Government Contracts & Investigations Blog

Latest updates on Developments Affecting Government Contracts & Investigations

Latest from Government Contracts & Investigations Blog

On June 16, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) lacks the authority to administer a two-year pilot program designed to review the fees and rebate structure used by U.S. stock exchanges.  As discussed in our previous article, major U.S. exchanges, such as New York Stock Exchange, CBOE,  Global Markets, and Nasdaq sought review to challenge the pilot program.  In New York Stock Exchange LLC  v. SEC, No. 19-1042 (D.C. Cir. Jun. 16, 2020), the Court sided with the exchanges, holding that the SEC exceeded…
Just as you’re probably tired of reading COVID-19 articles, we’ve grown tired of writing them.  So, in an effort to party like it’s 2019, we’ve decided to survey the non-COVID-19 initiatives underway at the General Services Administration (“GSA”) while everyone is working from home.  Our survey shows progress continues on Multiple Award Schedule (“MAS”) modifications, a new Verified Product Portal (“VPP”) is on the horizon, and work related to Sections 846 and 889 conSetinues to progress.  Obviously, none of these has anything to do with COVID-19, but they will have an impact on your Federal business, whether you’re working from…
On Monday, the Supreme Court placed significant limits on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) ability to seek disgorgement, a powerful tool that often was used more like a penalty than an equitable remedy.  The Supreme Court held the SEC may only seek disgorgement of ill-gotten gains that do not exceed a wrongdoer’s net profits and are awarded for victims under 15 U.S.C. §78u(d)(5)’s provision of equitable relief.  This opinion reaffirms the SEC’s power to seek disgorgement of ill-gotten gains through civil actions as equitable relief, eliminating any doubt created by its prior opinion in Kokesh v. SEC.  However, the…
Whistleblowers are a common character in investigations into governmental abuse.  They famously have exposed covert government surveillance programs, political corruption scandals, and even led to the impeachment of the president of the United States.  Some statutes also empower whistleblowers to bring claims against private businesses on behalf of the government for financial misconduct involving fraud, waste, and abuse.  In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect to see a surge of new whistleblower claims alleging misconduct under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).  Whistleblower claims could be detrimental or even fatal for businesses already struggling…
On June 4, 2020, the Jury Subgroup of the COVID-19 Judicial Task Force of the U.S. federal courts issued a report (the “Report”) containing recommendations for conducting jury trials and convening grand juries during the pandemic.  Although many federal courts have continued to hold remote hearings and conferences over the last few months, jury trials have largely been suspended across the country to protect the safety of potential jurors and court personnel.  However, as government stay-at-home orders are lifted and courts prepare to reopen their doors, advocates have called for the reinstatement of jury trials to maintain litigants’ constitutional rights…
With the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to drop charges against Michael Flynn, materiality has come to the forefront of popular legal discourse.  At the same time, prosecutors and whistleblowers will carefully consider enforcement/false claims actions against entities who may have wrongfully received relief funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Stability Act (CARES Act).  Such actions likely will turn on whether alleged misrepresentations were materially false.  Those applying for CARES Act funds, such as those under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), must ensure all of their representations and certifications are truthful.  However, those accused of making misrepresentations in…
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) released updated guidance regarding its Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs on June 1, 2020.  The release comes just over a year since the guidance was last updated in April 2019.[1]  While these latest changes are less extensive than the most recent ones, there are some key differences that suggest the DOJ may be shifting some areas of focus when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of corporate compliance programs.…
A lot has happened since the Department of Defense (“DOD”) released its Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) v. 1.0 back in February (see our prior discussion here).  In addition to developments with the CMMC Accreditation Body (“CMMC AB”), DOD has clarified applicability of the program to Commercially available off-the-shelf (“COTS”) providers and the impact of COVID-19 on program implementation.     …
In 1657, mathematician Blaise Pascal commented in a letter to his church leaders “I have made this longer than usual because I did not have time to make it shorter.” More than 100 years later, another Frenchman, Napoleon Bonaparte, offered a similar remark to his valet as he prepared to head out for battle. “Dress me slowly,” he said, “I’m in a hurry.” The irony of the quotations makes people smile, but few quibble with their underlying truthfulness. Often, the more in a hurry you are, the more you need to slow down.…
Immunity under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (“PREP”) Act is a moving target for government contractors and other companies manufacturing or distributing personal protective equipment (PPE) in the COVID-19 public health response. We wrote previously about new liability protections afforded to manufacturers and distributors of certain face masks approved by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (“NIOSH”) through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the later expanded scope of that protection provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act and amended PREP Act declaration by Department of Health and Human Services. Until recently, the…
On May 4, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a temporary final rule easing some restrictions on small businesses seeking to raise capital pursuant to Regulation Crowdfunding (“Reg CF”).  The SEC made the move in response to feedback from its Small Business Capital Formation Advisory Committee and other outreach conducted by SEC staff regarding the industry’s urgent need for expedited access to capital while maintaining investor protections as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.…
On April 24, 2020, in Taylor Lohmeyer Law Firm PLLC v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that a Texas-based estate and tax-planning law firm (“Taylor Lohmeyer” or the “firm”) could not invoke the attorney-client privilege to quash a summons by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) seeking the identities of firm clients.  See No. 19-50506, Dkt. No. 00515394156 (5th Cir. Apr. 24, 2020).  In affirming the District Court’s decision, the Court of Appeals ruled that Taylor Lohmeyer could not use the privilege as a “blanket” to circumvent compliance with the summons, but may…
The devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic already has set in, with the future of thousands of businesses hanging in the balance.  Big and small businesses alike are finding it difficult to cope with the downturn.  The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) provisions related to small business loans provide a glimmer of hope.  Among other forms of economic relief, the CARES Act created the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) to provide funding to assist small businesses impacted by the pandemic.  After the initial allocation of PPP funds was exhausted the President signed a bill…
All respirators approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (“NIOSH”) now are “covered countermeasures” under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (“PREP”) Act provisions of the Public Health Service Act, and their manufacturers and distributors are eligible for immunity from suits for injury and death resulting from use of the masks in the public health response to COVID-19. The Secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) issued an updated PREP Act declaration implementing this addition to the covered countermeasures eligible for PREP Act immunity, with retroactive effect to March 27, 2020.…
The novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) pandemic has given Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) contractors several powerful new tools in their toolbelts, and VA contractors should not leave available protections on the table. VA contractors, including those supplying medical devices under the MSPV-NG bridge contract and pharmaceuticals on a VA Federal Supply Schedule (“FSS”), now can negotiate for extraordinary limitations on liability (in addition to some provided by statute), among other opportunities. Particularly for contractors providing goods and services used in the COVID-19 pandemic response, it is crucial to understand both new protections available and other changes to the rules of VA…