FAR Council rescinds the contractor blacklisting clause

FAR Council rescinds the contractor blacklisting clause

The Federal Acquisition Regulation Council has rescinded a controversial contractor responsibility clause, ruling that the current policy to ensure that agencies issue contracts to law-abiding companies works fine.

Under the so-called blacklisting rule, government contractors would have had to confirm that they have complied with tax, labor and employment, environmental, antitrust and consumer protection laws in the three years before receiving a contract.

Upon further review

The FAR Council deliberated almost a year before deciding in December to end the regulation, which the Clinton administration issued in its waning days.

Many industry groups, contractors and agencies had criticized the rule; labor unions favored it. The Bush administration early last year placed a stay on the rule.

The FAR Council received more than 1,500 comments. Industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Associated General Contractors of America, filed a federal suit last year to overturn the rule.

The council decided that existing regulations governing suspension and debarment provide adequate protection against waste, fraud, abuse, poor performance and noncompliance, according to a notice published in the Dec. 27 Federal Register.

The withdrawal of the rule drew praise from Larry Allen, executive director of the Coalition for Government Procurement, a Washington trade association. 'The coalition fought long and hard for the repeal of this rule because it never had any basis in protecting the sanctity of government contracting,' Allen said. 'It was always purely political in nature, and we are happy the FAR Council recognized it as such.'

Allen said there had been some concern that the FAR Council would submit a revised rule that was less demanding.

'Our position has always been that more than sufficient safeguards are in place and work well,' he said. 'The government has effective steps to ensure they do business with reputable companies.'

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