The Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS) has been the bane of the contracting community ever since the idea of a government-wide contractor integrity and performance database was first proposed in Congress in 2008. The database officially became operational in April. As contractors learn to adjust to the new system, they appear to be gearing up to fight any and all attempts to expand the scope of FAPIIS and/or make it available to the general public.
Last month, Project on Government Oversight (POGO) became aware of an alert the government contracting law firm Wiley Rein sent out to its clients about the latest efforts in Congress to expand the scope and availability of FAPIIS data. The alert, which mentioned POGO’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for all FAPIIS data, warned about a changing environment in which contractors would be held to stricter accountability and transparency standards. (By the way, POGO finally received an acknowledgment from the General Services Administration (GSA) about our FOIA request. It turns out GSA responded within days after receiving our request in April but sent the response to our old address. Now, the real fun begins as we wait to see if GSA turns over any responsive materials.)
On Monday, another prominent D.C. law firm, Venable LLP, also sent out a FAPIIS-related client update. POGO isn’t identified by name in the update, but it includes a link to the public comment we submitted last November on the proposed rule to implement FAPIIS.
Venable, whose client list includes many of the largest federal contractors, echoes Wiley Rein’s assessment: “[The Federal Contracting Oversight and Reform Act of 2010] demonstrates Congress’s willingness to expand the use and availability of this database well beyond its original intent, potentially exposing damaging information to intense public scrutiny.”
Contractors who collectively take in over $500 billion in public money every year being forced to endure “intense public scrutiny”? Oh, the injustice of it all!
Venable’s assertion that FAPIIS “creates a never before location where contractors’ criminal, civil and administrative decisions and settlements are maintained” is particularly interesting for two reasons. First, it’s a ludicrous assertion because POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, on which FAPIIS was based, has been freely available on the web since 2002. Second, it cuts right to the heart of why contractors despise FAPIIS. It collects and stores in a centralized location a vast amount of information contractors would rather not share with contracting officials
— by Neil Gordon, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), June 9, 2010