Government contracting is a growth industry in the United States. Our complex world requires such increased government spending. Nelson Mullins attorneys keep pace with such political and industrial trends to help its clients participate in these opportunities that arise in a broad range of industrial sectors such as defense, construction, aerospace, and energy.
Government contractors require legal counsel with knowledge of the procurement systems of the federal government agencies and the respective state and local entities. Such experience requires knowledge of contract preparation and interpretation, claims and disputes, corporate transactions, specialized labor and employment, and “white collar” issues. Moreover, advisors to government contractors must be aware of the differences between supply contracting, construction contracting, and service contracting.
The Government Contracts Practice Group at Nelson Mullins has experience in all types of government procurement. We recognize that there are different dimensions to be pursued in the Federal procurement process that range from the authorization and appropriations roles of the Congress, to the operations and management roles within the departments and agencies, to the contracting officers at the time of bid and award, to the issues that arise during performance of a government contract. Utilizing a team approach, the Government Contracts Group, in conjunction with the Government Relations and Administrative Law Group, assess the short-term and long-range goals of our clients to develop a comprehensive multidimensional strategy that includes each of these areas.
LEGISLATIVE AND DEPARTMENTAL ADVOCACY
In the government procurement area, it is often beneficial to inform Senators, Members of Congress, and Congressional Staff about the merits of product and service offerings, as well as the associated funding requirements. Also, when there are matters of interest to Congressional Committees of jurisdiction, it is important that the necessary information be transmitted to the members of the Committees and the professional staff, so that they can carry out their responsibility for oversight over Federal departments and agencies. A significant area of assistance that is provided by our professionals in the Government Relations and Administrative Law Group in coordination with the Government Contracts Group is in assisting the development of effective messages and placing clients in direct contact with the appropriate officials in departments and agencies in regard to their products or services.
REGULATORY AND COMPLIANCE MATTERS
Our attorneys have experience in regulatory and contract compliance issues ranging from prevention programs to dealing with audits and investigations and representation of contractors in compliance litigation. We present workshops in a number of issues such as export trade controls (EAR/ITAR), Buy American Act, and E-Verify for Federal Contractors.
We are familiar with the laws and regulations governing competition and performance of contractor obligations under a variety of statutory and regulatory frameworks of federal agencies. We have drafted codes of conduct and corporate compliance policies. We have assisted clients in establishing guidelines for dealing with gifts and gratuities, “kickbacks,” sensitive procurement information, and trade secrets.
Of particular note, we have established internal “hotlines” with reporting procedures and guidelines for clients. In fact, one of our partners operates a hotline for a firm client effectively serving as the company ombudsman.
We have conducted internal investigations and audits confronting a variety of allegations for fraud, waste and abuse, use of improper materials, improper pricing, false claims, and immigration compliance. In addition, we have negotiated entrance of clients into DOD and Commerce “Voluntary Disclosure” Programs helping those clients avoid potential suspensions and debarments as well as prosecutions for suspected violations.
We have also assisted clients in responding to agency Inspector General (IG) inquiries and inquiries by the Department of Justice. Likewise, we have advised clients in dealing with grand jury subpoenas. Our attorneys have also defended clients in debarment proceedings and in “qui tam” litigation initiated by disgruntled employees or outside parties. One of our partners was a former Assistant U.S. Attorney who is particularly experienced in handling inquiries by federal agencies or the Department of Justice.
DUE DILIGENCE/CORPORATE TRANSACTIONS
Corporate transactions that involve companies that perform government contracts, whether they are an acquiring company or a company being acquired, require counsel with experience in dealing with government contracts. Knowledge of the multitude of applicable laws and regulations is required. Mergers and acquisitions require special due diligence reviews and ultimately preparation and pursuit of contract novations, change of name agreements, “foreign control and influence” (FOCI) reviews, and Committee or Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) reviews when federal procurement obligations are involved. Our attorneys possess the knowledge and have the experience of working on domestic and international transactions that allow us to identify potential exposures in the government contracts for defense contractors that are being acquired or seek acquisition. We work closely with our corporate colleagues to ensure the success of such domestic and international transactions.
CLAIMS AND DISPUTES
In government contracting, issues arise that cause material impacts on the contract. These issues require counsel knowledgeable of the government contracting process such as preparation and certification of claims for equitable adjustments for contract changes, contract interpretation issues, defective specifications, differing site or changed conditions, delay and acceleration, government furnished property, terminations (both for default and for the convenience of the government), export trade controls, Buy American Act application, immigration compliance, National Industry Security Program (NISPOM) compliance, organizational conflicts of interest, intellectual property protection, and like substantive matters.
We have prepared or defended claims involving military and federal civilian projects as diverse as barracks construction to privatized military housing to POL pipelines and fuel tank farms to hospitals. And, we prepared claims involving the replacement of Lock and Dam No. 26 on the Mississippi River which was the largest COE project to that time. As part of our claims experience, we understand how to work with claims consultants (such as scheduling, soils, accounting professionals).
When claims cannot be resolved at the Contracting Officer level, we have litigated appeals in all the major government contracts forums including both the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals and the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals, the US Court of Federal Claims, and the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. A demonstration of our level of experience is the fact that one of our partners has actually litigated to written decision eight separate matters at those venues with six of those matters each resulting in judgments for our clients ranging between $1 and $4 Million.
At the state and local level we have litigated cases in both federal and state court involving contracts and projects as diverse as a water treatment plant and renovation of the Battleship North Carolina.
We have experience in handling bid protests at both the federal and state levels. Such federal protests have included both agency level and protests to the General Accounting office (now Government Accountability Office). We have also litigated state protests at the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings, the South Carolina Procurement Review Panel, and other similar bodies.