Internal Investigations and False Claims Act Matters
Government contractors are subject to a host of requirements that can trigger liability under the False Claims Act and other statutes. Our federal defense lawyers represent government contractors nationwide in internal investigations and federal False Claims Act matters.
Federal government contracting is a trillion-dollar industry. From general construction to high-tech defense, government contractors in virtually all sectors stand to earn substantial profits from winning bids for federal spending projects. However, the opportunities of federal government contracting are not without their own unique set of risks. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and other federal agencies heavily scrutinize contractors’ bidding practices and contract performance, and contractors accused of fraud can face substantial civil and criminal penalties.
The primary statute that the DOJ and other federal authorities use to target and prosecute government contractors is the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act prohibits all forms of government contract fraud, and it includes provisions for civil and criminal enforcement. However, the False Claims Act is far from the only tool in federal authorities’ enforcement arsenal. The Anti-Kickback Statute, the Procurement Integrity Act, the federal mail fraud and wire fraud statutes, and various other laws can come into play in investigations targeting government contractors as well, and contractors that are accused of fraud can quickly find themselves at risk for substantial liability based on numerous federal allegations.
Federal Defense Lawyers for Internal Investigations, Federal Investigations, and Civil and Criminal Proceedings
Our federal defense practice encompasses the representation of government contractors in all enforcement-related matters. From internal investigations to civil and criminal defense in matters involving the DOJ, we help our clients make informed decisions and avoid unnecessary exposure to fines, contract termination, and other penalties. As a government contractor, demonstrating good-faith compliance is generally going to be the strongest available defense. However, if there are issues that need to be addressed, then taking a strategic, experience-based approach can be crucial to convincing federal authorities not to press forward with civil or criminal charges.
Internal Investigations Involving Potential Government Contract Fraud
When a potential issue comes to light in connection with a government contract, swiftly conducting an appropriately-tailored internal investigation is one of the first steps toward mitigating any potential False Claims Act or other statutory liability. Whether triggered by a discovery during a routine audit or review of billing records, an employee complaint, or an inquiry from the DOJ or another federal agency, the scope and purpose of an internal investigation should be the same: The goal should be to identify any issues as quickly as possible so that they can be addressed and remedied appropriately.
We provide thorough representation as outside counsel for internal investigations related to government contract bidding, billing, and performance. Our attorneys assist with all aspects of the process, from developing internal investigation policies and protocols to providing emergency response in the event of the receipt of a federal subpoena or civil investigative demand (CID). As your company’s internal investigation counsel, we will:
- Assist with the development, documentation, and implementation of company-wide policies and protocols for internal investigations;
- Communicate with company leadership and in-house counsel regarding the scope of the investigation;
- Conduct interviews, review pertinent records, conduct forensic data analysis, and engage in other appropriate investigatory measures;
- Provide legal opinions regarding all issues within the scope of the investigation;
- Provide recommendations regarding remedial action, employee discipline, and other appropriate courses of action; and,
- Communicate with federal authorities on your company’s behalf as necessary.
Federal Agency Investigations Under the False Claims Act and Other Statutes
If any employee of your company has received a subpoena or a CID from the DOJ or any other federal agency, you will need to carefully prepare a strategic response – and you will need to do so quickly. While the receipt of a subpoena or CID is typically a government contractor’s first notification that it is being targeted in an investigation, the service of a subpoena or CID indicates that federal authorities’ investigative efforts are already well underway.
When facing a federal investigation, there are various key pieces of information that government contractors need in order to build and execute an effective defense. These include:
- Which agencies are involved? In addition to the DOJ, various contracting agencies conduct their own investigations, typically through their respective Offices of Inspector General (OIG). Identifying the agencies involved can often provide significant insight into the scope and nature of the investigation.
- Which statutes are involved? As a government contractor, you can be almost certain that the investigation involves allegations under the False Claims Act. But, under what other statutes is your company being targeted? This is a question that you need answered as soon as possible.
- What triggered the investigation? Investigations triggered by whistleblower complaints and those triggered by independent agency action will often require very different approaches. Discerning what triggered the investigation is an important step toward resolving it favorably.
- What are the substantive allegations? Are you being accused of bid rigging or offering a kickback? Intentionally delivering substandard products or failing to conduct adequate quality control? While investigations will often target the same aspects of the government contracting process, there are numerous potential allegations that require very different defense strategies.
- What defenses do you have available? Do you have the documentation to affirmatively demonstrate contract compliance? Or, do you need to argue that any mistakes that were made were truly oversights and not the product of intent to defraud the federal government? Once we have a clear understanding of the allegations against you, then we can turn our attention to identifying the defenses your company has available.
Our experience includes representing clients (including the federal government as former DOJ prosecutors and U.S. Attorneys) in False Claims Act and other investigations involving all major federal contracting agencies. We rely on this experience to provide skilled legal representation for investigations conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), General Services Administration (GSA), U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of State (DOS), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and other agencies.
Civil and Criminal Defense for Federal Government Contractors in All Sectors
As federal defense counsel for federal government contract fraud investigations, our primary goal is always to resolve the investigation without our client being civilly or criminally charged. However, whether as a result of the investigation being too far underway prior to our involvement, or as a result of federal prosecutors being intent on pressing charges based on their assessment of the available evidence, in some cases it is not possible to avoid charges entirely.
If your company is facing charges under the False Claims Act, Anti-Kickback Statute, Procurement Integrity Act, or any other federal statute, or if it appears that your investigation is headed for civil charges or a grand jury indictment, our federal defense attorneys can provide representation focused on preventing any charges from leading to penalties. While this might mean taking your case to trial, our attorneys have also had significant success favorably resolving clients’ cases between the stages of charging and trial. Our attorneys can defend your company against charges related to allegations including (but not limited to):
- Bid rigging and other forms of government procurement fraud
- Government contract fraud, including substitution of materials and labor, delivery of substandard products and services, cross-charging, and improper cost allocation
- Offering and paying unlawful bribes and kickbacks
- Procurement Integrity Act violations
- Truth-in-Negotiations Act (TINA) violations
Why Federal Government Contractors Nationwide Choose Oberheiden, P.C.
Oberheiden, P.C.’s federal defense team consists of career federal defense attorneys, former DOJ prosecutors, former U.S. Attorneys, and former Assistant U.S. Attorneys. Unlike most other law firms, our practice is devoted primarily to federal defense, with a particular emphasis on defending clients in federal fraud investigations. We have favorably resolved False Claims Act and other investigations on behalf of clients across the country – in fact, not a single client of our firm has faced civil or criminal liability as the result of a False Claims Act investigation in which we have been involved as defense counsel.
Whether you are at the stage of proactively conducting an internal investigation or you are facing a direct inquiry from federal authorities, this is the type of experience you need on your side. At Oberheiden, P.C., we also offer:
- A team consisting exclusively of senior attorneys
- Attorneys who are available to provide in-person representation nationwide
- 24/7 accessibility by phone, text, and email
- Constant evaluation and reevaluation of potential defense strategies
- A steadfast commitment to favorable pre-charge or pre-trial resolution
Contact Oberheiden, P.C. Regarding an Internal Investigation or Federal Government Contract Fraud Inquiry
For more information about our firm’s defense representation for federal government contractors, please contact us to schedule a complimentary initial case assessment. Our federal defense attorneys are available 24/7 to speak with prospective clients nationwide. To learn more about how Oberheiden, P.C. can help protect your company’s government contract, call (214) 692-2171 or contact us online now.