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Technologies Transforming Transportation: Is the Government Keeping Up?

The Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security will hold a hearing entitled “Technologies Transforming Transportation: Is the Government Keeping Up?” on Tuesday, July 7, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. (time changed from 10:00 a.m.).

This hearing will focus on innovative technologies that improve the safety and efficiency of our nation's transportation network, particularly the movement of goods through the supply chain. Witnesses will provide an overview of the development and implementation of new technologies within their busines...

Supreme Court Observations: Michigan v. EPA

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 3:52pm
Featured Expert Column – Environmental Law and Policy by Samuel B. Boxerman, Sidley Austin LLP with Ben Tannen, Sidley Austin LLP On June 29, in Michigan v. EPA, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed and remanded EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (“MATS”) rule to the D.C. Circuit, holding the agency should have considered costs when […]
Categories: Latest News

King v. Burwell’s Implications for Employer-Sponsored Health Plans

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 1:33pm
Guest Commentary Kim Wilcoxon, Thompson Hine LLP Three years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States announced its decision in NFIB v. Sebelius and upheld the individual mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last week, the Supreme Court announced its decision in King v. Burwell and upheld the Internal Revenue […]
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Attorneys as Qui Tam Relators?: False Claims Act Doesn’t Preempt Ethics Laws and Cannons

WLF Legal Pulse - Tue, 06/30/2015 - 1:12pm
Guest Commentary by Tara Parker, a 2015 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at the Washington Legal Foundation and a student at Texas Tech School of Law. A federal district judge in the Southern District of Mississippi recently reaffirmed something that should be intuitively obvious to most attorneys:  the federal False Claims Act (FCA) does not relieve […]
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Supreme Court Observations: Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, LLC

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 9:19pm
Featured Expert Contributor – Intellectual Property (Patents) Jeffri A. Kaminski, Venable LLP The U.S. Supreme Court recently decided a closely watched case concerning contract rights and patent royalties. In Kimble v. Marvel Entertainment, LLC the Court upheld its long standing precedent and determined that parties cannot agree to patent royalty payments that extend beyond the […]
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Eleventh Circuit Weighs in on Need for Consumer Class Actions’ Plaintiffs to be Ascertainable

WLF Legal Pulse - Mon, 06/29/2015 - 4:26pm
Whether a class of plaintiffs must be “ascertainable”—i.e. capable of being feasibly identified through an objective process—continues to be one of the most contested legal issues in class-action litigation. We’ve written about ascertainability mostly in the context of food labeling lawsuits (our collection is here) but it has arisen in claims involving other consumer products. […]
Categories: Latest News

The Real Small Business Scorecard

House Small Business Committee News - Fri, 06/26/2015 - 12:00am

The Real Small Business Scorecard

WASHINGTON – Today, Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) responded to the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) flawed reporting of federal contracting goals.

“The SBA is robbing small businesses. For every dollar the SBA doesn’t count, small businesses are losing 23 cents,” said Chabot. “In FY 2014, that means small businesses lost nearly $18 billion in contracts. The reason Congress asks for these numbers is so we can use them – not so that the Administration can pat itself on the back once a year. These are supposed to provide insight to help Congress craft policies that strengthen our industrial base. This sort of misreporting doesn’t help.”

The numbers reported today are incorrect because the SBA continues to exclude nearly $78 billion in federal contract dollars reported into the federal procurement data system, plus at least $6 billion to $10 billion that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) illegally excluded from the database.These are dollars spent by the federal government that should be subject to small business contracting goals. Moreover, the SBA scorecard focuses intensely on just one factor -- prime contract dollars. While this is certainly an indicator, it does not represent a holistic--and more accurate--depiction of the industrial base. For example, there are 100,000 fewer contractors today than there were four years ago and and the number of contract actions being awarded to small businesses has fallen by nearly 60 percent. Furthermore, the Administration is still not meeting its subcontracting goal, even though SBA lowered the goal last year.

Earlier this week, the Small Business Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Regulations examined the issue of bonuses being awarded based on fraudulent scorecard data at the VA. Subcommittee Chairman Cresent Hardy (R-NV) concluded:“It is evident to me that the VA and the Obama Administration have failed our veterans, small business owners and the American taxpayer.”

In its report, the SBA awarded the VA a “B”, but based on testimony it is clear that at least $6 billion to $10 billion worth of contract dollars were not included in this tabulation. If it had been, using the SBA’s own methodology, the percent of dollars awarded to small businesses by the VA would drop from 34.42 percent to between 22 and 26 percent, and the VA would have earned a“D” or an “F”. Likewise, the SBA gave the federal government an “A”, but the actual numbers show the Obama Administration only earned a “C”.

“The Administration can be 'proud' when it is actually meeting the small business goals based on honest accounting,”said Chabot.“Until then, our Committee will keep working on commonsense reforms that provide a more realistic picture of our industrial base.”

For more information on Chairman Chabot’s scorecard reform legislation click HERE.

