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The U.S. Suspension & Debarment regime is designed to ensure that the federal government does business only with “responsible” partners. One of the most fundamentally (and frequently) misunderstood aspects of the FAR 9.4 suspension & debarment system is that these tools are only to be used for the purpose of protecting the Government, not to punish contractors for their past misconduct. Unfortunately, recent congressional initiatives demonstrate many legislators’ desire to transform debarment into a tool of punishment by banishing contractors from the procurement system “with little consideration of whether such action is needed or fair."

Instead of focusing on the government’s nuanced best interests, certain members of Congress continue to propose unnecessary, and in many instances counterproductive, legislation designed to fundamentally overhaul the debarment regime, often undermining contractor due process rights in the process. This article provides a sharp critique of recent congressional initiatives designed to transform the suspension and debarment regime into a punitive and non-discretionary sanction.

GW Paper Series

GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-110; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2013-110