The requirement found at FAR 52.203-13 was implemented on December 24, 2007 and requires any contractor who is awarded a contract in excess of $5 million to have a written Code of Business Ethics and Conduct within thirty days after award.  Large business firms must also implement a training and compliance program within ninety days (see our earlier blog article for additional information). The requirements, however, did not apply to contracts that were to be performed outside of the United States. This “exemption” for foreign projects has now received the attention of the U.S. House of representatives.

As reported today by the Associated Press, the House has voted to close a multibillion-dollar loophole in a crackdown on contract fraud, approving plans to force the Bush administration to act within six months. At issue is a Bush administration rule requiring government contractors to report misuse of taxpayer dollars to the Justice Department. The rule, as originally published last November, included a loophole to exempt contracts performed overseas. Administration officials told lawmakers at a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing earlier this month that the loophole was a "drafting error" and likely would be removed. The administration since has stripped the loophole from the proposed rule, which likely will be finalized later this year. At the House hearing, a top official for the White House Office of Management and Budget predicted the exemption would not be included in the final rule. The Justice Department said has charged at least 46 people in investigations over the past several years into kickbacks, bribes and other abuses of government-funded contracts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. It opposed the loophole.  (Excerpted from "House moves to close contract fraud loophole" as published by the Associated Press).

We agree that there is no reason to treat projects performed overseas any differently than projects performed in the United States. After all, it was the Justice Department’s concern about the millions of dollars of fraud, waste, and abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait that give rise to the rule in the first place.

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