By Matt BorsigUpdated Mar 25, 2020 07:10:04When the Trump administration decides which companies will get federal contracts, it is a crucial decision.
For example, the Pentagon’s plan to purchase 100 fighter jets for $400 billion includes a $400 million guarantee from Boeing, a large-scale defense contractor.
That guarantee is in addition to $250 million from Lockheed Martin, another large defense contractor, and another $200 million from Raytheon, the aerospace giant that has long been a strong Trump backer.
But it is not enough to guarantee that a new company will actually get the contract, as the government must actually award the contract to the winning bidder.
That’s where the Office of Government Ethics comes in.
It is the government’s highest-ranking ethics official, charged with ensuring the integrity of federal contracts and the impartiality of all those making the final decisions about whether a government employee is fit to serve in public office.
The office oversees federal agencies that are tasked with providing benefits to federal employees.
Its staff members have the power to reject, suspend or remove government employees from the job for misconduct, according to a recent letter from the Office’s deputy ethics director, Scott Levin.
Its position is the same as that of the Federal Election Commission, the federal agency charged with enforcing campaign finance laws.
Levin’s letter, which was released Thursday, also called for the appointment of a new chief ethics officer, who would be charged with reviewing all federal contracts in which the Office has an interest, including those for the federal government.
“We are concerned that there may be situations where a particular government employee could violate the code of conduct for government employees by violating the public trust,” Levin wrote in the letter.
“Such misconduct may be committed by the individual’s supervisor, the head of the contracting agency, the director of the Office, or the head or principal officer of the entity that is providing the services to be performed.”
While the office’s letter did not specifically name the company that was awarded the $400-billion contract, a company called Advanced Systems Technologies was cited by Levin in the same letter.
The company, a subsidiary of Texas-based Siemens, is a subsidiary that also happens to be one of the companies awarded the contract for $100 billion in the Pentagon project.
In addition to the letter, the Office issued a press release on Thursday calling for an investigation into the conduct of the Trump team.
In a statement, the office said that it would investigate the allegations and make a recommendation to the Office by April.
If it determines that there is an allegation of conflict of interest, the deputy ethics office will take the matter forward, the statement said.