Government Contracts & Investigations Blog

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Federal cannabis reform is once again on the move in Congress. On Friday, April 1, 2022, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the latest iteration of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. This is Congress’s oldest comprehensive measure, and it aims to decriminalize cannabis on the federal level by removing it from the list of controlled substances while providing certain social reforms to address the detrimental repercussions of the War on Drugs.[1]
Continue Reading The House Does It Again: MORE Act Ready for Senate Action

Procurement Collusion Strike Force

The Procurement Collusion Strike Force, formed by the Department of Justice in 2019, is ramping up enforcement pressures against government contractors. The Strike Force brings together the DOJ Antitrust Division criminal offices, state Attorneys General, and federal agencies such as the Department of Defense and Federal Trade Commission.[1] The Strike Force is an effort to crack down on anticompetitive activities in public procurement, which the DOJ views as particularly susceptible to the costs of collusive activity.[2] The Department was already devoting significant resources to public procurement crimes,[3] and the Strike Force represents
Continue Reading Government Contractors Facing Increased Antitrust Scrutiny

The inattention some companies pay to their ethics and compliance program never ceases to surprise us. You’d think the frequency of DOJ press releases and prosecutions holding companies accountable for employee wrongdoing would be enough to scare any business into directing more resources at prevention. But alas, many businesses, often over the protestations of their under-resourced Chief Ethics and Compliance Officers (CECOs), continue to think they can get by with a minimalist approach to ethics and compliance. Our experience suggests otherwise.
Continue Reading DOJ’s Renewed Focus On Corporate Ethics & Compliance Programs Highlights Importance Of Organizational Integrity

The United States is engaging in a new form of warfare. Russia invaded Ukraine just over two months ago and, rather than join the fight directly by sending troops to defend Ukraine, the United States is fighting indirectly by engaging in unprecedented financial warfare against the Russian Federation. The initial export and sanctions actions were swift and severe – but somewhat expected. As the invasion persists, the U.S. Federal Government and individual States also have begun to leverage procurement policy to amplify the financial harm to Russia. This Guide will try to help make sense of the current efforts targeting
Continue Reading The Government Contractor’s Guide to (Not) Doing Business with Russia

On April 18, 2022, the Biden Administration (through the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”)) issued OMB Memorandum M-22-11 (the “Guidance”)[1] relating to the “Buy America” sourcing requirements under the “Build America, Buy America” portion of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”), Pub. L. No. 117-58, §§ 70901-70953. The Act aimed to strengthen Made in America Laws in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order 14005, “Ensuring the Future is Made in America by All of America’s Workers” (discussed previously here). In addition to tasking the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council with amending FAR regulations for the Buy
Continue Reading “Build America, Buy America” – New Guidelines Issued for U.S. Infrastructure Projects

The Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) Office of Hearing and Appeals (“OHA”) rejected a small business government contractor’s 8(a) participation determination appeal as untimely, notwithstanding the contractor’s claim the termination letter at issue was sent to a junk email folder.
Continue Reading SBA OHA Says Small Business on Notice of Email in Junk Folder: Appeal Untimely

On March 18, 2022, the Department of Defense (“DOD”) issued its long-awaited Final Rule implementing Section 818 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (“NDAA FY 2018”), and formally codifying defense contractors’ rights to post-award enhanced debriefings. Contractors have been bound by a Class Deviation implementing these requirements since March 2018, with DOD only issuing its proposed rule in May 2021. Though the Final Rule largely tracks the proposed rule, it does include several important clarifications, and, of course, directly impacts timeliness rules for filing post-award protests of DOD awards at the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”).
Continue Reading The Impact of DOD’s Enhanced Debriefings Rule on Bid Protest Timeliness

On March 8, 2022, just five months after the creation of the Department of Justice’s (“DOJ”) new Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative (previously discussed here), the DOJ announced its first settlement of a cyber-related fraud case. Under the settlement agreement, Comprehensive Health Services LLC (“CHS”) will pay $930,000 to resolve whistleblower allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by (among other things) failing to properly store and handle confidential information. This likely is just the start for increased cyber-related enforcement actions.
Continue Reading Well, That Didn’t Take Long – DOJ Announces its First Settlement of a Civil Cyber-Fraud Case

