Federal agencies are responsible for ensuring that they do business with responsible partners, whether individuals or organizations. Suspension and debarment are administrative tools that protect the Federal government from doing business with individuals and organizations whose conduct has shown that they cannot be trusted to comply with laws, rules, and regulations or to be good stewards of Federal funds. Qualifying misconduct must demonstrate a lack of business integrity (“present responsibility”), such as contract or grant fraud; destruction, fabrication, or falsification of documents; violation of policies or regulations; or substantial failure to adhere to grant conditions.
- Suspension temporarily excludes a person or entity from receiving government awards, generally for up to 12 months, when there is adequate evidence that may merit debarment, and immediate action is needed to protect the government’s interest. Suspension is often used as an interim measure, while criminal or civil proceedings are underway.
- Debarment excludes a person or entity from receiving government awards for a set period, generally up to three years, based upon a finding of wrongdoing related to honesty or integrity, a history of poor performance or willful failure to perform the requirements of an award, or any cause serious enough to affect present responsibility.
These administrative remedies are not punitive in nature but are instead designed to prevent irresponsible parties from victimizing the government a second time.
AmeriCorps OIG recommends suspensions and debarments in cases where Federal interests require protection from individuals and organizations that cannot be trusted to administer Federal funds responsibly. While an investigation is ongoing, suspension of the individuals or entities under investigation can protect the public against further losses.
Suspension and debarment have government-wide effect. That is, an organization suspended or debarred by AmeriCorps cannot receive Federal grants, contracts or other aid from any other government program. However, neither suspension nor debarment excludes parties from entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid or SNAP. SAM.gov maintains the Federal government’s list of excluded parties. Before entering into a grant or contract with an individual or organization, a Federal agency must check this database to ensure that the proposed recipient has not been suspended or debarred.
When AmeriCorps OIG recommends a suspension or debarment, it typically prepares a memorandum that summarizes evidence demonstrating that the respondent lacks present responsibility. AmeriCorps’ Suspension and Debarment Official decides whether to issue a suspension or proposed debarment, notifies the affected individual or organization, and considers any information that they may submit in opposition before deciding whether to debar. The active coordination between AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps OIG strengthens the protection of Federal funds.