• Actions underscore long arm of U.S. sanctions jurisdiction
  • Voluntary disclosures and cooperation can lead to significant penalty reductions
  • Facilitation of a violation is treated the same as a direct violation

In two recent enforcement actions, the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) demonstrated the long-arm of U.S. economic sanctions jurisdiction.  One matter involved Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques SCRL (SITA), a Swiss firm that provides commercial telecommunications network and information technology services to the civilian air transport industry.  The other involved Eagle Shipping International (Eagle), a U.S.-based shipping and logistics company.

Each action serves as a reminder of the U.S. government’s willingness to enforce U.S. sanctions in the context of what is primarily non-U.S. conduct.  The resolutions also illustrate the potential benefits of voluntarily disclosing sanctions violations to OFAC.

Continue Reading Sanctions Enforcement Update: Penalties for Logistics, Telecom Companies

The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) manages nine healthcare related ‘schedules,’ groups of umbrella contracts used to order medical supplies and services, under the Federal Supply Schedules (FSS) program. These schedules allow VA medical centers to more easily obtain goods and services to support veterans.

The VA requested the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to produce a report focusing on the following:

  • Program challenges.
  • The timeliness of contract awards.
  • The extent to which the schedules and the Medical Surgical Prime Vendor-Next Generation (MSPV-NG) program provide overlapping or duplicative offerings.

In addition to analyzing the requested issues, the report also contains a series of corrective recommendations to which the VA has largely agreed.

Continue Reading GAO Recommends Steps to Ensure VA FSS Program Remains Useful

By failing to object to solicitation terms before the close of bidding, a protester typically waives those objections in a post-award bid before the Court of Federal Claims (COFC). An exception exists, however, where a protester filed a timely pre-award agency-level protest challenging patent errors or ambiguities.

But, as powerfully illustrated by the COFC’s decision in Harmonia Holdings Group, LLC v. United States, this exception is limited. In that case, Harmonia, one of the offerors on the procurement, initially brought an agency-level protest to challenge the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) issuance of two amendments to the solicitation, arguing that the agency improperly denied offerors the opportunity to revise their proposals in response to these amendments. CBP denied the protest.

Continue Reading The Importance of Being Timely: Protester Waives Protest Ground by Unduly Delaying Protest

In case you missed it, I provided insight on U.S. sanctions risks in the context of international supply chains to Supply Chain Management Now last month.

Citing examples, such as e.l.f. Cosmetics’s 2019 settlement for nearly $1 million for sanctions violations, I asserted in the article that both U.S. and non-U.S. companies need to understand how broadly U.S. sanctions are enforced.

In the article, I provided an overview of the current sanctions landscape in the U.S. and highlights particular challenges such as avoiding dealing with specially designated nationals (SDNs). The SDN list is vast and includes parties that reside nearly everywhere in the world. As I said in the article, “this creates a challenge because many of them are in countries not otherwise subject to U.S. sanctions.”

Continue Reading U.S. Sanctions Risk to International Supply Chains

In case you missed it, we ended 2019 with a webinar on current topics in U.S. economic sanctions.  Below are key points from the webinar:

  1. Types of sanctions vary. Broad country-based sanctions prohibit transactions between a U.S. individual or company and a party or company located in certain countries (current examples include Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Syria). These types of sanctions involve U.S. individuals wherever they are located, any company based or headquartered in the United States, subsidiaries of non-U.S. companies, and any person in the United States regardless of nationality. Continue Reading 5 Key Takeaways from Our Sanctions Update Webinar

A recent dispute between a government contractor and the Army in the Court of Federal Claims has raised the issue of whether procedures for validating restrictions on technical data apply to military contractors’ vendor lists. In Raytheon Co. v. United States, Raytheon had a contract with the Army to provide engineering support for the Patriot weapon system. The contract required Raytheon to supply the Army with vendor lists. The company, however, attached legends to those lists which purported to limit the Army’s ability to disclose the lists’ contents. The Army objected to these markings, and a contracting officer eventually ordered Raytheon to replace the offending legends with a standardized legend granting the Army “government purpose rights,” in their vendor lists.

