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Former DCAA general counsel joins law firm

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John Farenish, former Defense Contract Audit Agency general counsel, has joined the Venable law firm’s government contracts group in Washington, D.C., the firm announced Friday.

Farenish spent the last 13 years at DCAA, which audits the financial records of government contractors,  litigates cases involving contractors and is also responsible for suspension and debarment proceedings against contractors.

Prior to DCAA, Farenish served as counsel in the Navy’s Procurement Integrity Office, held criminal investigations posts for the Defense Department Inspector General and Army Criminal Investigation Command, and prosecuted cases during active duty with the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps.

“Our contractor clients will benefit tremendously from his experience and insights in ensuring that their work is DoD-compliant and can withstand the toughest audit,” said Brock Landry, chairman of Venable’s Government division.

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New rule: contractors must give employees union info

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Government contractors and subcontractors are now required to post signs that “inform their employees of their rights as employees under federal labor laws.” Acquisition workers will have to write the provision into every contract they write from now on.

The rule went into effect yesterday, about a month after the Labor Department published it in the Federal Register. It’s based on a Jan. 30, 2009 executive order from President Obama. The president wrote at the time that his order was “designed to promote economy and efficiency in government procurement.  When the Federal Government contracts for goods or services, it has a proprietary interest in ensuring that those contracts will be performed by contractors whose work will not be interrupted by labor unrest.”

Essentially, the order and the rule are designed to ensure that employees are aware of their right to join a union. The move is part of a package of labor-related executive orders issued in early 2009. One, related to collective bargaining agreements on large construction projects, already resulted in a change to federal procurement rules. Two others are still working their way through the pipeline.

Rebecca Pearson of the Washington law firm Venable said the information contained in the notices required to be posted under the new rule is fairly benign, but that the move is part of the Obama administration’s larger “pro-union agenda.” She also worried that the rule allows for contractors to be suspended or disbarred if they don’t comply.

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