Protecting your rights if you are proposed for suspension and debarment.
Under FAR 9.4, the federal government may propose suspension and debarment of government contractors. There are several reasons for this to include business ethics, false claims, criminal convictions, or simply providing false statements to the government. These are all serious legal issues that must be dealt with properly.
To debar your company means a potential crippling effect on your business’s future.
If you are suspended or debarred, you essentially become ineligible to do business for a specified period of time. The regulations make it clear that when it comes to debarment and suspension of government contractors, the mere existence of grounds for suspension or debarment does not require suspension or debarment. It is important to have a viable response to the debarring Suspension and Debarment Officer (SDO).
Without it, companies miss the chance of continuing to do business with the government. Upwards to 63% of individual or companies end up being suspended or debarred due to lack of a strong response to the agency. You want to avoid this costly mistake. To convince the SDO that your company is a responsible contractor, it is advisable to have a suspension and debarment attorney that understands how the process works and that can help you to propose potential mitigating circumstances that can help the debarring official make a ruling in your favor.
- Prompt response and turnaround
- Legal help for a fraction of the cost of larger law firms
- Detailed assessment and response to debarring officials
- Preparing responses and Attendance at hearings
- Responses to Government investigations
- Responses to notices of proposed suspension and debarment
- Administrative compliance agreement negotiation and management
- Corporate governance and compliance policies counseling
- Responses to show cause letters or request for information (“ROI”)
- Contractor business ethics training and compliance
- Mandatory Disclosure
- Suspension or debarment participation agreements
To speak with an experienced government suspension and debarment attorney, call Watson & Associates, LLC toll-free at 1-866-601-5518 for a free initial consultation.
Debarment and Suspension Legal Services
With law offices in Washington, DC and Colorado, Watson & Associates’ law firm is geographically positioned to help small businesses, large businesses and individuals to help mitigate the pending problem and to prepare an effective response to the debarment and suspension official. We have a record of success in previous cases and will aggressively help in your situation. Our procurement attorneys frequently help and provide legal advice in a variety of situations including the following:
Contractor suspension responses – After receiving your notice of proposed suspension, you must act quickly. Our attorneys will help to assess the facts stated in the suspension letter and prepare a response that highlights any viable mitigating circumstances that may convince the SDO that you are a responsible contractor that should not be suspended.
Lawyers at the law firm will also help with any training or internal policies and controls that should be included in your suspension response package. When criminal activity or allegations are present, it is important to consult with a government contract law attorney given the unique federal statutes involved. An attorney has to review all facts before compiling an adequate response.
Contractor debarment responses – Similar to the suspension of government contractors, a proposal to debar your company has severe consequences. With a viable response, your company will become ineligible to do business with the federal government. If business ethics violations are involved or there is a termination for default, having a strong response package is critical to being removed from the Excluded Parties / Federal Suspension Debarment list.
Representation at hearings – When the debarring agency or debarred company requests a hearing, your lawyer will prepare the necessary documentation and prepare you for any level of questions or concerns that the agency may have. The effects of a FAR 9.4 suspension or debarment is not to punish contractors. Instead, the focus is on whether you or your company can show the suspension or debarment agency that you are responsible.
Help with participation agreements – sometimes the agency may decide that it is in the government’s best interest to allow you to do business with the government. In some situations, the SDO may require the parties to enter into a participation agreement. This document is a contract that spells out the terms and conditions of the lifted suspension or debarment. At Watson & Associates, LLC the law firm helps at both the initiation and compliance stage.
Training and internal policies and controls – At times, government contractors may be required to develop training plans as a condition to the lifted debarment or suspension action. Our attorneys can help with providing internal training and oversee the requirements proposed by the agency.
Other agency actions resulting in suspension or debarment – The adverse action that leads to either or suspension or debarment still has to be dealt with. For example, if there is a termination for default, false claims allegation or procurement fraud allegation, these separate issues still have to be dealt with. The law firm will put together a viable team to assist with these situations that can essentially bury your company.
Nationwide and Overseas Legal Counsel
With law offices in Washington DC and Colorado, the federal suspension and debarment lawyers at Watson & Associates, LLC frequently help federal government contractors to navigate through the hurdles associated with being placed on the federal debarment list. See some of our representative cases.
Debarred Meaning & Legal Definition
Debarment is the state of being excluded from enjoying certain possessions, rights, privileges, or practices and the act of prevention by legal means. Government contractors can be debarred from bidding on or performing federal contracts due to allegations of fraud, mismanagement, business ethics and similar reasons. under federal debarment regulations, corporations, individuals, and non-governmental organizations can be debarred.
