The SUSPEND Act: Fixing What Isn't Broken in the Federal Government's Suspension and Debarment System


The suspension and debarment system has faced increased scrutiny from the private and public sectors alike, which generally argue that the system is broken because the respective authorities are not following, or are inconsistently applying, the rules. In response to this criticism, Congress historically has reacted with a heavy hand, i.e. by proposing mandatory suspension or debarment for certain offenses. One of the more recently proposed examples of such Congressional action – House Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa’s Stop Unworthy Spending Act, better known as the SUSPEND Act – departs from this trend of mandating suspension and debarment in limited, specific circumstances, but still fails to address the system’s perceived weaknesses.

On June 12, 2013, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform conducted a hearing on the Act, and on July 12, 2013, Committee staff members participated in a panel discussion on the Act. Although the Act remains a draft bill that has yet to be introduced in Congress, it raises concerns with respect to the system’s efficiency and productivity as the Act appears to be taking what has been, and arguably should be, a more flexible system and transforming it into a more rigid, quasi-judicial process overseen by a formal decision-making body.

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Topics:  Discipline, Proposed Legislation, Suspensions & Debarments

Published In: Government Contracting Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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