KBR’s Confidentiality Agreements Draw Congressional Scrutiny

Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. John F. Tierney, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, sent a letter to the CEO of KBR, one of the nation’s largest government contractors, requesting documents relating to the company’s treatment of potential whistleblowers seeking to report wrongdoing at the company.

The Congressional inquiry was triggered by a February Washington Post story revealing that KBR required employees to sign confidentiality agreements. These agreements barred employees who witnessed fraud from speaking to “ANYONE” outside of the company about their allegations without “specific authorization” from the company’s general counsel.

In the letter sent to KBR the Congressmen wrote: “The use of these confidentiality agreements could raise significant concerns if employees of federal contractors are being prohibited from disclosing allegations of waste, fraud, or abuse to government agencies, Congress, or Inspectors General. Obviously, requiring employees to clear such reports through KBR’s general counsel’s office before reporting them to the government would defeat the purpose of good government laws and whistleblower protections enacted by Congress.”

The Congressmen have requested KBR provide copies of all complaints submitted to KBR from its employees, subcontractors, or any other individuals from 2002 to present; copies of all confidentiality agreements restricting employees in any way from reporting allegations of waste, fraud, or abuse; and all policies and procedures relating to the use, application, enforcement, or waiver of confidentiality agreements in relation to internal complaints, tips, and investigations.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center stated “The KBR non disclosure agreements have unquestionably interfered with the ability of Congress to conduct its Constitutional oversight responsibilities. KBR received over $40 billion in taxpayer money. It is incumbent upon Congress, in a bipartisan manner, to insure every penny paid by the honest taxpayers was properly spent and to insure contractors cannot take government money with one hand and silence whistleblowers with the other.”

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