The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) recently announced a $5.2 million settlement with Numet Machining Techniques, LLC and affiliated entities (collectively, “Numet”) concerning alleged misrepresentations of size and ownership in connection with pursuing U.S. Government contracts. The Numet settlement is an important reminder to the contractor community that representations and certifications—particularly those concerning small business status—should be made with due caution and that the discovery of incorrect representations during M&A due diligence can be a significant finding. In this post, we explore the recent Numet settlement, examine the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) size and affiliation rules, and offer guidance to companies assessing the significance of incorrect representations.
Alex Hastings advises clients across a broad range of government contracting issues, including advising clients in transactional matters involving government contractors and assisting defense contractors and pharmaceutical companies in securing and performing government contracts.
Mr. Hastings also advises clients concerning best practices in e-discovery. He assists in investigations and litigations that involve complex e-discovery issues and has represented clients in matters involving the U.S. Department of Justice, Securities and Exchange Commission and the United States International Trade Commission.
Mr. Hastings’ government contracts experience includes advising clients regarding new developments in regulatory requirements, including the Federal Acquisition Regulation’s (FAR) anti-human trafficking requirements and the FAR and Bayh-Dole Act’s intellectual property provisions. Mr. Hastings also provides due diligence regulatory advice to clients contemplating the acquisition of government contracting entities or assets.
Mr. Hastings’ e-discovery experience includes advising a wide-array of clients on best practices in information governance and document collection and assisting clients develop effective mobile device and document management policies.
Mr. Hastings also maintains an active pro bono practice and routinely writes on issues related to government contracts and e-discovery.
On the heels of the FTC’s opposition to Lockheed Martin’s acquisition of Aerojet Rocketdyne and Lockheed’s termination of the deal, the Department of Defense (DoD) released a report expressing concerns about the state of competition among its contractors. Of particular note, the report encourages DoD action to (1) increase oversight of M&A transactions and (2) obtain greater IP rights in matters involving defense industrial base contractors. Although the report is light on specifics and identifies objectives that are in some tension with each other, the report is a reminder to companies that the U.S. Government, the single largest purchaser in the country, remains focused on enhancing competition. To that end, we anticipate seeing Executive Branch action in the coming months that seeks to further that policy objective.
Continue Reading DoD Signals Increased Scrutiny of Gov Con M&A and Renewed Interest in Background IP Rights
[This article was originally published in Law360.]
Amidst the whirlwind of M&A activity in the government contracts industry, a recent bid protest decision from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) highlights the importance of proper planning to protect prime contract proposals during M&A and other corporate transactions. Last month, GAO denied a protest from ICI Services Corporation (ICI), which challenged the U.S. Navy’s decision to award a task order to Serco, Inc. (Serco) under the SeaPort Next Generation (SeaPort-NxG) vehicle. Although ICI raised a “multitude of challenges,” GAO focused on what it considered the gravamen of ICI’s protest — that Serco was ineligible for award because it allegedly was not a complete successor-in-interest to the Naval Systems Business Unit (NSBU) of Alion Science and Technology Corporation (Alion). Serco had acquired the NSBU from Alion in July 2019, and has been operating the NSBU in the several months since then.
For years, contractors have faced an amalgamation of protest decisions assessing the impact of transactions on proposals for new prime contracts. The recent ICI decision provides some additional guidance and, more importantly, underscores GAO’s stated intent that its decisions not frustrate pending proposals merely because a corporate transaction has taken place or is expected to take place, but instead ensure that the procuring agency has reasonably considered the impact of the transaction and concluded that the resulting contract will be performed in materially the same way as described in the proposal. In the absence clear guidance in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) on the treatment of bids in connection with a corporate transaction, GAO’s decision in ICI offers some clarity for contractors and a framework for agencies when assessing the impact of a transaction. Although every transaction and proposal is unique, the ICI decision highlights some key considerations for contractors.
Continue Reading Buying a Business Without Losing the Pipeline: Further Guidance for Protecting Proposals
Last week, President Trump issued an executive order aimed at encouraging the expansion American manufacturing of essential medical products — Executive Order on Ensuring Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures, and Critical Inputs Are Made in the United States (August 6, 2020) (the “Order”). The Order sets forth an ambitious plan requiring extensive agency action on a tight timeline that suggests a significant impact. Closer examination of the Order raises significant questions about the practicalities of implementation and the realistic impact of the Order once the substantial stated exceptions are taken into account.
