Procurement leader blasts mandatory debarment proposal

The senior administration official says agencies should consider each case on its own merit.

Dan Gordon, the top federal procurement policy official, today warned a commission looking at contracting in war zones against making one-size-fits-all recommendations to toughen punishments on contractors.

Testifying before the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gordon, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, said contractors are working in different circumstances than their stateside counterparts doing more prosaic work,  and those conditions should play a part in how the government deals with problems.

He is concerned about the commission’s recommendation to require agencies to suspend or debar companies accused of wrongdoing. In its latest report released Feb. 24, the commission proposed making suspensions mandatory for a predetermined amount of time against companies because of contract-related indictments. The recommendation would remove the discretion of the suspension and debarment official, according to the report.

Related story:

Contracting panel urges suspensions, debarments for misbehaving contractors

The commission delved into the penalties agencies should use against a contractor's misconduct. It concluded the government often chooses to issue administrative agreements. (Read story) Officials have told the commission procedures are too complex. They instead turn to these agreements, which aren’t as effective as tough suspensions or three-year debarments, according to the report.

Gordon said officials could consider a streamlined process for the suspending and debarring decision process and flexibilities in certain places. He also said it may be best to limit a suspension or debarment to a certain region.

Gordon said that ties back to managing contracts and overseeing a contractor.

“For too long, we have focused so much on contract awards that we have neglected what must come before and after contract awards — sound acquisition planning and consistent contract management,” Gordon said.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.


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