 15.
Issuance of Agency Deviations to Implement Executive Order 14042, September 30, 2021. The Task Force guidance specifically excludes contracts below the simplified acquisition threshold ($250,000) and contracts or subcontracts for the manufacture of products.
In its guidance, the Task Force “strongly encourages” federal departments and agencies to apply the vaccine mandate requirements to contracts that do not fall into the categories listed above. The guidance suggests that many federal departments and agencies will attempt to require COVID-19 vaccination for contractors with existing contracts. Contractors with existing federal contracts are concerned they will not be able to: (1) recover the costs associated with enforcing a vaccine mandate, or (2) appropriately address delays resulting from a vaccine mandate in their existing contracts. Most likely, many federal departments and agencies will request that contractors execute a bilateral change to amend the existing contract and incorporate the new COVID-19 vaccine mandate.