The Denial of Federal Benefits (DFB) Program provides state and federal courts—as part of the sentencing process—with the ability to deny all or selected federal benefits to individuals who are convicted of drug trafficking or drug possession. Examples of benefits denied include (1) business owners losing Small Business Administration loans or the right to contract with the Federal Government, (2) researchers losing eligibility to apply for grants, (3) broadcasters or pilots losing Federal Communications Commission or Federal Aviation Administration licenses, and (4) doctors losing the authority to prescribe medicine.
The DFB sanction can be imposed in combination with other sanctions, and courts have the option to deny all or some benefits and determine the length of the denial period based on the nature of the crime. When denial of benefits is part of a sentence, the sentencing court notifies the BJA Denial of Federal Benefits Program Clearinghouse, which in turn informs the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). GSA publishes the names of individuals who are denied benefits in the System for Award Management (SAM).
Affects Convictions on or After September 1, 1989
The DFB provision applies only to convictions that were made on or after September 1, 1989, for offenses that occurred on or after November 18, 1988.
Denial of Federal Benefits to Drug Traffickers
Any individual who is convicted of any state or federal offense consisting of the distribution of a controlled substance (as defined in the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802(6) et seq.) shall:
- At the discretion of the court, upon the first conviction for such an offense, be ineligible for any or all federal benefits for up to 5 years after such conviction.
- At the discretion of the court, upon a second conviction for such an offense, be ineligible for any or all federal benefits for up to 10 years after such conviction.
- Upon a third or subsequent conviction for such an offense, be permanently ineligible for all federal benefits. This provision is mandatory.
Denial of Federal Benefits to Drug Possessors
Any individual who is convicted of any state or federal offense involving the possession of a controlled substance (as defined in the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802(6) et seq.) shall:
- Upon the first conviction for such an offense and at the discretion of the court:
- be ineligible for any or all federal benefits for up to 1 year,
- be required to complete successfully an approved drug treatment program that includes periodic testing to insure that the individual remains drug free,
- be required to perform appropriate community service, or
- any combination of the above clauses.
- Upon a second or subsequent conviction for such an offense, be ineligible for all federal benefits for up to 5 years after such conviction as determined by the court. The court shall continue to have the discretion in subparagraph a in imposing penalties and conditions. The court may require that the completion of the conditions imposed by clause a.2 or a.3 be a requirement for the reinstatement of benefits under clause a1.
Exclusions for Denial of Benefits to Drug Offenders
The benefits that are denied under the DFB Program (Section 5301 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988) shall not include benefits relating to long-term drug treatment programs for addiction for any person who, if a reasonable body of evidence exists to substantiate such declaration, declares himself to be an addict and submits himself to a long-term treatment program for addiction or is deemed to be rehabilitated pursuant to rules established by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Suspension of Period of Ineligibility
The period of ineligibility shall be suspended by the court upon a showing that the individual has (1) completed a supervised drug rehabilitation program after becoming ineligible under Section 5301, (2) has otherwise been rehabilitated, or (3) has made a good faith effort to gain admission into supervised drug rehabilitation programs but is unable to do so because of inaccessibility or unavailability of such a program or the inability of the individual to pay for such a program.
Denial of Federal Benefits "Information Clearinghouse"
The DFB Program, administered by BJA, is the "information clearinghouse" for information that all state and federal courts provide regarding sentences of drug traffickers or possessors that include denial of benefits and individuals who have been convicted of a third or subsequent drug trafficking offense. The DFB Clearinghouse collects this information regarding those individuals to whom benefits are to be denied and forwards this information to the General Services Administration for inclusion in the Lists of Parties Excluded From Federal Procurement or Nonprocurement Programs, more commonly known as the Debarment List. Federal agencies are required to consult the Debarment List to ensure compliance with the provisions of the statute.
Important Note: The clearinghouse does not determine who is placed on the list. It simply places people on the list as provided by the sentencing courts.
The DFB Program was established under Section 5301 of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-690).