Fifth Circuit Ruling Shows Government’s Actions Are Key Under Escobar

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Government contractors continue to closely follow the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark False Claims Act decision in Universal Health v. U.S. ex rel Escobar. Most recently, in U.S. ex rel Harman v. Trinity Industries, the Fifth Circuit considered the heightened standard whistleblowers must meet under Escobar to prove materiality if the government continued to pay claims despite its knowledge of misconduct allegations. In Trinity Industries, Trinity, a manufacturing company and government contractor, appealed the denial of its motion for judgment as a matter of law. The underlying [...]Read more

The Federal Government Procurement Process Could Go Digital

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In order to keep up with online marketplaces available at the “one touch” of a smartphone, the federal government is doing its part to bring its procurement process into the digital age. Legislation passed earlier this year by the House of Representatives would allow the U.S. military and civilian government agencies to buy products directly from new online marketplaces instead of following the current procurement process for purchases above the “micro-purchase” threshold (i.e., a few thousand dollars). The newly proposed process would present many opportunities for online retailers and [...]Read more

Chris Roux Quoted in Law360 on Trump’s Infrastructure Plan

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On August 18, Alston & Bird Construction & Government Contracts partner Chris Roux was quoted in the Law360 article “Trump Infrastructure Order Shows Strategy Without Clear Plan.” The article discusses the potential impact of President Donald Trump’s August 15 Executive Order that was intended to push the government to complete environmental reviews to approve or deny major infrastructure projects within a two-year time frame, on average. The Executive Order also repeals an order signed by President Barack Obama in 2015 that required federal agencies and developers to factor in climate [...]Read more

Government Contractors May See Changes in Cybersecurity and IT Procurement

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On Monday, June 19, 2017, President Trump’s newly established American Technology Council met for the first time at the White House to begin discussions on modernizing government information technology (IT) systems. As President Trump reportedly stated during the meeting, “Our goal is to lead a sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology that will deliver dramatically better services for citizens.… Government needs to catch up with the technology revolution.” Executives from companies such as Amazon, Apple, Intel, Adobe, Akamai, and Microsoft were in attendance. When [...]Read more

DOJ Continues to Crack Down on SBA Fraud

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On April 25, 2017, the DOJ announced that Michelle Cho, an officer of Far East Construction Corporation and other companies, received both prison time and civil penalties for her involvement as the mastermind of a fraudulent scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) program. Under this scheme, Cho would bid for set-aside contracts for small, disadvantaged businesses under the SBA 8(a) program. However, Cho’s companies would not perform this work. Instead, other large companies would perform this work and pay 3 percent of the proceeds to Cho’s companies. This is another [...]Read more

Breana Ware Quoted in The Christian Science Monitor

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On May 17, Alston & Bird Construction & Government Contracts associate Breana Ware was quoted in The Christian Science Monitor article “For Builders, Trump’s Wall Beckons but Is Fraught with Political Risk.” The article discusses how political pressure from state legislatures and activists has been focused directly on some of the largest and best-known design, engineering, and construction firms that are qualified to complete President Trump’s proposed border wall. Such pressure, in the form of protests and proposed and passed state antiwall legislation targeting participating companies, [...]Read more

Alston & Bird Partners Secure Dismissal from Delaware Qui Tam Suit

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On Friday, April 21, Alston & Bird obtained the dismissal of claims against two publicly traded retail companies, Ralph Lauren and Ruth’s Hospitality, from a qui tam lawsuit the State of Delware had intervened in. The retailers, along with nearly a dozen others, were named in State of Delaware v. Card Compliant, et al., pending in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware. The state was alleging violations of the Delaware False Claims and Reporting Act resulting from alleged noncompliance with Delaware’s Escheats Law involving unused gift card balances. In Friday’s ruling, Superior [...]Read more

Davis-Bacon Act Repeal Efforts Renewed

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Republican members of Congress have renewed steps to repeal the Davis–Bacon Act, which sets the prevailing wage requirements for workers employed under federally funded or assisted contracts for the construction, alteration, or repair of public works. In January, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced the Transportation Investment Recalibration to Equality (TIRE) Act that would suspend the Davis–Bacon Act’s provision that workers on federal contracts be paid a prevailing wage for all federal highway construction projects. Additionally, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Representative Steve King (R-IA) [...]Read more

The Trump Administration’s Move Toward Pro-Employer Policies

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On March 27, 2017, President Trump signed House Joint Resolution 37 under the Congressional Review Act, which in essence blocked the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order (the “Blacklisting Rule”) signed by President Obama. By signing this Resolution, the Blacklisting Rule and the Department of Labor guidance remain in place, but as a practical matter will not be enforced by the Trump Administration. This Resolution will have minimal impact on government contractors in the short term since the Eastern District of Texas already issued a preliminary injunction in 2016 enjoining the implementation [...]Read more

GAO Report on Government Contracting Finds Overall Decrease from 2011-2015 and Most Obligations on Service Contracts

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Every year, billions of dollars in products and services are needed to keep running the U.S. federal government’s 18 cabinet-level departments and nearly 100 other independent agencies. In March 2017, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released results of its one-year audit of the government’s contracts between fiscal years 2011 and 2015 (including its fixed price, cost-reimbursement, and time-and-materials/labor hour contracts). Overall, GAO’s report shows a 24 percent decrease in government-wide contracting in FY 2015 from FY 2011 levels (a drop of approximately $438 billion), with [...]Read more