Coming to a Government Contract Near You: Mandatory Information Safeguarding Requirements

Justin A. ChiarodoPhilip E. Beshara, and Heather L. Petrovich

The government recently finalized a sweeping amendment to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) that will impose basic information system safeguarding requirements on many federal acquisitions, marking the latest in the continuing government effort to regulate and enhance cybersecurity protections in the industry. The Final Rule, effective June 15, 2016, imposes fifteen basic safeguarding requirements for contractors with information systems containing information provided by, or generated for, the government under a federal contract.

Though many contractors likely maintain information security standards that meet or exceed the new rule, they should confirm their compliance status by assessing these requirements against their current cybersecurity compliance program (to help mitigate the risk of a breach of contract claim or more serious enforcement action). This should include confirming that the requirement is flowed down to subcontractors where appropriate. Continue reading “Coming to a Government Contract Near You: Mandatory Information Safeguarding Requirements”

Sixth Circuit Brings False Claims Act Damages Back Down to Earth

Heather L. Petrovich

In a welcomed decision, the Sixth Circuit placed sensible parameters on damages in False Claims Act (“FCA”) cases, which will significantly reduce exposure for contractors.  In United States ex rel. Wall v. Circle C Construction, LLC No. 14-6150, 2016 WL 423750 (6th Cir. Feb. 4, 2016), the Sixth Circuit rejected the government’s argument that where the contractor’s alleged fraud or false certification induced the government to enter into the contract or was a condition for participation or eligibility, damages should be treble the full contract value, even if the work has been performed to the government’s satisfaction.

Under the FCA, while the government may recover “3 times the amount of damages which the Government sustains because of the act,” 31 U.S.C. § 3729(a), damages are not defined and have thus led to varying formulations among the circuits.  Wall involved a construction contract for Army warehouses and required the contractor to certify compliance with certain minimum wage requirements, but a subcontractor paid its employees less than the required minimum. Even though there were no performance issues with the work itself, and instead of seeking damages based on the subcontractor’s compensatory shortfall, the government argued, and the district court agreed, that damages should be treble the full contract value.  This resulted in assessed damages that were approximately 76 times more than the subcontractor’s wage deficit, which was the actual harm to the government. Continue reading “Sixth Circuit Brings False Claims Act Damages Back Down to Earth”

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Six Tips to Prepare for a Government Shutdown

Justin A. Chiarodo and Heather L. Petrovich

With Congress quickly approaching a September 30 funding deadline with no adequate spending measures in place, and the Office of Management and Budget now directing agencies to prepare contingency plans, the possibility of a government shutdown is becoming increasingly likely. Unfortunately, government contractors faced these challenges just two short years ago during a 16-day shutdown. Among other challenges, contractors may face a lack of incremental funding; the inability to enter into new contracts or contract modifications; closed government facilities; furloughed government employees; delayed payments; increased indirect costs; and unexercised and deferred contract options. This alert highlights steps government contractors can take to protect their business interests in the event of a shutdown.

Review Your Contracts 

Reviewing your contracts is good advice in all times, but particularly so when facing a shutdown. Several key areas are worth reviewing before a shutdown. First, contractors should consider the amount and type of contract funding for each contract. A shutdown will affect incrementally funded contracts more than fully funded contracts. Though exceptions may apply, the funding for incrementally funded contracts may lapse in the event of a shutdown, which could cause the contract work to come to a halt. Fully funded contracts may be impacted by furloughed employees, facility closures, or other unexpected costs. Second, the place of contract performance may affect the ongoing work on a contract if the contractor is performing at a government facility. Many government facilities will close during a shutdown and furloughed employees or limited hours may affect those government facilities that do remain open. Third, the period of contract performance may affect a contract in that the government cannot exercise options and contract extensions during a shutdown. Fourth, the statement of work could also affect how the shutdown applies to a contract. For instance, national security and emergency preparedness contracts are much more likely to be funded during a shutdown than facility maintenance work. Nonetheless, even those exempt contracts may still be affected if the statement of work requires contractors or projects to interact with furloughed employees. Continue reading “Déjà Vu All Over Again: Six Tips to Prepare for a Government Shutdown”