Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP: Pentagon and Sikorsky Losing Legal Battle with Lloyd Chapman’s ASBL

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — The American Small Business League (ASBL) has won release of most of the 2013 Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation small business subcontracting plan (plan) filed with the Department of Defense (DOD), after a four year Freedom of Information Act battle.   Most of the plan was released November 10, following the Justice Department’s October 12 notification to the U.S. District Court in San Francisco that it would no longer defend DOD-Sikorsky’s efforts to withhold the information.

Jonathan W. Cuneo, partner at Washington, DC based Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP, and ASBL’s attorney, explained:   “Plaintiff’s discovery that the trade secrets defense is seemingly   unsupportable raises the question as to whether the defendants acted in good faith.  I believe somebody is lying. Apparently, either the government knew all along that trade secrets were not at risk or the government was misled by Sikorsky.  Why was this costly, lengthy litigation even necessary?”

“The most significant revelation in this case is that we’ve exposed the fact the Pentagon and its prime contractors have shortchanged small businesses and small businesses owned by women, minorities and service disabled veterans out of hundreds of billions in subcontracts,” said ASBL President Lloyd Chapman

The Sikorsky plan was filed with DOD under the controversial Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP), which is supposed to build new opportunities for small businesses.

“The Pentagon issued a report in November of 2015 that acknowledged the CSPTP had actually cut contracts to small businesses by over 50 percent. The data we have uncovered in this case indicates subcontracts to small businesses have been slashed by as much as 90 percent,” Mr. Chapman said.

University of Baltimore Law Professor and government contracting expert Charles Tiefer is not surprised.  Professor Tiefer, a former Solicitor and Deputy General Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives who also served as Commissioner on the congressionally mandated Independent Commission on Wartime Contracting, has called CSP a “sham.”

Professor Tiefer, who examined the Sikorsky plan, focused on the company’s socio-economic subcategories within the target small business community:  “Sikorsky admitted lowering many of its goals for women-owned, veterans-owned and similar subcontractor categories.  For example, it admitted its veterans-owned goal ‘is lower’ and fell below even 1 percent, down to 0.9 percent, a pittance.”

With its principal office in Washington, DC, Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP represents clients in a range of civil justice and legislative matters including civil and human rights, antitrust, consumer protection, product liability and securities and intellectual property.

DOJ Retreats On Defense Of Pentagon – Sikorsky Case In Upcoming Trial

Washington, DC, October 20 – Stunning information revealed during depositions in a four year long Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) battle led the Department of Justice (DOJ) to largely abandon defending the Department of Defense (DOD) against a lawsuit seeking information about Sikorsky Aircraft Corporat ion’s (Sikorsky) small business subcontracts.  A key assertion by Sikorsky that releasing materials it filed with DOD would reveal trade secrets is unsupportable, DOJ apparently determined.  Accordingly, DOJ notified the Court and co-defendant Sikorsky on October 12 that DOD intends to release most of the requested information in two weeks.  The December 11 trial has been postponed.

The American Small Business League (ASBL) initially sought Sikorsky’s small business subcontracting plan in an August 2013 Freedom of Information Act filing. When DOD refused, Sonoma, CA based ASBL filed suit in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco in 2014. In an early hearing, Judge William Alsup on November 6, 2014 said: “The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is so the public can see how our government works. Congress passed this law to make small businesses have access to some of these projects, and here is the United States covering it up.”

“We whole-heartedly agreed with Judge Alsup then and now welcome the unraveling of that cover-up,” said Lloyd Chapman, ASBL’s president. “We believe the covered-up information will help expose the fact that the Pentagon and its largest prime contractors have used the Comprehensive Subcontract Plan Test Program to cheat small business out of hundreds of billions in subcontracts since the program began in 1989.”

“Some of the information we seek had actually been posted on government web sites and issued in press releases by Sikorsky,” explained Jonathan W. Cuneo, partner of Washington, DC-based Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP, representing ASBL.  “The defendants hid behind a spurious trade secrets claim for four years.  Ironically, this case involves information with no national security sensitivity about a single source, non-competitive Defense Department contract.”

Among facts undermining Sikorsky’s trade secrets defense is an expert report by former FAA official David Downey who said information about Sikorsky’s subcontractors is “widely” available in the industry.

 

With its principal office in Washington, DC, Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP represents clients in a range of civil justice and legislative matters including civil and human rights, antitrust, consumer protection, product liability and securities and intellectual property.

 

Cuneo Gilbert And LaDuca Named To Prosecute Rare Freedom Of Information Trial Against Department Of Defense And Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP has been named by the American Small Business League (ASBL) as lead attorneys in its civil case against the Department of Defense (DOD) and its contractor Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation (Sikorsky).   ASBL alleges DOD and Sikorsky wrongfully withheld documents from the public on a sole source contract for helicopters. A trial is scheduled for December 11 in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

“This rare Freedom of Information Act trial will test the government’s claim that the central facts underlying a sole source contract for which there are no competitors are proprietary,” said Jonathan W. Cuneo, partner of Washington, DC based Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP.  “This is a simple conflict between secrecy and openness on the part of a Fortune 500 contractor who has received billions of dollars from taxpayers for 30 years.”

The American Small Business League, a Sonoma, CA based small business advocacy group, filed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in 2013.  Following the refusal of DOD and Sikorsky, owned by Lockheed Martin Corporation, to fully disclose documents claimed to be proprietary, the lawsuit was filed in federal court in 2014.  Although the court ruled in ASBL’s favor, the Ninth Circuit Appeals Court reversed that decision and sent the suit back to the lower court for discovery and trial.

