DHS, OPM suspend contracts with USIS after major cyber attack

Peter Boogaard, a DHS spokesman, would not confirm the identity of the contractor but said that a multiagency cyber response team is working to identify the scope of the attack and how many employees were affected.

He said the agency has determined that some DHS personnel have had their personal information compromised and the agency has notified its entire workforce to monitor their financial accounts for suspicious activity.

“As we continue to investigate the nature of this breach on an urgent basis, we will be notifying specific DHS employees whose [personally identifiable information] we can determine was likely compromised.”

Keep reading this article at:  http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20140807/IT/308070009/DHS-OPM-suspend-contracts-USIS-after-major-cyber-attack 

Contractor suspensions and debarments doubled over the last 4 years

The number of contractor suspensions and debarments government-wide have doubled since fiscal 2009 because agencies have developed better management tools and a more active referral process, a May 21 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report says.

Agencies can use suspension and debarment to exclude individuals, contractors and grantees from receiving future contracts, grants and other federal assistance due to various types of misconduct.

A previous GAO report found agencies issuing the most procurement related suspensions and debarments shared common characteristics: dedicated staff, detailed policies and procedures, and an active referral process.

Many agencies that previously faltered in rooting out contractor misconduct have taken the lead from those stronger agencies, the latest report says.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gao-contractor-suspensions-and-debarments-have-doubled-over-last-4-years/2014-05-22

GSA acquisition database integration pushed back to 2018

The General Services Administration (GSA) pushed back the planned completion date of an integrated acquisition database to 2018 because of development problems and cost overruns, GSA Assistant Commissioner Kevin Youel Page told a Senate panel March 6.

“We’ve suffered our own missteps,” Page said during a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee subcommittee on financial and contracting oversight.

Plans were made in 2001 to combine governmentwide acquisition databases into a single system called the Integrated Acquisition Environment.

But the project has been plagued with problems.

A March 2012 Government Accountability Office report says cost overruns, which grew by 89 percent, were largely due to mistakes GSA has made. GAO initially estimated it would cost about $95.7 million, but the 2012 estimate came in at $181.1 million.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/gsa-acquisition-database-integration-pushed-back-2018/2014-03-07 

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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.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2013/12/vendors-doing-business-irs-owe-nearly-600m-back-taxes/75665 

IG: Debarred firms remain listed for transportation set-asides

The Department of Transportation IG has alerted the department that it found three suspended or debarred firms currently listed in state Disadvantaged Business Enterprises directories as eligible to participate in the DBE program.

The IG issued a management advisory stemming from a recent audit into the DBE program, noting that federal regulations explicitly exclude suspended or debarred firms from receiving federally funded contracts.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fedweek.com/item-view.php?tbl=3&ID=5412 

Read DOT IG’s letter at: http://www.oig.dot.gov/sites/dot/files/DBE%20Management%20Advisory.pdf 

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.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.fiercegovernment.com/story/agencies-need-governmentwide-guidance-suspense-and-debarment-process-gao-of/2013-06-13?utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal

FEMA official gets two years’ probation for revolving-door relationship with contractor

Private industry frequently considers hiring existing and former federal government employees for their experience, knowledge base and skill set. As a reaction to the continuing perception that high-level federal employees jump from government to private industry and take sensitive government information with them, over the years Congress has introduced complex and often overlapping revolving-door legislation that imposes post-government employment restrictions on certain employees. While many government employees successfully transition to the private sector, failure to observe revolving-door laws and regulations can result in severe consequences for both contractors and government employees. A recent example of what can go wrong for both such parties is the case of Timothy Cannon and the Gallup Organisation.

On April 9 2013 Judge Jackson of the District Court for the District of Columbia sentenced Timothy Cannon, former director of the human capital division at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to two years of probation for conflict of interest violations.

According to Cannon’s plea, he helped Gallup to acquire a $6 million contract, while at the same time pursuing employment with the company. As a result of its alleged employment discussions with Cannon and related conduct, Gallup faces potential liability for civil damages and penalties under the False Claims Act and the Procurement Integrity Act, including treble damages and disgorgement of all money received under the contract. Moreover, these types of case always raise the risk of the contractor’s suspension or debarment, which would preclude any new contract awards for up to three years. This case serves as a reminder for private contractors wishing to hire existing or former government employees that they must have rigorous internal controls in place in order to ensure compliance with post-government employment requirements.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.internationallawoffice.com/newsletters/detail.aspx?g=cb1ea107-d51f-4ad7-b375-00f8a3dad2d7&redir=1 

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.”

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2012/11/epa-temporarily-suspends-bp-federal-contracts/59793/?oref=govexec_today_nl.

Contractor suspensions and debarments on the rise, says White House

Suspensions and debarments of companies that violate federal contracting rules have increased across the government over the past three years, rising from just over 1,900 in fiscal 2009 to more than 3,000 in 2011, according to a new report.

In a blog post scheduled for release on Sept. 18, 2012, White House Administrator of Federal Procurement Policy Joe Jordan wrote,“while the vast majority of government contractors compete fairly to deliver the best value to the American people, it is critical that the government take a hard line against those who would defraud taxpayers. This report shows the Obama administration has made significant progress in cracking down on bad actors. Just as significant as the progress are the management actions that underlie it, and indicate an increased agency commitment to protecting taxpayer resources.”

The report, from a coordinating body called the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee, follows up on a November 2011 memorandum from then-Office of Management and Budget director Jack Lew directing 24 departments and agencies to step up efforts to combat waste, fraud and abuse, in part by appointing a senior official to be accountable for progress.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2012/09/contractor-suspensions-and-debarments-rise-says-white-house/58175/

Justice fails to flag contractors with a criminal history

The Justice Department is not fulfilling its requirement to update procurement databases with information on contractors with a history of criminal activity, the department’s inspector general has found.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance has neglected its responsibility to obtain and update databases with contractors “convicted of fraud or any other felony arising out of a contract with the Department of Defense” or involved in drug trafficking, according to the IG. The bureau also failed in its statutory requirement to train U.S. attorneys to use these databases, the report said.

Keep reading this article at: http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2012/07/justice-fails-flag-contractors-criminal-history/56941/?oref=govexec_today_nl.