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.