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New Antitrust Strike Force Focuses on Government Contracts

A new strike force of federal and state investigators is targeting antitrust violations in government procurement. The strike force consists of investigators from a variety of agencies who will receive special training in detecting and prosecuting antitrust agreements. The strike force seeks to increase both criminal and civil enforcement actions.

Expanded Enforcement

The Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the new force, called the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) and described its scope. Agents from the FBI will join with the U.S. Postal Inspectors, and partner with Offices of Inspectors General, such as the Department of Defense and the General Services Administration. In addition to attorneys from the DOJ Antitrust Division, 13 U.S. Attorney’s Offices will join the effort. These offices cover California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. But PCSF has a nationwide mandate, and it has no limit to the kind of government contracts it may investigate.

The PCSF is part of DOJ’s focus to reverse a downturn in antitrust prosecutions and collections in recent years.

Website and Training

Going beyond announcing PCSF, DOJ provides a website to assist the strike force in its investigations. Included among the training materials is a video that identifies red flags indicating antitrust violations such as:

  • Patterns of rotating winners;

  • Lack of competition or complaint by alternate vendors;

  • Multiple bids that appear to be created similarly.

The video further explains that no intent to defraud is necessary for a violation. Neither is it necessary that the antitrust plan be successful.

The website also provides a portal for reporting possible antitrust activity.

Corporate Response

Of course, the best corporate response to this heightened level of scrutiny is robust compliance. Our prior post discussed changes to the antitrust leniency policy that took effect earlier this year. These changes allow prosecutors to take into account the quality of a company’s compliance program at the charging and sentencing stages.

If a problem has occurred, a company or an individual should consider taking advantage of the antitrust Corporate Leniency Program or the Individual Leniency Program that encourage prompt reporting in exchange for non-prosecution. The policies encourage prompt reporting because only the first entity or person “in the door” gets the maximum benefit.

© Copyright 2020 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLPNational Law Review, Volume IX, Number 315


About this Author

Thomas E. Zeno, Squire Patton Boggs, Healthcare Fraud Lawyer, Economic Crimes Attorney
Of Counsel

Thomas Zeno has more than 25 years of experience in the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. During that time, Tom investigated and prosecuted economic crimes involving healthcare, financial institutions, credit cards, computers, identity theft and copyrighted materials. As the office’s Healthcare Fraud Coordinator for the last eight years, Tom supervised investigation strategies of agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit regarding...

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Christina Knox Government Investigation Lawyer Squire Patton Boggs

Christina represents international and domestic clients in white-collar criminal matters, government enforcement actions, and internal investigations.

While in law school, Christina served as a senior editor for the Howard Human and Civil Rights Law Review. During her third year, Christina was selected as a Henry Ramsey Dean’s Fellow for the Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing Program.