While organizational conflicts of interest has generated buzz over the recent Pentagton ruling, personal conflict of interest (PCI), which appears to be more restrictive, seems to be more damaging to federal employees, contracting employees and government contracting companies.
According to the 2008 GAO pertaining to PCI, government officials believed new requirements are necessary for certain contractor employees influencing DoD decisions, but they were concerned new safeguards would increase costs.
Furthermore, several laws and regulations address personal conflicts of interest, but only one applies to both federal and contract employees. Few government ethics laws and DoD-wide policies are in place to prevent personal conflicts of interest for defense contractor employees.
The Department of Defense FAR Supplement and the Federal Acquisition Regulation require government contracting companies that provide contractor employees to DoD to have written ethics polices.
An article on ExecutiveGov states that of 22 contractors audited by GAO, 18 of them already had written policies to prevent person conflicts of interest within their workforce.
The report says DoD oversight officials feel current requirements are inadequate to prevent certain conflicts from arising due to contractor employees having more influence on government operations and spending decisions. However, numerous program managers and defense contractors believe adding safeguards will increase costs and may be unnecessary because government officials“”not contractor employees“”are the ones ultimately making the decisions.
When GAO asked DoD officials to describe cases of improper conduct involving contractor employees, they said, “Some officials also pointed out that very few cases of actual conflicts of interest or other ethics problems involving contractor employees have been publicly identified and in most of these cases, the situations were handled informally.“