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Contractor Responsibility: Toward an Integrated Approach to Legal Risk Management

By Steven A. Shaw, Mike Wagner, and Robert Nichols

In this era of heightened Government demands for contractor responsibility, Government contractors face myriad risks. The authors of this Briefing Paper have been involved, in one capacity or another, in some of the largest Government enforcement actions facing contractors. They have prosecuted and defended criminal and civil actions against contractors, negotiated the resolution of civil actions involving substantial fines and penalties, and handled suspension and debarment actions with multi-billion dollar contracting implications. They have also seen shareholder suits against board members and executives and have witnessed c-suite executives lose their jobs (and a few companies go out of business) due to their failures to comprehend and manage the risks relating to contractor responsibility. This Briefing Paper is designed as a guide for Government contractors—including their boards of directors, c-suite executives, and legal counsel who bear fiduciary duties for managing corporate risks— for undertaking risk management strategies to avoid such problems. In the 1980s, “Operation Ill Wind” exposed widespread corruption by U.S. Government officials and defense contractors. The scandal, which resulted in the conviction of over 100 contractors and individuals, is often cited as the defining moment for increased contractor responsibility.

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