Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) is leading the charge to prevent the Department of Defense (DoD) from contracting with consulting firms that simultaneously advise the United States, Russia, China, and other countries of concern.
Ernst’s bill would streamline policies across government agencies to identify potential conflicts of interest within consulting firms or government contractors and permit those conflicts to disqualify firms from being awarded national security contracts.
“The United States is playing a dangerous game. While our adversaries are aggressively working against our national security interests, government contractors closely tied to China and Russia are allowed to advise our military and Pentagon officials. This is a clear conflict of interest. It’s past time we put safeguards in place to ensure no firms hired by the federal government are working simultaneously to support the agenda of our adversaries,” said Senator Ernst, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The Combating Obstructive National Security Underreporting of Legitimate Threats (CONSULT) Act would prohibit DoD from contracting with consulting firms for national security matters when those firms also provide consulting services for foreign adversaries and sanctioned entities. Specifically, it would:
- Prohibit DoD from awarding contracts related to national security industries to consulting firms which work with sanctioned and adversarial entities,
- Impose disclosure requirements on those bidding on contracts for consulting services,
- Provide an enforcement mechanism for DoD to terminate applicable contracts that are not disclosed, and
- Provide a route out of being implicated by the prohibition by certifying it is no longer under a contract.