Publication | Eye on Government Contracts Blog
Justice Department Procurement Collusion Strike Force
A Coordinated National Response to Combat Antitrust Crimes and Related Schemes in Government Procurement, Grant, and Program Funding
It is time for government contractors to revisit their compliance programs and ensure they have effective controls that mitigate the risks of potential antitrust violations. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) recent creation of the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) puts government contractors officially on notice that federal law enforcement efforts are focused on antitrust in government contracts and grants.
The PCSF leads a national effort designed to protect taxpayer-funded projects at the federal, state, and local levels from antitrust violations and related crimes, starting with a focus on thirteen districts throughout the country.
COVID-19 Procurement Focus
The PCSF website encourages reporting of COVID-19 suspected antitrust violations. The website includes examples of suspected antitrust situations that provide insight into areas contractors must incorporate into compliance activities, as follows:
“In the wake of devastation caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Federal agencies will be working with state and local government agencies to solicit competitive bids for relief and recovery contracts. Collusion and anticompetitive conduct that subvert the competitive bidding process include:
- Bid rigging:Two or more firms agree to bid in such a way that a designated firm submits the winning bid.
- Price fixing:Two or more competing sellers agree on what prices to charge, such as by agreeing that they will increase prices a certain amount or that they won’t sell below a certain price.
- Customer or market allocation:Two or more firms agree to split up customers, such as by geographic area, to reduce or eliminate competition.
These agreements are generally secret, and the participants defraud customers by holding themselves out as competitors despite their agreement not to compete. They harm consumers and taxpayers by causing them to pay more for products and services and by depriving them of other byproducts of true competition.”