Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, presented the Procurement Collusion Strike Force (PCSF) to the international competition law enforcement community at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Competition Committee’s virtual meeting today.
The PCSF, an initiative of the Antitrust Division in 2019, is an interagency partnership including prosecutors from the Antitrust Division and 13 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Defense’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and additional partner Offices of Inspector General. The goal of the Strike Force is to leverage the combined expertise and resources of the partner prosecutors and agents to better deter, detect, investigate, and prosecute antitrust crimes and related criminal schemes that affect procurement, grant, and program funding at all levels of government—federal, state, and local.
The OECD Competition Committee includes 38 member countries and the European Union, as well as non-member participant countries, experts, and other invitees. The Committee brings together leaders of the world’s major competition authorities for a dialogue on competition policy issues, including best practices and standards, and promotes market-oriented reforms.
“The PCSF has already shown significant signs of success on a national level and in the 13 U.S. Attorney Office partner districts,” said Assistant Attorney General Delrahim. “We hope the Strike Force can serve as a model for other countries looking for innovative ways to more effectively fight bid rigging and other anticompetitive schemes that impact public procurement, and cheat taxpayers, all over the world.”
Since its launch in November 2019, the PCSF has generated an overwhelmingly positive response from key stakeholders in the procurement space. More than 50 federal, state, and local government agencies have contacted the PCSF seeking outreach training, assistance with safeguarding their procurement processes, and opportunities to partner with the PCSF on investigations. In just the last few months, members of the PCSF have trained more than 2,000 criminal investigators, data scientists, and procurement officials.
According to the OECD, the elimination of bid rigging could help reduce procurement prices by 20 percent or more. The deterrent effect of greater enforcement against illegal collusion in public procurement should save taxpayers billions of dollars per year. Additional information about the OECD’s recommendations on fighting bid rigging in public procurement can be found at www.OECD.org/Competition/BidRigging.
Over a third of the Antitrust Division’s open investigations relate to conduct affecting public procurement that cheats the American taxpayer out of scarce resources, and the PCSF marks an important effort to better marshal enforcement resources to tackle these cases. Several grand jury investigations across the country have already been opened as a result of the work of the PCSF. The PCSF also remains on high-alert for collusion and other criminal schemes impacting public procurement related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PCSF has launched a publicly available website at www.Justice.gov/Procurement-Collusion-Strike-Force, where members of the public, including from the international community, can review information about the federal antitrust laws and training programs, and report suspected criminal activity affecting public procurement.
Individuals and companies are also encouraged to contact the PCSF if they have information concerning anticompetitive conduct involving federal taxpayer dollars by email at PCSF@usdoj.gov.