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Project on Government Oversight

Enhanced Safeguards Needed For Personal Services Contracts

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November 8, 2010

Defense Acquisition Regulations System
OUSD (AT&L) DPAP/DARS
Room 3B855
3060 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC  20301-3060

ATTN: Meredith Murphy 

Re: DFARS Case 2009-D028 

Dear Ms. Murphy: 

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to DFARS Case 2009-D028, “Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement; Guidance on Personal Services” (75 Fed. Reg. 54524, September 8, 2010). POGO supports the Department of Defense’s interim rule to amend the DFARS to require DoD to develop guidance related to personal service contracts, pursuant to Section 831 of the Fiscal Year 2009 National Defense Authorization Act (Pub. L. 110-417).

Generally, personal services contracts are detrimental to the public because they can lead to hiring personnel based on political or personal connections rather than on merit, which evades the civil service system.

Additionally, the dramatic increase in service contracting has created a blended workforce that often functions without a clear distinction between public servants and contractor employees. Despite restrictions on their use, many service contracts are de facto personal services contracts. The interim rule will help alleviate some confusion by ensuring that DoD personnel avoid such contracts and create an improved system by which service contractor employees must clearly identify themselves as such when attending meetings with government employees or in telephone conversations and written correspondence.

Aside from personal and organizational conflicts of interest, personal service contracts also increase the risk of contractor performance of inherently governmental functions. Because contractor performance of inherently government functions can occur under any type of contract, this interim rule helps create a clear boundary separating contractor and government employees in all workplace environments.

In short, personal service contracts occupy a legal and ethical gray area fraught with risks for the government, the contractor, the contractor’s employees, and the public. However, POGO realizes that personal service contracts serve a function and therefore we support this interim rule.

 Sincerely,

Neil Gordon
Investigator

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