United Technologies begins appeal of $664 million False Claims Act judgment

United Technologies has filed its appeal brief – albeit incorrectly – in a False Claims Act lawsuit brought by the United States that resulted in a $664 million judgment against the company.

The verdict, reached in June after a bench trial in federal court in Dayton, Ohio, was touted by the Department of Justice when it announced in December that Fiscal Year 2013 saw a record $3.8 billion recovered as a result of False Claims Act lawsuits.

The case against United Technologies was filed in 1999 and alleged it made false statements to the Air Force while negotiating a contract for fighter jet engines.

According to the appeal’s docket at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the brief is not available because of errors contained within it.

Keep reading this article at: http://legalnewsline.com/news/federal-government/246569-united-technologies-begins-appeal-of-664m-false-claims-act-judgment  

See related article: DOJ says 2013 a record year for False Claims Act lawsuits

Congress could turn heat up on small-biz goals

Under a new bill, a department that misses a set goal to contract with small businesses could lose 10 percent of its budget as a penalty.

Rep. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) introduced the Small Business Growth and Federal Accountability Act (H.R. 3779) Jan. 18, saying the government’s annual 23-percent small-business contracting goal is regularly ignored by agencies.

He said his bill would “ensure that Washington lives up to its promise to foster an environment of success for small businesses.”

Owens, a member of the Small Business Committee, said federal agencies typically fail to meet their small-business contracting goals and they currently face no penalties for the shortfalls.

Under his bill, if an agency misses the set small-business contracting goal, their budget would decrease by 10 percent in the following fiscal year, with that percentage of funds going to pay down national debt.

“It is critical that federal agencies be held accountable,” Owens said.

The bill also would offer agencies more authority to give “preference” to small companies when awarding contracts. The term “preference” is not defined in the bill.

The bill has been sent to the Small Business Committee for consideration.

It is true that the government struggles to meet its annual 23-percent contracting goal. In the most recent scorecard from the Small Business Administration, the government reached 22.7 percent in fiscal 2010.

That year, agencies awarded a total of nearly $100 billion in contracts to small businesses. However, it was an increase in prime contract dollars going to small businesses for the second year following four years of decline.

SBA gave the government a B on the scorecard for its efforts in contracting with specific types of small businesses, such as those owned by a service-disabled veteran or located in an economically depressed area.

Owens’ bill could have several repercussions though.

In a post on the Government Contracts Legal Forum blog, Tiffany Wynn, an associate at the Crowell and Moring law firm, said agencies may decide to reduce their contracting goals to avoid the 10-percent penalty.

As a result of the bill, officials would have to weigh the penalties for missing the small-business goal against awarding a contract to a large company if the agency could save money.

Wynn also questioned whether this legislation would lead to penalties on companies that don’t meet their own annual small business subcontracting goals.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week. This article appeared Jan. 25, 2012 at http://washingtontechnology.com/articles/2012/01/25/small-business-goal-reduced-budget-penalty.aspx?s=wtdaily_260112.

Move over, FAPIIS – POGO freshens up its contractor misconduct database

The federal government’s largest contractors have paid $25.3 billion in fines and penalties for everything from A to Z: from improper accounting practices to selling the government defective Zylon body armor. These and more than 1,400 other misconduct instances can be found in the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD), which has now been updated with fiscal year 2010′s top 100 ranking.  [Note: The FCMD is published by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a nonprofit watchdog group.]

The top 100 features 7 new contractors, including international accounting firm Deloitte LLP, package delivery company United Parcel Service (UPS), and linguistic services provider Mission Essential Personnel. The FCMD now includes misconduct information on 160 of the federal government’s largest suppliers of goods and services.

The top 100 contractors received $276 billion in contracts last fiscal year, accounting for slightly more than half of the $536 billion in contracts awarded that year. As of today, these 100 contractors have accumulated 821 misconduct instances. Thirty-eight of the top 100 have zero or one instance, a reminder that misconduct need not be accepted as a cost of doing business with the federal government.

As has occurred in the past, the USAspending.gov data on which the top 100 ranking is based contains errors. Therefore, you will see double listings for Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.

Among the instances you will find in the FCMD:

POGO’s FCMD complements the federal government’s contractor responsibility database, the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, or FAPIIS. POGO was pleased to discover the recent addition of several new useful features to FAPIIS, which is on its way to becoming an indispensable resource that strengthens accountability over the more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money spent each year on federal contracts and grants.

– Neil Gordon is a POGO Investigator.  Published Sept. 29, 2011 at http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2011/09/move-over-fapiis-pogo-freshens-up-its-contractor-misconduct-database.html.