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Does an Air Force suspension or debarment action apply only to Air Force contracts?
No. A suspension or debarment action by the Air Force SDO is effective throughout the Executive Branch of the Government. If a contractor is ineligible to do businesses with the Air Force, it cannot do business with the Navy, NASA, the GSA, or any of the other approximately 125 Executive Branch agencies or departments.
How does one report a suspected case of acquisition fraud, or procurement integrity violations, or other misconduct?
The most direct method is to contact SAF/GCR through email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Department of Defense FAR Supplement (DFARS) provides useful referral information at DFARS 209.406-3. However, SAF/GCR does not require strict adherence to that guidance as long as credible evidence of contractor misconduct is reduced to writing and provided to this office.
How is one suspended or debarred?
The SDO determines, based upon legally sufficient evidence ("adequate evidence" for a suspension; "preponderance of the evidence" for a debarment), whether a contractor is presently responsible. Based on the evidence, the SDO may then decide to suspend the contractor, or propose the contractor for debarment. The name is then placed on the Internet, which is checked by Government agencies before awarding contracts.
How long does a debarment last?
Generally, as stated in FAR 9.406-4(a), a debarment should not exceed 3 years. However, the SDO may impose a period of debarment longer or shorter than that in appropriate cases.
How long does a suspension last?
A suspension is in place during the period of an investigation against the contractor, not to exceed 12 months (18 months under specific circumstances). Once a legal proceeding formally has been initiated (i.e., an indictment, criminal complaint, etc.), a contractor may remain suspended until that legal proceeding is completed, including all appeals.
What are types of remedies available for contractor fraud?
There are criminal, civil, administrative, and contractual remedies available to combat contractor fraud.
What is a debarment?
A "debarment" is an action taken by a SDO under FAR Subpart 9.406 to exclude a contractor from contracting or subcontracting with the USG for a specified period of time.
What is a Government "contractor?"
As defined in FAR 9.403, a "contractor" is an individual or legal entity that either directly or indirectly (e.g., through an affiliate): 1) submits offers or is awarded, or reasonably may be expected to submit offers or be awarded, Government contracts, or 2) conducts business, or reasonably may be expected to conduct business, with the Government. The definition is intended to be broad and is applied to include agents and representatives, and in some cases government employees.
What is a Government "subcontractor?"
A "subcontractor" is not explicitly defined in FAR Subpart 9.4, though FAR 9.405-2(b) does specify that a contractor may not enter into a subcontract in excess of $25,000 with a contractor that has been debarred, suspended, or proposed for debarment. Thus, a Government subcontractor would be any contractor that enters a subcontract arrangement equal to or greater than that amount with the prime of a Government contract. FAR Subpart 44.2 also addresses subcontractor issues.
What is a show cause letter?
The SDO may provide a show cause letter to a contractor before initiating a suspension or debarment action. The show cause letter usually provides the general nature of the suspected misconduct that the SDO is reviewing, and provides the contractor with an opportunity to submit whatever it wishes to demonstrate it is a presently responsible contractor. A show cause letter does not make a contractor ineligible to do business with the USG, but it is an advance notice that such an action may be forthcoming.
What is a suspension?
A "suspension" is an action taken by the SDO, pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 9.407 (and other applicable statutes, Executive orders and regulations) to temporarily disqualify a contractor* from doing business with the USG.
* The term "contractor" is defined in FAR 9.403. For the purposes of these FAQ, "contractor" shall also include USG approved subcontractors, as clarified below.
What is expected of a contractor who receives a notice of suspension?
Once the SDO has initiated a suspension action, and has given the appropriate notice, the contractor (or its designated representative) is afforded 30 days to provide matters in opposition (the "submission"). The usual sequence is that a written submission is provided, and then the contractor may request to make a personal appearance before the SDO (a "presentation"). The contractor has the burden of demonstrating to the SDO that it is presently responsible in spite of, or contrary to, the findings in the suspension notice.
What is expected of a contractor who receives a proposal for debarment?
The procedure for a proposed debarment is the same as for a suspension. Since the contractor has the burden to demonstrate its present responsibility, its written submission should provide whatever evidence supports that conclusion. After providing a written submission, the contractor may coordinate with SAF/GCR to set a date to make a presentation. Absent unusual circumstances, presentations are conducted at the SAF/GCR offices in Arlington, VA. If, after reviewing the written submission and whatever material is provided in conjunction with the presentation, the SDO determines there is a genuine dispute of a material fact, he may direct that a fact finding hearing be conducted. After the submission and presentation have been completed, and the administrative record is closed, the SDO makes the final decision.
What is the Deputy General Counsel for Contractor Responsibility?
The Deputy General Counsel (Contractor Responsibility) (SAF/GCR) is responsible for the Air Force Acquisition Integrity Program and is the designated Suspending/Debarring Official (SDO) for the Air Force. The SDO protects the Air Force, and by extension the United States Government (USG or Government), from doing business with non-responsible contractors and subcontractors.
What is the difference between a suspension and a debarment?
A suspension causes a contractor to be ineligible to do business with the USG for a temporary period of time pending the completion of an on-going investigation. A debarment makes a contractor ineligible to do business with the Government, but the term of ineligibility is for a specific period of time. Also, the degree of proof is less for a suspension ("adequate evidence") than for a debarment ("preponderance of the evidence").
What type of conduct can lead to a debarment?
The causes for debarment are set out in FAR 9.406-2. When the preponderance of the evidence reflects contractor misconduct that indicates a lack of business integrity or honesty, violation of a government contract, or that is otherwise so serious or compelling a nature that it affects a contractor's present responsibility, the SDO may propose the contractor for debarment. A conviction or civil judgment for fraud or a criminal offense in connection with attempting to obtain, obtaining, or performing a public contract or subcontract is sufficient evidence of such misconduct, but it is not required.
What type of conduct can lead to a suspension?
The causes for suspension are noted in FAR 9.407-2. Generally, adequate evidence of any misconduct that indicates a lack of business integrity or honesty, or that is so serious or compelling a nature that it affects a contractor's present responsibility, supports a suspension. An indictment for any such misconduct is adequate evidence, but it is not required.
Where can I find the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Acquisition Regulation, the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement, and the Air Force Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement?
You can find the links here: the CFR, the FAR, the DFARS, and the AFFARS.
Can suspensions and debarments impact small businesses?
The approximate percentage of administrative actions taken by SAF/GCR with respect to Air Force and Space Force small businesses can be found here.
For additional information regarding opportunities and guidance for small businesses, please visit:
The Air Force Small Business website and the Association of Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (APTAC) website.
How can I contact SAF/GCR?