Last year, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division announced that it was creating a Procurement Collusion Strike Force (Strike Force) to focus on bid-rigging in public procurement noting that this area was “particularly vulnerable to collusion.” The creation of the Strike Force followed the Antitrust Division’s recent focus on anticompetitive conduct in government contracting.
The Strike Force is an interagency partnership consisting of prosecutors from DOJ’s Antitrust Division and a number of US Attorneys’ Offices, and investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and four Offices of Inspector General.
The Antitrust Division now hopes that the Strike Force can serve as a global model to help other countries in their efforts to end fraud in procurement. On Tuesday, June 16, 2020, in a speech to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Competition Committee, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim touted the early success of this Strike Force and suggested to other international agencies that they create similar task forces. According to AAG Delrahim, these efforts could save billions of taxpayer dollars and could lower procurement prices by 20 per cent or more.
AAG Delrahim made clear that the Strike Force has already led to increased enforcement and that over a third of the Antitrust Division’s open investigations are related to public procurement and that several grand jury investigations have been opened because of the Strike Force. He also noted that more than 50 federal, state, and local government agencies have contacted the Strike Force seeking assistance with improving their processes for safeguarding the procurement process and training.
Companies should expect to see more activity in this area as the Strike Force continues to gain momentum and as it investigates collusion regarding COVID-19 procurement efforts.
For more information on the DOJ Procurement Collusion Strike Force, see our advisory.