House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., today released a discussion draft of legislation designed to protect taxpayers in over $1 trillion in contracts and grants awarded by the federal government each year to companies and individuals that are or should be banned from receiving taxpayer funds.
"In the 21st century, we must have zero tolerance for fraudsters, criminals, or tax cheats receiving taxpayer money through grants or contracts," said Issa.
In order to prevent fraud and abuse, federal agencies are supposed to conduct aggressive suspension and debarment (S&D) programs to ban unscrupulous businesses and individuals from receiving federal funds.
However, despite intense Congressional oversight, administrative action, and public scrutiny in recent years, the latest review by the Government Accountability Office found that six of ten agencies that each spent more than $1 billion per year in federal awards lacked effective S&D programs, meaning that businesses and individuals who should be listed on the System for Awards Management (formerly the Excluded Parties List System) may still be receiving federal contracts and grants.
The discussion draft legislation is titled the Stop Unworthy Spending Act or SUSPEND Act. The draft bill would consolidate more than 41 civilian agency and government corporations S&D offices and functions into one centralized board. In addition the bill would:
· Strengthen debarment of contractors and grantees that repeatedly fail to perform.
· Consolidate regulations governing suspension and debarment procedures.
· Ensure transparency in suspension and debarment proceedings, and consistent standards to treat all parties fairly and expeditiously, including small businesses with limited legal resources.
· Provide an expedited review process to handle contract or grant fraud in a contingency environment.
The board would also save money by sharing administrative resources with the already centralized Civilian Board of Contract Appeals.