Michael Wagner

Michael Wagner

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Mike Wagner practices in the areas of government contracts and white collar defense and investigations. He has represented clients in the defense and aerospace, pharmaceutical, energy, and mass media industries. Mr. Wagner counsels government contractors on issues arising at all stages of the public procurement process, including contract disputes and administration, corporate acquisitions, False Claims Act compliance, suspension and debarment risks, and bid protest litigation.

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Suspension & Debarment Update: Department of Labor Announces New Pilot Program

Keen observers of federal suspension and debarment practice have noticed a recent change at the Department of Labor (DOL):  After years of inactivity, DOL’s discretionary suspension and debarment program suddenly came to life in 2017 and has been issuing suspensions and debarments at a steady clip ever since. [1]  Now, according to a recent announcement, … Continue Reading

When Compliance Is Not Enough: OIG Seeks Voluntary Refund Despite Contractor’s Adherence to “TINA” Requirements

On February 25, 2019, the Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) for the Department of Defense (“DoD”) issued an audit report analyzing the prices of spare aviation parts purchased by the Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”) and the Army from TransDigm Group, Inc. (“TransDigm”).  The audit was conducted in response to letters from certain Members of Congress, … Continue Reading

Trump’s New Executive Order Requires Additional Buy American Preferences For Infrastructure Projects

Last week, President Trump issued a new executive order, entitled “Strengthening Buy-American Preferences for Infrastructure Projects.”  This order serves as an extension of the President’s earlier April 2017 “Buy American and Hire American” executive order, which we have previously analyzed in this space.  The April 2017 order stated that “it shall be the policy of … Continue Reading

GAO Report Shows That Agencies Buy Only A Small Percentage of Non-American Goods, But Buy American Act Implementation Remains A Challenge

Last month, GAO released a report analyzing federal agency implementation of the Buy American Act (“BAA”), 41 U.S.C. §§ 8301-8305.  As we have previously reported, BAA enforcement is an area of focus for the Trump Administration, which has repeatedly emphasized the need to “Buy American and Hire American,” including in an April 2017 executive order. … Continue Reading

Time to Resolve a Question About Time: Supreme Court to Consider FCA’s Statute of Limitations

When does a private party need to file a qui tam action under the False Claims Act (“FCA”)?  Such a seemingly simple question has resulted in three different answers from six different courts.  This past Friday, November 16, 2018, the Supreme Court announced it would resolve that circuit split — by granting a request to … Continue Reading

What’s in a Brand Name? DoD to Limit Use of “Brand Name or Equal” Contract Competitions

The Department of Defense (“DoD”) has proposed a new rule limiting the use of “brand name or equal” contract competitions, calling on contracting officers to publicly justify their need for a brand name-type product before issuing a solicitation.  The rule would implement Section 888(a) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, which directed the … Continue Reading

DoD OIG Audit: What SDVOSBs Need to Know

The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) recently announced that it was initiating an audit to determine whether agencies within DoD awarded Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (“SDVOSB”) set-aside and sole-source contracts to eligible companies. The audit is set to begin this month, and likely will evaluate the number and value of contracts awarded … Continue Reading

Monitoring The Monitor: Recent Ruling Sheds Light on Applicability of FOIA to Monitorship Documents

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia recently issued the latest ruling in a long-running Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) dispute involving materials related to a government-mandated monitorship of the compliance and corporate governance systems of Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (“Siemens”), the German multinational conglomerate.  See 100Reporters LLC v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 2018 WL … Continue Reading

UPDATED: Covington’s Escobar Tracker

In Universal Health Services v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016), the Supreme Court changed the landscape for False Claims Act litigation. The Court endorsed implied certification liability in certain circumstances, but set a high bar for demonstrating the materiality of a violation of law, regulation, or contract to the government’s … Continue Reading

If Shulkin Didn’t Resign, Who Runs the VA Until a New Secretary Is Confirmed? A Vacancies Act Puzzle

Recent news reports have raised a substantial question about who has authority to run the Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) in the wake of Dr. David Shulkin’s departure from the agency.  According to the White House, Dr. Shulkin resigned.  Meanwhile, Dr. Shulkin himself has publicly insisted that he did not resign and was instead fired. … Continue Reading

GSA Unveils Plan for Commercial Online Shopping Portal

Following instructions from Congress to create a new online shopping system leveraging existing commercial practices, the General Services Administration (“GSA”), in coordination with the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), has released an implementation plan (“Plan”) to begin e-commerce purchases by 2019.  As discussed in a previous blog post, GSA’s Plan is a first step … Continue Reading

Incoming! Issuance of 1,000 Notifications Portends Ramp-Up of OFCCP Enforcement Activity

