Debarment actions, those that prevent a company or person from doing business with the federal government for longer periods of time, are more prevalent than shorter-term suspensions. That is one key takeaway from the recent annual report of the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC) for FY’20. The ISDC is an interagency body consisting of Federal agencies that pool resources, experience, and practices to provide support for suspension and debarment programs throughout the federal government. The fact that debarments, which can last for years or longer, were more numerous than months-long suspensions should drive home the point that government agencies are serious about doing business with compliant, ethical companies. There were approximately 1,200 debarments in each of fiscal years 2019 and 2020, against 722 suspensions in FY’19 and 415 in FY’20. Suspension or debarment are both typically referred to as the “death penalty” for government contractors as such status not only prevents doing business as a prime contractor, but as a sub, and, often, as a contractor with state or local governments. Even when companies take remedial action and are returned to active status they may still confront trust and other issues associated with having been suspended or debarred. Similarly, while some companies certainly do “come back from the dead”, it is a long and expensive process that can wipe out profits and reduce revenue. In short, no contractor wants to find itself in front of a federal suspension or debarment official. It is also worth noting that it is not only companies that can end up in such a predicament. Individuals, too, are frequently placed on the excluded parties list maintained on the SAM.gov database. In fact, an individual’s term on the list can differ from that of the company with which they had been affiliated. It is an established best practice, therefore, for any contractor employee associated with a compliance or suspension action to have their own counsel. It’s expensive enough to do business with the federal government these days. Don’t make it more so by failing to comply with applicable rules or violating ethics mandates.