November 19, 2019

November 18, 2019

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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.

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Lori A. Rubin, litigation lawyer, false claims act, attorney, Foley law firm
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Lori Rubin is an associate and litigation lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP. Ms. Rubin’s practice focuses on False Claims Act investigations and litigation. She also has particular experience in website compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. She is a member of the Business Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice, the Government Enforcement Compliance & White Collar Defense Practice, and the Health Care Industry Team.

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Pam Johnston, Trial Attorney, Foley Lardner Law Firm
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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 variety of alleged wrongdoing, including submission of false claims, health care fraud, off-label marketing and other issues in the pharmaceutical industry, insider trading, accounting fraud, other securities fraud, mail and wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, structuring, money transmitting violations, and other business crimes. She conducts internal investigations for companies. In her purely civil litigation cases, she focuses on cases that typically involve complex securities or accounting issues.

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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...

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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.

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