Paying workers as independent contractors instead of as employees may land a former executive in jail for criminal wire fraud. On June 12, 2019, the former operations manager and vice president of a Florida-based mail transportation contractor pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud related to such treatment. The Government’s case was based on
The FAR permits the government to suspend or debar a contractor based solely on its affiliation with another contractor that has been suspended. See FAR 9.406-1(c) & FAR 9.407-1(c). The Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Agility Defense & Government Services v. U.S. Dept. of Defense, No. 13-10757 (11th Cir. Dec. 31, 2013), significantly expands the impact of a suspension due to affiliation. The court held that the initiation of legal proceedings (such as an indictment) permits the indefinite suspension of the contractor’s affiliates, even if the affiliates have not been accused of any wrongdoing. The decision overturned a 2012 Alabama district court decision that was a limitation on suspension due solely to corporate affiliation. We discuss the district court case in an earlier blog post.
Public Warehousing Company was indicted for fraud related to a government contract in November 2009 and was suspended as a result of the indictment. The Defense Logistics Agency then suspended Agility Defense & Government Services and Agility International, Inc., subsidiaries of Public Warehousing. The affiliates submitted written requests for reinstatement because they were not implicated in the indictment. After the agency’s refusal to reinstate them, the affiliates undertook several actions attempting to end their suspension, including a proposed management buyout that would have resulted in Public Warehousing retaining only an indirect 40-percent ownership in one of the affiliates.
As their suspension approached three years, the affiliates filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama. The court found in their favor, ending the suspension. The district court reasoned that the applicable regulation limited the automatic suspension to 18 months. In the district court’s view, suspension beyond 18 months required the agency to initiate legal proceedings directed to the affiliates’ involvement. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed.
The trend over the last several years has been a dramatic increase in the number of suspensions and debarments by the Federal government. The September 18, 2012 report by the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC) indicates that there were 928 suspensions and 2,398 debarments in FY 2011. Even though debarments are generally restricted to…
The June 26, 2012 decision in Agility Defense & Government Services, Inc. v. United States Department of Defense, No. 11-4111 (N.D. Ala. June 26, 2012) [pdf] reflects an important limitation on the government’s authority to suspend contractors simply because they are affiliated with companies accused of wrongdoing.
Agility Defense and Government Services, Inc. and Agility International, Inc. filed suit seeking to undo their suspensions after spending 31 months on the Excluded Parties List and being unable to convince the Defense Logistics Agency to lift the suspensions. DLA suspended the two companies not because they had engaged in wrongdoing, but because they were indirect affiliates of their ultimate parent company, Public Warehousing Company, K.S.C. The parent company was under indictment for defrauding the government of over $6 billion on food supply contracts in the Middle East. ADGSI and Agility had proposed a management buyout and other measures designed to remove PWC’s ability to control them and to assure their compliance with federal procurement laws. DLA nevertheless refused to lift the suspension.
The USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently announced that it will be auditing the Postal Service’s Suspension and Debarment program. Debarments most frequently result from a criminal conviction of a company, or its employees. But a contractor can be debarred for any type of improper conduct that negatively reflects on its honesty, ethics, or competence. Resulting debarments have government-wide impact. The thrust of the audit appears to be whether USPS is debarring enough contractors. Read on for more details about OIG’s upcoming audit.…
Once again a contractor covered by the Davis-Bacon Act has been penalized for not maintaining adequate payroll records. In Pythagoras General Contracting Corp. v. Dep’t of Labor, ARB Nos. 08-107 & 09-007, ALJ No. 2005-DBA-14 (Feb. 10, 2011) [pdf], the DOL’s Administrative Review Board upheld a determination to debar the contractor from getting any future federal contracts for up to three years and increasing the monetary penalty significantly.…