“Citizens should not have to go through time consuming and costly litigation to obtain information not involving national security to which they are entitled,” Mr. Cuneo added.

“We filed the FOIA lawsuit to force the Pentagon and its contractors to be more transparent on  how, and to whom, subcontracts are awarded under the controversial Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP) ostensibly designed to promote the awarding of subcontracts to small businesses,” explained Lloyd Chapman, ASBL’s founder and president.  “We believe the requested documents will show that required small business subcontracting may have occurred only on a sham basis, if small business subcontracting occurred at all.”

The ASBL has calculated that the Pentagon may have unwittingly deprived small businesses of many hundreds of billions of dollars since the CSPTP began in 1989 as a temporary, test program.  Now in its 28th year, the “test” program reduces the specificity and transparency of large contractor reporting of asserted small business subcontracting.  This enables Pentagon prime contractors to cheat legitimate small businesses, ASBL says.

“Under the Small Business Act, 23 percent of all federal contracts must be awarded to small businesses,” Mr. Chapman continued.  “Since the Pentagon is the largest federal contractor and small businesses make up 98 percent of America’s companies, the outcome of our case could have a meaningful, positive impact on the U.S. economy if it leads to real reform of the subcontracting process.”

With its principal office in Washington, DC, Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP represents clients in a range of civil justice and legislative matters including civil and human rights, antitrust, consumer protection, product liability and securities and intellectual property.

 

Pentagon And Sikorsky Identify Witnesses In Upcoming Trial

PETALUMA, Calif., Aug. 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Pentagon and Sikorsky have identified four witnesses that will be providing testimony in the upcoming December trial in a case filed by the American Small Business League (ASBL). The ASBL filed the case after the Pentagon and Sikorsky refused to release Sikorsky’s small business subcontracting plan submitted to the Pentagon’s 28-year-old Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP). The ASBL believes the information will show the Pentagon has falsified the volume of subcontracts that have been awarded to small businesses since the program began in 1989.

In 2014, Pentagon spokeswoman, Maureen Schumann acknowledged that due to its lack of transparency and accountability, the CSPTP “has led to an erosion of our small business industrial base

In 2015, the Pentagon revealed that the CSPTP had actually harmed small businesses when they released data showing subcontracts to small businesses have dropped by 50 percent. This information was released following the Pentagons statement that they want the CSPTP scrapped, acknowledging that there has never been any evidence that the program achieved its goal of increasing subcontracting opportunities for small businesses.

In a November 6, 2014 hearing Judge Alsup stated, “The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is so the public can see how our government works. Congress passed this law to make small businesses have access to some of these projects, and here is the United States covering it up.” Judge Alsup described the ASBL as being in a David and Goliath battle against the big government and big business and accused the Pentagon of suppressing evidence.

The Pentagon and Sikorsky are claiming the release of the data in Sikorsky’s small business subcontracting plan would cause them substantial competitive harm. The ASBL has countered by exposing the fact that Sikorsky’s contracts with the government are sole source contracts and Sikorsky has no competitors for their government contracts. The ASBL has also exposed the fact that the names of Sikorsky’s subcontractors are publicly available on the Federal Procurement Data System.

The ASBL believes the Pentagons efforts to withhold the small business subcontracting data may be to obscure the fact that the Pentagon is allowing their prime contractors to subcontract with their own wholly owned subsidiaries or report awards to Fortune 500 firms and other large businesses as small business subcontracts.

The identified witnesses in the trial include: Janice Buffler – DOD Associate director of Subcontracting policy, Andrew Driver – Sikorsky Aircraft Senior Manager of Market Analytics, Amy Johnson – Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation Director of Supply Chain and Martha Crawford – Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation Supplier Diversity Manager/Small Business Liaison Officer. Janice Buffler’s deposition is set for August 21st 2017 in San Francisco, and the Trial is scheduled for December 11th 2017.

 

Sikorsky To Intervene In Pentagon Freedom Of Information Trial

PETALUMA, Calif., June 1, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Sikorsky Aircraft has filed Documents with the Federal district Court of San Francisco notifying the Court they will be intervening in the December 11th trial between the American Small Business League (ASBL) and the Pentagon. In a recent Government Executive story entitled ‘Pentagon Headed to Court Against Small Business Advocate‘ a Sikorsky spokesman stated: “At this time Sikorsky is not a party to the ongoing case.” Sikorsky filed their motion for intervention on April 20, 2017.

The ASBL won the case in Federal District Court on November 23, 2014.  Federal Judge Judge Alsup described the ASBL’s case by stating, “So it would be more like a David and Goliath. You get to come in there and be the underdog again against the big company and against the big government.”  “They are trying to suppress the evidence.”

The ASBL filed their case due to overwhelming evidence that the Pentagon’s Comprehensive Subcontracting Plan Test Program (CSPTP) was designed to create a loop hole allowing the Pentagon’s largest prime contractors to circumvent federal small business subcontracting goals.

In 2014 the Pentagon asked that Congress not renew the program, with Pentagon spokeswoman Maureen Schumann acknowledging that the CSPTP had actually reduced subcontracting opportunities for small businesses and “reduced the Pentagon’s small business industrial supplier base.”

Professor Charles Tiefer, one of the nation’s leading experts on federal contracting law released a legal opinion on the CSPTP, describing it as a “sham” and seriously harmful to small businesses.

Congress renewed the program until 2027 in December of 2016 despite the Pentagon’s acknowledgement that it had harmed small business subcontracting opportunities for small businesses.