Suspension and Debarment – a Strategy?
On June 15, 2016, the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC) released its annual report to Congress setting out statistics and providing a summary of federal agency suspension and debarment activities for the 2015 fiscal year. The intended purpose of suspension and debarment is to protect the government and not to punish for past misconduct.
While across the board at most federal agencies, the number of suspensions, debarments, and proposed debarments had been steadily growing (fiscal years 2009 through 2014), the USEPA had fewer suspensions, debarments, and proposed debarments than in years past (the USEPA is known for its active program). Here are the numbers:
88 suspensions in 2015 (down from 119 in 2014);
137 proposed debarments in 2015 (down from 176 in 2014); and
89 debarments in 2015 (down from 148 in 2014).
There has been, according to the ISDC report, an increase in the use of alternatives to suspension and debarment. Agencies have demonstrated a willingness to enter administrative agreements and other mechanisms without recourse to suspension or debarment. The alternatives to suspension and debarment make it important to consider a strategy of early engagement with the relevant suspension and debarment officer when an investigation begins.
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