March 29, 2012
The True Cost of Conflict of Interest
The private-sector-focused Business Ethics Blog recently published an nteresting article about the real cost of conflicts of interests that has implications for the public sector. In particular, the author questions whether contractors who give gifts are intentionally causing others to violate their conflict of interest duties and encouraging people to violate the Standards of Conduct. Food for thought.
February 13, 2012
Air Force suspends Booz Allen San Antonio office
Federal Times reported that the Air Force has indefinitely suspended and proposed debarment for Booz Allen Hamilton's San Antonio office from future federal procurements for disclosure of protected proprietary information. Read the full article at http://www.federaltimes.com/article/20120209/IT04/202090305/
November 25, 2011
Possible Effects of New DFARS Requirement for DoD Contractors
Thanks to an esteemed former IEC member for alerting us to a new DFARS regulation. Effective as of November 18, 2011, the new rule requires DoD contractors to represent when they submit their bid that all “covered DoD officials” who will work on the contract are presently in compliance with their post-Government employment restrictions including 18 U.S.C. 207 and the Procurement Integrity Act. Our well-informed source points out that this may result in more requests from contractors for more specific ethics opinions from agency ethics officials regarding specific matters that departing DoD personnel have been involved with.
November 04, 2011
New Rule on Conflicts of Interest for Contractors Performing Acquistion Functions
A significant new final rule regulating personal conflicts of interest of contractor and subcontractor employees supporting or performing certain government acquisition functions was published on November 2.
Crowell & Mooring's analysis of the rule is available at their website.
October 02, 2011
POGO: Contractors Much More Expensive Than Civil Servants
Irrational bashing of civil servants has become so popular, it's a pleasant surprise to see an objective analysis. A Project on Government Oversight report demonstrates that civil servants are much more cost effective than contractors:
On average, Uncle Sam spends nearly twice as much when the government outsources a job as it would if it just hired another "expensive" federal worker, says a new report by the Project On Government Oversight, "Bad Business: Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Wasted on Hiring Contractors."
In researching this report, the POGO assessed contracts in 35 different job categories, comparing the total compensation for a federal employee with contractor annual billing rates to provide the same services. Astonishingly, in 33 of the categories, the federal employee cost the Treasury significantly less than the contractor.
Consider this example. For a "general attorney" on the public payroll, the government spends about $175,000 a year on salary and full benefits. If, however, the government hires a contractor to provide the same legal services, POGO found that we taxpayers would dole out almost $555,000 a year. Comparable findings surfaced in lots of other cases. Accountants on the public payroll cost us about $124,000 a year. If we engage them through a contractor, we spend about $283,000. Federal food inspectors carry a $58,000 yearly price tag as government employees, but cost about $75,000 if they're hired through a contractor.
August 23, 2011
Contractor Contribution Reporting Proposal
Government Executive reports on the status of a proposal to require government contractors to report on their political donations.
July 09, 2011
Contractors Supervising Contractors?
Thanks to the friend who tipped us off to a Government Executive story with the following quote:
Among the problems with contracting, [OMB’s] Zients said, is that too often "it is hard to distinguish who is the contractor and who is the federal employee" and some contractors today are actually managing other contractors, which is "unacceptable…."
June 27, 2011
Need to collect Contractor Business Ethics Compliance info?
The Federal Register published a joint notice of request for public comments regarding an extension to an existing OMB clearance requirement. Public comments are particularly invited on: Whether this collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of functions of the FAR, and whether it will have practical utility; whether our estimate of the public burden of this collection of information is accurate, and based on valid assumptions and methodology; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and ways in which we can minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, through the use of appropriate technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology. Comments due Aug. 26, 2011. See Fed.Reg. at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-06-27/pdf/2011-16058.pdf.
May 29, 2011
OGE Resources for Dealing With Contractors in the Workplace
A subscription to the OGE mailing list (address in right column) is a must for all federal ethics officials. Last week's post on resources for dealing with contractors in the workplace is a good example. The resources include:
For employees -
- Working with Contractors: What You Need to Know (Web-based training module)
- Working with Government Contractors: What You Need to Know as a Federal Employee Who Works with Government Contractors (Booklet)
For ethics officials/trainers -
- Ethics and Working With Contractors, DAEOgram (06-023a) (2006). DAEOgram in Q&A format.
