With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”), America is preparing for a flood of infrastructure spending not seen since the New Deal. Indeed, the IIJA allocates funding to over 350 distinct programs across more than a dozen federal departments and agencies. Attention now turns to the federal agencies, and state and local officials who are responsible for implementing these new programs. To that end, the Biden administration recently released A Guidebook to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Governments, and Other Partners to assist state, local, and tribal leaders to “know what to apply for, who to contact, and how to get ready to rebuild.”
Notably this is only the first version of this guidance and interested parties should continue to monitor the guidance in the coming weeks to stay up to date on the latest deadlines and details. In addition, the Biden administration released an accompanying data file on Build.gov that allows users to quickly sort programs funded under the law by fields like agency, amount, eligible recipient, or program name.
This is the first in a series of blog posts concerning the audits and investigations related to the contracts and grants awarded, and relief funds provided, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of February 2021, pursuant to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), which created the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) and supplemental funding such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the United States government has made available an estimated four trillion dollars in relief funds to businesses and individuals, and the Biden administration is proposing roughly two trillion dollars more.
In addition to the relief funds, the Government has easily awarded more than billions in pandemic-related contracts for everything from vaccines to PPE to hand sanitizers. These levels of funding and spending are unprecedented and have been made at breakneck speed (for the government). Based on these factors and lessons from the past, audits of relief recipients and contractors to confirm appropriate use of government funds are inevitable. And the government has said as much. Of course, if an audit reveals potential wrongdoing or malfeasance, relief recipients and contractors should expect follow-on investigations and enforcement activity.
This first post identifies the myriad of entities that are or will be reviewing—and potentially investigating—relief recipient and contractor representations made to obtain, and subsequent use of, government funds.
While the introduction of state legislation that would require drug manufacturers to disclose pricing and other information did not slow down in 2018, the number of bills that were made law did slow down. During 2018, 22 state legislatures considered bills seeking to require drug manufacturers to disclose pricing information; however, most of the legislation failed.
Earlier this year, I commented on state drug pricing transparency laws in effect and/or enacted during 2017. I also opined that it was likely more states would pass similar transparency laws requiring drug manufacturers to disclose pricing and/or price increases during 2018. While proposed drug pricing transparency and disclosure legislation has been introduced and is pending in numerous states, during the first half of 2018 only two states (Oregon and Connecticut) passed new laws imposing price disclosure requirements on drug manufacturers. Maine expanded its existing disclosure law. Also of note was the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit finding Maryland’s Anti-Gouging law unconstitutional. Continue reading “Drug Manufacturer Pricing Disclosures: Mid-Year 2018 Update”
Buy American and hire American. The concept is easy, but the implementation can be far more complicated, particularly in the current government contracting world where waivers to those requirements have become common. In an attempt to strengthen the commitment to buying American and hiring American, on January 26, 2018, a bipartisan group of ten Senators sent a letter to President Trump urging him to “keep the promises” that he had made in April 2017 to buy American and hire American. The letter follows Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Chris Murphy’s (D-CT) introduction of the bipartisan BuyAmerican.gov Act of 2018 on January 9, 2018. This new legislation seems to be an effort to codify President Trump’s April 18, 2017, Buy American and Hire American Executive Order (the Executive Order), and slow what the BuyAmerican.gov Act Press Release calls the “excessive number of waivers” to the Buy American laws. Since President Trump signed the Executive Order, much has been written about the potential effects of that Executive Order. However, the potential impacts on government contractors who maintain or store data relating to their performance of federal government contracts have been largely disregarded. Continue reading “Buy American, Hire American: Will It Impact a Government Contractor’s Ability to Store Data Offshore?”
Hurricane Harvey’s damage to Texas and other areas is virtually unprecedented and is already estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars. And Hurricane Irma, hurtling towards Florida, could likewise cause catastrophic damage. Though every disaster presents unique recovery challenges, a common theme in disaster relief efforts is the key role of the Federal Emergency Management Administration (“FEMA”) and a federal law known as the Stafford Act. Contractors eager to assist with relief and rebuilding efforts should pay close attention to the legal landscape underpinning the public funding behind disaster relief efforts, particularly given the scrutiny these efforts will receive in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Continue reading “Disaster Relief Contracting: How to Avoid the Pitfalls”