Every year, the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC) reports to Congress concerning statistics on federal suspension and debarment. The ISDC released 2016’s annual report on June 15. The 10 page release shows that federal agencies completed a total of 918 suspension actions and 1,873 debarments in FY 2015. These figures are somewhat lower than those reported in 2014, when 1,009 suspensions and 1,929 debarments were completed. Overall, federal agencies suspended about 9% fewer contractors in 2015 as in 2014, and debarred approximately 3% fewer.
Since 2010, when statistics began being reported, 2014 has been the year with the most suspensions and debarments. Overall, the program has grown substantially, particularly with regard to debarments—the number of debarments in 2015 is nearly double what it was just five years ago: 973 in 2010.
Federal agencies that did not suspend or debar a single contractor in FY 15 include the Nucelar Regulatory Commission, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Department of Labor, and the Social Security Administration. Others had very active suspension and debarment programs; each of the DoD agencies (Air Force, Army, Defense Logistics Agency, and Navy) reported 100 or more debarments, and the Army reported a staggering 456. Overall, the DoD agencies suspended 244 contractors and debarred 859. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reported significant activity as well, with 170 suspensions and 279 debarments.
What’s interesting about the comparison between these two agencies—HUD and the DOD—is the amount of suspension and debarment activity by each compared to their contract dollars awarded and contract actions taken in FY15. DoD awarded $273.68 billion, in 3.18 million contract actions, last year. HUD awarded only $1.17 billion, in 3,420 actions. Viewed in this light, HUD’s suspension and debarment program is one of the most active in the federal government.
FY15 was the first year that suspension and debarment actions decreased as compared to the previous fiscal year; the report hypothesizes that this stabilization may be due to agencies beginning to adopt best practices and effective alternatives to suspension or debarment. In any event, savvy contractors should recognize that suspension and debarment remains a very real possibility when contractors act in ways that demonstrate a lack of “present responsibility
Carrie Willett is responsible for the Contents of this Short Take.
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