April 29, 2011
New Proposal for Contractor Organizational Conflict of Interest Rules
On April 26, 2011, the Federal Register published a new proposal to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to provide revised regulatory coverage on organizational conflicts of interest (OCI). See proposed rule at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/2011-9415.htm.
The rule differs from the previous rule proposed in late 2010, allowing contracting officials greater flexibility in asessing risk. Of particular ethics-related interest, is the move of the OCI rules to Part 3 of the FAR, which addresses the personal conflict of interest of Government officials. Also, the rule would distinguish between OCI and situations involving unfair competitive advantage based on unequal access to information (e.g., Health Net case). See Federal Computer Weekly: http://fcw.com/articles/2011/04/26/organizational-conflict-of-interest-proposal.aspx?s=fcwdaily_270411.
April 21, 2011
Coming Soon: A Federal Contractor Ethics Code
This week, a panel of government officials and private sector advisors recommended that the regulations governing federal contracts should include a clear code of ethics. Under the plan, approved by the Administrative Conference of the United States, the FAR-governing council would create a model conflict of interest policy that would apply both to contractors that work with secret government information and to those that might run into valuable proprietary data about their competitors. The panel recommended that the model language remain only advisory to agencies. The ultimate goal of the proposal is to decrease the disparity between ethics rules that apply to government employees and to contract employees. The article at GovExec.com can be found here:
April 04, 2011
ACUS Groups To Discuss Contractor COI Recommendations
This month there will be three meetings of committees of the Assembly of the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) to discuss draft recommendations regarding conflict of interests of contractors who provide support to Government agencies. A Federal Register notice gives more information.
Thanks to former IEC Chair Steve Epstein for the tip.
March 01, 2011
ACUS Seeks Public Comment on Contractor Proposal
A Federal Register item announces an Administrative Conference of the United States solicitation of public comment:
Committee on Administration and Management of the Assembly of the Conference on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon to consider a draft recommendation concerning the ethics rules applicable to government contractors and their employees. To facilitate public participation, the Administrative Conference is inviting public comment on the recommendation to be considered at the meeting, to be submitted in writing no later than 12 noon on March 15, 2011. Thanks to former IEC Chair Steve Epstein for the tip.
Committee on Administration and Management of the Assembly of the Conference on Wednesday, March 16, 2011 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon to consider a draft recommendation concerning the ethics rules applicable to government contractors and their employees. To facilitate public participation, the Administrative Conference is inviting public comment on the recommendation to be considered at the meeting, to be submitted in writing no later than 12 noon on March 15, 2011.
Thanks to former IEC Chair Steve Epstein for the tip.
February 28, 2011
ACUS Opines on Contractor Ethics
POGO Blog reports that the newly reactivated Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) has taken a position on ethics rules for contractors, as discussed by Professor Kathleen Clark at a recently IEC meeting.
February 24, 2011
Contractor Ethics - FEMA Presentation Materials & Handouts (Mar. 2011)
Please remember to bring your own copies of the relevant handouts for the upcoming meeting.
Power Point Presentation: Download FEMA Acq Ethics Brief 2011 (black white)
FEMA specific guidance:
- Download Contractor Logo on FEMA Publications and Documents to Congress
- Download Kor FEMA workplace 2007
- Download TRAINING EXAMPLES FOR VIOLATION GAMEREVISED3
- Download DHS Form 11000-6 NDA
- Download 2011_02_23_sourceseltechevalKethicsBW
Other references and resources:
- Download 31 USC 1349
- Download 48 CFR 37 114 contractorID themselvesFAR
- Download DO-06-023 wking with contractors
- Download Subpart 9 FAR OCI
February 11, 2011
Communications With Contractors Encouraged
For years, agency contracting officers have been afraid to meet with vendors for fear of sparking bid protests, causing delays, or committing potential ethical violations, said Dan Gordon, administrator of federal procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget. But, the lack of interaction could be causing the government to pay higher prices, or to provide poorly defined contract requirements, he said.
On Wednesday, Gordon's office released a 13-page memorandum that attempts to bust 10 widely held misconceptions about contractor communications. ...
