Debarment Lawyers for Government Contractors
Our debarment lawyers represent individual government contractors nationwide in debarment and suspension cases before all federal government agencies. We represent and defend government contractors in responding to proposed debarments or suspensions. We also represent government contractors in debarment appeals.
What are Debarments and Suspensions?
A debarment is a government action taken under the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) to protect the government’s interest from not conducting business with individuals or companies suspected of misconduct. Suspensions result in temporary contractor ineligibility to work on government contracts. Debarments are findings of ineligibility from government contracts for government contractors that have been found to be irresponsible. Debarments can last a period of years. Suspensions and debarments are not designed to punish a government contractor but for the purpose of protecting the public. Our nationwide debarment lawyers represent individual government contractors in debarment cases and appeals.
Effect of Debarments and Suspensions
Debarments and suspensions have a significant impact on individual government contractors. These can include:
1. Termination by an employer;
2. Significant alteration in work duties;
3. Creation of security clearance issues for government contractors that also hold security clearances; and
4. Prevention of a government contractor from employment in their industry.
Contractors that are debarred or suspended are not eligible to receive or work on government contracts, unless a compelling reasons exists, which can be a very high bar to meet.
The government takes a clear approach to debarment cases and there is a formal response process. Of late, the government has also seemed to take a more assertive approach in the debarment or suspension of individuals that are under the suspicion of wrongdoing. This can happen even if they have not been convicted of any crime or adjudicated guilty of employment misconduct.
Typical Reasons for Suspension or Debarment
Some of the more common reasons for a proposed suspension or debarment can include:
(1) Misconduct at work (e.g., mischarging of time worked, misappropriation of information or data);
(2) Criminal convictions or allegations;
(3) Civil judgments; and
(4) Evidence of crimes or convictions.
The Debarment and Suspension Process
At the start of the debarment process, the government will generally issue a show-cause letter. This requires a government contractor to explain why they should not be debarred from government contracting work. These proceedings can occur quickly and individual government contractors must respond fully in order to avoid a potential negative outcome. The proceedings will be overseen by a debarring official.
A debarment or suspension proceeding is similar to a security clearance proceeding at the initial stages. It is mostly evaluated through the written response process. As mentioned above, the government will generally provide a show-cause letter to a government contractor and provide them with an initial chance to respond to the allegations. The process can resolve or move forward.
Response Process to Proposed Debarment or Suspension
In responding to a notice of proposed debarment, it is important to fully address all of the allegations. It is often very helpful to submit rebuttal evidence, letters of support, evidence of prior military service (where applicable), awards, commendations, and other materials which demonstrate the character of the individual. Additionally, it is very important to cooperate in related investigations. All possible mitigating arguments should be made to the Debarring Official in an effort to resolve the debarment or suspension issue.
Decision Rendered and Consequences
Following the response period, a decision will be rendered by the Debarring Official. The Debarring Official can uphold, mitigate or terminate the Debarment. If a negative finding is reached, leaving the person debarred or suspended, this determination will be placed in the debarment database, known as the System for Award Management (SAM). This is a searchable database that lists government contractors that are excluded from government contracts.
Further, if you receive a debarment decision there is the potential ability to seek reconsideration. The process can involve contacting the Debarring Official with new or other evidence and seeking to reduce the debarment. Please contact Berry & Berry, PLLC to schedule a consultation with a debarment lawyer if you are facing a potential debarment from government contracting and need assistance. We focus on the representation of individual government contractors in debarments and suspensions.