Oversight Leaders Introduce Bill to Address Government Contracting Abuses

October 28, 2013

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., today introduced legislation to keep taxpayer dollars from being awarded to irresponsible or criminal contractors and grantees, H.R. 3345, the Stop Unworthy Spending Act (SUSPEND Act).

“The current process for keeping taxpayer dollars out of the hands of criminals, tax evaders, and the chronically incompetent is stove-piped, fractured, and inadequate,” said Chairman Issa. “While the vast majority of contractors and grantees fulfill their obligations, the SUSPEND Act streamlines the procedures for dealing with the ones that do not.”

GAO has identified serious weaknesses in the suspension & debarment (S&D) programs of numerous agencies, which are supposed to keep the over $1 trillion taxpayer dollars awarded in contracts and grants out of the hands of individuals and companies who should not get them.

The legislation is cosponsored by Government Operations Subcommittee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., National Security Subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.  H.R. 3345 is scheduled to be considered tomorrow at a Committee business meeting.

A discussion draft of the SUSPEND Act was circulated in February 2013. The introduced version reflects extensive stakeholder and academic community feedback.

BACKGROUND

  • The SUSPEND Act fundamentally reforms S&D across the federal government by:
  • Consolidating more than 40 executive agency S&D offices into one centralized board;
    • Larger agencies and the military departments can continue to operate their own independent S&D offices if they demonstrate an effective S&D program;
  • Requiring agency leadership to work with their Office of Inspector General to ensure agency-wide coordination of remedies for fraud and corruption related to procurement and grant activities, with an emphasis on timely recovery of funds; and
  • Mandating procedures for an expedited review process to handle contract or grant fraud in a contingency or time-sensitive environment, in both military and non-military settings.
  • The SUSPEND Act furthermore improves consistency and transparency of S&D programs by:
  • Combining the two separate S&D regulations governing contracts and grants into a single, comprehensive regulation;
  • Mandating a single government-wide case management system to track cases and make publicly available all final resolutions of S&D cases;
  • Enhancing oversight to ensure the accuracy and completeness of a governmentwide database of firms that should not receive awards;
  • Speeding up referrals for S&D, including the identification of contractors and grantees that repeatedly fail to perform; and
  • Ensuring accused parties have the opportunity to be heard prior to any adverse action being taken against them by requiring “show cause” letters.

 

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