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Inside the World's Biggest Buyer Part 4: Suspension and Debarment
Sometimes contractors break the rules. Agencies have the ability to suspend or disbar companies when this happens and it's happening more. The government turned up the heat on companies in 2011 and more suspensions and debarments are expected in 2012. How do companies stay on the right side of acquisition law? What if their transgression is unintentional? Is there due process in the suspension and debarment process? Is the threat of being suspended or debarred enough to convince vendors and agencies to do things differently? Federal News Radio examines these issues in Part 4 of our special report, Inside the World's Biggest Buyer.
Agencies are making greater use of their ability to declare contractors and individuals ineligible for work by the federal government. Some outside experts suggest the increase may be the result of hasty decisions.
Agencies are using suspensions and debarments more often as a way to stop or prevent doing business with contractors who lie, cheat or just do shoddy work. David Sims, chairman of the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee and a suspension and debarment manager at the Interior Department, gives an overview of the use of suspension and debarment governmentwide.
Steven Maser, a professor of public policy and administration at Willamette University, recently completed a study on the bid protest process. While he acknowledged that the number of bid protests were on the rise, he didn't necessarily think that was a bad thing for agencies and contractors.
As part of Federal News Radio's week-long multimedia special report, Inside the World's Biggest Buyer, Lee Dougherty a member of General Counsel, P.C.'s Government Contracts Practice discusses the suspension and debarment process.
Despite mounting pressure from certain quarters of the government and Congress to more aggressively suspend and debar irresponsible contractors, some agencies only rarely, if ever, do so. Rob Burton, the former acting administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said data on suspensions and debarments isn't always an apples-to-apples comparison.