Ernst works across the aisle to prevent…

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) join forces with Democratic Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) to call for increased and additional internal oversight by the federal government in treaties with national security consultancies, particularly to prevent consultancies from signing deals with the United States while advising Russia, China and other countries of concern.

The senators presented the today Act to Combat Obstructive National Security Underreporting of Legitimate Threats (CONSULT).streamlining the policies of all government agencies to identify potential conflicts of interest within consulting firms or government contractors and allow those conflicts to bar firms from national security contracts.

click here or in the image above to see Senator Ernst’s comments on the bill.

“America’s adversaries like China and Russia work aggressively against our national security interests; why then should we allow government contractors closely associated with these adversaries to advise our military and Pentagon officials? At the very least, this is a clear conflict of interest, but worse, it could pose a threat to our national security.” said Senator Joni Ernst. “The US is playing a dangerous game; It is high time that we put in place safeguards to ensure that no federal government contractors are simultaneously working to further the agenda of our adversaries such as China and Russia.”

That CONSULT law is also supported by external organizations including the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and Transparency International.

“The organizational conflict system has been watered down over the years, putting a strain on assigned officers to identify, mitigate, neutralize, or avoid OCIs.” said Scott Amey, General Counsel, POGO. “This law will help officials by requiring certain disclosures, including beneficial ownership, during the procurement process and during a contract to ensure companies with ties to foreign adversaries do not receive national security information and federal dollars.”

“The United States often pays millions of tax dollars to private companies to take on high-value national security projects.” said Noah Bookbinder, President of CREW. “In order to ensure the integrity of the services these companies provide to our country, it is critical that we protect these contractual relationships from reality, or even the appearance of a conflict of interest. For this reason, CREW is happy to support the CONSULT Act, which would include organizational conflicts as grounds for a contract refusal and any non-disclosure of a serious conflict would be grounds for the exclusion of a contractor.”

“The US government has made fighting foreign corruption a core national security interest,” said Scott Greytak, Advocacy Director of Transparency International US “To that end, it’s important that U.S. officials have the information they need to know if taxpayer money could go to organizations that work for corrupt foreign governments and to help legitimize them. This information and help.” that we maximize our efforts in fighting foreign corruption.”

background:

That CONSULT law comes after reports surfaced that the consulting firm McKinsey & Company provides strategic advice to state-owned companies in China and Russia on militarization efforts while also receiving national security mandates from the United States. Those opposing Chinese and Russian units include a handful that were blacklist by federal agencies. The issues of militarization and industrialization on which they advise included Provided strategic advice for the Uyghur detention camps, the creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea and the defense sector linked to the Russian Kremlin.

especially the CONSULT law want:

  • Develop government-wide policy and guidance to mitigate and eliminate organizational conflicts of interest related to national security.
  • Requiring consultancies to disclose potential organizational conflicts of interest with specific companies, such as
  • Allow these conflicts of interest to be grounds for refusing a contract or for suspending and disqualifying a contractor.
  • Request the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FARC) to update federal procurement regulations for implementation.

Countries where doing business qualifies as a conflict of interest include: China or any Chinese state-owned company; Russia or a Russian government entity; any state sponsor of terrorism (Iran, North Korea, Syria and Cuba); and other countries involved in a project declared a crime against humanity by the Secretary of State. If a company discloses that it has previously done business or is active in these countries, it could be denied a new contract. If companies fail to disclose these relationships, they could be suspended from a current job or barred from federal contracting altogether.

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