The vilification of government contractors needs to stop. With few exceptions contractors are honest, hard-working and care deeply about the missions of their customers. The recent crush of new reporting obligations, including the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, subcontractor and executive compensation reporting, and so on are being used as a tool to demonize contractors further, says Robert Tompkins, chairman of Patton Boggs LLP's civilian and defense contractors practice group.
There is a general lack of faith that government contracting officials understand and appreciate the "real world" implications of the discretionary decisions that they make, and that they are properly trained in the appropriate regulations. More training and improved hiring requirements for contracting officials would eliminate a great deal of unnecessary litigation, says Lawrence P. Block, chairman of Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP's government contracts practice group.
The "Buy American" laws need to catch up with the realities of the commercial world, as do our restrictions on the export of goods, services and technical information to non-U.S. persons, whether working in U.S. facilities or abroad. But the laws remain rooted in the past and the investigations and lawsuits have started, says John W. Chierichella, a leader in Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP's government contracts and regulated industries practice group.
Although the introduction of task order debriefings and the U.S. Government Accountability Office protest right a few years ago was a welcome development, all kinds of awards — especially orders under a General Services Administration schedule — should be subject to the same debriefing rules, the same protest timeliness rules, and the clear application of the Competition in Contracting Act stay, says John E. Jensen, leader of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP's government contracts and disputes practice.
Too many companies think that, because they are selling the same stuff to the government that they sell commercially, the strict enforcement laws and regulations don’t really apply to them. They are wrong, says William M. Weisberg, leader of Bryan Cave LLP's government contracts and grants practice.
With the downturn in the economy, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded projects are becoming more and more important to government contractors — but these projects come with quite a few strings attached, says Thomas A. Coulter, head of LeClairRyan's government contracts practice group.
As new and different procurement methods are utilized by government agencies, and based upon the current economic climate and competition for public work, there will likely be increased judicial review of the process and award decisions, says William J. Cea, a group leader for Becker & Poliakoff PA's government procurement practice group.
Given the likelihood of shrinking federal spending in coming years, contractors are sure to be mining the public Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System for fodder to support assertions of wrongdoing as a strategy for eliminating the competition, says J. Eric Whytsell, a leader in Jackson Kelly PLLC's government contracts practice.
If we really believed small businesses were the engine of the economy, we would fix the misnamed Equal Access to Justice Act, says William J. Spriggs, co-chairman of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC's government contracts practice group.
The hotel and tourism industry is clearly on the Department of Labor’s short list of alleged “bad actors,” and that industry can expect increased attention from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the Wage and Hour Division, OSHA and immigration, as well as private litigants, says Leigh M. Nason, a leader in Ogletree Deakins Nash Stewart & Smoak PC's affirmative action/OFCCP compliance practice group.
Addressing three troublesome “B’s” — barriers to entry, balancing outsourcing vs. insourcing and bid protests — would do a lot for the government contracts practice area, says Charles R. Lucy, manager of Holland & Hart LLP's government contracts practice group.
Conflicts of interest as well as mandatory disclosure and commercial item issues have been hot topics in the realm of government contracts lately, says Jacob B. Pankowski, chairman of Greenberg Traurig LLP's government contracts and export controls practice group.
Congress should not only renew legislation authorizing the GAO to review protests of task-order contracts exceeding $10 million but reduce the protest threshold to no more than $5 million, says Brian Bannon, co-leader of Blank Rome LLP's government contracts practice.
A wave of cost and pricing disputes is the result of overly aggressive tactics being used by the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Until something is done to rein in the DCAA, expect this trend to continue, says Karen L. Manos, co-chair of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP's government and commercial contracts group.
In the government contracts field, “reform” tends to be an overused term, but there remains a good deal of room for further streamlining and otherwise improving the process for dispute resolution, says William L. Roberts, head of Faegre & Benson LLP's government contracts practice.
The effects of regulatory reform — on everyone from financial institutions to health care providers — will create a demand for administrative and legislative assistance with these new reform measures from government-savvy practitioners, says Jill Cranston Bentz, chairwoman of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP's government relations practice group.
