From ELC: Legislation updates FAR's ethics rules

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- The Federal Acquisition Regulation will be amended to reflect new ethics rules enacted in a recent supplemental appropriations bill, but many details remain unspecified.

President Bush signed the bill, H.R. 2642, June 30.

The bill requires contractors to report violations of the law and overpayments they receive from agencies, but it does not indicate to whom the contractors should report. Those specifics remain for the FAR Council to figure out, said Rob Burton, an attorney at Venable and former deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.

"This, to me, is huge," Burton said, referring to the mandatory reporting requirements. He was moderating a panel discussion on ethics at the Executive Leadership Conference, an American Council on Technology/Industry Advisory Council event.

Congress also asked OFPP to look at how the FAR handles organizational conflicts of interest, another widely discussed ethical issue. Congress has essentially asked OFPP to see if the FAR rules on such conflicts needs to be strengthened. "The implication is, Congress thinks it does need to be beefed up," he said.

Stan Soloway, president of the Professional Services Council and a panelist, said he believes government should remain cautious about regulation and not impose too many restrictions on agencies and contractors.

"We have a few cases of waste, even fewer cases of abuse and almost no cases of genuine fraud," he said. "But we treat them all as they were synonymous."

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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