$3.8 million multi-state and federal False Claims Act settlement reached

March 7, 2014 by

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway announced Kentucky’s participation on last Friday (Feb. 28, 2014) in a more than $3.8 million multi-state and federal settlement with a pharmacy specializing in dispensing drugs to nursing homes.

Omnicare Inc. allegedly received kickbacks from Amgen Inc. to promote the drug Aranesp, a drug used to treat anemia caused by chemotherapy or kidney failure. Between Sept. 1, 2003 and June 30, 2005, Omnicare allegedly solicited and received kickbacks in the form of discounts, grants, market share rebates, consulting services, speaker fees, travel and dinners. The alleged kickbacks were offered in exchange for Omnicare influencing healthcare providers’ selection and use of Aranesp in long-term care facilities.

Omnicare also allegedly implemented therapeutic interchange programs meant to switch patients from a competitor drug to Aranesp and allegedly caused false and/or fraudulent claims for Aranesp to be submitted to federal and state Medicaid programs.

Keep reading this article at: http://legalnewsline.com/news/247651-omnicare-to-pay-3-8m-in-false-claims-act-settlement-with-feds-states 

FDA looks to small businesses for social media monitoring of risk communications

March 6, 2014 by

The Food and Drug Administration is seeking information from small businesses on social media tools for monitoring communications about the risks of products that fall under the agency’s watch.

FDA released solicitation on Tuesday for resources to analyze its risk communication programs through social media buzz reports, dashboard and quarterly surveillance data.

Potential vendors will be required to develop a self-service social media monitoring tool with a dashboard that displays updated reports.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.executivegov.com/2014/03/fda-posts-rfp-for-social-media-monitoring-of-risk-communications

Defense getting better at handling False Claims while DOJ short on staff, experts say

March 5, 2014 by

Parties on both sides of False Claims Act cases tend to agree that the number of lawsuits and amount of money they redistribute to the U.S. government has significantly increased since the statute was amended in 1986.

Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies in Washington, D.C., contends that Congress has been pressured not to rein in the anti-fraud law, but instead, find ways to widen its scope.

“In recent years, you’ve seen some pushback from the business community, but given the record of congressional expansion, they’ll be doing pretty well if they can just keep Congress from expanding it further,” said Olson, who also founded and still runs the popular blog Overlawyered.com.

Olson and other experts claim that excessive False Claims Act lawsuits will continue to cause trouble for businesses. They say when not interpreted properly, the law permits lawsuits that are expensive, time-consuming and often meritless.

The Department of Justice announced in December that it secured $3.8 billion in settlements and judgments from civil cases involving fraud against the government in 2013. According to the office, the amount represents the second largest annual recovery of its type in history and brings total recoveries under the False Claims Act to $17 billion since January 2009.

The DOJ also shows that its 2013 efforts recovered more than $3 billion for the fourth year in a row, surpassed only by last year’s nearly $5 billion in settlements and judgments.

Keep reading this article at: http://legalnewsline.com/in-the-spotlight/247486-defense-getting-better-at-handling-false-claims-while-doj-short-on-staff-experts-say

House small business committee tries again to increase small business contracting goals

March 3, 2014 by

Agencies have not met the governmentwide goal of awarding at least 23 percent of all prime contracts to small businesses since 2006.

Despite that, Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the Small Business Committee, believes it’s time to raise the goal.

Graves introduced legislation last Wednesday (Feb. 26, 2014) to increase the percentage of contracts that are mandated to go to small firms to 25 percent, which equates to about $10 billion more a year for these companies.

The Greater Opportunities for Small Business Act of 2014 would create a goal for agencies to ensure 40 percent of all subcontract awards go to small businesses, increasing from 35.9 percent. The bill also would require that only prime contract awards can count toward the prime contract goal.

Graves introduced the Contracting Data and Bundling Accountability Act of 2014 last week.

This bill will try to bring more data and transparency to how agencies bundle contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.federalnewsradio.com/65/3570622/Rep-Graves-tries-again-to-increase-small-business-contracting-goals 

8(a) program mentor to pay $928,000 False Claims Act settlement

March 2, 2014 by

An 8(a) Program mentor has agreed to pay a False Claims Act settlement of $928,000.  The settlement stems from the government’s claims that the mentor abused the 8(a) mentor-protege program.

According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release, the mentor firm performed eight 8(a) prime contracts on behalf of its protege–without an SBA-approved joint venture.  The government also contended that the mentor’s extensive role resulted in the protege firm failing to meet the applicable limitation on subcontracting.

According to the DOJ, Okland Construction Co. Inc., a large business, entered into an 8(a) mentor-protege agreement with Saiz Construction Co., an 8(a) participant.  Although the SBA did not approve joint ventures between the companies, Okland allegedly prepared the bids for the 8(a) contracts and Okland’s employees served as project managers, submitted invoices, and performed payroll and other accounting functions.

The government also alleged that Okland’s extensive involvement resulted in Saiz’s inability to meet the 15% limitation on subcontracting applicable to general construction contracts.  Okland allegedly concealed its extensive involvement in the 8(a) contracts by misrepresenting to the government that its employees were employees of Saiz.

Keewp reading this article at: http://smallgovcon.com/8a-program/8a-program-mentor-to-pay-928000-false-claims-act-settlement/

GSA doesn’t measure agencies’ inclusion of small businesses in strategic sourcing, GAO says

February 28, 2014 by

The General Services Administration (GSA) hasn’t developed a performance measure to determine small business participation in strategic sourcing initiatives and the Office of Management and Budget hasn’t monitored agencies’ efforts to include small businesses, a recently release Jan. 23 Government Accountability Office report says.

