Tuesday, October 22, 2019

New Guidance on Anti-Trafficking Regulations

FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulations) 22.17 requires Government contractors to work proactively to prevent human trafficking in their supply chains and take remedial steps if such activities are identified. The term 'human trafficking' encompasses many things but in the context of Government contracting, refers primarily to child labor and forced labor. The requirement applies to contracts greater than $500 thousand.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released guidance yesterday to help contractors manage and reduce the burden of meeting their responsibilities. It describes anti-trafficking risk management best practices and mitigation considerations that acquisition officials can take into account when working with contractors to address their obligations.

The new OMB guidance:

  • Reviews key responsibilities of the regulations
  • Highlights best practices that have been shown to contribute to effective deterrence
  • Describes mitigation actions that should be given appropriate consideration by contracting officers in evaluating the suitability of steps taken by a contractor that has reported a trafficking incident and
  • Provides a FAQ section
The FAR regulations (and the underlying statute) contain express prohibitions on certain types of trafficking related activities. These include prohibition on charging employees recruitment fees, and destroying, concealing, confiscating or otherwise denying access to identity or immigration documents. The regulations also require contractors to implement risk management practices such as an employee awareness program, a recruitment and wage plan, and a housing plan. FAR also requires contractors to take appropriate action against employees, agents, or subcontractors that violate prohibitions. Additionally, contractors now have an affirmative duty to report violations to the OIG (Office of Inspector General).

While this new guidance is primarily aimed at contracting officers, the section on best practices contains a good bit of advice on what a contracting officer might consider when assessing contractors' compliance with the anti-trafficking regulations.

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