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Proposed FAR Amendments: Enhancing Consistency in Suspension and Debarment Procedures for Federal Contractors

February 1, 2024

The Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have jointly proposed amendments to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to enhance suspension and debarment consistency. Recommendations from the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee prompted these changes. Currently, the FAR and Nonprocurement systems operate independently, leading to variations. The proposed amendments align the FAR more closely with the Nonprocurement Common Rule (NCR).

While the FAR and NCR systems share core principles, there are disparities. The proposed rule introduces definitional changes, including standardized terms like “suspending and debarring official” and “administrative agreement,” aiming to clarify and promote the understanding of alternative measures.

Significantly, the proposed amendments bring substantive, procedural changes to suspension and debarment procedures by introducing seven new aggravating factors to be considered alongside the existing ten mitigation factors. This change aims to enhance consistency between the FAR and NCR, providing additional guidance for officials making contractor responsibility determinations.

The proposed rule also advocates for increased flexibility by expanding communication modes for notices and extending the time frame for a debarment decision from 30 to 45 days, with the possibility of further extensions for good cause. These changes aim to streamline and improve suspension and debarment procedures, aligning the FAR more closely with the NCR while ensuring clarity, consistency, and enhanced flexibility in the process.

Written comments are due on March 11, 2024.