DATE: January 23, 2002

SUBJECT: Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement) and Governmentwide Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace (Grants)

SOURCE: Federal Register, January 23, 2002, Vol. 67, No. 15, page 3265 (Part II of NPRM, Part III of NPRM)

AGENCIES: Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs; African Development Foundation; Agency for International Development; Corporation for National and Community Service; Environmental Protection Agency; Federal Emergency Management Agency; Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service; General Services Administration; Inter-American Foundation; National Archives and Records Administration; National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities (Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Arts, and National Endowment for the Humanities); National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Science Foundation; Office of National Drug Control Policy; Office of Personnel Management; Peace Corps; Small Business Administration; and Social Security Administration

ACTION: Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)

SYNOPSIS: This notice proposes to make substantive changes and amendments to the governmentwide nonprocurement "common rule" for debarment and suspension and the governmentwide rule implementing the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988.

EDITORS'S NOTE: The "common rule" format allows each agency to insert the text into its regulations verbatim merely by adding its appropriate Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) section numbers. For example, the Department of Agriculture's regulations at 7 CFR Part 3017, Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement), contain the debarment and suspension regulations under a nonprocurement covered transaction. Under the proposed common rule, __.25 is "How is this part organized?" To incorporate the common rule into its regulations, the Department of Agriculture would assign the number 7 CFR 3017.25 to "How is this part organized?", and it would consist of the exact same text as in the common rule (Agriculture's 7 CFR Part 3021, Governmentwide Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace (Grants), would contain the text of the common rule implementing the Drug-Free Workplace Act.) Likewise, the Department of Commerce's corresponding regulations are in 15 CFR Part 26, Governmentwide Debarment and Suspension (Nonprocurement), and Commerce would assign 15 CFR 26.25 to "How is this part organized?", and this section would be identical to Agriculture's 7 CFR 3017.25 (Commerce's 15 CFR Part 29, Governmentwide Requirements for Drug-Free Workplace (Grants), would contain the text of the common rule implementing the Drug-Free Workplace Act.)

Also, under the provisions of the Department of Housing and Urban Development Act, any Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposed or interim final rule that is issued for public comment must be presented for Congressional review for a period of 15 days before publication. Therefore, HUD is not taking part in this NPRM but will propose its incorporation of the common rule in a separate rulemaking.

DATES: Comments on this NPRM must be received on or before March 25, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Comments on this NPRM should be addressed to: Robert F. Meunier, Office of Grants and Debarment (3901-R), Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460, or by e-mail to meunier.robert@epa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert F. Meunier, Debarring Official, Environmental Protection Agency, 202-564-5399, or by e-mail to meunier.robert@epa.gov.

Information about the Interagency Committee on Debarment and Suspension can be found on its website at http://www.dot.gov/ost/m60/grant/net.htm.

A chart showing where each agency intends to codify the common rule is available at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) website http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb under the heading "Grants Management."

SUPPLEMENTAL INFORMATION: In 1999, OMB asked the Interagency Suspension and Debarment Committee (ISDC) to review the current debarment and suspension and drug-free workplace common rule and propose amendments that would resolve unnecessary technical differences between the procurement and nonprocurement systems, revise the rule in a plain language style and format, and make other improvements to the common rule consistent with the purpose of the suspension and debarment system. The ISDC's proposed amendments form the basis of this NPRM.

Though grants have little in common with contracts, their debarment and suspension procedures are similar and interrelated in that someone who is debarred for actions taken under a grant is debarred from contracting with the government, and vice versa. So the fact that the proposed common rule is written in plain language and reformatted to separate the drug-free workplace requirements from the debarment and suspension requirements are of little concern to contractors without involvement in grants. However, there are several proposed changes that are of interest to federal contractors:

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Panoptic Enterprises at 703-451-5953 or by e-mail to Panoptic@FedGovContracts.com.

Copyright 2002 by Panoptic Enterprises. All Rights Reserved.

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