Overview

Each year, billions of dollars in government contracts are awarded to companies to provide a wide array of goods and services to government agencies, including federal, state and local governments. While these contracts can be very lucrative, having governmental entities as customers presents additional challenges for businesses. Significant care is required to navigate the complex laws, regulations and contractual provisions that govern the provision of goods and services to government agencies, and to ensure that contracts are developed, executed and administered to maximize benefits and minimize risks to the contractor. Government contractors must also remain vigilant in order to comply with evolving or new requirements and increasing oversight from their government customers.

Thompson Hine’s Government Contracts practice has the experience and know-how to assist clients in all aspects of contracting with federal, state and local government entities. We have worked with clients on issues relating to most federal agencies, including the Department of Defense (DoD) and all of the armed forces branches; Departments of Energy, Interior, Veterans Affairs (VA), Agriculture and State; Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA); Federal Aviation Administration (FAA); General Services Administration (GSA); Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and Small Business Administration (SBA).

In addition to the foregoing, it is important to note that many of the federal-specific issues arising out of government contracts often extend to state and local government contracts. We have extensive experience in dealing with those non-federal government contracts issues, having performed work in numerous localities and state jurisdictions, including, by way of example, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Our experience also includes localities that receive federal monies for which the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) provisions are incorporated.

As part of a full-service business law firm, our Government Contracts lawyers receive support as needed from their colleagues in other practice areas. For example, when white collar crime or False Claims Act issues arise, or when internal investigations are necessary, our Government Contracts team works hand-in-hand with our White Collar Crime, Internal Investigations & Government Enforcement practice. We have performed many such investigations and representations on behalf of contractors and subcontractors alike.

Thompson Hine’s government contracts services include general regulatory and compliance issues as well as business transactional and contentious work (including bid protests and claims). With the multifaceted advice and services we provide, our clients are able to develop and maintain beneficial working relationships with government agencies while protecting their interests.

Contract Development & Administration

We represent and assist our clients in contract formation and post-award matters, including:

  • Invitations for bids, requests for proposals, requests for qualifications and other types of solicitation
  • Bid protests before the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), FAA Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition (ODRA), federal agencies and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims
  • Federal Acquisition Regulation and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) interpretation and compliance
  • Contract warranties, invoicing and cost principles
  • Contract changes and terminations
  • Defective pricing and cost disallowance
  • Overdue payments
  • Ownership and protection of technical data and intellectual property rights
Contract Litigation

Litigation involving the U.S. government is different from typical commercial litigation. We represent clients before federal agencies, in federal courts including the Court of Federal Claims, the Civilian and Armed Services Boards of Contract Appeals and the FAA’s Office of Dispute Resolution for Acquisition. We also represent clients before the GAO, SBA and VA on bid and size/status protests.

We assist clients in preparing, submitting and prosecuting claims, including those for:

  • Suspensions of work, delay, impact, loss of productivity and acceleration
  • Constructive and directed changes
  • Defective specifications
  • Prime contractor-subcontractor disputes
  • Changed and differing site conditions and geotechnical matters
  • Payment disputes
Corporate Transactions Relating to Government Contractors

Mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, joint ventures and teaming agreements involving government contracts include many issues not typical of purely commercial M&A transactions. In these matters, we provide counsel on issues such as:

  • Small businesses, minority business enterprises, women-owned small businesses, veteran-owned small businesses, service-disabled veteran-owned businesses and other participation programs
  • Ownership by non-U.S. persons and Exon-Florio submissions
  • Due diligence
  • Maintenance of security clearances
  • Contract novation
  • Cost recovery limitations
  • Security requirements
  • Conflicts of interest and organizational conflicts of interest
  • Transfer and use of intellectual property and technical data rights
Whistleblower, False Claims Act & Fraud Investigations

Entire sections of the law and the Federal Acquisition Regulations discuss with heightened specificity the requirements for proper and accurate pricing, cost accounting, certification of pricing and other ethical and business practices requirements. Failing to comply with any one of these many rules and procedures can subject contractors and subcontractors alike to substantial liability under the False Claims Act. Enforcement by the Department of Justice and various agency Offices of Inspector General has increased significantly over the last few years and headlines regularly highlight the millions of dollars recovered from companies in sectors including defense, aerospace, construction and health care. Adding to the challenges companies face is that private whistleblowers can bring qui tam lawsuits against an organization, even when the government does not. Likewise, there are pervasive and extensive ethics rules and obligations imposed on businesses performing work with or for the government.

Thompson Hine’s White Collar Crime and Government Contracts teams collaborate to aggressively defend False Claims Act cases and other government fraud. Our experience ranges from advising on proactive measures and providing mandatory and optional training to companies to reduce False Claims Act and ethics violations-related risks, to effectively representing companies and individuals in trials and appeals. Our experience includes advising and defending on:

  • False Claims Act actions
  • Qui tam actions
  • Grand jury proceedings
  • Government audits and procurement fraud investigations
  • Government bribery allegations
  • SBA set-aside and size protests and inquiries (small businesses, HUBZone small business concerns, service-disabled veteran-owned small business concerns, economically disadvantaged women-owned small business concerns and women-owned small business concerns)
  • Davis-Bacon and Service Contract Act violations and investigations
  • U.S. Attorney and Inspector General investigations and court actions

We are often able to help clients achieve a successful settlement early in the litigation process. Our teams are also knowledgeable about collateral issues involved with these cases, such as suspension and debarment.

Suspension & Debarment Actions

Suspension and debarment can be the death knell for a government contractor. Over the last few years, suspensions and debarments across almost all government agencies have substantially increased. The government can issue a suspension or debarment for many reasons ranging from fraud to inadequate contract performance to failure to comply with the Federal Acquisition Regulation mandatory disclosure rules.

Our attorneys have experience practicing before a wide range of agency suspension and debarment officials. We have experience advising contractors before any official action is taken by the government on how to avoid suspension and debarment if causes may exist, and if an action is pending, we are knowledgeable in responding to that action, addressing the root causes giving rise to the suspension or debarment proceeding and negotiating administrative agreements.

Our suspension and debarment attorneys are also knowledgeable about collateral issues involved with suspension and debarment cases such as parallel criminal investigations or False Claims Act allegations. As a result, our attorneys develop comprehensive strategies that address all of an entity’s issues efficiently and effectively.

State & Local Procurement Experience

In addition to the federal level, our firm has extensive and broad experience in representing contractors and subcontractors in all facets of government contracting at the state and local levels. In general, these contract regimes, while not necessarily identical, follow closely the federal model of public procurement. Our familiarity with the federal level of procurement gives our team inherent advantages in understanding and representing clients and their needs in the state and local contracting environment. We have represented clients in many fora at all levels, in matters ranging from general government contracts advice and review to protests, injunctive matters and claims preparation and prosecution. We have also advised clients in state and local prevailing wage laws and investigations, white collar matters, investigations and claims preparation and prosecution. These efforts have allowed us to work on non-federal public procurements across the country, ranging from California and Oregon to Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Illinois. We have worked in localities ranging from New York City and Washington, D.C. to counties in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Illinois, the Carolinas and elsewhere.