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The General Services Administration has issued a Class Deviation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic amending certain requirements in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”), effective March 30, 2020, and the General Services Acquisition Regulation (“GSAR”), effective February 19, 2020, regarding the signing/sealing of surety bonds.  Prior to the change, FAR 28.106-1, identified forms and instructions for when a bid bond, performance bond, or payment bond is required. These result in the requirement of a raised or adhesive seal on the bond.  Further, GSAR 528.202 required corporate surety bonds to have a manual signature and an affixed corporate seal in addition to the contracting officer (CO) manually verifying acceptability of the bond with a signature.  These clauses did not allow for any deviation from the above requirements.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the GSA has issued a deviation from FAR 28.002, with the amended version now providing “electronic, mechanically-applied and printed signatures, seals and dates may be used and shall be considered original signatures, seals and dates, without regard to the order in which they were affixed.”  In addition, the deviation amends FAR 28.106-1, which now states “the bond forms shall be used as indicated in the instruction portion of each form​, except that a seal is not required​.”  Thus, any requirement that a payment, performance, or bid bond be manually signed and contain either a adhered or raised seal is suspended under the deviation.  Finally, the deviation removes GSAR 528.202, which required a manual signature and physical seal on corporate surety bonds, as well as GSAR 528.202-70, which required the Contracting Officer to verify the acceptability of the bond and include a signature.  Class Deviation CD-2020-05 is effective until rescinded by the GSA or permanently incorporated into the FAR and GSA.  Thus, any contracts or solicitations incorporating the above clauses after the effective dates above are affected by this deviation.

In light of this deviation, contractors should be aware that for existing awards, sureties do not need to provide manual signatures and physical seals on payment and performance bonds.  For current or future solicitations, contractors should further be aware, and ensure sureties are aware, that bid bonds similarly do not require physical signatures or seals.  The full memorandum from the GSA regarding this class deviation can be found here:

New Jersey Supreme Court rules on March 10, 2015 that New Jersey’s Trial Court’s are now responsible for determining how many homes should be made available to low and moderate income residents in municipalities. The Trial Courts will make affordable housing determinations on a case by case basis opening the door to challenges by low and moderate income residents as well as developers against municipalities to determine whether the municipalities are in compliance with its fair share obligations. The Supreme Court took this drastic step as a result of COAH’s failure to meet two separate deadlines to establish new rules that were imposed by the Court.

In a decision rendered January 22, 2015 in the Thomas Griepenburg v. Township of Ocean (A-55-13), the Court concluded that the Township of Ocean’s ordinances rezoning a large tract of land, including most of plaintiffs’ property, from residential and commercial use to an Environmental Conservation district, thereby restricting future development of their property municipal zoning ordinances represent a legitimate exercise of a municipality’s power to zone property consistent with its Master Plan and Land Use Law (MLUL) goals.

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