Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hiring Away Government Employees

Today we present the third of our five part series on potential ethics issues that contractors may face when working with Government employees. It's important to ensure that your interactions with Government employees don't inadvertently trigger ethics problems for them. Today’s issue involves the hiring of Government employees.

It is common for Government employees leave Government service and go to work for contractors. It's also true that employees working for contractors sometimes enter Government service. As a result, there are a number of ethics issues that arise from these changes in employers. This is sometimes called the "revolving door."

Not surprisingly, there are laws and regulations that cover these situations. There are several laws and regulations that govern what a Government employee must do while seeking or negotiating future employment with a contractor.

Seeking/Negotiating Employment with Contractors

Generally, Government employees may not work on Government matters affecting contractors with which they are seeking employment. Seeking employment includes (but is not limited to) unsolicited contacts about possible employment, such as sending a resume to a firm or contractor.

Government employees may not work on Government matters affecting the financial interests of a contractor if they make any response other than rejection to a contractor's unsolicited overture about possible employment. For example, a Government employee who just interviewed with your company for a job may not work on any procurement matter concerning your company.

The Procurement Integrity Act

The Procurement Integrity Act imposes requirements on Government employees who participate in procurement above a certain threshold.

Government employees who participate in such procurement must report to their supervisor and their agency's ethics officials if they contact, or are contacted by, a bidder or offeror regarding possible employment.

A Government employee must also either reject the possibility of employment or not participate in the procurement until the employee's agency has authorized the employee to resume participating.

Moonlighting for Contractors

Sometimes Government employees consider "moonlighting" by working for a contractor after-hours. Ethics regulations prohibit Government employees from holding outside employment that conflicts with their official duties. Government employees also may not hold outside employment that creates the appearance of using public office for private gain.

For example, a Government employee wants to get a part-time job with a contractor that does business with her agency. Her official duties involve work this contractor. This would be considered a conflict with her official duties.

Additionally, some agencies have specific rules requiring prior approval for outside employment, as well as restricting the types of outside employment that their employees may hold.

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