Robert Huffman Quoted by PubKLaw on Cybersecurity Challenges in Government Contracting

Akin Gump government contracts practice head Robert Huffman was quoted by PubKLaw for its article “Cybersecurity Concerns Fuel New Conflicts In Government Acquisition” on the potential impact that cybersecurity will have on contracting in the near future.

The article notes that federal agencies are demanding more security from contractors via clauses in contracts and through regulation, which creates conditions for legal wrangles on a number of topics.  These demands, it notes, could also engender disputes between contractors and their subcontractors and suppliers.

Huffman believes that this tension will be particularly acute between Defense Department contractors and commercial item suppliers who are unused to the rigors of government requirements. 

He said, “Where the disharmony comes is in the required flowdown to commercial item contractors and other suppliers, not only in cyber requirements, but in other requirements.”

Huffman noted that these types of flowdown provisions have been included in regulations on human trafficking and counterfeit electronic parts, adding, “No one is off the hook just because they’re a commercial item contractor, and this going to require all kinds of people who previously didn’t have to deal with these requirements, to deal with them.”

Huffman also said that cybersecurity companies may not seek government contracts due to the number of other obligations “flowed down” in them, such as affirmative action rules and anti-human-trafficking rules: “When a commercial item contractor gets hit not only with the UCTI [unclassified controlled technical information] rule, but with another layer of contractual requirements that are flowed down from a prime contractor, that is way beyond anything the rest of the commercial world is facing. They are being forced into particular technical solutions, on a contract by contract basis almost, and once they sign up to a contract like that, it brings in a lot of the other flown down requirements in the DFARS [Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement].”