POGO Supports Proposal To Enhance Oversight of Private Security Contractors
General Services Administration
Regulatory Secretariat (MVCB)
ATTN: Hada Flowers
1275 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20417
Submitted via Regulations.gov
Subject: FAR Case 2011–029
Dear Ms. Flowers:
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to “Contractors Performing Private Security Functions Outside the United States,” (77 Fed. Reg. 43039, July 23, 2012). As an independent nonprofit organization committed to achieving a more accountable and transparent federal government, POGO has a longstanding interest in federal contracting issues.
The Department of Defense, General Services Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are proposing to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to implement provisions in the National Defense Authorization Acts for 2008, 2009, and 2011 that establish processes and requirements for the selection, training, conduct, and accountability of contractor personnel who perform private security functions outside the United States. The proposed rule would create FAR Subpart 25.302 and contract clause 52.225-XX, to be inserted in contracts as prescribed in proposed FAR 25.302–6.
The proposed FAR amendment will ensure that contractors and their employees are aware of and comply with all relevant orders, directives, and instructions; keep appropriate personnel records and records of weapons and equipment; and report all incidents involving weapons discharges and use of force by or against contractor employees. It will also ensure contractor cooperation with government investigations of the aforementioned incidents. The proposed requirements will apply regardless of whether the performance of private security functions is a primary purpose of the contract. POGO is especially pleased with the range of remedies proposed for non-compliance, including requiring the contractor to remove or replace personnel at the contractor’s expense, recording incidents of non-compliance in past performance databases, reducing or denying award fees, and referring violators to suspension and debarment officials.
The proposed amendment is crucial to our national security. The actions of private security contractors, particularly incidents involving the use of force, have far-reaching impacts on our international reputation and the success of our worldwide peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts. The record-keeping requirements will curb the illicit trade of weapons and other defense articles, and the increased emphasis on qualification, training, and screening will improve the professionalism of security contractor personnel.
POGO continues to have concerns about the government’s use and oversight of private security contractors, particularly in contingency operations. As we testified before the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010, security operations conducted in a combat zone require heightened oversight to ensure contractors are not performing inherently governmental functions. POGO supports the proposed FAR amendment as a step forward in providing consistency in contractor training and strengthening contractor accountability in overseas missions.
Thank you for your consideration of these comments.
 See, for example, Congressional Research Service, The Department of Defense’s Use of Private Security Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq: Background, Analysis, and Options for Congress, May 13, 2011, pp. 14-18, for a discussion of how abuses committed by private security contractors have undermined U.S. missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Downloaded September 12, 2012)
 “Testimony of Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight, before the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan Regarding Private Security Contractors,” June 18, 2010.