While documentation shows that agencies generally do consider small businesses in strategic sourcing contracts, the report says, there isn’t agency data and performance measures that would provide a more precise understanding of the inclusion of small businesses.

The Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) can’t be used to track the extent of strategic sourcing across the federal government and its effects on small businesses because there is no strategic sourcing category in the system, GAO says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gsa-doesnt-measure-agencies-inclusion-small-businesses-strategic-sourcing-g/2014-02-25 

After years of declining contract values, 2014 might bring back large programs

February 27, 2014 by

Fiscal 2014 may provide more high-dollar opportunities for federal contractors, after a recent slide in the value of new solicitations.

Deltek analyzed solicitations released each quarter from fiscal 2010 through 2013 as well as the same data for the first quarter of fiscal 2014 and anticipated solicitations for the remainder of the year.

The decreases in federal spending since fiscal 2011 have been mimicked in the combined dollar value of solicitations. Deltek saw a decline in solicitation values to $302.4 billion in fiscal 2013, down from a peak of $376.2 billion in 2011.

In contrast, the number of released solicitations has increased. The total of 6,325 solicitations released in 2013 is slightly less than the 6,700 in 2012, but represents a 32 percent increase from 2011. The average solicitation value in 2013 was $47.8 million, down from an average of $78.4 million two years earlier.

These changes illustrate a shift in federal procurement toward programs that are smaller in scope and dollar value, making it easier for agencies to gain approval to move forward.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/after-years-of-declining-contract-values-2014-might-bring-back-large-programs/2014/02/20/bfd09b10-972e-11e3-afce-3e7c922ef31e_story.html

GSA awards 125 small businesses OASIS contracts

February 26, 2014 by

On Monday (Feb. 24, 2014), the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced it has awarded 125 contracts to small businesses for its One Acquisition Solution for Integrated Services (OASIS) Small Business (SB) contract to companies that will provide customers with best value services for complex professional service requirements.

OASIS SB, a 100-percent small business set-aside contract, was developed in response to the Government’s need for a hybrid, government-wide acquisition vehicle.  OASIS SB will provide a streamlined solution for both commercial and non-commercial needs. OASIS SB is designed to reduce duplication of contracting efforts across the government and provide federal agencies with comprehensive, integrated professional services contract options.  The list of the 125 companies awarded contracts is available by clicking here.  

“We created OASIS SB to meet the growing demand for a hybrid, government-wide acquisition vehicle that maximizes opportunities for small businesses, stated Federal Acquisition Service (FAS) Commissioner Tom Sharpe.  “We believe that the large pool of awardees will provide government with access to highly skilled small businesses through a contract that is not only cost effective, but also efficient and streamlined for easier use by federal agencies looking to purchase complex professional services.”

OASIS SB will compliment GSA’s Multiple Award Schedules (MAS) program and provide agencies with more flexible full-service options. Notable features and benefits of OASIS and OASIS Small Business include:

  • Government-wide use
  • Access to best in class solution providers
  • On-ramp/off-ramp procedures to ensure a flexible, vibrant vendor pool
  • Integrated support for key government initiatives

GSA predicts OASIS SB will drive down costs for federal agencies, and increase efficiency by reducing the time spent on developing complex contractual instruments. OASIS SB will include a vast array of professional services contractors for agencies to choose from. In fact it  has already become the solution of choice for some government agencies. In December,  the United States Air Force committed to use OASIS SB in lieu of creating several of its own multiple-award, Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) acquisition vehicles. These efforts are estimated to be worth approximately $1.4 billion per year and use of OASIS SB is projected to save the Air Force and taxpayers significant dollars and resources.

For more information visit www.gsa.gov/oasis and OASIS Industry Group on GSA Interact.

What’s on the chopping block—and what’s safe—in the Pentagon’s shrinking budget?

February 25, 2014 by

This year’s scramble in Washington over the budget request will start Monday, when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to preview the fiscal 2015 Defense Department budget—a week before the official request goes to Congress.

Its first hint at budget priorities will spur the defense industry to start lobbying, lawmakers to stake out their priorities, and the Pentagon to launch a charm offensive on Capitol Hill. And everyone involved will be chasing the same goal: keeping their priorities safe from cuts, even if that means nudging someone else’s pet project.

Before the budget Hunger Games begin, here are a few key priorities that could be on the chopping block as the Pentagon decides how to cut tens of billions of dollars—and what might escape the ax.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.defenseone.com/management/2014/02/whats-chopping-blockand-whats-safe-pentagons-shrinking-budget/79231/?oref=defenseone_today_nl?oref=d-interstitial-continue 

Pentagon to ask for more cyber spending in next budget

February 24, 2014 by

The Pentagon’s cyber budget will get a boost as part of the department’s fiscal 2015 budget request, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last Tuesday (2/18/2014).

“We are adjusting our asset base and our new technology,” the Pentagon’s top official said, adding that the department will increase spending to help improve its cyber capabilities, including a larger focus on cyber security, intelligence gathering, and reconnaissance.

The department’s budget request will be released March 4, as part of the Obama administration’s budget, and the secretary is expected to offer a preview Monday. Hagel and other top Defense officials have largely sidestepped questions about what spending they are asking to have increased — or what programs to cut.

“Of course, it’s going to shift the proprieties and the balance of forces, and where you invest your money to be able to ensure readiness for your forces, capability, … and capacity,” Hagel said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2014/02/pentagon-ask-more-cyber-spending-next-budget/79040