Federal Debarment Lawyer Representing Government Contractors Nationwide
For federal government contractors, suspension or debarment can have severe and long-term consequences. Losing federal contracts and the ability to compete for federal contracts can be devastating for businesses of all sizes, as it can force companies to lay off employees, shutter operations, and risk defaulting under loans and other agreements. As a result, it is essential to have an experienced debarment lawyer on your side when facing possible suspension or debarment.
Jay Stafford is a debarment lawyer who has extensive experience representing federal employees in federal suspension and debarment proceedings. He and his team work with individuals and businesses of all sizes, and he provides representation for federal matters nationwide. Government contractors that are facing suspension or debarment need to take action to protect themselves immediately, and this starts with seeking legal advice and representation. Contact us to schedule a confidential initial consultation today.
What Does it Mean for a Federal Contractor to Be Suspended or Debarred?
Suspension and debarment have similar consequences for federal contractors. The differences between suspension and debarment lie in the duration of these consequences (suspensions are typically shorter than debarments) and the government’s burden of proof (“adequate evidence” for suspension versus “a preponderance of the evidence” for debarment). Additionally, while debarment requires a final action, the government can impose a temporary suspension pending the outcome of a contractor’s investigation when warranted.
What does it mean for a federal contractor to be suspended or debarred? As outlined by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), upon suspension or debarment:
- The contractor’s name is published as ineligible in the System for Award Management (SAM), which is a public database.
- The contractor becomes ineligible for all procurement and non-procurement programs.
- The contractor cannot obtain, renew or extend any government contract or subcontract absent documentation of a “compelling reason for continued business” from the contracting agency.
- The contractor is unable to act as an agent or representative of any contractor or participant in a federal assistance program.
- The contractor may not be awarded a subcontract in excess of $30,000 (subject to limited exceptions).
- The contractor’s “affiliation with, or relationship to, any organization doing business with the Government will be carefully examined to determine the impact of those ties on the responsibility of that organization as a Government contractor or subcontractor.”
How a Debarment Lawyer Can Help Federal Contractors Facing Suspension or Debarment
Given the significant consequences of suspension or debarment, federal contractors facing investigations for fraud, waste, and abuse (FWA) must work diligently to protect themselves by all means available. Here are the ways we help protect federal contractors against suspension and debarment:
Intervening in Suspension and Debarment Investigations
A proposed suspension or debarment will typically follow a government investigation. These investigations can vary widely in their duration and scope depending on the nature of the allegations, the amount at issue, and various other factors.
In many cases, federal contractors will be able to avoid suspension or debarment by executing a proactive defense strategy during the investigative process. Contractors can often save themselves from unnecessary consequences by challenging assumptions, clarifying misunderstandings, and cooperating with the government as warranted.
Responding to Requests for Information or Show Cause Letters
In some cases, the government will issue a Request for Information or Show Cause Letter before proposing a suspension or debarment. Contractors must prepare a strategic and thoughtful response upon receiving a Request for Information or Show Cause Letter.
Oftentimes, a Suspension and Debarment Officer (SDO) will have already reached a determination prior to issuing a Request for Information or Show Cause Letter, and the inquiry will be intended as a contractor’s one final opportunity to defend itself before the government takes action. By clearly stating their position and presenting supporting evidence, contractors can give themselves the best chance to avoid suspension or debarment.
Responding to Suspensions and Proposed Debarments
Upon being suspended or proposed for debarment, a federal contractor has the right to submit “matters in opposition” focused on protecting the contractor’s ability to do business with the government. At this stage, contractors must strike a careful balance between refuting unsubstantiated allegations and accepting responsibility to show that they are prepared to meet the government’s accountability standards going forward.
Filing Requests for Reconsideration and Appeals
A suspension or debarment is not necessarily the final word on an individual’s or company’s eligibility to bid for and perform under federal contracts. Contractors that timely file requests for reconsideration and appeals can seek to have their suspensions and debarments overturned. Initially, there are two primary means for seeking to overturn a suspension or debarment:
- Asking the debarring SDO to reconsider the decision based on “material errors of fact or law;” or,
- Requesting that the Office of Grants and Debarment (OGD) or other appropriate office review the SDO’s decision.
If neither of these options proves successful, the next step is to appeal in federal court. Working with an experienced debarment lawyer will give you the best chance to avoid this step, and it will also ensure that you are fully prepared to fight your suspension or debarment in court if necessary.
Should You Consider an Administrative Compliance Agreement?
Entering into an Administrative Compliance Agreement allows federal contractors that would otherwise be subject to suspension or debarment to preserve their federal contract eligibility. These agreements “document remedial measures taken to prevent reoccurrence and often include outside and independent review/audits by consultants . . . [and t]hey generally last three years.” If you are facing suspension or debarment as a federal employee, attorney Jay Stafford and his team can help you decide if entering into an Administrative Compliance Agreement is in your best interests; and, if so, Mr. Stafford can work to negotiate an agreement on your (or your company’s) behalf.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation with Federal Debarment Lawyer Jay Stafford
If you need legal advice in relation to a federal suspension or debarment proceeding, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To speak with national debarment lawyer Jay Stafford and his team as soon as possible, call 410-514-6099 or tell us how we can reach you online now. We serve clients nationwide, including North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, Washington DC, Virginia, and Maryland.