By now, your office is probably buzzing with the same news that's all over the wires and around the Beltway: GSA announced that top federal contractor IBM has been debarred from contracting with all federal agencies. While speculation on the causes of the debarment run rampant, let's put this into context.
Overall, there are 66,183 individuals and companies listed with in the Excluded Parties List maintained by GSA. Of those, 6,030 have debarments terminating after April 1, 2008. So about 10 percent of the listed companies will be eligible to do business with the government sometime between now and 2023 (the latest date in the system). So far this year, the government has debarred 786 companies and individuals (compared to 911 during the same period last year).
For the roughly half with defined reasons for debarment, the most common cause relates to healthcare payments: 34% of the individuals and companies listed relate to healthcare violations. Next on the top reasons relates to fraud, but fewer than 4% fall into that category. What about the reason for IBM's exclusion? Just 0.2 % share IBM's "Suspension by any Federal agency pursuant to Executive Order 12549 and the agency implementing regulations based on an indictment or other adequate evidence (a) to suspect the commission of an offense that is a cause for debarment or (b) that other causes for debarment under the agency regulations may exist." (It's possible this is a Clean Water/Air Act violation, since the exclusion was initiated by the EPA (1%).)
GovWin's Take: According to the EPA: "The action was taken by the EPA suspending official is a temporary measure while the agency reviews concerns raised about potential activities involving an EPA procurement. As the matter is currently pending before the suspending official, the agency will have no further comment at this time." IBM currently has over $1.4 billion in sixteen pending contract re-competes at agencies across the federal government. In the last year, IBM received $1.4 billion in federal obligations (up from the prior year's $1.2 billion). Since the date of expiration is undefined, this could expire tomorrow. In any case, the government has so many ways to tell companies they're unhappy, this seems like an extraordinary step to take.
UPDATE: April 1 -- The plot thickens...apparently this issue was a surprise to IBM as well. If IBM is correct, no conversations or negotiations occurred about the issues that led to the GSA's action. The controversy is around a protest of the award to CGI Group of the EPA's Financial Management System Modernization Project (GovWin Opp. ID 6115) in February, 2007.