The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee advanced a bill May 25 that aims to address potential conflicts of interest within the Federal contracting community. An amended version of the bill was reported favorably out of committee and heads to the full Senate for possible consideration.

The bill – titled the Preventing Organizational Conflicts of Interest in Federal Acquisition Act (S.3905) – would require Federal agencies to identify conflicts of interest early in the process by requiring contractors to disclose relationships with entities that would present a conflict of interest to the work the agency has tasked them to do.

“When private sector companies are working for the federal government – we need to know whether other parts of their business might conflict with the tasks they are performing for the American people,” Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., chairman of the committee and an original sponsor of the bill, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, federal contractors often fail to disclose this information – calling into question whether outside relationships could be influencing their taxpayer-funded work.”

The bill was introduced by Sens. Peters; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa in March.

In addition to requiring Federal contractors to disclose any business that would conflict with a new contract from a Federal agency, the bill would also apply to private companies already under contract with the Federal government.

The bill is supported by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), the Project on Government Oversight, and Transparency International U.S.

“When government policymaking is tainted by conflicts of interest, it weakens the legitimacy and credibility of the entire process. That erodes public confidence in government and harms democracy,” Scott Greytak, Director of Advocacy for Transparency International U.S., said. “This bill promotes greater transparency and accountability to ensure the public can trust that government is making decisions with their best interests at heart.”

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Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson
Lamar Johnson is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.