Sheet metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

Issue Briefs

Contractor Accountability

POSITION:

SMACNA supports legislation that would require prospective federal contractors to meet the highest standards for contract performance and compliance with applicable laws as a condition for responsibility determinations for performing a federal contract. Public agencies and taxpayers should demand nothing less.  SMACNA supports a central database for use by contracting officers, and strict enforcement of responsibility standards.

ISSUE:

Congress should act to crack down on fraudulent and law-breaking contractors to fortify the federal procurement system and to rid the government of contractors who are lining their pockets at the expense of taxpayers.  The government should establish a central database for actions taken against federal contractors to provide contracting officers with the most current information on those seeking federal contracts. The government should require full disclosure and a fair but rigorous analysis of material performance issues and records of prior compliance as part of the contract pre-award process for determining “responsibility.”

FACTS:

  • The Federal government is the largest consumer of goods and services. It is in the best interest of the government and taxpayers to procure construction from legitimate firms with strong quality performance records.  Currently contractors repeatedly break the law & continue to get government contracts.
  • A computerized central database creates an efficient system for contracting officers to research potential contractors that are seeking business from the federal government. A centralized database has been successfully used in cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
  • Every time the federal government awards a contract to an unethical contractor; a responsible and deserving contractor loses work.  The House-passed bill does have a rebuttal provision and the safeguards that exist in the FAR are unchanged.
  • The ineligibility determination process would remain the same and the Contracting Officer (CO) would continue to make judgments based on ability to perform.   The database would ensure COs would be acting with more information about a prospective awardee.
  • The disclosure provisions mirror the standards in the private sector of the construction industry. Consensus DOCS  Forms 221 and 721 have comprehensive performance inquiries spanning five years, including litigation.  The government should be doing the same.

STATUS:

HR 3033, Contractors and Federal Spending Accountability Act, legislation that would increase oversight for the awarding of public contracts for government services and to strengthen government accountability in the suspension and debarment process. Introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and 7 cosponsors, the bill passed the House on a voice vote April 23rd. Senator Claire McCaskill has introduced an identical bill, S. 2904 with one cosponsor.  Similar language has been inserted into the National Defense Authorization Act, (S. 3001).  The language as written applies only to the DOD but Senator McCaskill is expected to offer an amendment to make the provisions apply government-wide.  The Senate is currently considering S. 3001. Senator Coleman (R-MN) and Rep. Ellsworth (D-IN) have similar bills to bar contractors who do not pay their taxes from getting federal contracts.  S. 2394 is pending in the Senate Finance Committee and H.R. 4881 already passed the House.

Updated September 2008