Venable partner Diz Locaria
was quoted by Bloomberg BNA
on August 1, 2017, in an article discussing how President Donald Trump's Buy American order may shape a fraud case. The company in question has been accused of defrauding the General Services Administration (GSA) by selling products produced in China. Due to "mixed signals" the company received from GSA as to how critical it was to comply with the Trade Agreements Act and Buy American Act, the court ruled that it was inconclusive as to whether or not the company violated the False Claims Act. As a result, the Office of Management and Budget and Commerce Department released a memo on June 30 that could lead to stricter enforcement of Buy American compliance.
"I think you will see a lot of enforcement in this area," Locaria told Bloomberg BNA.
"Contracting officers are required to oversee compliance with the domestic preference provisions in contracts, and the fact that 'Buy American' has become a hot-button, politicized issue will make them reluctant to pay noncompliant contractors," he said.
On determining materiality in a false claim case, Locaria said, "Materiality is determined by the people on the ground like contracting officers and other agency personnel. If they have knowledge of non-compliance and still make payments to contractors, that’s a strong indication, especially under Escobar, that the term might not be material."