Jenner & Block

Debarment and Suspension

Most companies that do business with the United States are aware of the risks of a civil or criminal investigation or of a Civil False Claims Act "qui tam" action.  And most companies strive to resolve those matters through settlements.  But what many government contractors and their outside counsel do not fully appreciate is that even an amicable settlement with no admission of liability (much less an indictment, plea, or adverse judgment), can result in a sanction far worse than any penalty or settlement amount -- namely the company or its executives being excluded for years from all federal business by all federal agencies.  This is the corporate "death sentence" known as suspension and debarment, and it can be imposed in the sole discretion of a single person within each federal executive agency. Worse, it can be imposed for virtually any reason that, in this "debarring official's" subjective view, calls into question a contractor's "business honesty or integrity."