On February 1, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued 1,000 corporate scheduling announcement letters (CSALs) to federal contractors, a move that suggests a renewed emphasis on the agency’s enforcement of anti-discrimination and affirmative action employment laws. CSALs are informal notices that precede the official initiation of an OFCCP compliance evaluation, but the … Continue Reading

GSA Hears Comments from Industry About e-Commerce Portals

As part of ongoing efforts to create an online marketplace for government purchasers, GSA officials held a public meeting yesterday to discuss potential market structures and legal requirements. A wide range of stakeholders attended the hearing, responding to questions from GSA on issues such as how many online portals should be implemented, who should have … Continue Reading

Trinity: Divine Fifth Circuit Ruling Gives FCA Defendants Reason for Praise

Last year, the Supreme Court’s watershed Escobar ruling altered the landscape of False Claims Act litigation when it declared that the FCA’s materiality requirement presented a “demanding” barrier to plaintiffs alleging contractual non-compliance. In the 15 months since that time, lower courts have issued a steady stream of rulings interpreting and refining this standard. In … Continue Reading

Introducing Covington’s Escobar Tracker

In Universal Health Services v. United States ex rel. Escobar, 136 S. Ct. 1989 (2016), the Supreme Court changed the landscape for False Claims Act litigation. The Court endorsed implied certification liability, but set a high bar for demonstrating the materiality of a violation of law, regulation, or contract to the government’s payment decision. More … Continue Reading

First-To-File Rule of the False Claims Act Continues to Present Interpretive Challenges

Two years ago, when the Supreme Court addressed the “first-to-file” bar of the False Claims Act (FCA) in Kellogg Brown & Root Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Carter, it predicted that its holding might “produce practical problems,” as “[t]he False Claims Act’s qui tam provisions present many interpretive challenges, and it is beyond … Continue Reading

New Guidance on Contractor Risk Management Under the Human Trafficking Rule Released

On December 7, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Labor, and the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons in the Department of State, issued a proposed memorandum titled “Anti-Trafficking Risk Management Best Practices & Mitigation Considerations.”  The document is intended, at least in part, to “promote clarity and consistency in … Continue Reading

Cybersecurity Update: DoD Releases Long-Awaited Final Rule

On October 21, 2016, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued its long-awaited Final Rule—effective immediately—imposing safeguarding and cyber incident reporting obligations on defense contractors whose information systems process, store, or transmit covered defense information (CDI). The Final Rule has been years in the making and is the culmination of an initial rule issued in November … Continue Reading

Supreme Court on False Claims Act: Implied Certification OK, But Materiality Is No Gimme

Last week, in Universal Health Services Inc. v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar, the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the viability of the “implied false certification” theory of False Claims Act liability, at least in certain circumstances.  Writing for a unanimous Court, Justice Thomas explained that a defendant can face FCA liability under an implied certification theory … Continue Reading

A Job Half-Done? Questions Remain Following State Department’s Announcement of New Debarment Procedures

On March 28, 2015, the Department of State (“State”) issued a proposed rule to update various procedural aspects of the agency’s suspension and debarment actions.  The proposed rule appears intended to streamline the suspension and debarment process and reinforce the independence of the agency’s suspension and debarment official (“SDO”).  Yet despite these laudable aims, the … Continue Reading

Inside New FAR Whistleblower Rule: Key Takeaways for Contractors

On January 22, 2016, the FAR Council published a proposed rule that, if adopted, would impose a government-wide prohibition on contracting with companies that limit the ability of employees or subcontractors to lawfully report fraud, waste, and abuse to the government.  Given the proposed rule’s near-universal application and potentially devastating consequences for violators, contractors would … Continue Reading

Proposed Counterfeit Parts Rule Envisions New Restrictions, Universal Applicability for DoD Contractors

On September 17, 2015, Covington hosted a Symposium in the firm’s Washington office focusing on key trends and emerging issues for government contractors. Both Senator John McCain and former Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the procurement and enforcement challenges faced by the government and contractors, and several panels of leading experts discussed a wide variety … Continue Reading

Updated DoD IG Guidance Signals New Enforcement Emphasis for DCAA Auditors

The Department of Defense Office of Inspector General (“DoD IG”) appears poised to place new emphasis on the pursuit of fraud cases in certain key enforcement areas, at least according to updated agency guidance recently published online. Earlier this month, the DoD IG quietly revised its “Auditor Fraud Resources” page, intended to serve as guidance … Continue Reading

Self-Reporting Provision at Heart of New Inversion Rules

Last week, the FAR Council issued two final rules designed to reinforce existing restrictions on corporations that relocate overseas in inversion transactions.  The rules, which were issued without change from the proposed and interim rules announced in December 2014, further tighten restrictions on government contracting with inverted domestic corporations (IDCs), but they also impose new … Continue Reading
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