Manatt Partner Speaks to Law360 on Federal Security Contracts
"Break-In Forces DOE to Rethink Security for Nuke Labs"Law360
August 14, 2012 - Manatt's Holly Roth, a partner in the firm's Government & Regulatory Policy Division, spoke to Law360 about federal spending on guard service contracts.
As reported by Law360, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) asked B&W Y-12 Technical Services LLC, which runs the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to explain why its contract should not be terminated after a July 28 security breach in which an 82-year-old nun and two other protesters broke into a high-security area.
Industry insiders told Law360 that the DOE could be forced into a wholesale reconsideration of its approach to contractor management and will likely be forced to invest more heavily in security contracts, more secure facilities and federal oversight efforts.
Roth, who has represented companies that provide guard services for federal buildings, said that federal agencies were increasingly choosing the lowest-cost contracts during a competitive procurement rather than choosing the best value or best work, an approach that carries risks.
"With all the federal cutbacks and agencies frequently trying to get the same services for less money, there are going to be instances where a contractor says they can perform a particular service at a particular price, but really, they can't," said Roth. "I think the government needs to understand that to buy quality, you have to spend the money, especially where national security is involved."
And the security risks associated with low-cost contractors are exacerbated by the federal budget squeeze, because the agencies don't necessarily have enough qualified people on their own to do the oversight that needs to be done, Roth added.
"If you're a contractor that specializes in guarding a facility and you have that experience, you're going to be better at it than a governmental employee who's just been trained," she said.
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