Welcome to the PilieroMazza blog, featuring trending legal insight in the areas of government contracting, general business and corporate issues, labor and employment, and civil litigation matters.

BLOG: Small Businesses and the FCA: Are More FCA Cases Against Small Businesses on the Horizon?

September 19, 2019
By Timothy F. Valley
On August 20, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had reached a $20 million settlement with Luke Hillier (Hillier), the majority owner and former CEO of a Virginia-based defense contractor, ADS, Inc. (ADS), to resolve "allegations that he violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by fraudulently obtaining federal set-aside contracts reserved for small businesses that his company was ineligible to receive . . . ." The resolution of the claims against Hillier follows ADS's payment of a separate $16 million settlement on related claims, as well as an additional $225,000 paid by Charles Salle, the former general counsel of ADS, to resolve claims arising from his role in the alleged scheme. Combined, the $36 million total settlement is believed to be the largest FCA recovery in history based on allegations of small business contracting fraud. Given the size of the collective settlement and the nature of the allegations against Hillier and ADS, small businesses everywhere—particularly government contractors—should anticipate a potential increase in the frequency of small business fraud-related FCA cases.

BLOG: Protégé Subcontract Revenues from Mentor Hold No Basis for Economic Dependence

September 18, 2019
By Patrick T. Rothwell
An important benefit of a mentor-protégé agreement (MPA) is that no determination of affiliation may be found between a protégé and its mentor solely because of assistance provided under the agreement. A recent decision of the Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA), Avar Consulting, Inc., upheld a size determination which found that a protégé was not affiliated with its SBA-approved mentor through economic dependence, even though the revenues it received from the mentor constituted over 70% of the revenues it received between formation and the date of size self-certification. A small business government contractor that anticipates future affiliation with a business under the 70% economic dependence rule should consider entering into an SBA-approved small business MPA with that business to prevent future revenues it receives from the business from being considered when economic dependence is assessed.

BLOG: Key Ruling on Native American Sovereign Immunity Stands—for Now

September 13, 2019
By Paul W. Mengel III
The Fourth Circuit case Williams v. Big Picture Loans is being hailed as a major victory for Native American sovereign immunity rights. For entities owned by Native American tribes, the case stands as an important ruling for determining arm-of-the-tribe sovereign immunity. The case may be appealed to the Supreme Court.

BLOG: 5 Things Government Contractors Should Know About Task Order Protests

September 11, 2019
By Michelle E. Litteken
With the fiscal year coming to a close, federal agencies are issuing notices of award and disappointed offeror letters. Because of the push toward category management and the growth in government-wide acquisition contracts (GWAC) and indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contracts, many of the procurements involve task orders. Although a task order may be similar to a contract in many respects, the rules that apply to protesting the award of a task order are different. Understanding these rules is essential for any government contractor competing for task order awards. Below are five things contractors should know about task order protests.

BLOG: Late Is Late—Even on the GSA Schedule

September 9, 2019
By Kathryn V. Flood
In a recent blog, we discussed the "late is late" rule in government contracting which has been the cause of many protests and much consternation among government contractors. However, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Court of Federal Claims (COFC) have consistently held that it is proper for an agency to reject a late offer, even if the offer is only slightly late. Recently, COFC applied this rule to a General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule purchase—specifically in Criterion Systems, Inc. v. United States,[1] in which the court held that an offer that was a mere 90 seconds late, was too late to be considered for award. No matter the type of procurement or the agency involved, government contractors should be careful to submit all their materials ahead of the scheduled deadline.
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