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News in a Nutshell: Crack This Article Open!

Pricey GAO Protest Fee Is Now a Reality

On April 2, the GAO released a final rule implementing its Electronic Protest Docketing System (“EPDS”). As of May 1, EPDS became the “sole means for filing a bid protest at GAO” (with the exception of protests containing classified information). Also, new protest actions are subject to a $350 filing fee, which is refundable only in the instance of delayed corrective action (Corrective action is where an agency decides to fix the issues raised in a protest rather than have the GAO decide the protest on the merits, generally because the agency believes the protestor is right or that taking such action is in the best interest of the procurement protest). Chances are, this will result in a decline in the number of protests filed. The interesting question is whether this will also result in a steep increase in the percentage of protests that are sustained/receive corrective action, since protestors will only risk the dough on stronger cases.

Guilty Plea for Lies to Obtain SDVOSB Set-Aside Contracts

On May 1, the VA’s Office of Inspector General issued a press release relating to an individual who entered a guilty plea for conspiracy to defraud the VA in the performance of 12 contracts (valued at a total of $1.6 million) intended for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (“SDVOSB”). According to the press release, the company at issue falsely claimed that the veteran owner had majority ownership, when in fact this was not true.

This is an interesting case, given that most issues with SDVOSB fraud seem to center on “control;” i.e., the veteran owner not actually being in the driver’s seat in company decisions, working full-time elsewhere, etc. Ownership, control – it doesn’t matter – when you go through the certification process and start winning contracts because your business is “owned” and “controlled” by a veteran, know this is serious business. You can’t fudge anything, or exaggerate – be truthful, be transparent, and disclose all relevant facts bearing on eligibility. It’s not worth getting in hot water later.

Search for New VA Secretary Continues

In late April, Navy Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson withdrew from consideration as President Trump’s nominee to be the next VA Secretary, amid allegations of prior misconduct at the White House medical office where he is physician to the President. Such allegations including improperly prescribing medications, using his position to abuse and denigrate colleagues, and alcohol abuse on the job. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said the charges stem from nearly two dozen current and former service members who approached lawmakers without congressional prompting. He said he could not verify the validity of each charge, but the volume of the accusations raised concerns.

As such, the search for a new VA Secretary continues, with candidates including acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, former Florida Rep. Jeff Miller (whose fine work I have blogged about on numerous occasions), and Ron Nichol, a senior advisor to the Boston Consulting Group. President Trump has indicated he intends to pick someone with a more political background for the role, with the objective of navigating the confirmation process in a divided Senate.

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One Response to “News in a Nutshell: Crack This Article Open!”

  1. Do these guilty pleas mean jail time? Are they criminal or just civil infractions?

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