BP should be banned from receiving U.S. government contracts for at least the entirety of its five-year probation period because it has a proven track record of irresponsibility and dishonesty.
That’s according to a letter sent from Public Citizen to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In response to BP’s guilty plea to a range of criminal violations, the government last week temporarily suspended the corporation from bidding on lucrative federal contracts.
Under government-wide suspension and debarment regulations, suspensions generally may not exceed 18 months.
But debarments may last longer.
Public Citizen warned against a short suspension, based on the scale of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, BP’s long record of irresponsible activity and failure to reform, and its plea to an obstruction-of-Congress charge.
“This is not the first time BP has promised to do better,” said Public Citizen President Robert Weissman. “As evidenced by the willful actions and inactions that caused the Gulf disaster, and BP’s subsequent deception of Congress, it failed to live up to those promises. Its current promises to do better shouldn’t be given credence until the company shows through its actions that this time is different. Until BP demonstrates over a period of years that it is able to act responsibly, the EPA should debar it from receiving government contracts or new leases.”
BP is the Pentagon’s top fuel supplier and one of the government’s top 100 contractors, receiving $1.47 billion worth of federal money in 2011.
This year alone – while under investigation for its role in the Gulf disaster – BP has won $1.1 billion in federal contracts.
Public Citizen said three independent reasons confirm that BP be debarred.
First, the company showed that it is a “nonresponsible entity” by its actions leading up to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and blowout, which killed 11 people and caused the massive pollution of the Gulf of Mexico.
Second, BP has shown itself to be a habitual offender. In the letter, Public Citizen lists several violations of federal laws previously committed by BP. Debarment rules emphasize the importance of whether contractors have committed other offenses that indicate a lack of business integrity or responsibility.
Finally, BP has pleaded guilty to obstruction of Congress. BP falsely claimed that it believed the rate of oil flowing into the Gulf to be 5,000 barrels per day, though its internal estimates showed rates far higher. Under debarment guidelines, special attention is paid to crimes of deceit, since they so centrally implicate a company’s ability to operate responsibly and for government’s ability to rely on information provided by the contractor.