Legislation Introduced to Prosecute Federal Employees Who Commit Crimes While Working Overseas

Legislation has been introduced in the House that would close a legal loophole to ensure federal employees and contractors are not immune from prosecution for crimes they commit while working abroad.

Two Congressmen have introduced legislation that would prosecute federal workers for committing crimes while working abroad.

The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (H.R. 5339) was introduced by Congressmen David Price (D-NC) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) and aims to close a gap in current law that can leave federal employees and contractors immune from prosecution for criminal acts while working overseas.

According to the lawmakers, contractors working abroad are held to a different legal standard than the military because the laws governing their activities remain unclear and outdated. Under current law that was last updated in 2004, the Justice Department can only prosecute employees and contractors working for the Department of Defense. The proposed bill would expand prosecutorial authority to all federal agencies.

The Civilian Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act will:

  • Expand criminal jurisdiction over certain crimes committed by United States employees and contractors overseas;
  • Direct the Justice Department to create new investigative task forces to investigate, arrest and prosecute contractors and employees who commit serious crimes overseas;
  • Require the Attorney General to report annually to Congress about the offenses prosecuted under the statute and the use of new investigative resources.
  • Allow the Justice Department to prosecute government contractors and employees for certain existing serious crimes without impacting the conduct of U.S. intelligence agencies abroad.

“Contractors employed by our government must not be allowed to operate in an opaque, legal no-man’s land when they commit serious crimes abroad,” said Congressman Price.  “The actions of our country’s employees must be subject to the rule of law. By holding contractors accountable, this legislation will strengthen our diplomatic relations, enhance our national security, and improve oversight and effectiveness of taxpayer-funded government contracts.”

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.