Secrets of Bonding #23: Myth Busting the T-List

Technically the correct name is “Circular 570.”  The federal Treasury Department produces this list, thus the nickname “T” list. Website: “fms.treas.gov/c570/c570.html

It is re-issued each July first and contains all the corporate sureties reviewed and approved by the Treasury Department.  It also states the largest single bond amount they may provide on a federal contract. Let’s look at some common assumptions about the T-list.

Myth: The IRS tried to withhold tax exempt status from the Tea-List.

Finding: False! (Just wanted to see if you’re paying attention.)

Myth: The government somehow “backs” the sureties on the T-List.

Finding: False! The companies on the list are merely pre-approved for the convenience of the government when administering contracts. The purpose is not to benefit anyone outside the government.

Myth: T-listed sureties are the best in the industry.

Finding: False! Acceptance on the T-List indicates that 1. The surety chose to apply for approval, and 2. They obtained it.  Being T-listed does not indicate the relative strength of one surety compared to another.  For example, there are excellent surety companies that have never sought T-List approval – so they’re not on Circular 570.

Myth: It is illegal and / or impossible to waive a T-listed requirement if it is stated in a project specification.

Finding: False! Private obligees, such as a General Contractor offering a subcontract, have complete discretion and can modify the requirements if they so choose.  It is common to reserve the right to waive any technicalities if the obligee feels it is in their best interests.

Myth: When projects include federal funding (such as a local housing contract), federal bonding requirements automatically apply.

Finding: False! The party offering the contract may set their own requirements.  They could chose to follow some portion of the federal requirements or simply use their own. Federal requirements (as stated in the Federal Acquisition Regulations) only apply to direct federal contracts such as the Army Corps of Engineers, etc.

Myth: When it comes to corporate surety bonds, only the federal government is obligated to use Circular 570 sureties.

Finding: False! If other jurisdictions choose to adopt such a requirement, it would then be mandatory.

Conclusion: The T-list is a convenient tool for federal contracting officers when administering government projects.  It is also helpful for outsiders when evaluating a corporate surety bond.  Circular 570 is easy to access online and it provides a list of sureties accepted by the federal government.

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