Suspension and debarment are tools used by the government to protect itself from the risks of doing business with contractors it determines lack “present responsibility.” In analyzing whether a federal contractor lacks present responsibility, the procuring agency’s suspension and debarment officials will analyze the contractor’s honesty, integrity, ethics, responsibility, and competence, among other things. Contractors debarred, suspended or proposed for debarment are excluded from competing for or receiving contracts and grants. Given the widespread business impact of these tools, it is imperative that government contractors consult experienced legal counsel both throughout the life of their business in order to avoid a proposed suspension, debarment or proposed debarment and immediately upon notice of such a threatened action.
Our government contracts attorneys work one-on-one with their clients to develop and implement compliance plans to mitigate the risk of a proposed suspension and debarment. We firmly believe legal services are best used as a preventative measure, rather than as a defensive measure. If suspension and debarment have been threatened, our attorneys are experienced in responding to show cause notices, negotiating resolutions with the government participating, in fact, finding proceedings and opposing such actions in court. We understand the devastation that suspensions and debarments have on our clients’ companies. At the Federal Practice Group, we work tirelessly to protect our clients’ reputations, limit losses and get our clients back in business.
The Federal Government may debar or suspend a contractor for infractions including embezzlement, forgery, non-performance, fraud, or other illicit behaviors. Federal contracting debarment is intended to allow the government to avoid working with irresponsible partners, but it can also result in large expenses and long-term damages to the reputation of both the company and the contractor. The time limit of the suspension is a maximum of 12 months and is usually based on adequate evidence against a contractor, such as a criminal indictment. Debarment typically lasts three years and will be based upon a preponderance of evidence, such as a conviction.
When you are issued a notice of intended debarment or suspension, you are always guaranteed an opportunity to respond to the Suspension and Debarment Official (SDO). Your response to the charges brought against you are critical in your case to defend yourself. It is imperative that you seek counsel to improve your chances of a favorable decision. After your response has been submitted, you will likely begin the process of discovery. During discovery, both sides will be required to submit documents and will occasionally hold depositions. It is then that the SDO may request a hearing in which you will need to defend your case and advocate for a reduction or nullification of your debarment or suspension.
If you have received a notice of intended debarment or suspension, contact an attorney at the Federal Practice Group to receive a consultation.
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