Rule changes proposed by the Department of Defense on organizational conflicts of interest (OCI) in major defense acquisition programs are at odds with the goals of the government’s Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act of 2009, according to TASC, Inc.
Responding to the proposed changes, the defense contractor voiced concerns that these modifications may increase the potential for blemished objectivity.
“The proposed rule has a strong preference for mitigation of OCI rather than avoidance,” said Wood Parker, president and CEO of TASC. “In our view, the best path forward is an overall policy emphasis on OCI avoidance – with only occasional mitigation in truly exceptional circumstances, as specifically called for in WSARA.”
One of WSARA’s goals is to improve the transparency of the acquisition process and rid organizational conflicts of interest. Conflicts can occur when a company’s work under one government contract requires the company to perform work that may favorably affect the company, or unfavorably affect a competitor, on another government contract or opportunity.
“TASC believes the proposed DFARS (Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement) coverage has many positive aspects that will help restore and maintain public trust in the acquisition process,” TASC said in its comments to the Pentagon. “However, the requirements of the new rule―create significant obstacles for a contracting officer to avoid OCI, even when he or she believes it is the right thing to do.”