Friday, November 8, 2019

Suspensions and Debarments in Fiscal Year 2018

The suspension and debarment (S&D) process is one of the tools used to protect the federal government from fraud, waste and abuse by preventing non-responsible contractors from doing business with the Government. Suspensions, proposals for debarment, and debarments are visible to the public (through SAM) as well as terminations of such actions.

Both suspension and debarment have the same effect - no more Government contracts (or subcontracts, for that matter). A debarment is considered more serious than a suspension because of its duration. A suspension is a temporary measure that doesn't usually exceed 12 months and is used pending the completion of an investigation or legal proceeding. Debarment usually lasts three years and is usually based upon a conviction.

Causes for suspension or debarment include such things as fraud, embezzlement, theft, falsification of records, false statements, violating Federal criminal laws, violation of antitrust statutes, willful, or a history of, failure to perform, knowingly failure to disclose violation or criminal law, or any other cause that affects 'responsibility'.

The Inter-agency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC), among its various responsibilities, compiles annual statistics of each agency's suspension and debarment activities. The Committee just published stats for fiscal year 2018. The tally included 480 suspensions and 1,334 debarments. The Defense Department accounted for about a quarter of the suspensions about a third of the debarments - unsurprising given that significance of the Department's contracting dollars. Two agencies had no debarments or suspensions during the fiscal year; Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Social Security Administration. Of course, this doesn't mean there were no contractors worthy of suspension and debarment, as the Committee pointed out in its report. It could mean that the contracting community was not adequately trained to utilize such tools.

The number of debarments has more than doubled since 2009 when the Committee first began tracking the numbers. The number of suspensions, on the other hand, has not changed significantly.

The full report is available here.

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