Friday, February 15, 2013

Toughening Up Suspension and Debarment Procedures

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, has begun circulating a discussion draft of legislation that would consolidate more than 42 civilian agency and government corporations S&D (Suspension and Debarment) offices and functions into one centralized board.

According to Rep Issa's press release, the proposed legislation is designed to protect taxpayers in over $1 trillion in contracts and grants awarded by the federal government each year to companies and individuals that are or should be banned from receiving taxpayer funds. He states: "In the 21st century, we must have zero tolerance for fraudsters, criminals, or tax cheats receiving taxpayer money through grants or contracts.

To prevent fraud and abuse, federal agencies are supposed to conduct aggressive suspension and debarment (S&D) programs to ban unscrupulous business and individuals from receiving federal funds. However, despite intense Congressional oversight, administrative action, and public scrutiny in recent years, GAO still reports that most agencies lacked effective S&D programs, meaning that businesses and individuals who should be listed on the System or Awards Management (SAM) may still be receiving federal contracts and grants (SAM replaced the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS) last year).

Along with consolidating the S&M offices and functions into a centralized board, the legislation would

  • strengthen debarment of contractors and grantees that repeatedly fail to perform
  • consolidate regulations government suspension and debarment procedures
  • ensure transparency in suspension and debarment proceedings, and consistent standards to treat all parties fairly and expeditiously, including small businesses with limited legal resources
  • provide an expedited review process to handle contract or grant fraud in a contingency environment (e.g. Iraq or Afghanistan).

You can vies a copy of the discussion draft here.

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