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Administrative Remedies

The Administrative Remedies Division reviews concerns regarding the integrity or history of poor performance of contractors, participants, or financial assistance recipients and makes recommendations to the U.S. Department of the Interior Suspending and Debarring Official for administrative actions. These actions protect the Government from doing business with companies or individuals that pose business risks. This division is also responsible for negotiating, recommending, and monitoring compliance and ethics agreements, including the investigation or review of alleged breaches of such agreements.

In addition, this division conducts reviews for potential actions under the Program Fraud Civil Remedies Act (PFCRA). PFCRA authorizes Federal agencies to administratively pursue “small” (up to $150,000) false claims and false statements within six years of the claim being made. Upon proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the statement or claim is false, fictitious or fraudulent, a person may be penalized $5,000 per claim or statement, and may also be assessed double the amount falsely claimed. The Department’s regulations pertaining to PFCRA can be found at 43 C.F.R. §§ 35.1-35.47.

Suspension and Debarment

Suspension and debarment are administrative remedies to protect taxpayer dollars against fraud, waste, abuse, poor performance, and noncompliance by ensuring the Government does not do business with individuals/organizations that are not “presently responsible,” i.e., those who have engaged in criminal or other improper conduct or demonstrate serious past poor performance.

Discretionary suspension and debarment actions are governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) at 48 CFR Part 9.4, which covers procurement, and by the Nonprocurement Common Rule (NCR) at 2 CFR Part 180, which covers nonprocurement transactions, such as grants, cooperative agreements, leases, concessions, loans or benefits.

Actions under these rules have Government-wide reciprocal effect, meaning that if a company is suspended or debarred from doing business with one agency, then it is also debarred from doing business with other Federal agencies. The ineligibility applies only to new awards. Agencies may decide to continue or to terminate performance on any existing awards. Suspensions and debarments are taken only where it’s in the best interest of the Government. These remedies cannot be used as punishment. Essentially, there are two questions involved:

  1. Does an entity or person pose a business risk to Federal programs?
  2. Does there remain a need to protect the integrity of the Government’s procurement and nonprocurement award program?

Where a party demonstrates mitigating factors and appropriate remedial measures, continuing a suspension or imposing debarment may not be appropriate.

Key Terms

A decision that an individual or organization is temporarily ineligible to receive, or participate in, new Federal procurement or nonprocurement transactions pending completion of an investigation or legal proceeding. If legal proceedings are not initiated within 12 months after the date of the suspension notice, the suspension shall be terminated unless the U.S. Department of Justice requests its extension, in which case it may be extended for an additional 6 months. In no event may a suspension extend beyond 18 months, unless legal proceedings have been initiated within that period.
A final decision to render an individual or organization ineligible to receive, or participate in, new Federal procurement or nonprocurement transactions. Debarments are for a period commensurate with the seriousness of the cause, generally not to exceed 3 years.

If you find evidence that a contractor or recipient may have engaged in one or more causes for debarment, please contact OIG_Debarment@doioig.gov.