Contractor database hit from both sides

Too much or not enough?

Did the federal acquisition councils go too far or not far enough in designing a new database for contractors’ past performance and legal compliance? That depends on whom you ask.

Some of the 16 groups that commented on the plans are worried that red tape and security measures will needlessly encumber contractors and agencies. Others want the database to go public and add stronger enforcement tools.

The acquisition councils recently outlined a plan for the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System. Congress created the new database in the defense authorization law for fiscal 2009.

The database will contain data on past performance and contractors' involvement in criminal, civil and administrative proceedings with alleged violations of federal, state and local laws or contracts. It will be viewed only by federal officials.

“The public has a right to know,” said Neil Gordon, an investigator at the Project on Government Oversight, urging that the database be accessible to the public.

The Homeland Security Department suggested that self-reporting might not be strict enough. Contractors should face penalties, such as termination of the contract, for failing to report violations, DHS officials wrote Nov 4.

But Anthony DeCrappeo, president of the Council on Government Relations, said the plan optimistically assumes that all the entities required to report information have the means to do so.

“For universities, we question that assumption,” DeCrappeo said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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