Many defense contractor employees work side-by-side with federal employees in Department of Defense (DOD) facilities performing substantially the same tasks affecting billions in DOD spending. Given concerns with protecting the integrity of DOD operations, GAO was asked to assess (1) how many contractor employees work in DOD offices and what type of mission-critical contracted services they perform, (2) what safeguards there are to prevent personal conflicts of interest for contractor employees when performing DOD's tasks, and (3) whether government and defense contractor officials believe additional safeguards are necessary. GAO reviewed conflicts of interest laws and policies and interviewed ethics officials and senior leaders regarding applicability to DOD federal and contractor employees. GAO judgmentally selected and interviewed officials at 21 DOD offices with large contractor workforces, and 23 of their contractors.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisitions, Technology, and Logistics), to develop and implement policy that requires personal conflict of interest contract clause safeguards for defense contractor employees that are similar to those required of DOD's federal employees.|
|Department of Defense||2. In developing its policy, DOD should include requirements for contractor companies to identify and prevent personal conflicts of interest for certain of their contractor employees who are performing contracted services that provide inputs to DOD's decision-making in such mission-critical areas as the development, award, and administration of government contracts and other advisory and assistance functions.|
|Department of Defense||3. In developing its policy, DOD should include the following requirements for defense contractor companies: require a written code of business ethics and conduct applicable to contractor personnel working on certain DOD mission-critical advisory and assistance type services to (1) prohibit contractor personnel from participating in a government contract in which they have a personal conflict of interest; (2) require contractor personnel to avoid the appearance of loss of impartiality in performing contracted duties for DOD; (3) require contractor personnel to disclose personal conflicts of interest to their employer prior to beginning work on these contracts; (4) require the contractor to review and address any personal conflicts of interest its employees might have before assigning them to deliver contracted services; (5) prohibit contractor personnel from using non-public government information obtained while performing work under the contract for personal gain; (6) prohibit contractor employees providing procurement support services from having future employment contact involving a bidder in an ongoing procurement; (7) impose limits on the ability of contractors and their employees on accepting gifts (defined as almost anything of monetary value, such as cash, meals, trips, or services) in connection with contracted duties; and (8) prohibit misuse of DOD contract duties to provide preferential treatment to a private interest.|
|Department of Defense||4. In developing its policy, DOD should include requirements for contractor companies to report any contractor personnel conflict of interest violations to the applicable contracting officer or contracting officer's representative as soon they are identified.|
|Department of Defense||5. In developing its policy, DOD should include requirements for contractor companies to maintain effective oversight to verify compliance with personal conflict of interest safeguards, and have procedures in place to screen for potential conflicts of interest for all employees in a position to make or materially influence findings, recommendations, and decisions regarding DOD contracts and other advisory and assistance functions. This screening can be done on a task-by-task basis or on an annual basis, such as a financial disclosure statement.|