This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.
By John V. Berry, Esq
We represent individual government contractors (typically private employees that work for government defense contractors) in debarment cases before federal agencies, like the Department of Defense and many others agencies.
What is a Debarment?
Debarments (and shorter term suspensions) are government actions taken under the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to protect the government’s interest from contractors that have been alleged to be irresponsible. Suspensions result in temporary contractor ineligibility to work on government contracts, usually occurring during an investigation or during other ongoing legal matters. Debarments can last a period of years. Suspensions and debarments are not for the purpose of punishing a government contractor, but for protecting the public.
Some government contractors can have both debarment and security clearance issues.
Effect of Debarments and Suspensions
Debarments and suspensions have a significant impact on individual government contractors. These often include removal from their government contract employment (and potential termination from employment) and potential security clearance issues. Government contractors that are debarred, suspended or proposed for debarment are not eligible to receive contracts, unless a compelling reason exists, which can be a very high bar to meet.
The government takes a straightforward approach to debarment and there is a robust response process. Of late, the government has also seemed to take a more assertive approach in debarment or suspension of individuals that are under the suspicion of wrongdoing, even if they have not been convicted of any crime.
Common Reasons for Debarment (of Suspension of Eligibility)
The most common reasons for debarment or suspension can often include:
- Criminal Convictions or Pending Charges
- Civil Judgments and/or Liens
- Evidence of Crimes
- Specific Misconduct (e.g. time and attendance mischarging)
At the start of the disbarment process, the government will issue a show cause letter requiring a government contractor to demonstrate why they should not be suspended or debarred. These proceedings are completely relatively quickly and individual government contractors must respond in order to avoid a negative outcome.
A debarment or suspension proceeding is similar, somewhat to a security clearance proceeding. The government will generally provide a show cause letter to the individual pursuant to the FAR, an initial chance to respond to the allegations, along with a memorandum in support of proposed debarment. If the matter proceeds, the individual contractor will have to respond to a Notice of Proposed Debarment from the government.
Responding to Debarments
In responding to a notice of proposed debarment, it is important to fully address all allegations of misconduct or impropriety, through counsel. We often find it helpful to submit letters of support on behalf of the individual, awards, commendations and other materials which demonstrate the character and integrity of the individual.
Additionally, cooperation in related investigations, completion of ethics training in a relevant area, acceptance of responsibility and other mitigating arguments should be made to the Debarring Official in an effort to convince them that debarment is not needed or that mitigation is appropriate.
Following the response period, a decision will be rendered by the Debarring Official. The Debarring Official can uphold, mitigate or terminate the Debarment. If a negative finding is reached, leaving the person in a debarment status, that finding will be placed in the debarment database, known as the System for Award Managements (SAM). Further, if a negative finding is upheld, there is sometimes the ability to seek reconsideration of a negative debarment finding. The process can involve contacting the Debarring Official with new or other evidence and seeking to reduce the debarment. It is important to have legal representation in this process.
If you are in need of legal representation or advice, please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook or Twitter.
In loving memory of Joseph Robert Kapacziewski, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 41.
In loving memory of James Stuart Edmonds, who passed away in 2023 at the age of 84.
A man was shot in front of a lounge on Columbia Pike early this morning, continuing a string of violent incidents.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Today we published articles that were read a total of 17124 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today —…
YULA’s ultimate frisbee spring season is now open for registration. We offer programs for middle and high schoolers – open to all players, whether they are new or have previous experience.Middle SchoolIn the Middle School league, mixed-gender teams practice once during the week and have games on Sunday afternoons. Spring league is a fun, safe, and positive environment. The season begins mid-March and wraps up with a tournament in early June. There are several options for practice days, so we can often work around schedule conflicts with other sports & activities.High SchoolThe High School program is organized by school of attendance and teams are classified by gender. New players will learn the basics in a supportive, welcoming environment. Experienced players will continue to develop their skills, and enjoy competition with other high school programs. The season concludes with a state level championship tournament in late May.All players are guided by experienced coaches who emphasize sportsmanship and good spirit. Ultimate is a fun sport with great camaraderie!YULA does not want finances to limit anyone from participating. Our middle school program offers a “Pay What You Can” cost structure and our our high school program is offering a $50 discount to new players.Visit our website to register and learn more. Sign up with a friend, but don’t delay, the season starts in March!http://www.yula-ulti.org
The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village