New Report Shows Feds' Nuanced Approach to Contractors
A new interagency report showing the federal government's growing preference for administrative measures over punitive actions when contractors make mistakes reveals an increased propensity to take a measured approach.
The 197 pre-notice letters sent in 2018 are the highest ever recorded in a single year, which demonstrates suspension and debarment officials' increasing awareness of the consequences of their actions, according to Blank Rome LLP's Dominique Casimir, also a co-chair of the ABA's debarment committee.
"We in the private bar refer to suspension or debarment as the death penalty, and so the fact the government is aware how serious a consequence it is for a contractor is a good thing," she said.
Also, proactively getting out ahead of potential issues before an SDO finds out from another source can be considered a mitigating factor, and it's unlikely to make things any worse for a contractor facing potential suspension or debarment, Casimir said.
"While there are some companies that are still reticent ... I have never seen a situation where a contractor coming forward to disclose a problem had resulted in that contractor being suspended or debarred that wouldn't otherwise have already been suspended or debarred," she said. "Suspension and debarment officials like to give contractors an opportunity to be heard, and it's what they make of that opportunity that ultimately determines their fate."
"New Report Shows Feds' Nuanced Approach to Contractors," by Daniel Wilson was published in Law360 on November 7, 2019.