Practice/Industry Group Overview
Government contracts, regulatory issues and compliance: Helping our clients successfully navigate turbulent waters
In the highly competitive government contract environment, it is essential for contractors to take advantage of experienced advisors such as the Government Contracts Group at Peckar & Abramson. This is especially true in difficult economic times, when private work diminishes.
For more than 30 years, Peckar & Abramson has provided comprehensive representation to clients that contract with federal, state, and local governments. We help our clients:
- Pursue and obtain contracts
- Achieve profitable performance through effective and efficient contract administration assistance
- Successfully prepare and prosecute claims
- Establish procedures and programs to navigate the ever-changing ethics and compliance regulations
- Shape contract proposals to fully comply with government requirements
- Prosecute and defend against bid protests to maximize our clients’ chances of obtaining the contracts they deserve
- Understand the minefield of rules, regulations, accounting issues, and ethics and compliance requirements that come with this territory
- Develop programs and procedures for MBE/WBE/Disadvantaged Business compliance
Helping our clients achieve business success
Peckar & Abramson has always believed that government contractors can be profitable and successful so long as they understand the rules.
Our Government Contracts Group has counseled government contractors with respect to virtually every aspect of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR). Our advice and counsel includes how cost principles are applied to invoicing, change orders and claims. This helps clients establish procurement, accounting and record-keeping procedures that provide evidence of the reasonableness of incurred costs in a manner that will be acceptable to the government.
Our Government Contracts Group offers a comprehensive catalog of services, including:
- Project development and financing
- Navigation of the procurement process
- Solicitation reviews and risk analyses
- Contract negotiation and administration
- Claim preparation
- Litigation of claims and disputes
- Development and implementation of corporate ethics and compliance programs
- Internal investigations of potential ethics and compliance violations
- Representation in suspension and debarment proceedings
Authorities in their field
Our Government Contracts Group’s attorneys have authored books and articles on virtually all aspects of contracting with the federal government, including bid protests, claim preparation and litigation, corporate compliance and ethics programs, government contract accounting and the practical aspects of defending against ethics complaints brought by the government. These lawyers are exceptional in helping organizations avoid and minimize litigation and liability–on the federal, state and local levels.
In 2011 alone, our Government Contracts Group succeeded in nine bid protests involving $428 million in contracts.
Our Government Contracts Group is also firmly dedicated to preventing trouble and to the cost-effective and timely resolution of disputes. We have an exceptional record of successfully negotiating and mediating issues worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
But if litigation is necessary, our attorneys have achieved favorable results before the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the Boards of Contract Appeals for the Defense Department, the military services, Homeland Security, General Services Administration (GSA), Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Education, Agriculture, Corps of Engineers, Postal Service, Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Energy. We also have achieved success with state and local governmental agencies and the courts of those states.
In bid protests filed with the Government Accountability Office over the past several years, our clients have enjoyed a success rate of approximately twice the national average, including a series of successes encompassing more than 20 protests. Government data shows that the historical likelihood of success is 42 percent. We do not have data from other law firms, but we doubt our success rate can be equaled.
For example, we recently:
- Obtained a dismissal on motion of a major claim under the Anti-Kickback Act before the GSA Board of Contract Appeals
- Obtained summary judgment on liability with respect to claims in excess of $60 million
- Won dismissals on motion of significant False Claims Act cases against a home healthcare provider, major defense contractor and major information technology company
- Ensured vigorous enforcement of rules designed to safeguard defendants against spurious charges of immoral and fraudulent behavior, to protect against damage to professional reputations, and to deter the use of complaints as a pretext for “fishing expeditions” or to compel in terrorem settlements.
