PROCUREMENT COLLUSION STRIKE FORCE FOCUSES ON GOVCON & CRIMINAL PENALTIES
The Department of Justice’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force, formed last year to increase contract compliance reviews, continues to expand its efforts. Any company with sizeable government business should take notice, not just for the task force’s actions, but for its focus on criminal prosecution under the False Claims Act. Most enforcement actions have traditionally been undertaken by the Civil Division of DOJ. As a result, penalties against individuals or companies caught violating rules include fines and potential suspension or debarment. These are strong penalties in and of themselves, but do not ultimately compare to criminal penalties that can seriously harm a corporate reputation and land individuals in a real prison, not just suspension and debarment jail. Attorney Michael Volkov, writing in JD Supra, points out: “Last year, the Antitrust Division unveiled its important compliance guidance, Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs in Criminal Antitrust Investigations. Companies involved in public procurement should adopt and implement robust corporate compliance programs.” It may also be a best practice to read the DOJ report to ensure that those programs feature components recommended by the agency. Approximately one-third of the task force’s open criminal investigations involve government procurement. Such actions could cost contractors millions in fines, legal fees, lost business, and damaged reputations. Compliance is something that few people like to talk about, but it is most definitely the “ounce of prevention” that can protect both you and your company.