February 04, 2011
"Ethics for an Outsourced Goverment" presentation materials (Feb. 2011)
Here is the power point presentation from Professor Kathleen Clark (Washington University in St. Louis School of Law) on "Ethics for an Outsourced Government," her draft report for the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS). Download Ethics for an Outsourced Government (2-3-2011) IEC-rev
January 30, 2011
Reminder: Special Guest Speaker at Thursday Meeting
Professor Kathleen Clark will speak on February 3 about ethics issues involving government contractors, and the need for more attention to this area given the tremendous increase in government outsourcing in recent decades. We have had many good speakers over the past year, and with a nationally-respected expert on tap, this program should be up there with the best.
Details about the meeting are in a previous post. Professor Clark's thought-provoking draft paper on the topic "Ethics for an Outsourced Government" is available. We found the seven page summary of existing ethics restrictions on federal employees to be a very useful synopsis of the current playing field. Professor Clark's letter seeking from IEC members is available.
January 06, 2011
POGO article on new DoD Contractor Organizational Conflict rule
Project on Government Oversight (POGO) published an article on the DoD final rule on contractors' organizational conflict of interest (OCI). See POGO article at http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2011/01/2010-ends-with-contracting-ethics-defeat.html. See DoD final rule on OCI related to major defense acquisitions programs at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-32713.pdf
December 12, 2010
Seeking Input on "Ethics for an Outsourced Government."
We are passing along the following request by Professor Kathleen Clark, author of the excellent Confidentiality Norms and Government Lawyers article, among others. To reduce her exposure to spam, we will forward e-mails sent to the "Contact Us" address to her:
I've started a new research project, and would welcome feedback from ethics professionals and others.
As your readers know, the federal government has increasingly turned to contractors to perform some of the services that previously were performed by government employees. Most of the ethics statutes and regulations that apply to government employees do not apply to these contractors, and the government is only beginning to grapple with these issues. I have written a draft report on this topic for the Administrative Conference of the United States, "Ethics for an Outsourced Government." (available at: )
In this report, I describe the phenomenon of government outsourcing, compare the detailed ethics provisions that apply to government employees with the limited provisions applicable to contractor employees, and argue that the government needs take action to prevent conflicts of interest.
I also plan to write a series of law review articles on this theme, and would welcome feedback on the research project more generally. One of the articles will examine the ethics of bailout contractors; another will focus on financial conflict standards for government employees and contractors; and a third will examine how various institutions implement financial conflict standards (e.g., requiring annual disclosures or more targeted approaches).
Professor of Law & Israel Treiman Faculty Fellow
Washington University in St. Louis
Campus Box 1120
St. Louis, MO 63130
In recent decades, the federal government has greatly expanded its use of contractors to perform services, and now purchases more than $260 billion in services every year. The government has increasingly turned to contractors to accomplish its programmatic goals, and contractor personnel are now performing tasks that in the past had been performed by government employees.
While an extensive array of ethics statutes and rules regulate government employees to ensure that they make decisions in the interest of the government rather than a private interest, only a few of these restrictions apply to contractor personnel. If a federal employee makes a recommendation on a matter that could affect her financial interest, she could be subject not only to administrative discipline but also to criminal prosecution. In most cases, a contractor employee who has that same financial interest and makes the same recommendation is not subject to any consequences. In fact, the government does not have any systematic way of even finding out when contractor personnel have such conflicts of interest. The personal conflicts of interest of contractor personnel are largely unregulated.
In light of the fact that so much of the government’s work is outsourced, the government needs to develop appropriate safeguards to ensure that the public interest is protected when contractors are doing the government’s work. This report describes the complex set of government ethics statutes and regulations, identifies the principles underlying those restrictions, and suggests ways that those principles can be applied to government contractor personnel.
September 17, 2010
Tracing Broken Links
We received a request via e-mail concerning one of our old postings:
Is the following training still available? OnlineTraining: Working with Contractors: What You Need to Know
When I click on the link it says page is not found. Any information you can provide is greatly appreciated.
Reproducing the answer may help others understand how they can help themselves when they have similar questions:
Like many organizations, OGE has been known to rearrange its website, breaking addresses. You could try contacting OGE and asking them about it. It might not be easy to find the responsible person at OGE. Therefore, it is probably more efficient to first try to track down the new address yourself. Self-help is good in this situation.
This is one of the reasons we include the link to a customized OGE Google search engine at iecjournal.org. It searches only the OGE site. In this case, a search on the phrase "Working With Contractors: What You Need to Know" leads to:
One of the links there has training about working with contractors.
