Vendors doing business with IRS owe nearly $600M in back taxes

Some 1,168 businesses that sell products and services to the Internal Revenue Service owe a combined $589 million in delinquent taxes, auditors found.

Federal law — as updated in the 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act — forbids agencies from signing contracts with companies with unpaid federal tax liabilities, but the IRS’ system of controls, while effective much of the time, is not fool-proof, according to the report released Wednesday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

“When the IRS conducts business with vendors that do not comply with federal tax laws, it conveys a contradictory message in relation to its mission to ensure compliance with the tax laws,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

The IRS in the past has resisted TIGTA’s recommendation that it conduct an annual check on contractor tax records. And though the agency’s use of its Master Vendor File is generally effective, auditors recently found that the IRS has not checked the General Services Administration’s Excluded Parties List System. The agency improperly awarded four new contracts or exercised additional option years on existing contracts, valued at $2.6 million, to three vendors that were suspended from doing business with the government, the auditors found.

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FBI to sole source mobile forensic contract

The FBI plans to award a sole-source, fixed price contract to New  Jersey-based Cellebrite USA, Inc. for mobile forensic casework tools.  The  contract does not yet have a price.

According to a notice posted Aug. 28 to FedBizOpps, FBI’s market research determined that the  Cellebrite UFED System is the “only hand-held, cellular exploitation device  worldwide that requires no PC or associated phone drivers.”

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Agencies need governmentwide guidance on suspension and debarment process, GAO official says

Though the suspension and debarment system has been around for many years,  there is little guidance for it, Government Accountability Office Acting  Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management John Neumann said at a June 12  House Government and Oversight Committee hearing.

“You won’t find anywhere in the U.S. code other than a note in the financial  chapter,” Neumann said. “That’s part of the problem. We created a system, but  did not supply guidance on how it should operate.”

The Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee, established in 1986,  monitors and coordinates the governmentwide system of suspension and debarment,  but agencies aren’t required to work with the ISDC, Neumann noted.

ISDC relies on voluntary agency participation in its informal coordination  process, which works well when used, he said. However, Neumann found that not  all agencies coordinated through ISDC, and agencies without active suspension  and debarment programs generally were not represented at monthly coordination  meetings.

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Secret ‘man caves’ found in EPA warehouse

A warehouse maintained by contractors for the Environmental Protection Agency contained secret rooms full of exercise equipment, televisions and couches, according to an internal audit.

EPA’s inspector general found contractors used partitions, screens and piled up boxes to hide the rooms from security cameras in the 70,000 square-foot building located in Landover, Md. The warehouse — used for inventory storage — is owned by the General Services Administration and leased to the EPA for about $750,000 per year.

The EPA has issued a stop work order to Apex Logistics LLC, the responsible contractor, ensuring the company’s workers no longer have access to the site — EPA security officials escorted contractor personnel off the premises on May 17 — and ending all payments on the contract.

Since awarding the contract in May 2007, EPA has paid Apex Logistics about $5.3 million, most of which went to labor costs. Conditions at the facility “raise questions about time charges made by warehouse employees under the contract,” the report said.

“The warehouse contained multiple unauthorized and hidden personal spaces created by and for the workers that included televisions, refrigerators, radios, microwaves, chairs and couches,” the IG report said. “These spaces contained personal items, including photos, pin ups, calendars, clothing, books, magazines and videos.”

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EPA temporarily suspends BP from federal contracts

The Environmental Protection Agency has temporarily suspended the oil and gas conglomerate BP from receiving any new federal contracts, according to a statement released Wednesday.

Citing the environmental disaster following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, EPA said BP’s “lack of business integrity” will bar the company from receiving any new contracts with the government until the company meets “federal business standards.” EPA said the government still will adhere to its existing agreements with the company. BP currently has major fuel contracts with the Defense Department

As part of a deal announced in mid-November that settled criminal charges with the federal government, BP will be paying nearly $4.5 billion in damages and could still face civil lawsuits in the future. In a statement released Nov 15, BP said companies “convicted of certain criminal acts can be debarred from contracting with the federal government” but it had not been “advised of the intention of any federal agency to suspend or disbar the company.”

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OFPP memo on CAOs addresses weaknesses

Joe Jordan, administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, issued a memo Oct. 18 to clarify roles of the chief acquisition officer, but an expert said that it offers little new.

Jordan issued the memo as a follow-up to a Government Accountability Office report from July. GAO found many departments do not have documents defining the CAO’s duties. As a result they may lack a strong basis for more permanently including the CAO within their organizational leadership structure, GAO concluded. In addition, the amount of detail on an agency’s CAO’s authorities and responsibilities varies greatly based on the agency’s Federal Acquisition Regulation supplement and other policy documentation.

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Deadline set fighting disclosure of contractor work history

The Obama administration solidified an interim rule that requires agency officials to post a government contractor’s work history in a publicly accessible website.

The Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) is a one-stop web site for contracting officers and federal employees to look at the history of companies’ work with the federal government.

FAPIIS includes data from the Performance Information Retrieval System, as well as information from other databases, including the Excluded Parties List System, which lists companies that are suspended or debarred from federal contracting. The overall purpose of FAPIIS is to make it easier for contracting officers to get an overall assessment of a company before awarding a contract by not having to search numerous databases.

A year ago, acquisition officials issued an interim rule making all the information public, except for past performance reviews by agencies.

The final rule took effect Jan. 3.

In the Federal Register notice about the rule, officials recognized the risks about the information going public though.

The final rule gives companies seven days to find any information that should not be disclosed because it should be considered exempt from disclosure. In such a case, officials will remove the information from FAPIIS to resolve the issue.

If the government official does not remove the item, it will be automatically released to the public site within two weeks after the review period began, according to the notice.

About the Author: Matthew Weigelt is a senior writer covering acquisition and procurement for Federal Computer Week.   This article appeared Jan. 4, 2012 at

Move over, FAPIIS – POGO freshens up its contractor misconduct database

The federal government’s largest contractors have paid $25.3 billion in fines and penalties for everything from A to Z: from improper accounting practices to selling the government defective Zylon body armor. These and more than 1,400 other misconduct instances can be found in the Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (FCMD), which has now been updated with fiscal year 2010’s top 100 ranking.  [Note: The FCMD is published by the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a nonprofit watchdog group.]

The top 100 features 7 new contractors, including international accounting firm Deloitte LLP, package delivery company United Parcel Service (UPS), and linguistic services provider Mission Essential Personnel. The FCMD now includes misconduct information on 160 of the federal government’s largest suppliers of goods and services.

The top 100 contractors received $276 billion in contracts last fiscal year, accounting for slightly more than half of the $536 billion in contracts awarded that year. As of today, these 100 contractors have accumulated 821 misconduct instances. Thirty-eight of the top 100 have zero or one instance, a reminder that misconduct need not be accepted as a cost of doing business with the federal government.

As has occurred in the past, the data on which the top 100 ranking is based contains errors. Therefore, you will see double listings for Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman.

Among the instances you will find in the FCMD:

POGO’s FCMD complements the federal government’s contractor responsibility database, the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System, or FAPIIS. POGO was pleased to discover the recent addition of several new useful features to FAPIIS, which is on its way to becoming an indispensable resource that strengthens accountability over the more than $1 trillion in taxpayer money spent each year on federal contracts and grants.

– Neil Gordon is a POGO Investigator.  Published Sept. 29, 2011 at