Oversight

IG: DHS isn't tracking problem contractors

Shutterstock image (by 4zevar): magnifier and paper document. 

The Department of Homeland Security doesn't have central system to track contractor suspensions and debarments, and it doesn't adequately update what it has, according to a recent inspector general's report.

The report, issued by Jan. 25, was requested in 2016 by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), ranking member of House Homeland Security Committee, who was interested in DHS suspension and debarment practices.  

The report said DHS falls short in several areas surrounding its policies and practices in suspending or debarring the contractors it hires, including having a centralized database for the practices.

It said the agency's policy for contractor suspensions and debarments is "outdated" and doesn't detail the administrative agreements or procedures contractors might be able to use avoid temporary suspensions or outright debarment from its contractor rolls.

Typically, suspensions and debarments are used to prevent contractors that are under investigation for a variety of issues from getting more government contracts.

Although DHS' policy calls for a single database to track adverse actions against contractors, in practice agency components do the work on individual spreadsheets.

The IG wants the DHS undersecretary for management to implement a centralized departmentwide suspension and debarment tracking system to record decisions, suspensions and debarments, compliance with policies and share information.

In reply comments dated Jan. 5, DHS said it would begin drafting revised suspension and debarment guidance for completion by March 31, and that the agency CIO had obtained funding for a case management system to track adverse actions, which was due to be launched by the Sept. 30, 2018.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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