If the site you are searching does not have a customized search engine, you can get a similar result by including the word "site:" before the name of the website to be searched. For example, to search the U.S. Treasury web site for information about ethics, use the search term "ethics site:treasury.gov". Look under the "Advanced Searches" tab at Google for more information about this and other search techniques.
July 29, 2010
Contractors Attack Organizational Conflict of Interest RuleProposed conflict of interest rule is a lightning rod for criticism (7/27/10) -- GovExec.com.
Industry groups have voiced near unanimous disapproval of a proposed Defense Department rule change that would require contractors to disclose possible organizational conflicts of interest before bidding on projects.
April 22, 2010
Public Access to FAPIIS Database?The Project for Government Oversight has filed a FOIA request for information in the FAPIIS database discussed here recently. Scott Amey stated the POGO position:
It’s illogical to think that the public will be denied access to a database that compiles press releases, agreements, and information from government websites. The public should demand access to this information in order to hold agencies and contractors accountable.
November 24, 2009
Proposed Tightening of DOD Revolving DoorGovernment Executive reports on a proposed rule that would limit employment of former senior DOD officials:
The regulation prohibits Defense officials who have "participated personally and substantially in an acquisition exceeding $10 million or who [have] held a key acquisition position" from accepting a job with a defense contractor without first obtaining a written opinion from an ethics counselor. The counselor will determine which, if any, activities the official can perform on behalf of the contractor for the first two years after the official leaves government.
November 16, 2009
Proposed FAR Change To Address Contractor Employee Conflicts of Interest
A November 13 Federal Register notice outlines a proposal to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to address personal conflicts of interest by employees of Government contractors.
Government Executive has analysis of the proposal, including these comments:
But the burden for enforcing the rule -- written by the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council, Defense Acquisition Regulations Council and the Office of Federal Procurement Policy -- is placed almost exclusively on the contractor. The company would be required to inform covered employees of their obligation to disclose and prevent "even the appearance of personal conflicts of interest." To enforce the rule, the contractor would be required each year to obtain, maintain and update financial disclosure statements from each covered employee assigned to a task under the contract. The disclosure statement would spell out all personal conflicts of interest the employee could face in impartially executing the contract, including the financial assets of the worker or their close family members. The rule stipulates a host of financial connections that must be disclosed, including salaries, consulting relationships, research funding, stocks and real estate.The deadline for comments on the proposed rule is January 12, 2010.
October 20, 2009
POGO Surveys Federal Management of Contracting Out
The Project on Government Oversight has launched a web-based survey designed to shed light on the federal government’s policies and practices regarding its use of private sector contractors to perform services previously performed by government employees.
Edited Dec. 5 to correct URL.
September 29, 2009
Contractor Code of Ethics Rule Implementation
March 04, 2009
Lawyers Claim Contractor Self-Reporting Rule Too Vague
Government Executive reports that private sector lawyers are complaining about the new FAR provision requiring contractors to report on fraud, bribery, conflicts of interest, false claims or improper gratuities discovered in conjunction with government contracts:
During a webinar on Tuesday, Reed Smith LLP attorneys Lorraine Campos and Steven Tibbets highlighted a list of terms that are not defined in the regulation, such as "full cooperation," "timely" and "credible evidence." While these terms have common-sense meanings, their legal definitions are vague, the attorneys said. For example, full cooperation includes providing timely and complete responses to government auditor or investigator requests for documents and access to employees with information, but a comprehensive definition is not provided. The original draft of the rule required contractors to report violations when they had "reasonable grounds to believe" one had been committed. During the rule-making process that language was changed to mandate disclosure if there was "credible evidence" of a violation. But the final rule did not define credible evidence, leaving legal advisers to assume the change indicated regulators were willing to let contractors investigate allegations before reporting them to inspectors general.
Edited March 5 to correct typo.
March 03, 2009
Contractors Get Work Despite Debarment
[S]ome lawmakers noted the [excluded parties] database suffers from fundamental flaws, such as missing corporate identification numbers, an inadequate search function, obsolete contact information and an incompatibility with other government procurement databases. "The egregious examples of contracting failures found by GAO not only led to waste but endangered lives," said Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the committee's ranking member. "Recommendations for fixing mistakes, including better training and technology, need to be implemented."
