36 CFR 223.138 - Procedures for debarment.

§ 223.138 Procedures for debarment.

(a)Investigation and referral. Information which may be sufficient cause for debarment of a timber sale purchaser and affiliates shall be reported to the Forest Service Debarring Official. Generally, such information should be referred through the Forest Supervisor and the Regional Forester. The referral shall be accompanied by a complete statement of the facts supported by appropriate exhibits and a recommendation for action. Where the statement of facts indicates a possible criminal offense, except possible antitrust violations, the debarring official shall notify the Office of Inspector General, USDA. Where the statement of facts indicates a possible antitrust violation, the debarring official shall notify the Antitrust Division, Department of Justice.

(b)Decisionmaking process -

(1)Notice of proposal to debar. The debarring official shall initiate debarment by advising the purchaser and any specifically named affiliate, by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice document shall include the following information:

(i) That debarment is being considered.

(ii) The reasons for the proposed debarment in terms sufficient to put the recipient on notice of the conduct or transaction(s) upon which it is based.

(iii) The cause(s) relied upon under § 223.137 for proposing debarment.

(iv) The specific procedures governing debarment decisionmaking in § 223.138 (b)(1) through (b)(8).

(v) The effect of the issuance of the notice of proposed debarment pending a final debarment decision (see § 223.136(b)).

(vi) The potential effect of a debarment.

(2)Submission in opposition. Within 30 calendar days after receipt of the notice of proposed debarment, the respondent my submit, in person, in writing, or through a representative, information and argument in opposition to and/or in mitigation of the proposed debarment, including any additional specific information that raises a genuine dispute over the material facts.

(3)Informal hearing. Pursuant to paragraph (b)(2) of this section, a respondent may request an informal hearing with the debarring official. The informal hearing shall be held within 20 calendar days from the date the request is received. The debarring official may postpone the date of the hearing if the respondent requests a postponement in writing. At the hearing, the respondent, appearing personally or through an attorney or other authorized representative, may informally present and explain evidence that causes for debarment do not exist, evidence of any mitigating factors, and arguments concerning the imposition, scope, duration or effects of proposed debarment or debarment. A transcript of the informal hearing shall not be required.

(4)Additional proceedings as to disputed material facts. In actions not based upon a conviction or civil judgment, if the debarring official finds that and gives notice that the submission in opposition raises a genuine dispute over facts material to the proposed debarment, respondent(s) may request a fact-finding conference on those disputed material facts. Such a conference shall be held within 20 calendar days from the date the request is received unless mutually agreed otherwise. The fact-finding conference shall conform with the following requirements:

(i) At least 10 days before the fact-finding conference, the debarring official shall send the respondent a copy of all documents in the administrative record as of the date of transmittal and not objected to by the Department of Justice.

(ii) At the conference, the respondent shall have the opportunity to appear with counsel, submit documentary evidence, present witnesses, and confront any person the Forest Service presents.

(iii) A transcribed record of any additional proceedings shall be made available at cost to the respondent upon request, unless the respondent and the Forest Service, by mutual agreement, waive the requirement for a transcript.

(5)Debarring official's decision -

(i)No additional proceedings necessary. In actions based upon a conviction or civil judgement or in which there is no genuine dispute over material facts, the debarring official shall make a decision on the basis of all the information in the administrative record, including any submission made by the purchaser or any specifically named affiliate. The decision shall be made within 30 working days after receipt of any information and argument submitted, unless the debarring official extends this period for good cause.

(ii)Additional proceedings necessary.

(A) In actions in which additional proceedings are necessary to determine disputed material facts, the debarring official shall promptly prepare written findings of fact. The debarring official shall base the decision on the facts as found, together with any information and argument submitted by the purchaser or any specifically named affiliate and any other information in the administrative record.

(B) The debarring official may refer matters involving disputed material facts to another official for findings of fact. The debarring official may reject any such findings, in whole or in part, only after specifically determining them to be arbitrary and capricious or clearly erroneous.

(C) The debarring official's decision shall be made after the conclusion of the proceedings with respect to disputed facts.

(6)Standard of evidence. In any action in which the proposed debarment is not based upon a conviction or civil judgment, the cause for debarment must be established by a preponderance of the evidence. In any action in which the proposed debarment is based upon a conviction or civil judgment, the standard shall be deemed to have been met.

(7)Notice of debarring official's decision.

(i) The purchaser and any affiliates involved shall be given prompt notice of the debarring official's decision by certified mail, return receipt requested. If the debarring official decides to impose debarment, the notice shall:

(A) Refer to the notice of proposed debarment:

(B) Specify the reasons for debarment;

(C) State the period of debarment, including effective dates (see § 223.139); and

(D) Specify any limitations on the terms of the debarment.

(ii) The debarring official shall also promptly notify Regional Foresters and Forest Supervisors of the decision.

[ 52 FR 43329, Nov. 12, 1987, as amended at 72 FR 31438, June 7, 2007]