Justice Department Emphasizes Antitrust Enforcement Through Creation of Multi-Agency Antitrust and Bid-Rigging Strike Force
Antitrust & Government Contracts Update
Date: November 12, 2019
The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced that it is stepping up antitrust enforcement efforts against companies involved in government contracting and procurement by joining with the FBI, Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General, U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General and 13 U.S. Attorneys’ offices to create the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF), an interagency strike force that will focus on deterring, detecting, investigating and prosecuting antitrust offenses, including bid-rigging.
The formation of the PCSF comes on the heels of the DOJ’s sweeping revisions to its evaluation of corporate compliance programs in antitrust investigations, which were announced over the summer. In determining whether it will bring criminal antitrust charges, the DOJ will now evaluate compliance programs based on factors including:
- The design and comprehensiveness of the compliance program
- The culture of compliance
- Responsibility and resources dedicated to antitrust compliance
- Antitrust risk assessment
- Compliance training
- Monitoring and auditing techniques
- Reporting mechanisms
- Compliance incentives
- Remediation methods
The PCSF will lead a national effort to root out anticompetitive conduct, not only in federal government procurement, but also in state and local taxpayer-funded projects. Initially, it will focus on conduct in 13 districts throughout the country:
- Central and Eastern Districts of California (which include Los Angeles and Sacramento)
- District of Colorado
- District of Columbia
- Southern District of Florida
- Northern District of Georgia
- Northern District of Illinois
- Eastern District of Michigan
- Southern District of New York
- Southern District of Ohio
- Eastern District of Pennsylvania
- Northern District of Texas
- Eastern District of Virginia
As part of its enforcement efforts, attorneys from the DOJ’S Antitrust Division and participating U.S. Attorneys’ offices, along with agents from the FBI and Offices of Inspector General, will train government procurement officials and contracting officers on antitrust risks and detection. The agencies will also jointly investigate and prosecute cases that are uncovered as a result of the PCSF’s efforts.
Implications for Companies
The DOJ’s announcement further reinforces a trend toward increased prosecution of antitrust offenses, particularly among companies that do business with the U.S. government. These companies must have a robust compliance program that is tailored to their risk profile, well-designed, effectively implemented by senior and middle management, and continuously tested and improved. A “paper” program will not be considered effective and will not be sufficient to avoid prosecution; an antitrust compliance program must be firmly integrated into a company’s business such that it creates a culture of ethical conduct and compliance with the law.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Our attorneys have experience in advising clients on antitrust law and developing functional and effective compliance programs designed to mitigate antitrust risk.
For more information, please contact:
Matthew D. Ridings
Certified Compliance & Ethics Professional Antitrust &
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