Senators Back Off Call for Automatic Contractor Suspensions

June 13, 2012

The new version of the Comprehensive Contingency Contracting Reform Act (S. 3286), which was introduced June 12, would require an automatic referral of a contractor to the suspension and debarment official for certain allegations, including criminal charges and accusations of fraud.

The referral would also come if a federal official determines that the contractor failed to pay or refund the government what's due in connection to a contract with the departments of Defense or State or the U.S. Agency for International Development. That provision applies only to those three agencies.

Federal officials and experts have shied away from automatic suspensions, arguing that it takes too much discretion away from agencies. The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, whose report was the basis for the legislation, encourages enforcement of the suspension rules, but not compulsion. Former administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Dan Gordon, also said mandatory suspension was a bad idea.

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