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Nkechi A. Kanu is a counsel in the Washington, D.C. office of Crowell & Moring, where she is a member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group.

Nkechi’s practice focuses on False Claims Act investigations and litigation. Nkechi has significant experience assisting companies with complex internal investigations and represents clients in government investigations involving allegations of fraud. She also focuses on assisting clients with investigations relating to cybersecurity and information security compliance. Her complementary litigation practice involves defending companies in government-facing litigation arising under the FCA, resulting in the dismissal of qui tam complaints and successful settlements of FCA claims with DOJ.

On May 1, 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that Insight Global LLC (Insight), an international staffing and services company, will pay $2.7 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by failing to implement adequate cybersecurity measures to protect personal health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII) under its contracts with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) to provide staffing for COVID-19 contact tracing services.  Although contracts with state agencies generally fall outside the FCA’s ambit, PADOH paid Insight using funds received from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—bringing the contract within the FCA’s scope. Continue Reading No End “Insight” for DOJ’s Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative

On May 2, 2024, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued a class deviation to DFARS 252.204-7012,  Safeguarding Covered Defense Information and Cyber Incident Reporting (DFARS 7012), specifying that contractors subject to the clause must comply with NIST SP 800-171, Revision 2.  The deviation (labeled Deviation 2024-O0013) will delay the incorporation of NIST

2023 brought many important False Claims Act developments for companies with business involving government funds.  While overall recoveries remained down compared to pre-2022 levels, the total number of settlements and judgments exceeded any prior year.  Those settlements and judgments also highlight areas of particular focus for the Government, including cybersecurity compliance, pandemic fraud, and small

The Department of Defense (DoD) recently published a memorandum clarifying what it means for a cloud service provider (CSP) to be Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) Moderate baseline “equivalent” and meet incident reporting requirements under Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) Clause 252.204-7012, Safeguarding Covered Defense Information and Cyber Incident Reporting (DFARS 7012). The memorandum states, in order to be considered FedRAMP equivalent going forward, CSPs must (1) be FedRAMP Moderate/High-Authorized, or (2) secure a third-party assessment confirming their compliance with all FedRAMP Moderate baseline security controls.Continue Reading No Longer Cloudy: DoD Issues New Guidance on FedRAMP Moderate Equivalency Cloud Security Requirements

CMMC

This special edition covers DoD’s proposed rule for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Program, and is hosted by Peter Eyre, Michael Gruden, and Nkechi Kanu. Crowell & Moring’s “Fastest 5 Minutes” is a biweekly podcast that provides a brief summary of significant government contracts legal and regulatory developments that no government contracts lawyer or

On December 26, 2023, the Department of Defense (DoD) released the highly anticipated proposed rule for the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Program (CMMC), a cybersecurity regulatory program that will likely impact most of the government contractor community. Every contractor who handles sensitive data such as Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) or Federal Contract Information (FCI) during DoD contract performance will be covered by this regulation. While the CMMC program builds upon the security requirements included in Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) clause 252.204-7012, CMMC will bring greater scrutiny to contractors’ cybersecurity compliance and potentially greater consequences for failure to comply in the era of the Department of Justice’s Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative and False Claims Act litigation. If finalized as proposed, the rule will significantly impact the CMMC regime, notably by requiring senior company officials to complete an affirmation for every CMMC level self-assessed or certified, thus increasing legal compliance risks.Continue Reading DoD’s New Year Resolution: A Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification Program (CMMC) Proposed Rule

On November 9, 2023, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) released the Final Public Draft (“FPD”) of Special Publication (“SP”) 800-171 Revision (“Rev.”) 3, “Protecting Controlled Unclassified Information in Nonfederal Systems and Organizations” and the Initial Public Draft of NIST SP 800-171A Rev 3, “Assessing Security Requirements for Controlled Unclassified Information.”  The FPD of SP 800-171 Rev. 3 condenses several control requirements from the initial public draft while adding new requirements under existing controls.  The initial draft of SP 800-171A now aligns with SP 800-171 Rev. 3 and includes more detailed assessment procedures than its predecessor.  Changes in both documents forecast the evolving compliance requirements for organizations required to safeguard Controlled Unclassified Information (“CUI”).Continue Reading The Holidays Come Early: NIST Unwraps Final Draft Revision 3 to NIST SP 800-171

Civil-Cyber Fraud Initiative

In this episode, Jason Crawford, Nkechi Kanu, and Agustin Orozco discuss a recent settlement that underscores the DOJ’s increased use of the False Claims Act to enforce noncompliance with cybersecurity requirements. “Let’s Talk FCA” is Crowell & Moring’s podcast covering the latest developments with the False Claims Act.

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Almost a decade after the Department of Defense developed rules requiring mandatory reporting of cyber incidents, on October 3, 2023, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Council released new proposed rules—one addressing cyber incident reporting and another addressing cybersecurity requirements for contractors maintaining a Federal Information System (FIS).  When enacted, these rules could implement new security measures and incident reporting requirements via FAR clauses for contractors across the entire federal government.  The “Cyber Threat and Incident Reporting and Information Sharing” proposed rule focuses on increasing the sharing of information about cyber threats between government and private industry, while the “Standardizing Cybersecurity Requirements for Unclassified Federal Information Systems” proposed rule focuses on implementing policies, procedures, and requirements for contractors maintaining an FIS.  These rules implement Biden Administration initiatives pursuant to Executive Order (“EO”) 14028, “Improving the Nation’s Cybersecurity” issued in May 2021. Continue Reading FAR Council’s Cyber Harvest: New Incident Reporting and Federal Information System Requirements Await Government Contractors

A False Claims Act (FCA) settlement recently announced by the U.S. Department of Justice stands at the intersection of two evolving trends:  DOJ’s increasing focus on cybersecurity lapses by government contractors as part of its Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative, and DOJ policies incentivizing corporations to voluntarily self-disclose violations of federal law.

On September 5, 2023, DOJ announced a $4 million settlement with Verizon Business Network Services LLC (Verizon) addressing allegations that Verizon violated the FCA because certain telecommunications services it provided to federal agencies under its General Services Administration (GSA) contracts did not comply with applicable cybersecurity requirements, namely the Office of Management and Budget’s Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) initiative.  DOJ specifically alleged that Verizon’s Managed Trusted Internet Protocol Service (MTIPS)—an information technology service that allows federal agencies to securely connect to public internet and external networks—did not comply with three security controls in the Department of Homeland Security’s TIC Reference Architecture Document, including a control that required the use of FIPS 140-2 validated cryptography.  The Verizon settlement represents the latest example of DOJ’s continued focus on cybersecurity cases, a trend that we believe will only continue to escalate going forward.Continue Reading Civil Cyber-Fraud Settlement Highlights Potential for Cooperation Credit