Compliance, organizational and personal conflicts of interest are an area of increasing focus in the federal contracting arena. The experienced attorneys and consultants at Centre Consulting can help your organization to:
- Navigate the complicated rules on conflicts of interest
- Understand the restrictions and exceptions on gratuities
- Identify compliance responsibilities and standards of conduct
- Create and implement an effective compliance program
The General Services Administration (GSA) recently issued a memorandum to establish agency procedures for handling contractor disclosures made under the new compliance rules. The memo said there may be cases when a contracting officer (CO) receives a hard copy version of a disclosure made to the Office of Inspector General under the rule. The mandatory disclosure rules are outlined in GSAM 503.1003.
Update (2/19/2013) – DOJ’s Civil Enforcement Unit Confirms that Qui Tam Law Suits by Whistleblowers Have Exploded.
The U.S. Government has long benefitted from the filing of whistleblower law suits under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA). Under those provisions, a whistle blower that initiates a False Claims Act (FCA) judgment or settlement as an original source is entitled to receive a significant share of the FCA recovery by the Government. Recent statistics released by the Department of Justice’s Civil Enforcement now establish that whistleblower lawsuits far outnumber civil actions brought directly by DOJ. Specifically, in 2012, 785 whistleblower law suits were filed versus 135 actions filed by DOJ. Compare those numbers to the statistics reported for 2009, and you will see that whistleblower suits are significantly up (only 433 in 2009) while DOJ initiated actions have been unchanged (132 in 2009). Not surprisingly, ultimate FCA settlement recoveries have increased from $2B (2009) and $3.2B (2012). See.
How do federal vendors adapt to this reality? A significant body of evidence establishes that many whistleblowers resort to filing qui tam lawsuits only after being rebuffed in their efforts to have their corporate management acknowledge and address their concerns. This reality is highly problematic because it not only exposes the company to FCA liabilities, it also creates a significant risk of suspension and debarment for failing to maintain effective internal controls and/or engage in required mandatory disclosure as required by FAR 52.203-13. The story behind these requirements and statistics is clear – implementing effective internal controls, ethics training and compliance systems is essential to enable companies to comply with FAR 52.203-13. It will also allow them to head-off whistleblower legal actions by identifying and addressing the problems that lead to these law suits before they escalate.