As of April 22, 2010 new rules require contracting officers to investigate bidders for “responsibility” using a central government database, entitled the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (“FAPIIS”). All contractors awarded Federal public works projects must be deemed “responsible” in addition to being the low responsive bidder. “Responsibility” determinations have previously been made using an ad hoc list of sources, including licensing information, lists of excluded contractors, and information requested by the contracting officer. Now the FAPIIS must also be consulted.

The FAPIIS will include a comprehensive data set, including contracting officers’ non-responsibility determinations, default and for cause contract terminations, defective pricing determinations, suspension and debarment administrative agreements, and contractor self-reported criminal convictions, civil liabilities, and adverse administrative actions arising from the award or performance of a government contract.

Contractors will be notified when information concerning them is posted in FAPIIS, and will have the opportunity to post comments. Finally, the rule states that only government personnel and authorized users performing business on behalf of the government will be able to view the contractor’s record in the system.

It is likely that this new rule will create more scrutiny on bidders relative to responsibility.

To facilitate FAPIIS, contractors are now required to provide additional information to contracting agencies concerning criminal convictions, negative civil and administrative determinations of fault or liability, and some civil settlements in which fault is acknowledged.

The reporting requirements will be mandatory in project solicitations where the contract’s value is expected to exceed $500,000. If the contractor has at least $10 million in current active Federal contracts or grants, the contractor must represent that the information available in FAPIIS is current, accurate, and complete regarding any enumerated adverse dispositions, whether at the federal or state level, taken against the contractor or its principals related to the award or performance of a federal contract or grant in the last five years.