May 11, 2021

Volume XI, Number 131


May 10, 2021

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DOJ Antitrust Division Announces Procurement Collusion Strike Force Indicating Increased Scrutiny of Government Procurement Process

On November 5, 2019 the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice announced the formation of a new Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) aimed at deterring, investigating and prosecuting antitrust crimes that undermine competition in government procurement, grant and program funding. The PCSF is an interagency partnership consisting of prosecutors from the Antitrust Division and 13 U.S. Attorney's Offices, including the United States Attorneys’ Office for the Eastern District of Michigan. 

In addition to identifying, investigating and prosecuting incidents of antitrust crimes, such as bid-rigging conspiracies and related fraudulent schemes, the PCSF will conduct outreach and training for federal, state and local procurement officials to recognize and report suspicious conduct in the procurement, grant and program funding processes. 

The creation of the PCSF is further evidence of the Trump administration's focus on targeting fraud and abuse of the procurement process. In November 2018, the Antitrust Division announced that it would use the antitrust laws to seek civil damages where the federal government is overcharged as a result of anticompetitive conduct. Since that announcement, five South Korean oil companies have agreed to plead guilty to their involvement in a decades-long bid-rigging conspiracy related to contracts to supply fuel to U.S. military bases in South Korea. In addition, they have agreed to pay $156 million in criminal fines and over $205 million in separate civil settlements. In establishing the PCSF, the Antitrust Division seeks to increase awareness of the antitrust risks inherent in the procurement process among other federal, state and local officials that is likely to result in increased investigations and prosecutions of government contractors and vendors at all levels of government. 

The creation of the PCSF highlights the need for companies that serve or are interested in serving as government contractors or vendors at the federal, state and local level to review their antitrust compliance programs to ensure they will stand up to this increased scrutiny and to DOJ guidelines for effective antitrust compliance programs. With the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan's participation in the PCSF, Michigan-based businesses will likely be subject to more scrutiny as part of this campaign. 

© 2021 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 312



About this Author

Ron Dewaard, Varnum, litigation attorney

Ron is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor who concentrates his practice in civil and white collar litigation, as well as internal investigations. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been recognized as one of Michigan's top lawyers by Best Lawyers®Super Lawyers®, Benchmark Litigation© and by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a Leader in the Law. Ron is also chair of the firm's Litigation Practice Team.

Before joining the firm, Ron served as an Assistant United States...

Regan Gibson Litigation Attorney Varnum Law Firm

Regan is a member of the Litigation and Trial Team. She represents clients in a variety of civil and criminal litigation matters and internal investigations. Her experience includes RICO, FCPA, securities, criminal antitrust, civil and criminal forfeiture, and shareholder fiduciary and appraisal actions. She has conducted internal investigations related to antitrust, FCPA, immigration and public integrity compliance issues.

Prior to receiving her law degree, Regan was a paralegal specialist in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, where she served in the Violent...

Gary J. Mouw, Varnum, litigation lawyer

Gary’s practice is primarily focused on representing companies and individuals – in Michigan and across the country – in connection with government enforcement actions and white collar criminal defense. He has extensive experience conducting internal investigations in a wide range of matters, including antitrust claims, False Claims Act suits, and environmental matters. Gary has represented clients in investigations conducted by the United States Department of Justice, the United States Attorney’s Offices throughout the country, the United States Department of Defense,...