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DOJ Announces Procurement Collusion Strike Force

On November 5, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division announced the establishment of the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF). The PCSF aims to deter, detect, investigate, and prosecute antitrust crimes and related criminal schemes that undermine the integrity of the government procurement process.

In remarks announcing the PCSF, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim explained that criminal antitrust violations such as bid-rigging, price-fixing, and market allocation distort the free market and harm customers with high prices and lower quality goods and services. And, greater than one third of the Antitrust Division’s current open investigations relate to public procurement or otherwise involve harm to the government. Antitrust enforcement in the area of government contracting has been a priority of the Antitrust Division under Delrahim. In 2018, the Division resolved criminal charges and civil claims arising from a bid-rigging conspiracy that targeted fuel supply contracts to U.S. military bases in South Korea – the first government contracting-based antitrust enforcement action to be brought in decades.

PCSF will involve interagency cooperation amongst DOJ’s Antitrust Division, multiple U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country, the FBI, and four federal Offices of Inspector General. Features of the PCSF will include:

  • Training and education to federal, state, and local government procurement officials regarding how to identify warning signs of collusion, and to assist with structuring their acquisition process to remove vulnerabilities;

  • Training and education to government contractors, their trade associations, and public contract lawyers to educate them about criminal antitrust law;

  • Improving data analytics to identify red flags of collusion in government procurement data; and

  • Joint investigation and prosecution of potential criminal antitrust violations in the procurement area.

The PCSF’s website is already available here. The 13 inaugural partner U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are:

  • California, Central District (Los Angeles)

  • California, Eastern District (Sacramento)

  • Colorado (Denver)

  • District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.)

  • Florida, Southern District (Miami)

  • Georgia, Northern District (Atlanta)

  • Illinois, Northern District (Chicago)

  • Michigan, Eastern District (Detroit)

  • New York, Southern District

  • Ohio, Southern District (Columbus)

  • Pennsylvania, Eastern District (Philadelphia)

  • Texas, Northern District (Dallas)

  • Virginia, Eastern District (Alexandria)

DOJ has had success with other interagency strike forces such as the Health Care Fraud Strike Force, which has been responsible for thousands of charges, guilty pleas, and convictions since it was formed in 2006. The establishment of the PCSF indicates a prioritization of deterring and prosecuting procurement collusion by federal authorities.

© 2022 Foley & Lardner LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 312

About this Author

Lori A. Rubin, litigation lawyer, false claims act, attorney, Foley law firm

Lori Rubin is a partner at Foley & Lardner LLP and member of the firm’s Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations and Health Care Practice Groups.  Her practice focuses on False Claims Act investigations and litigation, particularly on behalf of clients in the health care industry.

Pam Johnston, Trial Attorney, Foley Lardner Law Firm

Pamela L. Johnston is a partner and trial lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP, where she is chair of the firm’s Government Enforcement, Compliance & White Collar Defense Practice, a member of the Securities Enforcement & Litigation Practice, and a member of the Health Care Industry Team. Ms. Johnston focuses in the areas of white collar criminal defense, False Claims Act and whistleblower actions, securities enforcement and other governmental enforcement actions. She represents companies and individuals in parallel civil and criminal proceedings involving a...

Lisa Noller, Trial Lawyer, Foley Lardner Law Firm

Lisa Noller is a trial lawyer and investigator with Foley & Lardner LLP, where she is chair of the Government Enforcement, Compliance & White Collar Defense Practice. She has spent almost 20 years investigating, litigating and trying complex criminal and civil cases, including responding to government investigations, conducting corporate internal investigations, and persuading the government not to pursue clients. When cases proceed to trial, Ms. Noller also has significant experience successfully trying a wide variety of over 30 civil and criminal matters in...

H. Holden Brooks, Food and Beverage Lawyer, Complex Litigation

Holden Brooks is a senior counsel and litigation attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP, where her practice focuses on mergers, complex litigation, and counseling, with experience across several industries, including health care. Ms. Brooks is a member of the firm’s Antitrust and Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practices and the Health Care and Food & Beverage Industry Teams.

Prior to joining Foley, Ms. Brooks was an associate in the antitrust group at Arnold & Porter LLP. Previously, she was a law clerk to the Honorable Peter...

Byron J. McLain litigation lawyer Foley Lardner

Byron J. McLain is a partner and litigation lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. He is a member of the firm’s Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations Practice.

Prior to joining Foley, Byron was deputy chief of general crimes at the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, where he co-supervised a training section consisting of as many as over fifty Assistant United States Attorneys, which includes the direct supervision of at least fifteen criminal jury trials. Previously, Byron was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Major Frauds Section and the General...

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