Suspension & Debarment

Overview

Keeping you in business

Suspension and debarment are some of the government’s most powerful tools for ensuring the honesty and business integrity of its partners. These serious measures present existential threats for government contractors, subcontractors, individuals, and other recipients of federal funds. Our suspension and debarment practice has decades of combined experience successfully guiding companies and individuals through these high-stakes matters, helping to preserve continued eligibility for federal programs and benefits. Complementing this crisis management work, we leverage our considerable suspension and debarment experience to help companies develop, implement, and sustain best-in-class ethics and compliance programs that minimize the risk of a suspension or debarment action in the first place.

Growing Threat

Over the last decade, the suspension and debarment programs of many federal agencies have matured and grown increasingly more sophisticated. Suspending and Debarring Officials (“SDOs”) and their staff leverage an array of methods to gather information about contractors and individuals and are increasingly willing to request information from a potential respondent prior to imposing an exclusion. Additionally, the SDO community has recently signaled an interest in such areas as cybersecurity compliance. In this heightened climate, clients facing potential suspension or debarment require the judgment of experienced counsel to respond to the government effectively.

Our Proactive Approach

Blank Rome has repeat experience successfully guiding our clients to favorable outcomes. Our goal is to preserve or restore our clients’ eligibility to participate in the government contracts marketplace, and to repair the trust relationship between the client and the government.

We assist clients at all stages of actual or threatened suspension or debarment actions. When a client’s present responsibility is questioned, we quickly assess the situation and develop appropriate remediation, as well as proactive outreach and engagement strategies. We respond effectively to SDO inquiries on behalf of clients and prepare clients who will appear in person before an SDO.

In this often interdisciplinary practice, we work collaboratively with internal and external co-counsel in litigation, white collar, environmental, antitrust, and other relevant practices as necessary to help achieve coordinated, consistent resolutions.

Our Experience 

Blank Rome’s extensive experience includes successfully handling suspension and debarment matters arising under a wide range of regulatory and statutory frameworks, including the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the Nonprocurement Common Rule, and statutory exclusions under the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

We have appeared before the SDOs of many federal and state agencies, including the Departments of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force; the Defense Logistics Agency; the Environmental Protection Agency; the General Services Administration; the Department of Interior; the Department of Energy; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and the Small Business Administration. We know how to engage productively with SDOs and their staff to maximize the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

We have successfully advocated that clients not be suspended or debarred, even in cases where cause was found to exist. We have successfully petitioned for early termination of exclusions and administrative agreements on behalf of clients. We also have substantial experience negotiating workable and reasonable administrative agreements to resolve actual or threatened suspensions or debarments. We remain involved at each step, helping clients to set up post-agreement compliance procedures and identifying and vetting independent monitor candidates as necessary.