August 20, 2008
Role of Contractors in the Workplace
Government Executive has a story Across the Divide with some ideas on balancing the roles of contractors and civil servants. Their last bullet point sounds an awfully lot like the "code of conduct" for contractors advocated by OGE Director Ric Cusick. Our related post on GAO's view of contractor conflicts of interest and a link to OGE's course on working with contractors are available. Many posts on related topics are archived under the heading Contractors in the Workplace.
Update 9/20: Cecilia Owens points out that due to the OGE web site remodeling, there is an updated link to OGE's course mentioned above.
August 19, 2008
Organizational Conflicts of Interest
The Washington Post has a story about organizational conflicts of interest. Here's an exceprt:
The case offers a rare glimpse at one of the consequences of the government's unprecedented reliance on contractors to help federal agencies: Consultants sometimes gain insider knowledge and help draft rules that could benefit their own bottom lines, procurement specialists said.
Because the acquisition workforce has not kept pace with the massive expansion of outsourcing in recent years, such conflicts rarely come to light. When they do, the government often is not able to address the problems, specialists said.
"This is the top of the iceberg," said Daniel Guttman, a procurement specialist at Johns Hopkins University who brought the case to the government's attention. "The government has basically never publicly reviewed whether the conflict of interests rules work. They don't."
Thanks to Ellen Peterson for drawing this story to our attention and Eric Rishel for highlighting its significance.
June 19, 2008
Comment Period Extended on Contractor Employee Conflicts
The OGE mailing list reports that the FAR Council has extended the deadline for comments on the proposed rule on service contractor employees' personal conflicts of interest. The new deadline is July 17, 2008.
June 02, 2008
Open Compliance and Ethics Group
Government Executive reports on the Open Compliance and Ethics Group, a Phoenix-based nonprofit organization that is trying to assist government contractors and subcontractors in complying with government rules, including the new requirement for contractor codes of conduct:
OCEG's goal was to provide a structured point of reference -- particularly for small and mid-size firms that cannot afford high-priced attorneys or compliance teams -- as well as to reduce the waste of resources that nearly all contractors experience in keeping up with the government's complex amalgam of regulations, according to Switzer. ...
"Federal procurement rules and regulations are complex and the risks can be substantial if contracts are not entered into without sufficient due diligence on the part of the contractor," said Brian Simmons, national director of Ernst & Young's government contract practice.
May 14, 2008
Key May Due Date Reminders
May 15 is the filing deadline for certain SF 278s that are sent to OGE for final review and certification. DAEOgram DO-08-018 has details. Extensions are possible.
May 27 is the deadline to submit comments on the FAR Council's proposal on addressing service contractor employees' personal conflicts of interest in light of the concerns raised by OGE, the findings of a GAO report, the recommendations of the Services Acquisition Reform Act panel, two recent FAR cases (2006-07 and 2007-06), and some agency approaches to the issue. under 31 U.S.C. § 1353. DAEOgram DO-08-017 has more information.
March 28, 2008
GAO Report on Contractors in Workplace
"Every day, contractors work side by side with federal employees, and yet the government might not even know when the self-interests of contractors are pitted against the interests of the American taxpayer," Lieberman said. "Given the government's increased reliance on outside contractors, we need an immediate overhaul of federal ethics policies to ensure that conflicts of interest don't impair the impartiality of contractors or their employees."
On Wednesday, the Civilian Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulation Council, which recommend changes to the FAR, announced that they were considering new contractor conflict-of-interest clauses. The notice in the Federal Register said the councils want to determine whether the regulation's current guidance "adequately addresses the current needs of the acquisition community."
A Washington Post story on the GAO report is available.
Thanks to Mark Stone for links to the Federal Register notices, summarized as follows:
- Employee PCI: The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (the Councils) are interested in determining if, when, and how service contractor employees’ personal conflicts of interest (PCI) need to be addressed and whether greater disclosure of contractor practices, specific prohibitions, or reliance on specified principles would be most effective and efficient in promoting ethical behavior.
- Organizational Conflicts of Interest: The Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council (the Councils) are seeking information that will assist in determining whether the Federal Acquisition Regulation System’s current guidance on organizational conflicts of interest (OCIs) adequately addresses the current needs of the acquisition community or whether providing standard provisions and/or clauses, or a set of such standard provisions and clauses, might be beneficial.
March 21, 2008
GAO Report on Contractor Conflicts of Interest
Thanks to OGE for alerting us to a new Government Accountability Office report entitled Defense Contracting: Additional Personal Conflict of Interest Safeguards Needed for Certain DOD Contractor Employees (March 2008). Some of the concerns overlap with those expressed by OGE including, Report to the President and to Congressional Committees on the Conflict of Interest Laws Relating to Executive Branch Employment (January 2006).
