Late last week, the Pentagon published a proposed rule requiring contractors to provide information that would enable contracting officers to identify potential conflicts of interest. Under the rule (published in the Federal Register, contracting officers would have to examine information provided by contractors, government sources, credit rating services, trade and financial journals, financial statements, and other relevant information. This examination would occur during the solicitation and evaluation phases of the acquisition process. If the contracting officer does not identify any potential conflicts of interest, it would be noted in the contract file. If potential organizational conflicts are identified, the rule establishes a number of ways to resolve them. DoD could exclude a contractor from performing work that would create the conflict, exclude certain tasks in the statement of work, or restructure contracts. Contractors could be allowed to perform under the existing contract, but restricted from performing future work for a set period of time. The potential for conflicts could also be mitigated by requiring contractors to take action, such as using a firewall, limiting employees’ access to non-public information, or utilizing conflict-free subcontractors to perform some work. The proposed rule would implement a provision in the Weapon System Acquisition Act of 2009 that requires revisions to the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) to tighten current rules on organizational conflicts of interest (OCI) by major defense acquisition programs contractors.
DoD to require defense contractors to report potential conflicts of interest
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