Lawmakers, OMB Push to Ban More 'Bad-Actor' Contractors

November 16, 2011

Procedures for disqualifying dishonest or incompetent federal contractors are too rarely exploited, according to a consensus of several senators, the White House and cross-agency watchdogs. But there is disagreement over whether the solution is improving application of the rules or whether Congress should make some suspensions and debarments mandatory. 

At a Wednesday hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., expressed alarm that a series of reports from the Government Accountability Office and inspectors general have shown a reluctance of many agencies to refer unsatisfactory contractors to the Excluded Parties List System maintained by the General Services Administration.

A Pentagon report "just last month shows that over a 10-year period, DoD awarded $255 million to contractors who were convicted of criminal fraud; and almost $574 billion to contractors involved in civil fraud cases that resulted in a settlement or judgment against the contractor," Lieberman said. "Last year, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general found 23 cases where the department had canceled a contract because of poor performance, but in none of those cases did DHS suspend or debar the contractor." 

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