The heart of the Order is a list of Essential Medicines, Medical Countermeasures (“MCMs”), and Critical Inputs to which the Order’s requirements apply — but the key components of this list do not yet exist. Instead, the Order directs the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) to produce the list within 90 days and to include on the list Essential Medicines, MCMs, and Critical Inputs “that are medically necessary to have available at all times in an amount adequate to serve patient needs and in the appropriate dosage forms.”
The Order provides the following definitions that give some insight into what may be on the FDA’s eventual list:…
Continue Reading Trump Administration Increases Uncertainty for Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
As of February 10, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that 40,554 cases of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) have been confirmed globally, with twelve cases confirmed in the United States. The WHO has been issuing situation reports on a daily basis since January 21, and each report in February alone has identified more than 2,000 to 3,000 new cases each day.
Due to the lack of approved therapeutics, vaccines, and diagnostics for this threat, developing new products and testing products already approved for other uses is a high priority for the U.S. interagency response effort—the Medical Countermeasure (MCM) Task Force. The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), under the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is leading this Task Force in partnership with U.S. Department of Defense, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Institutes of Health.
BARDA is currently looking at the effectiveness of existing countermeasures for similar viruses, as well as potential new responsive technologies, including vaccines, diagnostics, therapeutics, and medical supplies. BARDA is serving as the sole point of entry for product and technology submissions to ensure there is an expedited process for receipt and review of proposed solutions for 2019-nCoV. In this capacity, BARDA has released two opportunities to submit potential solutions for the 2019-nCoV response discussed below: (1) the EZ-BAA for 2019-nCoV diagnostics and (2) market research packages for any and all potential products and supplies. Covington encourages those with technology that could be potentially useful to respond.…
The Trump Administration has declared this month National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, calling on industry associations, law enforcement, private businesses, and others to work toward ending modern slavery and human trafficking. This proclamation follows the Administration’s efforts to combat human trafficking, which we have previously discussed here, and comes on the heels of an OMB memorandum released last fall aimed at “enhanc[ing] the effectiveness of anti-trafficking requirements in Federal acquisition while helping contractors manage and reduce the burden associated with meeting these responsibilities.”
Continue Reading Trump Administration Renews Focus on Anti-Human Trafficking Efforts
Late last week, House Democrats passed Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This bill would, among other things, permit the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) to negotiate lower prices for 250 of the costliest drugs on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries and other consumers. Although this particular legislation appears…
A long-standing dispute over the approach to country of origin determinations under the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”) may soon be resolved, as the Federal Circuit recently heard oral argument in one of two cases presently examining key aspects of this statute. Among other questions presented, the court may decide the standard for determining whether a product may be considered a U.S.-made end product — a question that could have far reaching implications for product manufacturers across all industries.
Continue Reading How Much Is Enough? Federal Circuit Appeal May Decide Level of U.S. Manufacturing Required Under the TAA
Many entities engaged in federally funded R&D have closely monitored the efforts of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) over the last year as it has studied strategies for maximizing U.S. innovation through government-funded research. Last week, NIST published its findings in NIST Special Publication 1234, Return on Investment Initiative for Unleashing American Innovation Green Paper (“Green Paper”).
Benefiting from information received from an initial Request for Information, public meetings, a summit, consultations with interagency working groups, stakeholder engagement sessions, and comments received on a draft version of the Green Paper, NIST’s findings are designed to inform future policy decisions throughout the Federal Government. These future decisions could have tremendous impact: the Federal Government invested approximately $150 billion in R&D in 2017 alone, representing about one-third of all U.S. R&D spending.
After discussing the Green Paper at a high level, we highlight below a few of NIST’s findings which may be of particular interest to many government contractors.
Continue Reading Rights in Government-Funded IP: Changes May be on the Horizon
(This article was originally published in Law360 and has been modified for this blog.)
Government contractors undergoing an asset transaction know all too well the peculiarity and uncertainty associated with the transfer of a U.S. government contract through the required novation process. In two recent decisions, the Government Accountability Office considered the impact of such transactions and the novation process on the pursuit of new task orders from the U.S. government, with disappointing results for the affected contractors.
Continue Reading More Novation Complexity In Gov’t Contracts M&A?