When economic conditions improve, expect some companies to push back on some of the more onerous requirements of government clients and challenge audit findings in litigation, says Agnes Dover, director of Hogan Lovells' government contracts practice group.
U.S. data privacy and security laws are a patchwork of federal and state laws and regulations that can be particularly burdensome for smaller and midsize companies, and we need more uniformity in that area, says James M. Kunick, chairman of Much Shelist Denenberg Ament & Rubenstein PC's intellectual property and technology practice group.
The federal boards of contract appeals were designed to be a quick, fair and user-friendly method for resolving disputes between the federal government and contractors, especially small businesses, but they fail miserably, says George W. Ash, chairman of Foley & Lardner LLP's regulated industries department, government and public policy practice, and government procurement practice.
Recent legislative initiatives have been hostile to government contractors, including amendments to the False Claims Act that facilitate parasitic suits by whistleblowers based upon little more than conjecture regarding alleged fraud, says George D. Ruttinger, chairman of the government contracts group of Crowell & Moring LLP.
At oral argument in Bunk v. Gosselin World Wide Moving, a Fourth Circuit panel focused on what number should be analyzed to evaluate the constitutionality of a fine under the False Claims Act and what is the right remedy if a court determines that a fine is constitutionally excessive. The decision will have the potential to greatly affect the amount that FCA defendants who successfully raise constitutional objections will have to pay, say attorneys with Ropes & Gray LLP.
The recent $500 million settlement of Ranbaxy USA Inc., the largest drug safety-related settlement with a generic manufacturer to date, has broad implications for U.S. Department of Justice and Food and Drug Administration enforcement trends. However, significant questions exist regarding the basis for False Claims Act liability, say attorneys with Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP.
Under cases involving health care organizations and their Stark Law violations, the government has enforced actions and settlements ranging from $10 million to nearly $40 million in the first half of 2013. These cases highlight a new effort toward Stark Law violations and ultimately, a change in the way organizations should approach fair market value issues, say attorneys with Krieg DeVault LLP.
Traditionally, contractors have viewed various aspects of responsibility — responding to investigations, developing ethics programs, interfacing with the customer, etc. — as entirely separate silo practices. In recent years, however, such a piecemeal approach to legal risk management has been shown to be startlingly ineffective, say attorneys with Covington & Burling LLP.
The recent leak of sensitive information by an employee of a major government contractor highlights how vulnerable every contractor is to the actions of a single employee. All contractors performing classified work should use this event as a lesson learned and proactively evaluate their internal systems, say Todd Canni and Marques Peterson of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.
Seventeen high-profile federal cases over the past four years may provide corporations with greater leverage in negotiating resolutions to federal criminal investigations. The significant missteps by government prosecutors may have undermined the way in which judges view the government, say attorneys with Paul Hastings LLP.
The First Circuit's decision in Heineman-Guta v. Guidant Corp. follows a prior decision from the D.C. Circuit — rejecting contrary authority from the Sixth Circuit — and demonstrates a growing trend favoring an interpretation of the first-to-file bar that is grounded in the text of the False Claims Act, encourages prompt reporting of alleged fraud through first-filed actions, and protects defendants from costly copycat suits, say attorneys with McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP.
The resolution of class actions or multidistrict litigation cases can present a number of challenges that call for the utmost in the mediator's skill and understanding. Though there is no typical complex litigation case, a mediator needs to recognize the special levels of complexity in these cases, such as litigating against "repeat players" and handling "follow-on" cases, says James Rosenbaum of JAMS.
In Fox Insurance Co. Inc. v. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Ninth Circuit displayed a strong deference to CMS in its first-ever exercise of its authority to terminate immediately its contract with a Part D plan sponsor and set a high bar for a challenge to a termination to be successful, says David Kopans of Squire Sanders LLP.
On June 3, the federal judiciary’s Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure approved for publication proposals to limit the scope of discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The proposed amendments appear well targeted to aggressively rein in a discovery process that many believe has gotten out of control in too many cases, say attorneys with Reed Smith LLP.