We represent clients involved as protesters, or interested parties in protests, in all local federal and state forums. From the GAO and SBA, to the United States Court of Federal Claims and their state equivalents, we have the experience and know-how to help our clients maneuver through these arenas.
As the world’s largest purchaser of goods and services, the U.S. government provides great opportunities for small businesses. The federal marketplace, however, is also heavily regulated. Steele Law Office is well-positioned to assist businesses of all sizes with navigating the specialized rules that apply to U.S. government contracting, including issues related to the formation of small businesses, application to SBA small business programs, teaming agreements and joint ventures, affiliation issues, size challenges, and bid protests. Our attorneys have extensive experience with issues arising under all Small Business Administration (SBA) programs, including the 8(a) Business Development, Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB), Veteran-Owned (VO), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned (SDVO), Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone), Women-Owned (WO), and Small Business Subcontracting programs.
Navigating the rules that apply to small businesses is also important to large government contractors that team with small businesses. Steele Law Offices counsels large business clients on the unique issues that can arise when teaming with, or acting as a subcontractor to, small businesses, including compliance with limitations on subcontracting (i.e., the “50 percent rule”), the non-manufacturer rule, and the development of small business subcontracting plans.
We represent clients in the prosecution of all forms of claims, ranging from equitable adjustment and termination claims to acceleration, breach-of-contract, changes, impossibility, superior knowledge, delays, and pricing and scheduling claims, from submission to the Contracting Officer, to litigating disputes in the Court of Federal Claims, Boards of Contract Appeals, or applicable State or local adjudicative bodies.
The government contracting world has countless unique compliance requirements, and our attorneys assist clients in all aspects of the client’s business necessary to grow their businesses and comply with the myriad laws applicable to government contractors, including the creation of compliance programs and training and monitoring of such programs.
Teaming Arrangements, Subcontracting, Joint Ventures and Strategic Alliances
Steele Law Office attorneys routinely counsel clients on issues relating to the formation of teaming agreements, joint ventures subcontracts, strategic alliances, and associate contractor relationships. Our attorneys analyze and draft agreements between and among government contractors, focusing on key issues such as due diligence, the protection of proprietary information, rights in data and intellectual property, funding and payment, antitrust implications and pitfalls, dispute resolution, and affiliation concerns for small businesses.
We counsel clients regarding intellectual property rights when inventions, technical data and computer software are used, created and/or modified under a government contract. We recommend measures to protect proprietary technology developed by our clients and develop appropriate non-disclosure agreements, licenses and similar contracts.
Steele Law Offices practices in the interrelated areas of construction, surety and government contracts law, including:
- Drafting and negotiating construction contracts
- Advising clients throughout construction projects
- Arbitrating, mediating or litigating disputes which arise during the performance of the project
- Mechanic’s liens
- Miller Act and Little Miller Act claims
- Bid dispute issues
We advise our domestic clients on a variety of international contracting issues, ranging from navigating safely through the inherently complex rules governing U.S. export controls — the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Export Administration Regulations (EAR), and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations — to complying with the prohibitions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). We also advise clients on other international contracting issues such as the Buy American Act, Trade Agreements Act, and Berry Amendment.
Suspension and Debarment
A contractor’s “present responsibility” status is its most important asset. Suspension, proposed debarment, or debarment from government contracting of an individual, business unit, or corporate entity can have catastrophic business impacts, precluding that individual, unit, or entity from receiving working on, or competing for government contracts potentially for years. Steele Law Office attorneys regularly advise contractors facing threatened suspension and debarment. We have assisted clients in responding to show-cause notices; advocated for contractors facing potential suspension or debarment in meetings, negotiations, and presentations to agency debarring officials; negotiated administrative agreements to avoid suspension and debarment; and worked with contractors to shore up compliance practices in response to threatened suspension or debarment.
Security Clearance Matters and Classified Contracts
Cybersecurity is one of the few sectors in government contracting that will continue to grow for the foreseeable future, from counseling our clients on NISPOM compliance to representing them in DISCO and DOHA matters.
In recent years, employment and labor-related laws affecting government contractors (and oversight and enforcement of these laws) have expanded and changed the regulatory and enforcement landscape. Steele Law Office regularly counsels and represents clients regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action requirements of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), as well as contractor requirements and investigations that arise under the Service Contract Act (SCA), the Davis Bacon Act (DBA), and Davis Bacon and Related Act (DBRA). In addition, we routinely advise federal contractors regarding traditional employment issues, such as compliance with DOL wage and hour laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), covenants not to compete relating to current and prospective employees, the differences between an “employee” and an “independent contractor,” and discrimination and sexual harassment allegations and investigations.
Covenants Not to Compete
Our practice often provides contractors counsel and representation regarding covenants not to compete, including non-competition and non-solicitation provisions. We advise clients in analyzing the interplay between covenants not to compete and the Non-displacement Rule and on how to narrowly draft scope and duration provisions to address unique requirements for government contractors. In addition, we provide representation in enforcement of these provisions to ensure that former employees and prospective employers understand the requirements of the covenants not to compete.
Data Rights and Protection of Contractor Trade Secrets
Steele Law Office attorneys provide guidance on the unique rules and contract clauses governing intellectual property and the government’s rights in technical data and computer software under government contracts.
Government Claims and Terminations
With recent budget constraints and the prospect of perpetual federal budget uncertainties, the government has become increasingly aggressive in asserting its legal rights against contractors in such areas as contract performance, award fee determinations, defective pricing, cost allowability, default terminations, and data rights. We regularly counsel and defend contractors in these areas, which can involve a host of goals and strategies, such as negotiated settlements, alternative dispute resolution, and litigation of claims under the Contract Disputes Act (CDA).
Request for Equitable Adjustments, Claims and Disputes Litigation
Steele Law Office attorneys are experienced in guiding contractors through the equitable adjustment and claims processes (i.e. changes, scope growth, delays and other unforeseeable occurrences), and can assist clients in analyzing contract performance as part of that process, including the performance metrics used to track areas of cost growth and schedule performance.