The Senate on August 2 voted to approve a bill that addresses conflicts of interest within the Federal contracting community.

The Preventing Organizational Conflicts of Interest in Federal Acquisition Act – introduced by Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa – 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 with the work the agency has tasked them to do.

In addition, the bill features proposed revisions to the Federal Acquisition Regulation – the primary Federal regulations used by executive agencies to buy supplies and services with appropriated funds.

The revisions in the Senate bill include new contract clauses and solicitation provisions so contractors are less likely to develop conflicts of interest while working with the Federal government. The bill would also apply to private companies already under contract with the Federal government.

“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. Peters said in an earlier 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 is now headed to the House for consideration. However, some Republican lawmakers have voiced their concerns that this sort of government overreach would stifle the private sector.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. – who introduced an accompanying bill in the House – has vowed to fight to get this critical legislation passed in the House and signed into law.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.