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Majority Rule: Standing Continues to be Plaintiffs’ Achilles Heel in Data-Breach Class Actions

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 4:25pm
Guest Commentary by Spencer Salmon, a 2015 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at the Washington Legal Foundation and a student at Texas Tech School of Law. Some years ago, when data breaches first became a problem for the business community, plaintiffs’ lawyers thought class actions on behalf of consumers whose information had been stolen would be the […]
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Executive Session

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Thursday, June 25, 2015, at 10:30 a.m. to consider the following legislative measures and nominations.
 
Agenda:

1. S. 1626, Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act, Sponsors: Sen. Roge...

GSA's Proposed Rule on Transactional Data Rule and its Effect on Small Businesses

House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 10:00am
The Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce will hold a hearing titled GSA's Proposed Rule on Transactional Data Rule and its Effect on Small Businesses.  The hearing will be held at 10:00 A.M. on June 25, 2015 in Room 2360 of the Rayburn House Office Building. 

The hearing  will examine the General Services Administration's March 5, 2015 Proposed rule on transactional data reporting.

 

 

 

Opening Statement:

Chairman Richard Hanna ( R-NY)

 

 

Witnesses and Testimony:
 

  • Ms. Sheila Armstrong, Partner, Morgan, Lewis,& Bockius, LLP., Dallas, TX

     

    • Mr. Roger Waldron, President, The coalition for Government Procurement, Washington, DC 
    •  

    •  Mr. John Stanford, Vice President, NextWin Services, Washington, DC
    •  

       

      Additional Items: 

    • Hearing Notice
    • Witness List
    •  

      Committee Approves Wicker/Booker Railroad Reforms

      WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation today, on a voice vote, approved the bipartisan “Railroad Reform, Enhancement, and Efficiency Act,” sponsored by Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), with seven amendments. The measure improves rail safety, reauthorizes Amtrak services, and improves existing passenger rail infrastructure. It also leverages private sector investment, empowers states, and cuts red tape to make critical infrastructure dollars go further.

      “Senator Wicker and...

      Chabot on Supreme Court Obamacare Decision

      House Small Business Committee News - Thu, 06/25/2015 - 12:00am

      Chabot on Supreme Court Obamacare Decision

      WASHINGTON - Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH) made the following statement in response to the Supreme Court's decision on King v. Burwell:

      "For last 5 years, Washington has tried to figure out what’s actually in Obamacare. If you really want to understand Obamacare, you don’t have to sift through the thousands of pages of poorly designed--and ineptly implemented law--you just have to look at your premium statement. You have to look at your health care bills. Americans and small businesses tell us every day how this law is burdening them. So while Washington continues to interpret, we will continue to act on solutions that empower families and American workers."

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      Copyright Act Submission Hold: Professional Wrestler’s Publicity and Privacy Claims Preempted

      WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 4:04pm
      Guest Commentary by Sara Thornton, a 2015 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at the Washington Legal Foundation and a student at Texas Tech School of Law. What do copyright law, a WWE professional wrestler, and ESPN have in common? They were all involved in an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit […]
      Categories: Latest News

      Rokita Statement: Hearing on “Child Nutrition Assistance: Looking at the Cost of Compliance for States and Schools”

      Education & the Workforce Committee - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 10:00am
      We all know the important role healthy food plays in a child’s education. We cannot expect children to learn or excel in the classroom if they are hungry or are not properly nourished.

      That’s why we on the Education and the Workforce Committee have been examining child nutrition programs to ensure they are effectively and efficiently providing children access to nutritious meals. It goes without saying your commitment to serving students is vital to achieving that goal.

      The question we want to answer today is: are federal policies giving you the tools and flexibility you need to succeed in implementing child nutrition programs so that your students can succeed in the classroom? Based on what we have heard from other stakeholders, the federal role in these programs may be doing more to hinder your success than help it.

      Following the 2010 reauthorization of the national school lunch and breakfast programs, the Department of Agriculture issued a number regulations that expanded Washington’s influence over K-12 cafeterias. The department has narrowly defined what types of food can be served in schools and how often, the maximum number of calories students are allowed to eat per meal, and the price a student must pay per meal.

      While these regulations are well intended, states and schools are struggling to comply with them, and the very children we aim to serve are paying the price. While program costs, administrative burdens, and food waste are piling up, portion sizes, food offerings, and the number of students participating in the program are on the decline. In my home state of Indiana, for example, the number of lunches served each year has declined by more than six million since the regulations went into effect in 2012.

      I’ve heard these concerns from my colleagues and constituents, and I’ve read the reports from government watchdogs, but – as the saying goes – I needed to see it to believe it. Earlier this year, I joined students and staff for lunch at Cloverdale Middle School in Indiana, where food service director Billy Boyette described the challenges he and his staff face to provide meals that both comply with federal regulations and appeal to students.

      From firsthand experience, I can verify that despite the increased federal involvement in the school meals programs, many students are still going to class hungry. Furthermore, reports from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office raise concerns about whether or not the resources for these programs are going to the students who need it most.

      If our shared goal is to increase student success in the classroom, and if we know that nutritious meals play an important role in that success, wasting limited taxpayer dollars hardly seems like a favorable outcome.

