The Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee, the Nonprocurement Common Rule, and Lead Agency Coordination

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 4, Issue 1 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece.

The Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC) is a unique governmental body whose responsibilities are directed by both the executive and legislative branches. But this was not always the case. Prior to 2008, the ISDC remained largely an obscure organization unknown to anyone outside of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) or the agency personnel charged with handling suspension and debarment matters. Legislation in 2008 changed all of this by requiring the ISDC to designate an agency to take the lead on a suspension or debarment action where more than one agency had an interest, and to also report annually to Congress on suspension and debarment issues. These responsibilities, although new, were years in the making and the result of several legislative efforts since 2002 that had alternatively died in committee or were objected to by the OMB.

This Article reviews the historical foundation for a uniform suspension and debarment system dating back to the 1960s and leading up to the creation of the ISDC in 1986. This Article also explores how the ISDC’s influence grew to include both nonprocurement and procurement suspension and debarment matters, as well as how a lead agency is designated for a suspension or debarment action. Special attention is also given to assessing the ISDC’s success in performing its 2008 statutory responsibilities, including the coordinating and staffing difficulties that prevented the ISDC from timely meeting its reporting obligation to Congress. Also analyzed is recent guidance from the OMB directing greater executive agency participation in the ISDC, as well as current Congressional appropriations and contingency contracting initiatives that could potentially complicate the ISDC’s coordinating functions.

This Article concludes with several recommendations the ISDC should take to improve its functioning, enhance its credibility, and restructure its leadership and mission. Specifically, the ISDC should continue its efforts to fully unify non-procurement and procurement suspension and debarment practices, establish formal guidelines by which lead agencies are selected, revitalize the ISDC website with fully accessible suspension and debarment content, address the need for permanent staffing, and assess the selection and priorities of future leaders of the ISDC. Implementing these recommendations will better enable the ISDC to remain at the forefront of the suspension and debarment field.

Find the full version of this article in PDF form here.

Brian Young is an LLM Candidate at the George Washington University.