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Suspension and debarment can be horrendous for contractors that deal with a significant amount of Government business. Suspension is the temporary disqualification of a company or individuals from contracting with the Government for up to 18 months. Debarment is the exclusion from contracting for a fixed period of time, up to three years. Usually, suspension or debarment occurs when a contractor violates a civil or criminal statute (severe violation), or the contractor seriously violates the terms of the contract constituting a willful failure to perform. The Federal Government has taken an increasingly aggressive approach in debarring or suspending contractors who plead or are otherwise found guilty of criminal conduct. Contractors may also be banned from Government work if they are “listed” by the Environmental Protection Agency for violations of certain environmental laws, or for other instances of misconduct even if they do not result in criminal sanctions.
A contractors suspension or debarment by one Government agency usually precludes it from competing for or soliciting any Government contracts with any Federal agency. GSA compiles a list of contractors who are suspended or debarred, and agencies are thus notified that they may not solicit or award to companies appearing on the list. Contractors who are debarred or suspended are likewise prohibited from competing for or soliciting work as subcontractors under a Government prime contact vehicle. A contractors suspension or debarment often may not, however, prevent the contractor from continuing to perform on its existing Government prime or subcontracts.
Lawyers at The Nevarez Law Firm provide experience and knowledge to contractors seeking to avoid suspension, debarment or listing, by taking proactive approaches to establish and maintain compliance and business ethics programs.