A contractor's "present responsibility" status is its most important asset. Suspension, proposed debarment or debarment from government contracting of an individual, business unit or corporate entity can have catastrophic business impacts, precluding that individual, unit or entity from receiving and competing for government contracts potentially for years. Moreover, under the rigorous internal compliance program and mandatory disclosure requirements now in place, [see Ethics Advice & Compliance Audits and Plans], contractors bear the burden of self-policing and self-reporting their own activities, and taking the steps necessary to avoid suspension and debarment is even more critical.
Wiley Rein Government Contracts attorneys are experienced with advising contractors facing threatened suspension and debarment, earning a reputation for forthrightness, steady guidance and integrity. We have worked extensively with Air Force, Navy, Army, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) Suspension and Debarment Officials, as well as the General Services Administration (GSA), the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), among others, to prevent, negotiate and resolve threatened suspensions and debarment actions. Our clients have included contractors of all sizes, from major defense contractors and large commercial companies with smaller government contracting footprints to small businesses and individuals. Our attorneys have assisted clients in responding to show cause notices; advocated for contractors facing potential suspension or debarment in meetings, negotiations, and presentations to agency debarring officials; negotiated administrative agreements to avoid suspension and debarment; and worked with contractors to shore up compliance practices in response to threatened suspension or debarment. The following matters are representative of the many suspension, debarment and present responsibility matters we have handled:
- Three contractors accused (one convicted) of criminal wrongdoing: Negotiated resolution to avoid suspension or debarment of the contractors.
- Major Government contractor accused of procurement fraud: Negotiated contract amendments, a comprehensive administrative agreement and settlement agreements with various agencies of the government, ultimately leading to the lifting of suspension against the contractor.
- Major Government contractor accused of contract mischarging: Responded to a notice of intent to suspend or debar the contractor. After providing a detailed factual response and evidence of current responsibility, the Government chose to forgo further administrative action.
- Major Government contractor accused of multiple mischarging offenses: Responded to "show cause" notice on behalf of contractor, demonstrating contractor's present responsibility and avoiding suspension or debarment for major business unit.
- Contractor employee accused of ethical misconduct: Guided contractor through disclosure to agency of employees' ethical issues with no suspension, debarment or other sanctions and assisted in development of a compliance program and training for the contractor.
- Contractor accused of violating conflict of interest regulations: Assisted contractor in developing administrative agreement and compliance program to enable it to continue federal contracting.
- Contractor accused of providing illegal gratuities to procurement officials: Negotiated an administrative agreement, avoiding debarment of the contractor.
- Contractor accused of violating Procurement Integrity Act “revolving door” provisions: Assisted contractor and an employee respond to Suspension/Debarment Official investigation, negotiate administrative agreement avoiding debarment of the contractor, and successfully complete the term of the administrative agreement without incident.
ISSUE: WINTER 2013