Help in avoiding litigation and minimizing liability
Our Government Contracts Group can assist in avoiding and minimizing litigation and liability in numerous ways, including:
- Providing in-house compliance training and seminars for key contract administrators
- Assisting with contract performance and administration to avoid or mitigate claims and disputes before they become a distraction to the successful completion of the project. Our attorneys have provided these services on some of the largest and highest profile projects of the last decade
- Helping with responses to government audits. In one instance, we successfully guided a major construction contractor regarding a high-profile, fast-track, cost-plus contract involving the installation of explosion detection devices in 434 airports following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. At the successful conclusion of the project, government auditors complimented the contractor on the effectiveness of the compliance program
- Representing companies in False Claims Act cases, including jury trials
- Dealing with press inquiries in high-profile cases
There is no substitute for experience and knowledge
The complexities and potential risks in government work require a team that is diverse in legal experience, highly attuned to the changing federal environment, adept at the business side of the equation and knowledgeable about specific industries. We counsel Fortune 500 companies and small/midsize companies that work in defense, aerospace, green energy, oil and gas, construction, engineering, information technology, systems integration, transportation and logistics, GSA schedule contracts, and federal energy regulations and contracts.
Federal scrutiny is increasing; our clients are ready
As the regulatory environment has evolved to become a minefield of liability, our Corporate Integrity and Compliance Group [link to compliance page] has evolved with our Government Contracts Group to help clients meet the challenges. We identify problem areas that could flag regulators and skillfully help clients achieve full compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, the False Claims Act, the False Statements Act, the Anti-Kickback Act, the Truth in Negotiations Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other laws.
We also help clients develop strong compliance programs and internal controls, so they can avoid claims of mischarging arising from complex government accounting rules. If changes to corporate procedures are necessary, we help align internal processes to focus on integrity and commitment to compliance. And if potential ethics violations do surface, we conduct independent investigations and offer ways to move forward. We have independently investigated alleged violations of virtually all federal ethics laws, as well as potential Sarbanes-Oxley violations by publicly traded companies.
A multidisciplinary, holistic approach
Peckar & Abramson considers government practice holistically. It is the only truly effective approach. For example, most federal supply and construction projects are governed by the Buy American Act, which requires that materials in projects be made in America. If a contractor on a federal project is accused of failing to comply, the issue ranges far beyond government contract questions. Is the compliance program working? Should the client do a compliance audit? Are the internal controls adequate? Is there criminal or civil liability under the False Claims Act, the False Statements Act or other federal laws? Thus, any team that practices in the government arena must also be versed in compliance and white-collar matters.
Unequaled experience in all aspects of government work
Though we are best known as the preeminent provider of legal and business advice to the construction industry, we support large and midsize contractors in all aspects of government contracting, from bid preparation to claims to compliance. We can:
- Assist with prequalification for small business assistance and minority programs
- Review compliance programs and systems for record keeping, reporting and cost accounting
- Assist with joint-venture and teaming agreement formations
- Review solicitation packages, evaluate contract language and advise on FAR provisions and flow-down clauses
- Review performance requirements and perform risk analyses
- Evaluate pricing strategies
- Prepare and review technical and past performance proposals
- Defend against civil, regulatory and criminal accusations
- Attend agency debriefings with a disappointed bidder
- Prosecute and defend against size protests before the Small Business Administration
- Prepare, review and negotiate subcontracts and supply agreementsAssist with contract performance and administration
- Review contract schedules along with notice and reporting requirements
- Identify government lines of authority for better communication
- Resolve issues around contract performance, compliance and compensation
- Prepare and litigate claims and defend against subcontractor claims
Defense of whistle-blower lawsuits and allegations of corruption
One of the government’s tools to prevent fraud is the False Claims Act, originally enacted in 1863 to deter suppliers of faulty war equipment during the Civil War. It includes qui tam provisions, also known as whistle-blower suits, which give citizens the right and the financial incentive to file lawsuits to recover losses caused by proven government fraud. These lawsuits are flourishing; citizens can collect a bounty of 15 to 30 percent in the event of a recovery against the wrongdoer - even if the individual has suffered no personal harm, and even if the individual participated in the wrong. Numerous reputable companies have paid hefty prices as a result of False Claims Act prosecutions. In 2011 alone the list included GlaxoSmithKline ($600 million), Maxim Health Care Services, Inc. ($150 million) and Verizon ($93 million on a GSA services contract).
Our attorneys have extensive experience representing government contractors who find themselves the target of allegations of false claims, corruption, and the violation of other federal laws.