An audit released by the State Department’s inspector general reported “that all 30 of the State Department’s largest contractors use confidentiality agreements or policies that can curtail the disclosure of information related to wrongdoing within the company.” In 2012, the State Department paid these 30 contractors nearly $40 billion. Recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission fined a contractor with similar agreements in place $130,000.

The contractors defended themselves by reporting that the agreements had never been enforced against potential whistleblowers. However, the IG would not confirm. Some of the findings included that “13 contractors required workers to tell their superiors about being contacted by a government auditor or investigator. Five contractors use non-disparagement agreements that demand current and former employees avoid saying anything negative about the company or its officers or employees.” The report concluded that the reasoning behind the agreements may be valid, but employees should be able to freely report any wrongdoing witnessed within the company without fear of retaliation.

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