Wednesday, September 29, 2010

FAR Now Says You Can't Text While Driving - Good Grief

The FAR Councils just released FAC (Federal Acquisition Circular) No. 2005-46 which contains a number of changes that will be of general interest to Government contractors. We will report on a select few in due course but we wanted to alert everyone right away to a change that is certain to have a ground shaking impact on companies who want to do business with the U.S. Government.

This all started about a year, October 1, 2009, when the President issued an Executive Order 13513 requiring every Federal agency in procurement contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements, and other grants to encourage contractors and subcontractors to adopt and enforce policies that ban text messaging while driving company-owned or rented vehicles, or while driving POV when performing any work on behalf of the Government. It took a year but the Government finally got the directive incorporated into the FAR. Good thing, too. The FAR needs more girth.

The contract clause now required in contracts and subcocntracts states that contractors (and subcontractors) should adopt and enforce policies than ban text messaging while driving company-owned or rented vehicles or Government-owned or privately owned vehicles when performing any work on or behalf of the Government. Further, the contractor should conduct initiatives such as establishing new rules and programs or re-evaluations of existing programs to prohibit text messaging while driving, and conduct education awareness and other outreach to employees about the safety risks associated with texting while driving.

The clause has no teeth. It states that contractors "should" adopt and enforce policies. It does not require that contractors adopt and enforce policies. Nevertheless, it will probably show up in some kind of self-certification some day (like drug-free workplace) and some auditor, thinking he/she is doing something useful, will ask you for your policies and procedures that ban texting while driving and check on your enforcement procedures.

By the way, if you are ever need to find the definition of "driving", you can now look it up in FAR 52.223-18. Take that, Mr. Webster.

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