For those in acquisition, we have to do a thing called a responsibility determination. It means the federal government considers the contractor able to fulfill a contract.
The first step in doing this is checking the Excluded Parties List System (EPLS). Any contractor that is debarred, suspended, or proposed for debarment is placed in this database. If the name appears in a search, then we don’t do business with that contractor.
Well, we have to check this database every so often during procurements, then document the result in our contract file.
Unfortunately, we have to REMEMBER to do this. It sounds simple, but humans are forgetful. Acquisition folks are no exception, and EPLS is not designed to assist us.
To fix that, I propose a new feature be added to the EPLS website — a notification feature similar to the new Notifications Dashboard for USA.gov. Essentially, if a contractor we have previously identified shows up on EPLS, then we get an email, text, phone call, RSS notification, or whatever saying that the contractor shows up there.
It’s a simple feature, is forgetful proof, and can save taxpayer dollars.
What do you think?
What is really needed is a robust, automated contract management system that helps contracting personnel fulfill all their responsibilities per the requirements and to ensure the contract file is complete and accurate. This technology would allow newer personnel to get up-to-speed quicker, since the system helps fill knowledge gaps that a newer, or even a seasoned yet busy, contracting officer may forget. I am a big fan of checklists, and this envisioned system would do just that. Of course the interfaces to other systems would be an issue, but that is the subject of another post.