      That’s why we are here today. As education leaders who have committed themselves to serving students, you provide critical insight into what’s working and what isn’t and what types of policies Congress should consider as we move forward with reauthorization.

      It’s time to provide those responsible for implementing child nutrition programs with the flexibility they need to ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent and students are well served. I am confident learning from your experiences, observations, and recommendations will inform our efforts to accomplish just that.

      # # # 



       

      NAWBO® Installs 2015-2016 Board of Directors

      NAWBO Media - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 3:00am
      NAWBO National Board Will Continue Efforts to Encourage and Expand Economic Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs
      Categories: Latest News

      Best-Selling Author, Media Personality and Business Owner Bonnie St. John Headlines National Women’s Business Conference Hosted by NAWBO

      NAWBO Media - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 3:00am
      Hear Bonnie’s Inspirational Story of Becoming the First-Ever African-American to Win Olympic or Paralympic Medals in Ski Racing
      Categories: Latest News

      Senior VA Official Exposes Gross Mismanagement and Fraud

      House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 06/24/2015 - 12:00am

      Senior VA Official Exposes Gross Mismanagement and Fraud

      “Massive violations of public trust continue unabated”

      WASHINGTON-At a joint hearing hosted by the Small Business and Veteran Affairs’ investigatory subcommittees held Tuesday, a senior official and whistleblower at the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) revealed more details about how the Department broke the law in hiding billions in spending from the public and deprived small businesses of the opportunity to compete for contracts.

      Mr. Jan Frye, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Acquisition and Logistics at the Department of Veterans Affairs described the manipulation and misreporting of contract dollars as “one of the most deceptive schemes” he has seen in his 41 years of government service.Specifically, he alleged that $6 billion to $10 billion in procurements were being concealed in an attempt to inflate the Department’s small business goaling numbers. As a result of this fraud, the Department received an “A” rather than the “D” or “F” they earned using the actual numbers. Small businesses lost out on at least 200,000 contracts.

      “VA senior leaders have willfully violated the public trust, debasing federal procurement and financial laws,” said Frye. “We have senior-leader integrity malaises [at the] VA. Like substance abusers before the journey to recovery, [the VA] will not be cured until we admit we have a disease… We are guilty… we have deceived the veteran-owned small-business community, while violating federal laws.” He also noted that these “massive violations of public trust continue unabated.”

      Small Business Subcommittee Chairman Cresent Hardy (R-NV) issued the following after the hearing:“Based on what we heard today, it is evident that the VA and the Obama Administration have failed our veterans, small business owners and the American taxpayer. If the VA had followed the law, small businesses – including many veteran and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses— would have had the opportunity to compete, which would have saved money and allowed more services to be provided to our veterans. Instead, the VA simply ignored the law.”

      Mr. Thomas Leney, the Executive Director at the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at the VA disputed the allegations claiming that the department had not broken the law, but simply conducted “improper accounting.” Later, it was also revealed that Mr. Leney received nearly $9,000 in performance bonuses in Fiscal Year 2013 that were based on those misreported numbers.

      “Because of this hearing, we now know that the VA awarded bonuses based on false pretenses – inflated numbers,” said Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH). “It’s no different than a student cheating on a test to get a better report card. Our committees will continue to investigate these issues so that we can hold those responsible for this fraud to account and improve the services earned by our veterans.”

      Click HERE for more information on this hearing.

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      Joint Hearing with Veterans Affairs: Manipulation and Fraud in Reporting of VA Small Business Goals

      House Small Business Committee News - Tue, 06/23/2015 - 4:00pm

      On Tuesday, June 23, 2015, at 4:00pm., the Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations with the Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations will hold a joint hearing titled,  "Manipulation and Fraud in the Reporting of VA Small Business Goals." The hearing will be held in Room  334 of the Cannon House Office Building.  

      The purpose of the hearing is to examine manipulation and Fraud in the Reporting of VA Small Business Goals.

      Opening Statement:

      Chairman Cresent Hardy (R-NV)

      Witnesses and Testimony:

    • Mr. Jan Frye, Deputy Assistant Secretary and Senior Procurement Executive, Office of Acquisition, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC
    •  

    •  Mr. Thomas Leney, Executive Director, Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business utilization, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC
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    •  Mr. Norbert Doyle, Chief Procurement & Logistics Officer, Veterans Health Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, DC
    •  

    •  Ms. Ann Rung, Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget, Washington, DC
    •  

    • Mr. John Shoraka, Associate Administrator, Office of Government Contracting and Business, United States Small Business Administration, Washington, DC
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    • Mr. Kevin Page, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Service Acquisition Service, General Services Administration, Washington, DC
    •  

      Additional Items:
          Hearing Notice
          Witness List
             

      Update on the Recalls of Defective Takata Air Bags and NHTSA's Vehicle Safety Efforts

      The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee will hold a full committee hearing entitled “Update on the Recalls of Defective Takata Air Bags and NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Efforts” on Tuesday, June 23, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.
       
      The hearing will examine the role of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the Takata defective airbag recall investigation, Takata’s remediation efforts, how car manufacturers are addressing defective Takata airbags, and ongoing oversight by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector Gen...

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