This post was written by Joelle E.K. Laszlo.

“Efficiency” and “transparency” are on the lips of many government regulatory types these days. Along these lines, the FAR Council has proposed a process for determining whether the President may waive in a particular circumstance the standing prohibition in FAR section 25.702 on doing business with entities that conduct certain types of business in Sudan. That section prohibits Federal contracting with entities that engage in “restricted business operations” as defined in the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007, including activities related to power production, mineral extraction, oil, and the production of military equipment. While the section permits the President to waive the prohibition on a case-by-case basis, the FAR contains no criteria to govern the section 25.702 waiver process. The FAR Council’s recently-proposed amendments aim to change this situation, by establishing greater consistency in the process.

To bring about this consistency, the amendments would make two specific changes: first, they would establish the particular information an agency must provide when requesting a section 25.702 waiver; second, they would institute a formal process for reviewing agency waiver requests. In addition to requiring pieces of data one would expect (i.e., the agency’s and contracting entity’s names, complete addresses, and points of contact), the proposed amendments would require an agency seeking a waiver to provide market research-supported justification for contracting with the proposed entity, assurances that is it “in the national interest” to grant the waiver, and details on “humanitarian efforts engaged in by the [entity], the human rights impact of doing business with the [entity] for which the waiver is requested, and the extent of the [entity’s] business operations in Sudan,” including its relationship to other entitles that conduct prohibited business operations in the country. Under the proposed amendments, after being reviewed and cleared by the head of the requesting agency, these details would be forwarded to the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, which would consult with the President’s National Security Council, Office of African Affairs, and the Department of State Sudan Office and Sanctions Office, in reviewing the waiver request.

The Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007 is one of a composite of regulations and statutes addressing the activities of U.S. persons and business in Sudan and/or with Sudanese nationals. Importantly, the “restricted business operations” designated in the Act, and the actions prohibited under the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations, at 31 C.F.R. Part 538, will remain just as restricted and prohibited as they currently are, even if the proposed FAR amendments are adopted as drafted. Parties interested in commenting on the proposed FAR amendments may do so until December 6.