GAO Annual Report On Bid Protests: 2018 Yields More Protests, More Merit Decisions, But Fewer Sustains and Fewer Hearings

On November 27, 2018, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) released its Bid Protest Annual Report to Congress for Fiscal Year 2018.

Under the Competition in Contracting Act of 1984 (“CICA”), GAO is required to report annually to Congress on each instance in which (1) a federal agency did not fully implement a recommendation made by GAO in connection with a bid protest decision, or (2) a final decision in a protest was not rendered within 100 days after the date the protest was submitted to the Comptroller General, during the prior fiscal year. GAO reported no such instances for Fiscal Year 2018. Continue Reading

SEC Enforcement’s Annual Report Prioritizes Retail Investors, Cryptocurrency, Cybercrime, and Individual Accountability

The Enforcement Division of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) recently released its annual enforcement report (“Report”) for fiscal year 2018. The Report reflects an increased focus on retail investors, cryptocurrency, cybercrime, and individual accountability. Further, it showcases that SEC enforcement continues to be robust under the Trump administration, despite industry and media expectations to the contrary.

In fiscal year 2018, the SEC brought 821 enforcement actions, an approximately 8.8% increase from last year. The SEC collected approximately $3.9 billion in monetary penalties, a 4% increase from last year. Notably, however, a significant portion of this amount came from a single case, in which $1.8 billion in disgorgement and penalties were awarded for a large-scale corruption scheme. Moreover, while total monetary penalties rose, there was a decrease in the total amount of disgorgement imposed. This is likely due in part to the Supreme Court’s 2017 Kokesh decision, which held that SEC claims for disgorgement are subject to a five-year statute of limitations.   Continue Reading

The List of Forbidden Products Grows: The NDAA’s Prohibitions on Use of Certain Chinese-Made Equipment

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) imposes new restrictions on procurements for telecommunications equipment or services based on ties to certain Chinese entities, thereby growing the list of forbidden products for contractors. Specifically, Section 889 prohibits executive-branch agencies from initiating procurements or entering into contracts for certain telecommunications equipment or services from companies associated with, owned, or controlled by the People’s Republic of China, that are to be used “as a substantial or essential component of any system, or as critical technology as part of any system.” Continue Reading

Fool Me Twice…SEC’s latest Cyber-Fraud ROI Indicates Future Enforcement Against Hacker Victims

In the aftermath of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) latest Report of Investigation (“Report”) regarding cyberattacks via “spoofed or manipulated electronic communications,” companies should prepare to adjust and update their internal controls or face possible enforcement actions for violation of federal securities law.  Released as a warning to public companies about recent cyberattacks, the Report’s emphasis that companies maintain proper internal controls to combat cybersecurity issues indicates SEC enforcement actions for lack of proper cybersecurity procedures and supervision are on the horizon.     Continue Reading

Don’t Be Fooled: Seven Myths About Congressional Oversight

As the Democrats in Washington prepare to assume control of the House of Representatives following the 2018 midterm elections, “pundits” and “experts” are speculating about the Congressional oversight that will occur over the next two years. While it is definitely true that Washington will experience far more – and far more vigorous – Congressional oversight in the next Congress, there is a lot of misinformation out there about what that means, and how it will work. It is important to understand how Congressional oversight works. The following are seven key myths regarding Congressional oversight: Continue Reading

Kickbacks Aren’t Illegal Just for Federal Health Care Programs in Recently Enacted SUPPORT Act: New Compliance Concerns for Physician-Owned Laboratories

On October 24, 2018, President Trump signed the “Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act” or the “SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act” (the “SUPPORT Act”) into law (See, “Congress Passes ‘SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act’ – A Rare Example of Bi-Partisanship” Sheppard Mullin Healthcare Law Blog, October 12, 2018). The SUPPORT Act is wide-ranging legislation comprised of over 120 separate bills aimed at combatting the opioid crisis and impacting every corner of the healthcare continuum. Continue Reading

Federal Circuit Affirms Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Are the VA’s First Priority

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently affirmed a May 2017 Court of Federal Claims decision requiring the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) to give veteran-owned small businesses first priority before purchasing from the AbilityOne Program. Continue Reading

From the Big Easy to the Big Ten, And Beyond: What the Process of Reforming the New Orleans Police Department Can Teach Colleges and Universities

In 2012, the Penn State Lions went 8-4 on the field, passing 3,283 yards, rushing 740 yards, and scoring 349 points. This credible performance earned it a respectable 38th ranking out of the 124 schools in the NCAA’s Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. But few will remember Penn State’s athletic performance in 2012. What people will remember instead is that 2012 was the year the University’s Special Investigative Counsel issued its report into the actions of Penn State Coach Gerald Sandusky. Continue Reading

Crypto Firms Make Inroads with State and Federal Regulators

Over the past couple of years, the crypto industry has come under heavy scrutiny from skeptical regulators seeking to root out fraud and protect investors amid the initial coin offering boom that generated over $4 billion in 2017. However, this skepticism is starting to give way to a more business-friendly attitude.

Crypto firms have made notable headway with regulators in recent months, securing authorizations to act as custodians of digital assets and working towards approval of the first bitcoin-based exchange traded fund (“ETF”). These developments may reflect an evolving collaborative environment that bodes well for the future of blockchain-based innovations. Continue Reading

CFTC Cryptocurrency Enforcement Receives Further Judicial Support

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) obtained an important court win and boost to its regulatory authority over Cryptocurrencies this month. A federal district court in Massachusetts recently issued a decision in CFTC v. My Big Coin Pay Inc. which affirmed the CFTC’s position that all virtual currencies are commodities and subject to CFTC jurisdiction.[1] The opinion follows another recent district court opinion in New York, CFTC v. McDonnell, in which a court also interpreted the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) to find that cryptocurrencies constitute a commodity under the CEA.[2] CFTC Chairman Giancarlo in a speech last week in Minneapolis further emphasized the CFTC is continuing to increase civil enforcement actions with 83 having been filed in the last CFTC fiscal year resulting in over $900 million in civil penalties.[3] The current political efforts to dismantle the Dodd Frank Act apparently have done little to slow down the CFTC Division of Enforcement, in particular when it comes to regulating cryptocurrencies. Continue Reading

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