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 &
Government Enforcement
216.566.5561

Norman A. Bloch
Antitrust & Government Enforcement
212.908.3492
Norman.Bloch@ThompsonHine.com

Steven Block
Government Enforcement
312.998.4242
Steven.Block@ThompsonHine.com

Sarah M. Hall
Government Enforcement, Government Contracts
202.263.4192
Sarah.Hall@ThompsonHine.com

Tom Mason
Government Contracts
202.263.4168
Thomas.Mason@ThompsonHine.com

Joan Meyer
Government Enforcement
202.263.4115
Joan.Meyer@ThompsonHine.com

Jennifer S. Roach
Antitrust Counseling & Compliance
216.566.5885
Jennifer.Roach@ThompsonHine.com

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