Should U.S. Government Ban BP?


Many of us feel large corporations (like BP) get away with behavior that would land individuals or small-business owners in jail – or at least barred from government work. Now there’s some pretty strong evidence to indicate we are right about that.

The NYT is reporting that small companies are often banned from government work, a process called “debarment,” but not large ones.

Citing a database collected by the D.C.-based Project on Government Oversight, the Times reports that “… the top 100 government contractors have paid more than $19 billion in cases of fraud, bribery, falsifying records and other violations over the past 15 years, but only four of them have been suspended from government contracting, and none have been debarred.”

Even Blackwater, the infamous “security firm” that got into so much trouble in Iraq, was among the “too big to fail” crowd, forcing frustrated lawmakers to propose a law that firms violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act would be banned. When you’re proposing that kind of law, your confidence in the existing process has dropped to zero.

Perhaps even more interesting is that BP has, in the past, managed to push responsibility out into its many “working units.” We know these big companies create many layers of legal protection, and the NYT says that “…two units of BP have…been banned from government contracts because of environmental and safety violations that resulted in the death of several workers.”

The NYT story is here:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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