By Neil Gordon
As we anticipated, our blog post on Tuesday (“What’s Bothering Stan Soloway Now?”) got a response from the man himself, Professional Services Council (PSC) president and CEO Stan Soloway. He let us have it in a comment he submitted yesterday.
Although we were expecting Mr. Soloway to reply, we were disappointed he ignored the main point of our post, which is that we basically agree with his criticisms regarding the Commission on Wartime Contracting’s (CWC) mandatory suspension recommendation. Instead, with no sense of irony, he accused us of “twisting around” what he wrote in his commentary which prompted our blog piece.
Just to be clear, POGO generally agrees with Mr. Soloway’s assertions that suspension and debarment are tools that should be used to protect the taxpayer, not punish contractors, and that suspension and debarment officials should be afforded the flexibility and discretion they need to effectively use these tools. Since indictments can involve conduct that occurred many months or even years in the past, we agree with Mr. Soloway that they might not always be accurate indicators of contractors’ present responsibility. However, we also share the CWC’s concern that the government is not using suspension and debarment as often as it could, which puts billions of taxpayer dollars and critical government missions at risk.
We’re guessing that what really upset Mr. Soloway (besides the cheap shot from commenter “K-MAN”) was pointing out, yet again, contractors’ double standard with regard to fairness and due process. POGO calls this the “don’t tread on me / hurry up with my award fee” mindset, which flares up whenever the government proposes or adopts tougher oversight and transparency standards for contractors.
The PSC didn’t seem to mind it when DynCorp fired Agility from the LOGCAP IV contract after Agility was indicted for defrauding the government, despite the fact that Agility had not yet been convicted and the alleged misconduct had taken place several years earlier. DynCorp, a member of the PSC, was merely enforcing the terms of its contract with Agility, which provided for termination if the subcontractor got indicted for any reason. (By contrast, the CWC’s recommendation would only apply to “contract-related” indictments.)
In other words, DynCorp acted quickly to protect itself from a risky contractor. Why shouldn’t the government have the flexibility to do the same through suspension and debarment?
By the way, we’re glad Mr. Soloway brought up the civil action alleging POGO illegally supplemented the salary of a federal employee. His diligent and thorough review of POGO’s responsibility background is exactly the kind of review we hope federal contracting officials will be performing with the new FAPIIS database.
Neil Gordon is a POGO Investigator.