Towns warns against "con artist" contractors

Safeguards against fraudulent contractors may need to be tightened in the economic stimulus package, according to the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Lawbreakers continue to win federal contracts despite existing protections against that outcome, said Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., who has scheduled a full committee hearing at 10 a.m. on Feb. 26 entitled “How Convicts and Con Artists Receive New Federal Contracts.”

The oversight committee is examining the problem to determine if additional safety measures against contractor frauds are needed for the $787 billion to be spent under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Towns said in a news release.

The committee will review alleged shortcomings the General Service Administration’s online tracking of contractor suspensions and debarments in its Excluded Parties List System. Contractors can be suspended or debarred due to misconduct, including criminal and civil violations and convictions.

A Government Accountability Office report to be released at the hearing finds “numerous examples of ineligible parties continuing to receive new federal contracts, due to flaws in the database and inadequate contracting procedures,” Towns said.

Towns said the committee also will consider whether immediate modifications should be implemented to the suspension and debarment regulations to ensure that none of the economic stimulus funding goes to fraudulent contractors.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

Reader Comments

Fri, Feb 20, 2009 Charlie

I'm glad to see there are still some people in Congress fighting for the little guy. Thank you Congressman Towns.

Fri, Feb 20, 2009 jerilyn kay miller madison, wisconsin

this man, Rep Edolphus Town D-NY needs to be listened to. fraud is the biggest reason the world's financial situation is in such a mess.

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