DOT’s Suspension and Debarment Program Continues To Have Insufficient Controls
As a steward of billions in taxpayer dollars, the Department of Transportation (DOT) must adhere to Federal suspension and debarment (S&D) regulations to prevent federally funded contract or grant awards to irresponsible parties. Federal S&D regulations require the Department to make timely S&D decisions and to accurately and timely report its decisions to the governmentwide S&D System for Award Management (SAM). In January 2010, we reported significant delays in DOT’s S&D decision making and reporting and a lack of internal controls to adequately safeguard against awards to excluded parties. Given these deficiencies, we conducted a follow-up review of DOT’s S&D program.
While the Department has taken some actions to address issues identified in our 2010 audit, many of the Department’s decisions to suspend, debar, or take other S&D actions continue to be untimely. Specifically, Operating Administrations’ S&D decisions for at least 87 of the 218 S&D parties (40 percent) we reviewed were made after the 45‑day requirement. We also identified significant data errors in the DOT S&D system, which undermine the system’s effectiveness as a management tool. In addition, the Department continues to provide untimely and inaccurate reporting of its S&D actions to SAM. Our review determined that a significant number of the 144 excluded parties we reviewed were not reported within required timeframes. Additionally, because the Department did not adequately reconcile and validate the data in the DOT S&D system, we identified seven parties that were listed as suspended or debarred in the DOT S&D system but were not included in SAM. Failure to report excluded parties puts the Federal Government at risk of doing business with prohibited parties found to be unethical or irresponsible.
DOT’s Office of the Senior Procurement Executive either concurred or partially concurred with all seven recommendations we made to strengthen DOT’s S&D program.