On December 12, 2008 the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) Council’s Final Rule – which applies to all federal government contracts in amounts greater than $5 million and more than 120 days in duration, including small business and commercial item contracts -- went into effect, requiring all federal contractors to disclose wrongdoing to the federal government, including certain violations of federal law, and violations of the False Claims Act. Specifically, contractors must “timely” disclose, in writing and to the Inspector General and the contracting officer (in that order), whenever, in connection with the award, performance, or closeout of a contract, the contractor has “credible evidence” that a principal, employee, agent, or subcontractor has committed a violation of federal criminal law involving fraud, conflict of interest, bribery or gratuity violations under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, or a violation of the False Claims Act.
In addition, the rule requires contractors to establish a “business ethics awareness and compliance program,” as well as an “internal control system” with certain attributes. In addition, significant overpayments by the government must be disclosed to the contracting officer. Failure to disclose violations of federal criminal law or violations of the False Claims Act may lead to criminal sanctions, civil penalties, suspension, or debarment.
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