After terabytes of sensitive information related to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project were stolen from contractors’ computers last year, the Pentagon is cracking down on contractors.
The new defense policy bill—currently awaiting the President’s signature—allows the Pentagon’s top civilian leaders to block companies believed to be a potential security risk from doing business with the military. Any company found to be a potential security risk through beaches from hacking vulnerabilities, viruses, malware or even counterfeit parts could be banned without appeal by the Defense secretary and secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force.
This banishment power will act as a balance said Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president of the Professional Services Council, an industry group representing more than 330 contractors. "The provision makes it clear that exclusion is the last action to be taken if other means of addressing the risk to the supply chain cannot be used," he said.
The measure identifies companies that deal with intelligence, cryptology, and weapons systems, while holding the power over any work deemed essential to national security.
The Defense Department is required to tell Congress and other government departments about any banishment, yet also has the option to send confidential exclusion notices. Contract suppliers do not have the right to challenge banishment in federal court or the Government Accountability Office, under the bill.
The new provision would take effect six months after the bill is enacted and apply to existing and new contracts.