Attorney General Sessions' Focus on Fraud Enforcement to Have Immediate Impact on Federal Government Contractors

Alerts / February 9, 2017

Today, Feb. 9, former U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions was sworn in as the 84th Attorney General of the United States. While today marked only the beginning of his term, Attorney General Sessions’ record as a former federal prosecutor and then as a fiscally conservative U.S. Senator provide insight into what his U.S. Department of Justice will mean for federal government contractors.

Attorney General Sessions’ guiding principle for his entire career has been the elimination of fraud, waste and abuse in all corners of the federal government. And with federal government contractors receiving approximately $500 billion per year out of the federal budget, contractors can be certain that a Sessions-led Department of Justice will approach False Claims Act enforcement with renewed vigor. Indeed, Attorney General Sessions’ testimony in his confirmation hearings further supports that notion, with the former senator stating that he would “make it a high priority of the department to root out and prosecute fraud in federal programs and to recover any monies lost due to fraud or false claims.” Later in the same hearing, Sessions promised to “faithfully enforce” the Supreme Court’s decision in Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar, offering his tacit approval to the “implied certification” theory of false claims liability that has dogged contractors and federal program participants in recent years.

For federal government contractors, this renewed focus on False Claims Act enforcement means that contractors’ compliance systems will be the focus of increased scrutiny, and contractors would be well-served to perform a “checkup” on their compliance efforts so as to mitigate the risk of False Claims Act allegations. BakerHostetler’s Government Contracts team is well-placed to support contractors in this area.

For questions about this alert, please contact Barron Avery at or 202.861.1705, William O'Reilly at or 202.861.1745, or any member of BakerHostetler's Government Contracts team.

We invite you to also read this alert from our White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations team discussing Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ likely stance on FCPA enforcement and individual accountability.

Authorship credit: W. Barron A. Avery and William O’Reilly

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