GAO: More data needed for contracting reforms

Federal Procurement: Additional Data Reporting Could Improve the Suspension and Debarment Process

Agencies could improve the federal contracting process by reporting more information about contractors involved in suspension and debarment cases, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

GAO’s auditors said the additional reporting could make it harder for excluded contractors to continue getting new contracts in defiance of their status. GAO specifically recommended that a governmentwide database of information on exclusions, the Excluded Parties List System, be modified so that each excluded company's contractor identification number would become part of the company's database listing.

That number is a unique identifier, so its mandatory inclusion would make it harder for an excluded company to get new business under a different name.

GAO also recommended that agencies be required to share with other agencies any information on administrative agreements between an agency and a company.

In addition, GAO suggested that agencies share information known as "compelling reason determinations." Such determinations allow an agency to enter into contracts with an excluded company by showing that the excluded company provides the only solution to the agency's needs.

Beth Daley, a spokeswoman for the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, said GAO’s recommendations don’t go far enough. The organization “recommends that the government also collect and publish information that would help to inform its decisions about whether contractors are reputable."

That information would include criminal, civil and administrative actions involving contractors, she said. The group collects such information on large companies and makes it available as part of its Federal Contractor Misconduct Database.

In preparing the report, GAO analyzed the Federal Acquisition Regulation and the regulations of 24 agencies that have FAR supplements governing suspension and debarment.

GAO also conducted in-depth reviews of suspension and debarment cases in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Defense Logistics Agency, General Services Administration and Environmental Protection Agency.

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