January 31, 2008
More on Ethics Resource Center Survey
The January 30 Washington Post story on the Ethics Resource Center survey reported here previously contains a nice chart (not available with online version) and a quote that echoes concerns about contractor ethical issues expressed by OGE Director Rick Cusick:
Ethical issues have become increasingly important, "if for no other reason than the fact that the [federal] government has become increasingly reliant on contracting and grants to independent suppliers, who are providing the government with an increasing range of goods and services," said Kenneth Ryder, a project director at the National Academy of Public Administration. "That puts a premium on having an effective ethics program."
A related Post story suggested ethical problems may be even more common at the state and local levels.
January 11, 2008
Comments on Contractor Compliance/Reporting Proposal Due Monday
Comments are due Monday, January 14 on the proposal to amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation to, among other things, require contractors who become aware of possible legal violations to report them to the government. Here are some resources we've collected to assist those who want to comment on this significant proposal:
- Download 72_fr_64019_contractor_compliance_and_integrity_reporting.doc (72 FR 64019, the proposal)
- Download far_amendment_support_letter.pdf (A letter already submitted supporting the proposal)
- Download far_change_talking_points.doc (Summary of a few of the reasons change is desirable)
- Download larsen_article.pdf (An article describing the successful implementation of a similar program at the National Reconnaisance Office)
December 26, 2007
Comments on Contractor Code of Ethics Proposal
January 14, 2008 is the deadline for commenting on the proposal to require contractors to adopt codes of ethics and report wrongdoing. Although the proposal for a government-wide rule is basically the same as the rule already successfully adopted by the National Reconnaissance Office, some contractors are reportedly opposing the new measure. The proposal was discussed here previously.
December 22, 2007
Contractors Managing Contractors
A Federal Times story on an IG report about federal contractors managing other contractors in Iraq helps illustrate why OGE Director Ric Cusick considers contractor conduct a significant issue:
The Defense and State departments doled out nearly $42 million in bonuses to five contractors managing other contractors in Iraq, but they had scant documentation to justify the bonuses, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) auditors found.
With little and even contradictory information on the $527.5 million worth of contract support contracts, "SIGIR was unable to conclude how well the approach of using contractors to manage other contractors worked," the Oct. 29 report said.
December 04, 2007
New Contractor Code of Ethics Requirement
A rule creating a new Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Subpart 3.10 that requires federal contractors to establish codes of conduct has stirred some controversy. A Government Executive story explains:
"When fully implemented, these rules fundamentally change what is expected of government contractors," Denett [an OMB official] said in an e-mailed response to questions from Government Executive. "These rules move us from well-established principles of contractor self-governance and voluntary disclosure to contractual requirements [to establish ethics awareness programs and internal control systems] and mandatory disclosure [of violations of criminal law in connection with the award or performance of any government contract or subcontract]."
But some industry experts suggest the change will have little impact on the performance of federal contractors.
Larry Allen, president of the Coalition for Government Procurement, a trade group in Washington that represents contractors, said most firms already have well-established ethics programs that could be applied toward the new rule.
This new ethics rule complements another rule also enacted last month that requires contractors to report improprieties or risk suspension or debarment.
November 30, 2007
It's that time of year again! Holiday ethics issues are on us. DOD SOCO has a fact sheet on Partying With Contractors and Supervisors. There is also a good Army memo entitled Happy Holidays and Good Judgment.
Why reinvent the wheel? We welcome your suggestions as to other resources.
Updates: Dec. 3: Typo correction. Dec. 5: Updated URL for party paper to 2006 version.
November 06, 2007
Second Look At Post Ethics Story
An October 1 story Washington Post story examined a retired Air Force officer who was given a temporary job with a nonprofit defense contractor, Commonwealth Research Institute, while waiting a White House appointment for the number two Air Force procurement job. The Post quoted Lt. Col. Charles Riechers as saying, "I really didn't do anything for CRI," in a context that sounded like an admission of ethical impropriety. Two weeks after the Post story, Riechers was found dead, an apparent suicide.
