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
Our lawyers defend government contractors (private employees that work for government contractors) in debarment cases before federal agencies like the Department of Defense and others.
What is a Debarment?
Debarments are government actions taken against government contractors related to conduct. It is the government’s duty to protect itself from alleged fraud, waste, and abuse by ensuring that it avoids doing business with non-responsible contractors. Debarments can last a period of years. Suspensions result in temporary contractor ineligibility to work on government contracts. Suspensions and debarments are not for the purpose of punishing a government contractor but to protect the public.
Effect of Debarments and Suspensions
Debarments and suspensions have a major impact on individual government contractors. These can include removal from a government contract (and potential termination from employment) and potential security clearance issues. Government contractors that are debarred or suspended are not eligible to work on government contracts, unless a compelling reason exists, which can be a very high bar to meet. The government takes a straightforward approach to debarment cases and provides a fair appeals process.
Typical Reasons for Debarment (of Suspension of Eligibility)
The most common reasons for debarment or suspension 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 completed relatively quickly, and individual government contractors must respond in order to avoid a negative outcome.
The government will generally provide a show cause letter to the individual and an initial chance to respond to the allegations, along with a memorandum in support of the proposed debarment. If the case 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, and hire a debarment lawyer to assist them. 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. These may help to convince the government that debarment is not needed or that mitigation to some other penalty is appropriate.
Following the response period, a decision will be rendered by the Debarring Official. They can uphold, mitigate, or terminate the debarment. 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 a negative finding is reached, leaving the person debarred from government contracts, that finding will be placed in the debarment database, known as the System for Award Management (SAM).
If you are in need of legal representation in a proposed debarment or debarment appeal please contact our office at 703-668-0070 or through our contact page to schedule a consultation.
Take a tour of the Courthouse neighborhood and explore two local favorites of Sallie Seiy, your guide in the latest Neighborhood Spotlight.
Good Friday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
The Arlington County Board and the Human Rights Commission are at odds over whether commissioners had the right to request an investigation into possible human and civil rights violations at…
Expanded renovated 4 BR 3 bath with garage in Cardinal Swanson Yorktown pyramid
The Potomac Roasting Company is a local micro-roaster specializing in artisan coffee. We precision roast high-quality specialty beans sourced from small farms in Latin America that are owned and operated by women. Your coffee will be roasted the way you want it and delivered fresh.
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Our current roasts come from prime coffee-producing regions of Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. We will be adding new roasts soon. If you are local, there’s a good chance we can deliver to your door. Look for us at local farmers’ markets beginning this spring. In the meantime, check us out now for better coffee and good karma in a cup. You can use the code Community and save 10%.
🎉 Tonight, we invite you to the French Riviera, one of the most exciting places on earth – without ever boarding a plane! And celebrate Mardi Gras and the Carnival of Nice on French soil as we welcome you to a special evening at the Embassy of France!
From the elegance of classical French culture to the most celebrated Rivera nightlife of the 21st Century, experience a special evening of fantastic French food, wine, music, and ambiance.
Enjoy the flavors of Nice, Monaco, and St. Tropez in the beautiful and festive Maison Francaise at the French Embassy.
🍽️ On the Menu: Delicious French food
Cody Chance and Dick Nathan of Long & Foster are hosting a free workshop on the topic of “down-sizing” at their office on Cherry Hill Rd. (formerly Lee Highway) in Arlington on Thursday, February 29 from 5:30PM-7:00PM.
Every great endeavor