Contractor Misconduct Database updated

Tuesday - 4/27/2010, 11:08am EDT

Scott Amey, General Counsel, Project on Government Oversight

Click below to hear the interview

Download mp3

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

Federal News Radio has been telling you about the government contractors that have been cited for misconduct by the Project on Government Oversight. The organization looked at the top 100 government contractors for incidences of misconduct.

Scott Amey, General Counsel and a contracting specialist for POGO, told Federal News Radio the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database is exactly that: a database, and doesn't draw conclusions.

"It's data," said Armey, "and therefore you can manipulate data any way you want to. When you do look at the top 100 contractors, we've found, and this goes back to 1995, close to 650 instances of misconduct."

But, inevitably, enquiring minds want to know.

I get the question a lot "who's the worst contractor in your database?" It all depends on how you want to sort the data. The number of instances? It IS Lockheed Martin, but they're also number one each year on the contract award dollar list, so at that point... they have a lot more federal business. If you look at misconduct money - the amount that they've paid in fines, settlements, penalties, then it actually switches from the Defense contractors, but actually over to the pharmaceutical and the oil companies. At that point you have Merck, Glaxo, Pfizer, Exxon, BP, Royal Dutch Shell... in the Top 10... when you look at the fines and penalties page. So at that point it's a public resource for the public, the media, members of Congress, government officials to use, the contractors to use themselves, any way that they see fit and to weigh the data in any way they see fit for their purposes.

The point of the database, said Armey, is similar to the current transparency efforts underway in the federal government: to provide the data to be used as needed.

What we've been able to identify is $18.7 billion dollars worth of fines, penalties, settlements paid over the course of the course of 15 years. Now the question goes back to "what haven't we found?" Some of these settlements are non-disclosed. Some of the amounts aren't disclosed. So I think we're kind of scratching the surface with the data that we've been able to put together, but we hope it gives federal government officials, contracting officers, suspension-debarment officials the benchmark they need to make better contract award decisions as well as accountability measures on the back end.

Amey conceded that with $524 billion in contracts, there will be mistakes made. He said that with compliance auditing, many time contractors will find the mistakes themselves.

Some of these can be passed off as just unintentional instances and costs of doing business and these contractors are very large, with very large business systems, but at the same time about 15 percent of the cases that we have in our database, just for the top 100 contractors, are cases in which judgements have come out against them, there's been guilty pleas or they've been found guilty by a jury. So 15 percent of our cases are ones where there's been a final disposition of some kind of liability... I just don't want to pass them off, all off, as being just costs of doing business. These are very large contractors. And... we have 27 contractors that have zero instances of misconduct in the top 100, so there are companies that are doing things more ethically or doing them better than certain other companies that have 40 or 50 instances.

Amey said that since the federal government's contractor responsibility database - the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) - is not publicly accessible, the POGO database won't be going out of business anytime soon.