President Obama issued an executive order Tuesday that is designed to strengthen prohibitions against human trafficking, including sex trafficking, by government contractors.

“As the largest single purchaser of goods and services in the world, the United States Government bears a responsibility to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not contribute to trafficking in persons,” the order says. “By providing our Government workforce with additional tools and training to apply and enforce existing policy, and by providing additional clarity to Government contractors and subcontractors on the steps necessary to fully comply with that policy, this order will help to protect vulnerable individuals as contractors and subcontractors perform vital services and manufacture the goods procured by the United States.”

Among other things, the order prohibits contractors and subcontractors from “using misleading or fraudulent recruitment practices during the recruitment of employees” and prohibits the failure “to pay return transportation costs upon the end of employment” for workers recruited to work in a foreign country.

The order follows a congressional hearing and news reports about some government contractors participating in the sex trade, using indentured servants and exploiting workers.

Scott Amey, general counsel of the Project On Government Oversight, which has pushed for stronger trafficking prohibitions, said the order “will expand the scope of current anti-trafficking policies and regulations. The abuses covered under the president’s order are shockingly common throughout the world. Now, however, U.S. prime contractors and subcontractors who participate in human trafficking are on notice.”

Stan Soloway, president and CEO of the Professional Services Council, which represents contractors, said his organization stands “with the administration in its efforts to ensure that American tax dollars are used as intended and do not flow to individuals or organizations that participate in the tragic practice of human trafficking. Fortunately, such cases are exceedingly rare. But reasonable and focused vigilance is nonetheless the responsible approach to ensure the eradication of any cases.”

70 years, and still going

Seventy years is a long time to do anything, especially working for Uncle Sam.

This week, Sarkis Tatigian was honored for doing just that.

He marked his seven decades with the government, all with the Navy as a sailor and as a civilian, at a ceremony Wednesday. The Navy says he is currently the longest-serving Department of Defense employee.

Can any fed anywhere beat that?

Tatigian, 89, joined the Navy in 1942 as a civilian radio inspector at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. He became a sailor the next year, then returned to being a Navy civil servant in 1946. He now works at the Washington Navy Yard, where he is an associate director of small business.

After all these years, Tatigian said he still enjoys his work, “the variety, the diversification, the challenges that you’re faced with dealing with people internally and externally — that is, the business community.”

During Wednesday’s program, Brian Persons, executive director of the Naval Sea Systems Command, said that “in addition to celebrating Mr. Tatigian’s 70 years of service, we also recognize he is a role model for federal employees. The work that federal employees perform day in and day out is important, but a great deal of what we do is done behind the scenes, out of the limelight. And it can be easy to think about what we do as ‘just a job.’ But when we look at the life, the career and the legacy of Mr. Tatigian, we are reminded that what we do is, indeed, service to our country.”

The Federal Diary featured Tatigian five years ago in honor of his then 65 years with the government. He has no immediate plans to retire, so you might see another story marking his 75th anniversary.

Contract vote at TSA

As we previously wrote online in the Federal Eye, transportation security officers will be able to vote on their first collective bargaining agreement starting Monday, according to the American Federation of Government Employees. Voting will end Nov. 2.

Voting will be conducted at workplaces and by mail. Vote-counting is scheduled to conclude by Nov. 9.

The vote comes after a decade-long effort to win collective bargaining rights for the 45,000 transportation security officers who screen passengers and baggage at U.S. airports.

“If ratified, the agreement will provide important new workplace rights, improvements, protections and flexibilities,” AFGE says on its Web site. “This contract is focused on the issues important to officers across the nation’s airports and will provide for increased uniformity, transparency and fair treatment. This agreement will also strengthen officers’ ability to carry out TSA’s vital mission of protecting the American people by fostering a family-friendly workplace where the employees have greater job satisfaction and feel supported in performing their important security work.”

AFGE and the Transportation Security Administration reached a tentative agreement on the contract in August.

At the time, TSA Administrator John Pistole said the agreement “represents a significant milestone in our relationship with our employees.”

Congressional views split along party lines, with Democrats praising the TSA and AFGE for reaching an agreement and Republicans saying the deal could hinder the agency from moving toward a leaner workforce.

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at