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David Robbins discusses the SUSPEND Act in Law360

May 27, 2014


Congress has actively pressed for reform in recent years, out of a belief that agencies are underusing their power to cut off contracts with risky or unscrupulous businesses. While new legislation like the Stop Unworthy Spending Act remains on the table, the attention alone has yielded some concrete results. The U.S. Government Accountability Office reported Wednesday that six agencies criticized in a 2011 report had collectively increased their suspension and debarment actions from just 19 in 2009 to 271 in 2013. But suspension and debarment experts, both within the government and in private practice, say that those numbers present an incomplete picture of debarment reform efforts and are unlikely to quiet calls for further reform.

The report, and the boosted numbers, have answered Congress’ initial question of whether agencies are capable of increasing their use of suspension and debarment on their own, but questions about further reform will have to be answered by the Hill, according to David Robbins, a former Air Force debarring attorney who is now the head of the government contracts group at Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker PA.

“This report could give Congress the fodder it needs either to declare victory as a result of its oversight function, or to focus on the consistency and transparency aspects of the SUSPEND Act,” Robbins said. “It really depends on if there’s any passion to deal with this anymore. There are some good ideas in the SUSPEND Act, but the question is, do we need legislation to get there?”

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