Implicit in the debar definition, being placed on the Federal Suspension and Debarment List means that a contractor or individual is prohibited from doing business with the federal government for a specific period of time. Under the debarment meaning and legal definition, the preclusion is for not more than 3 years in most situations.The regulations suggest that contracting officers should not debar contractors as a means of punishment. Each case is decided on its own merits by the debarring official.
Contractor Suspension Definition and Meaning
When a federal agency issues a proposes that a contractor to be placed on the suspension or debarment list, it means that the contract is ineligible and temporarily suspended from receiving, bidding on, and even performing on any government contract or grants.
Suspension means sometimes waiting for the outcome of a pending investigation or some other administrative or criminal proceeding. When companies face suspension under FAR 9.4, the contractor is temporarily suspended for up to 18 months while they wait for the conclusion of an agency action or government investigation.
FAR 9.4 Suspension and Debarment Process: The debarment and suspension process starts with the agency’s notice to the contractor or individual. After receiving the notice, you can submit a written response or appear in person. You have 30 days after receipt to respond in writing. When preparing a response to your notice, building the record with the right evidence and approach is critical.
- There are certain issues that you must address.
- There are also certain strategies that you want to stay away from.
Reasons to Debar or Suspend Government Contractors?
There are several reasons to debar and suspend government contractors or individuals from doing business with the federal government. If companies or their officers commit fraud, are liable for embezzlement charges, bribery, theft, falsification or destruction of records, making false statements or material misrepresentations to the government, tax violation and tax evasion, violation of federal criminal law, found to have committed an unfair trade practice or even receiving stolen property.
In some situations, the government may suspend or debar a contractor for criminal activity that leads to business honesty, failure to pay minimum wage, violation of environmental laws and more. Suspension or debarment actions should not be used simply to punish contractors. These are all reasons where the government can debar or suspend federal contractors.
Suspend or Debar? What are Your Options?
If you have received a suspension or debarment letter, you can respond to the Suspension and Debarment Official (SDO) before a final decision is made. The response is crucial and any allegations as to why the action should not occur should be supported with credible evidence.
The goal is to show that the company or individual is responsible and should still be allowed to do business with the federal government. Having someone that understands the process can benefit and potentially help the company’s future.
Executive Order (E.O.) 12549 Statutory Language 13 CFR 400.109
Government-wide debarment and suspension (nonprocurement).
Executive Order (E.O.) 12549 provides that, to the extent permitted by law, Executive departments and agencies shall participate in a governmentwide system for nonprocurement debarment and suspension. A person who is debarred or suspended shall be excluded from Federal financial and nonfinancial assistance and benefits under Federal programs and activities. Debarment or suspension of a participant in a program by one agency shall have governmentwide effect. The Board shall review the List of Debarred entities prior to making final loan Guarantee Suspension or debarment may be a basis for denying a loan Guarantee.
FAR 9.4 describes the policy of suspension or debarment in subpart 9.402. Agencies are to do business “with responsible contractors only.” Using discretion, agencies are to suspend or debar to protect the government’s interest in contracting with responsible contractors. Because of the “serious nature of debarment and suspension,” it is a tool that should be used “only in the public interest for the Government’s protection and not for purposes of punishment.” FAR 9.402(a)-(b).
Suspension or Debarring Official (SDO) Responsibility
It is the SDO’s responsibility to assess whether suspension or debarment is in the government’s interest—the mere existence of grounds for suspension or debarment does not require suspension or debarment. FAR 9.406-1(a); 9.407-1(b)(2).
The SDO is should consider a list of mitigating factors in your response package, many remedial in nature, before imposing suspension or debarment. Common approaches tend to help government contractors in their responses including internal disciplinary action, enhanced review and control procedures and training programs, and management’s recognition of the seriousness of the misconduct. These are best reviewed as a contractor’s rehabilitation to status as a responsible contractor.
Penalties for debarment or suspension misdeeds may be pursued instead through various remedies available to the Department of Justice, such as the False Claims Act or Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Watson’s government suspension an debarment lawyers represent federal contractors in all states including Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Washington, DC, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Cities in which our Washington DC government suspension and debarment lawyers help contractors include Anchorage, AK; Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Chicago, IL; Colorado Springs, CO; Dallas, TX; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, IN; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL; Philadelphia, PA; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Santa Clara, CA; and Tampa, FL.
Call our Washington DC Government Suspension and Debarment Lawyers
To avoid ruining your company’s future in government contracting and to protect against agencies debarring your company, contact the federal suspension & debarment lawyers at the Washington DC law firm of Watson & Associates toll-free at 866-601-5518. Free Initial Consultation.
Additional contractor Information
Learn important tips when defending and responding to contractor suspension / debarment actions.
Read more about Administrative Agreements During Suspension or Debarment.