Continue Reading Are Vendor Lists Technically Technical Data?

The Department of Defense (DoD) has now finalized its new cybersecurity standards, which we discussed last year.  The new cybersecurity standards, which are intended to protect controlled unclassified information, will be implemented by the Cyber Maturity Model Certification program (CMMC), which was finalized last week after multiple draft iterations.  CMMC Version 1.0 is available here.

CMMC Will Require Third-Party Certification of Cybersecurity Maturity Level

Among other changes from the prior cybersecurity compliance regime, this new approach will require that to be eligible for DoD awards, contractors must be certified by a third-party commercial certification organization to have achieved one of five cybersecurity maturity levels, with higher levels representing more advanced cybersecurity. Later this year, DoD solicitations will contain the applicable CMMC requirement, and contractors failing to meet this standard will be unable to bid. The requirements will apply to all parties within the supply chain (although subcontractors may not have to meet as high a CMMC standard as the prime contractor, depending on their scope of work).

Continue Reading DoD Finalizes Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification

Please join the Bass, Berry & Sims Government Contracts & International Trade attorneys as they continue a series of complimentary briefings via webinar that will serve as an extension of our GovCon & Trade Blog and feature timely and practical guidance on key topics of interest.

The next GovCon & Trade briefing, hosted by Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Jason Northcutt and Todd Overman, will discuss government contractor carve-out transactions, how they differ from other mergers and acquisitions, and some unique challenges parties face in carve-out transactions in the government contracting space.

The discussion will provide practical guidance on identifying and mitigating potential pitfalls, highlight particular regulatory considerations, and offer some best practice tips on getting these types of deals done.

Approved for one hour General Tennessee CLE credit. Certificate of completion provided for use in other jurisdictions.


Title: The Ins & Outs of Government Contractor Carve-out Deals

Date: Thursday, February 27, 2019  Time: 1:00 PM Eastern Standard Time/12:00 PM Central Standard Time

Who Should Attend?

Executives, private equity and management professionals, including general counsel and other in-house legal and compliance personnel of government contractors, financial institutions and manufacturers.

For additional information, email claire.krummenacher@bassberry.com.

Register now for FCPA Compliance: Meeting FCPA Requirements and Minimizing Liability Risks


The GovCon 2020 Small Business Summit will take place in less than two months in Tampa. Todd Overman will be a panelist with industry representatives discussing the importance of the Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System (CPARS) for growing companies, and Richard Arnholt will moderate a panel with several mid-tier firm representatives on the use joint ventures and teaming in federal procurements. We will host the networking reception, and our team will be onsite for one-on-one conversations.

This year’s summit includes matchmaking, industry briefings, best-in-class strategies, and more. The program features speakers from a dozen agencies including:

  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • General Services Administration
  • Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division
  • Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
  • Special Operations Command

The GovCon 2020 Small Business Summit will be held March 11-12, 2020 in Tampa, Florida. For more information and registration, visit the event’s website.

  • $2 million penalty against Exxon overturned
  • Court concluded that OFAC failed to provide clear notice of violative conduct
  • Companies are at risk when acting in context of ambiguous agency guidance

At the end of December 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas vacated a $2 million penalty that the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had imposed against ExxonMobil for alleged violations of U.S. sanctions related to Russia and Ukraine.  OFAC is the U.S. government agency that administers most U.S. sanctions.

This matter has been of interest since the penalty was first announced in July 2017 – read our July 2017 blog post detailing the matter.  As described below, the district court’s reasoning in vacating the penalty against Exxon is worthy of interest, too.

Continue Reading U.S. District Court Deals Rare Defeat to OFAC in U.S. Sanctions Matter