Venable's February 12, 2009 program on how government contractors can protect their interests in an era of increased oversight and accountability was covered by Federal Computer Week, Federal Times, Government Executive and Washington Technology. The seminar, which was co-sponsored by Beers + Cutler and PNC Bank, had more than 60 participants, including current and potential Venable clients.
The seminar featured a discussion on the new disclosure rules for federal contractors that took effect in December, which could lead to suspension and debarment for vendors who fail to self report violations of fraud, conflict of interest, bribery and overpayment.
The panelists included Maryanne R. Lavan, Vice President of Internal Audit at Lockheed Martin Corporation and former Vice President of Ethics and Business Conduct; Rob Burton, Venable Partner and former Deputy Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy; Tony Fuller, Partner at Beers + Cutler; and Rebecca Pearson, Partner at Venable. The panel was moderated by Doug Brown, Government Contracting Group Manager and Senior Vice President of PNC Bank.
In the Federal Computer Week article, Rob Burton discussed the new relationship between the inspector general and contracting officers that will develop as a result of these rules. "Anything having to do with fraud has to go to the inspector general, in writing, with a copy to the contracting officer. Consequently there will be a lot more communication between the inspectors general and the contracting officers," said Burton.
Venable partner Rebecca Pearson was quoted in the Washington Technology story on the impact of the rules on small businesses. According to Pearson, some small businesses and commercial firms are not required to have ethics programs under the rule, but they would be well advised to create them anyway to avoid the risk of negative repercussions if they are ever involved in a suspension or debarment proceeding.
Burton was also quoted in the Government Executive article on the difficulty of deciphering the new rules with some phrases in the law - like "credible evidence" of a violation and "reasonable grounds to believe" a violation has occurred - still left unclear. "The interesting thing is to dissect each one of those words, because each word is very important," said Burton. "Basically terms are undefined."