Sens. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Gary Peters, D-Mich., are the asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to look at the risks that can arise when American firms do consulting work with both U.S.-based and China-based companies.

The Jan. 24 letter specifically asks GAO to perform an assessment of any possible security problems that may stem from those kinds of dual-country consulting arrangements

“Companies that carry out taxpayer-funded projects for the U.S. government should be working in the best interests of the American people, and we are concerned that companies that also contract with adversaries like the Chinese government could be creating unacceptable conflicts of interest,” the senators said.

The letter asks GAO to look into how companies that are doing business with both countries can become susceptible to, or targets of, Chinese government espionage.

The senators outlined five different areas that they said GAO should consider in its assessment:

  • Assess the extent to which Federal agencies collect information on contracts performed on behalf of the Chinese government or its proxies or affiliates by consulting firms that hold or have held contracts with the U.S. government;
  • Evaluate the extent to which Federal agencies have assessed issues with American consulting firms and risks of U.S. information falling into foreign government hands;
  • Identify all contracting clauses that can help identify conflict resolution procedures;
  • Assess all contracting firm foreign connections to identify if they conduct work for Chinese firms; and
  • Identify steps Federal agencies can take to monitor all contract compliance clauses that can help mitigate conflicts of interests.
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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.