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Some Legal Reforms to Increase Contractor Accountability

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The extensive contracting out of government functions, such as the operation of nuclear energy facilities, preparation of government budgets, and even oversight of government contracts themselves, has raised great concern about contractor accountability. This chapter identifies some particular issues of contractor accountability, including accountability to private parties for harm done and the need for public access to and participation in “policy-setting” types of activities conducted by contractors. The chapter further discusses the need for any reform to prompt agencies to more clearly specify contract requirements and to closely monitor those contracts, rather than displacing agency supervision with private litigation. Finally, the chapter suggests and discusses several possible adaptations of current law that would increase contractor responsibility, while simultaneously giving contractors an incentive to seek out, rather than to avoid, greater agency supervision.