Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced the formation of the new Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) focusing on deterring, detecting, investigating and prosecuting antitrust crimes, such as bid-rigging conspiracies, which undermine competition in government procurement, grant, and program funding. This Strike Force is a response to an accumulation of prosecuted antitrust conspiracies that have taken advantage of government contracts, ranging from construction and disaster recovery projects, to food and hardware. Over one-third of the Antitrust Division’s open investigations relate to public procurement, and the PCSF is a new integral component of the Antitrust Division’s effort to effectively tackle both the complexity and the volume of these cases.
As part of this national effort, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division will collaborate with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and several Offices of Inspectors General, including the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. Additional funding will be allocated to the PCSF’s countrywide outreach efforts, and the Department will utilize the existing resources of its partner agencies without hiring new personnel.
The Procurement Collision Strike Force will aim to safeguard taxpayer-funded projects at the federal, state, and local level from antitrust violations and related crimes, starting with a focus on 13 districts throughout the country—which includes two districts in California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, District of Columbia. The PCSF will conduct targeted outreach and training to federal, state, and local government procurement officials in the detection of antitrust risks, and bolster data analytics employment to identify signs of potential anticompetitive, criminal collusion. To provide accessible resources, the PCSF will maintain a public website that compiles antitrust training materials, legal resources, and a citizen complaint reporting form.
With these comprehensive approaches in place to tackle anticompetitive behavior, the PCSF will seek to prevent crimes that undermine competition in government procurement, grant, and program funding. One-tenth of federal spending is allotted to government contracting, and given that this federal spending flows into state and local governments for public works and infrastructure projects, preventing antitrust crimes in government procurement and funding will impact all levels of government.