Over a year after the Biden Administration issued Executive Order 14005 on “Ensuring the Future is Made in America by All of America’s Workers,” (discussed previously here) the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (“FAR Council”) has published a Final Rule (87 Fed. Reg. 12780) implementing changes to the Buy American Act (“BAA”) regulations at FAR Subpart 25.1 and 25.2. These new rules require (eventually) for federal agencies to procure end items manufactured in the United States that are at least 75% domestic content – a drastic increase from the current 55% domestic content requirement. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. We’ve been
Continue Reading Few Surprises – New Rule Implementing Biden’s “Made in America” Changes the Buy American Act Effective October 2022

On March 2, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Powers laid out a significant and aggressive criminal enforcement agenda for the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice. While speaking at the the ABA National Institute on White Collar Crime in San Francisco, CA, Powers began his remarks by noting that the Division’s Criminal Section currently had 18 indicted cases against 10 companies and 42 individuals, including 8 CEOs or Presidents. DAAG Powers also noted that the Section had 146 open grand jury investigations – more than at any time in the last thirty years and “expect[ed] to stay busy this
Continue Reading Executives Beware: DOJ Antitrust Division is Taking a Hard Look at a Wide Spectrum of Potential Criminal Violations

Hope soared with the possibility of federal cannabis reform in 2021. And for good reason – the induction of a new, more liberal administration, rapid state-level legalization, broad support by Americans,[1] and growing bipartisan backing led many to believe that 2021 was going to be the year where federal decriminalization of cannabis would become a reality. But, as 2021 continued on, optimism dwindled as any advancement in federal cannabis reform was hobbled by the inability of Congress to agree on the appropriate level of reform and the proper mechanics for passage. Specifically, tension rose amongst the elected Democrats on
Continue Reading Federal Cannabis Reform – Is 2022 the Year?

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, passed on November 15, 2021. Included in the $1.2 trillion spending package are expansions to various “Buy America” provisions, a set of statutes and regulations that apply to federal financial assistance used to support infrastructure-related projects. “Buy America” requirements differ from the requirements under the Buy American Act of 1933, which focuses on direct procurement by the federal government.
Continue Reading Buy America Provisions in the Infrastructure Bill: What this Means for Foreign Companies

Debriefings provide disappointed offerors an invaluable opportunity to hear from agencies directly as to why contract award decisions came out the way they did. Debriefings can also extend the deadlines to file a timely protest in the Government Accountability Office and to file a protest entitled to an automatic stay of the awarded contract’s performance under the Competition in Contracting Act. But debriefings are not without their traps for the unwary. The Federal Acquisition Regulation sets forth specific rules as to when and how a debriefing must be requested, as well as when and how the aforementioned deadline extensions are
Continue Reading So Your Proposal Lost – Now What? Understanding Debriefings

As we head into the new year, it seems like a good time to check-in on the adjusted small business set-aside thresholds for 2022. As you may recall, the threshold are tied both to the micro-purchase threshold and the simplified acquisition threshold. While these rates are periodically adjusted for inflation, the thresholds remain unchanged going into 2022. Currently, the micro-purchase threshold is $10,000 and the simplified acquisition threshold is $250,000. Here’s what that means for small business set-asides:
Continue Reading What Are the 2022 Small Business Set-Aside Thresholds?

Software companies selling indirectly to the Federal Government finally received an answer to a question that has lingered for years – can a software company going to market through a reseller bring a direct claim under the Contract Disputes Act (“CDA”) against the Federal Government for violating a term of the software company’s End User License Agreement? Sadly, the answer is “no.”
Continue Reading Software Companies Beware: Board Holds Subcontractor Cannot Enforce EULA Directly Against Federal Government

Just when you didn’t think things could get any weirder, on Friday, January 21, 2022, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia issued a ruling clarifying its prior EO 14042 injunction (currently on appeal to the 11th Circuit, and discussed previously here) by refusing to clarify the injunction. Yes, you read that right. Let us explain.
Continue Reading Executive Order 14042 – Update 15.0: U.S. District Court “Clarifies” Its Injunction Applies Only To The Vaccine Mandate