Department of Defense (DOD) officials who serve in senior and acquisition positions and then leave for jobs with defense contractors are subject to the restrictions of post-government employment laws, in order to protect against conflicts of interest. Congress required GAO to report on employment of such officials by contractors who received more than $500 million in DOD's 2005 contract awards. In response, this report (1) provides information on how many former DOD employees worked for contractors in 2006 and estimates how many worked on contracts that were related to their former agencies or to their direct responsibilities and (2) identifies the practices used to monitor restrictions and information challenges in monitoring post-DOD employment. To do this work, GAO matched data from DOD for all employees who left DOD over a 6 year period with data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and from 52 contractors; conducted surveys; and interviewed DOD and contractor officials.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Defense||1. To provide greater transparency during the acquisition process given the fact that former DOD officials can and do work on defense contracts related to their prior agencies or their direct responsibilities, the risk of conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest, and the need to maintain public trust in the integrity of defense contracting, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics) to consider the relevant recent statutory changes and determine if changes in procurement policy are needed to impose additional reporting requirements or other requirements to guard against violations of the government's post-employment rules. For example, DOD could consider requiring defense contractors who are awarded a contract, within a set number of days after contract award, to (1) disclose to the contracting officer the names of employees who are certain former DOD officials (e.g., civilian senior executives, high-level military officers, or acquisition officials) who worked on the response to the solicitation and (2) certify that these employees are in compliance with the applicable post-government employment restrictions.|
|Department of Defense||2. After assessing the benefits and costs associated with the certification process, DOD should consider whether and to what extent it should apply a similar mechanism throughout the term of the contract. In responding to a recent report we issued on contractor employee personal conflicts of interest, DOD tasked its Panel on Contracting Integrity to examine issues we raised and potential solutions. It may also want to do the same with regard to post-government employment reporting.|