When a Former Government Official Goes to Work For a ContractorPosted: April 27, 2016
This is a guest post by David Moyer.
David Moyer is our Army Reserve Command subject matter expert, and the capture manager for our largest contract, the Army Training Models. He formerly was the Director of Resource Management for the Deputy Chief of Staff, G-3/5/7 US Army Reserve Command (USARC), where he was initially our USARC customer, and then a consultant for TAPE, advising the USARC.
We can all learn a lot from Dave’s experience, so I asked him to write about it here.
What are some of the organizational conflict of interest (OCI) issues that arise when a former government official comes to work for a company that they formerly supervised?
There are legal and moral issues associated with a former government official going to work for a contractor. The legal issue is one of whether or not the official influenced the hiring of the company or the awarding the contract in order to obtain employment.
Federal regulations and statute specifically preclude government employees from working for a contractor if a pecuniary relationship existed while the employee was still employed by the Federal Government. In this case, while I had TAPE employees working with me and in my directorate, I was not a signatory on the contract nor did I have a direct bearing on who won the contract.
If a federal employee anticipates working for a contractor after retirement a letter recusing that employee from all contract negotiations must be circulated within his or her organization.
As a funds certifying officer, I was more aware of the OCI issues than most. I was approached by the Graduate School USA to become an instructor prior to my retirement. I solicited Staff Judge Advocate guidance and was told to circulate a letter regarding my intention to become a contractor, which I did. When I was approached by TAPE three months after my retirement, neither a moral nor a legal impediment existed.
Federal employees do not supervise contractors, but task them to perform those tasks identified and specified in the Statement of Work. They are supervised by someone within the company awarded the contract.
What are your tips for how to handle these issues?
All government employees must know the regulations surrounding working for a government contractor. To ensure this occurs, employees are required to take annual classes on ethics provided by legal counsel. These classes address the issue in depth. Again, in my position I not only had to attend these classes by had to fill out an OGE 450 financial disclosure form on an annual basis. As I mentioned above I am also an adjunct professor for the Graduate School USA and one of the classes I regularly teach is Federal Appropriations Law. This course covers many of the issues associated with outside employment and future employment of government employees.
How can someone best prepare for being in this situation?
If an employee anticipates or even considers the possibility of working for a contractor upon retirement they should seek guidance from their department legal team. The requirement is well publicized and all legal departments deal with this type of inquiry on a regular basis.
What are some of the benefits your previous experience brings to your new position?
My case is somewhat unique in that I am for the most part assisting my previous organization. The turnover of government employees tends to be high in most organizations. Historical knowledge is rapidly lost even though the environment remains fairly constant.
In my case I was in the same directorate for almost 22 years and was the director for 18 of those years. Prior to that I had worked in resource management for over 11 years as an Army Officer. I either reviewed the work or assisted in the development of virtually all of the models used within the Army Training Model umbrellas in both the Active Army and then the Army Reserve.
In that 33-year span, I was part of every change and modification to the models and assisted in the development of the algorithms associated with the model designs. In my current capacity, I receive inquiries as to whether I remember how something was generated, what issue was it designed to address and what were the benefits or drawbacks of doing it another way. That knowledge is not easily replicated.
Can you give us an example of how you navigated or avoided a conflict?
I was well prepared for avoiding a conflict of interest due to the nature of my position. I was required by both regulation and statute to be an “honest broker” in all my dealings within my organization and with contractors. I was also keenly aware of what my relationship with all of my contractors was to be.
I always considered contractors an “asset” to be applied wherever and whenever prudent. I was able to incorporate their actions with the actions of my employees to obtain a synergy not previously possible. I considered them an integral member of my team and ensured they knew their role in achieving the goals and objectives my superiors had given me.