Human trafficking is a worldwide crisis—and one that our own government has been facilitating. But that might be about to change. Two federal initiatives lay out detailed anti-trafficking rules that will prevent U.S.-facilitated trafficking occurring abroad, and you can help make sure those rules are as strong as possible.
The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council (FAR Council) is in the enviable position of implementing Executive Order (EO) 13627, “Strengthening Protections Against Trafficking In Persons In Federal Contracts,” and Sections 1701-1709 of the National Defense Authorization Act, Public Law 112–239, the “End Trafficking In Government Contracting Act” (ETGCA). The Project On Government Oversight has urged the FAR Council to implement the strongest possible prohibitions on trafficking in persons (TIP), and is now asking that anyone concerned about government-facilitated TIP, please send this action alert to Administrator Joseph Jordan, of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, who heads the FAR Council. Administrator Jordan and other FAR Council members will be designing a proposed rule, and we need to ensure that it doesn’t stop short of the government’s mandate to have a zero-tolerance policy on trafficking.
TIP has been an area of focus for years within the Departments of Defense and State, the Commission on Wartime Contracting, Government Accountability Office, and Congressional Research Service. They have all recommended ways to deter and eliminate the problem. And Congress is well aware of the problem.
Despite those efforts, we still hear of hideous schemes perpetrated by loan sharks, recruiters, and contractors at all tiers. Foreign workers are lured to Iraq or Afghanistan thinking they are going to Dubai or elsewhere, are working for a small fraction of the pay they were promised when they were hired, or are forced to remain in horrible work conditions because they have to pay back excessive fees to a recruiter or loan shark at home. Those scenarios paint a picture of slavery and exploitation rather than of democracy and freedom, and it’s up to the government and all contractors to alter that picture.
Unfortunately, the current laws and regulations allow self-policing and lack adequate reporting and enforcement measures that ensure accountability throughout the entire federal supply chain. We need specific improvements that will enhance notice provisions, contractor anti-trafficking programs, contractor and victim cooperation with federal investigations, and enforcement so that the government’s zero-tolerance policy is a reality in the U.S. and abroad. The government needs measures that will make it easier for the government to cancel a contract, suspend or debar the contractor, or file or intervene in a false claim action—the type of remedies that generally compel contractor compliance and cause shifts in corporate policies, training, and enforcement.