Spurred by Air Force complaints about the original story, Debroah Howell, the Post Ombudsman re-examined the Reichers case in a recent column. She concluded that the original story may have been overly simplistic. She discovered a wide range of expert opinion on whether the temporary job was unethical. Here are some of the opinions:
Stan Z. Soloway, a deputy undersecretary of defense during the Clinton administration, was critical of the story and headline. "It lacked important context and facts. There are questions of appearance here, but this does not appear to have been a no-work contract. He did work for the Air Force. While it doesn't mean the arrangement was the right thing to do, the picture is somewhat different when you look at the context." Soloway is president of the Professional Services Council, which represents the government services industry.
David M. Nadler, a government contracts partner at the firm Dickstein Shapiro, is a former Navy lawyer. He felt the arrangement was "questionable. Even if there is a legal justification, there's still a real appearance problem. Especially because of its prior situation with Druyun, you would think the Air Force would have been sensitive to the appearance issue." Riechers's job was last held by Darleen A. Druyun, a career civil servant who went to prison in 2004 for negotiating a job with Boeing while she worked for the Air Force and for showing favoritism toward the company in procurement.
October 02, 2007
OnlineTraining: Working with Contractors: What You Need to Know
OGE's new online course called Working with Contractors: What You Need to Know is available. OGE's introduction describes the course as:
[A]n interactive web-based training module that is designed as an introduction to some of the most common ethics questions that Government employees might encounter when working with contractor employees. It particularly may be useful for Government employees who work closely with employees of Government contractors who are situated in a Government Facility.
September 05, 2007
Thursday Meeting: Advisory Committees and More
Thursday's IEC meeting will feature John Szabo's presentation "They're Not the Same as Us," dealing with Advisory Committees, Special Government Employees, representatives, consultants and contractors. His slide show is available for downloading.
Meeting details are in our previous announcement.
May 15, 2007
A View of Contractors In Workplace
A Government Executive article discusses recommendations for avoiding ethical problems arising from the use of contractors. Here's an excerpt:
It's not that contractor personnel are less aware of ethical obligations than are government personnel. But close mixing of the workforces raises concerns about the integrity of government decision-making, the protection of personal information and intellectual property, potential conflicts of interest and overall performance.
Government and contractor personnel should not be melded or conjoined. Rather, they should interface and work cooperatively, each responsible to a different authority.
April 20, 2007
Contractors In Workplace Presentation
The Naval Air Systems Command web site has a PowerPoint slide show about ethics issues involving contractors in the workplace.
March 14, 2007
Former Prosecutor Views on Contractors in Workplace
Government Executive has an interesting report on a recent forum on ethics issues in government. The chief presenter, Joshua Hochberg, is a former federal prosecutor, now a partner at the Washington, D.C., law office of McKenna Long & Aldridge. Here is one of the topics included:
Hochberg said more rules could lie ahead to address the increased use of contractors in roles previously filled by government employees. Federal workers are subject to ethics rules that their private sector counterparts are not, sometimes raising difficult questions.
As an example, Hochberg pointed to a recent case in which the General Services Administration sought to hand off some audit work from the inspector general's office to contractors. Observers raised concerns that the companies could have conflicts of interest, for example as competitors of the companies they were assigned to review.
"The issue is as you privatize, are you just going to contract out more things? Or are you really trying to delegate ... a government function, and to that degree, do you really need to place more restrictions" on the contractors, Hochberg asked.
March 13, 2007
Proposed Contractor Ethics Rule
A Government Executive article discusses the contractor ethics proposal referenced here by Steve Epstein on Februray 16. The draft rule recently published in the Federal Register would require any government contractor with an award of more than $5 million to institute an ethics compliance system, to include:
- Written ethics policies,
- An ethics training program and
- The display of posters
on how to reach agency inspectors general to report possible wrongdoing.
December 28, 2006
Acquisition Advisory Panel Releases Final Working Draft Report
The Acquisition Advisory Panel released its final working draft report: http://www.acquisition.gov/comp/aap/draftfinalreport.html
While the report is wide-ranging in scope, it includes findings and recommendations about the appropriate role of contractors supporting the Government. Specific recommendations include:
-OFPP update principles for Agencies to apply in determining which functions must be performed by civil servants.
-Using contracts to require ethical conduct from contractors, preferably through ethical guidelines and principles rather than "the extensive and complex requirements imposed on Federal employees."
-Replacing the current ban on personal services contracts with regulations that allow the Government to supervise contractor employees concerning the substance of work performed.