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Senators Urge DOJ to Use Suspension, Debarment Authority Against Corporate Criminals

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Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., have called on the Department of Justice to exercise its authority to debar or suspend from the federal contracting process corporate entities that engage in criminal activities to protect the government from fraud, waste and abuse.

The lawmakers wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Thursday saying DOJ ordered only eight debarment actions and three suspensions in fiscal year 2020.

“Under current Department practices, even companies that engage in massive, years-long schemes to defraud the public are allowed to continue to do business with the government,” the letter reads.

According to the letter, the Federal Acquisition Regulation allows an agency to debar an organization if it gets a civil judgment or convicted for any offense showing a lack of business honesty or integrity.

Warren and Lujan urged DOJ to broaden its use of debarment through four approaches: exercising debarment authority not only for individuals but also corporate entities; debarring or suspending entities that do business with any federal agency; considering debarment for all corporate misconduct; and using suspension authority.