Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I have heard about all the legal risks of doing business with the government and now I am worried. Can I go to jail for making an innocent mistake in preparing an invoice for my government contract?

A: The statutes governing government contracts, while complex and burdensome, do not punish innocent mistakes with jail time. However, if your mistake is the result of recklessness, your company could be liable to the government for potentially significant monetary amounts under the Civil False Claims Act. Therefore, it is in your interest to invest in compliance systems that prevent mistakes to the extent possible. In any case, you will have to promptly give back any money that you overcharged the government.

Q: We have a government customer flying in for a program review in our office. Can I take him to the company’s luxury suite at the baseball stadium?

A: A variety of laws and regulations prohibit you from providing or offering gifts or anything of value, including plaques, meals, tickets or free transportation, to federal employees. Even the appearance of impropriety in this area can have serious consequences. There are some limited exceptions to these rules, but they do not apply in this case.

Q: I work for a government contractor. My company requires me to fill out a timesheet at the end of every day. Is this really necessary?

A: Inaccurate time keeping can expose you and your company to criminal and civil liability. Deliberate falsification of time records can result in jail and/or fines under the Criminal False Claims Act and/or the False Statements Act. In addition, filling out time sheets in "reckless disregard" or "deliberate ignorance" of the truth can subject you and the company to potentially significant monetary liability under the Civil False Claims Act. Given the stakes, it is obviously important that your company maintains a continued focus on accurate time charging. Requiring daily timekeeping is one way to do this because timesheets tend to be more accurate when they are filled out close in time to when the work was performed.

Q: We have just submitted a proposal for a government contract. I know the Contracting Officer very well. What rules govern my interactions with him?

A: The Procurement Integrity Act strictly forbids the company and its agents from soliciting or obtaining from a government employee: 1) any confidential information submitted by a competitor to the government in connection with a government procurement (i.e., "contractor bid or proposal information"); and 2) any non-public information concerning the government's actions, plans or processes with respect to a procurement (i.e., "source selection information"). The penalties for violating the Procurement Integrity Act can be severe. Among other things, you could go to jail and the company could be disqualified from award of a contract and/or suspended or debarred from all federal contracting.

The foregoing questions were prepared for the general information of clients and other friends of the Law Office of Christopher C. Bouquet., PLLC.They are not meant as legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without counsel from an attorney. If you have any questions or require any further information regarding these or other related matters, please contact us. This material may be considered advertising under certain rules of professional conduct.