U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced collateral consequences program, which would impact those members of international trade community that receive U.S. government contracts. If CBP finds a conduct worthy of debarment/suspension, then it will recommend for Executive Order 12549 mandate: debarment or suspension of a participant in a program by one agency shall have government-wide effect. The program creates another wrinkle for federal contractors that are thinking about disputing or challenging CBP on various issues. According to CBP, collateral consequences program will go after those who fail “to pay a single substantial debt, or a number of outstanding debts owed to CBP (e.g. unpaid bills or penalties).” So, if you are disputing bill through protest procedure, or writing a penalty petition for the amount that CBP thinks you owe, can CBP view it as a failure to make payment? But, this gets even better. You may also be suspended / debarred for any “cause of so serious or compelling a nature that it correlates with a lack of present responsibility.” I will not attempt to interpret this vague statement of position, but would like to point out CBP’s famous Pietrofeso case, where CBP denied license on “character” grounds to a person with good recommendations and lack of bad history based on suspicion (no proof) that the prospective licensed customs broker will be influenced by criminal minds.
Published September 19, 2017 by Yuri Starikov