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    Government contract defines working relationship with contractors

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, AL, UNITED STATES

    08.15.2017

    Story by Kari Hawkins 

    Army Materiel Command   

    Contractor services are a vital part of government business. But, by no means, should contractors be treated like government employees.

    “Contractor employees are highly valued members of the Department of the Army team. They play an important role in providing critical support and services, and often work alongside the government workforce,” said Larry Wilde, an Army Materiel Command attorney who works ethical issues for the command.

    “For that reason, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that they are not federal employees. At all times, government supervisors and employees must remember that a contract employee’s business relationship and work load is defined by a signed contract.”

    Contractor employees are not subject to the same ethics laws and regulations – including the federal conflict of interest statutes – as government employees.

    “When working with contractors, government personnel must be vigilant to avoid conflicts between their official duties and personal interests, and must avoid creating any appearance of endorsement or preferential treatment,” Wilde said. “The use of contractor personnel does not relieve federal employees of their responsibility to act, exercise discretion and make decisions on behalf of the government.”

    Government supervisors cannot supervise or direct, approve leave, train or approve training, conduct performance appraisals or evaluations, provide or approve awards and recognition, become involved in contractor hiring decisions or discipline contractor employees.

    In turn, contractor employees may not supervise government personnel, supervise employees of other contractors, administer or supervise government procurement activities, perform inherently governmental functions and evaluate, discipline or reward government personnel. Most contracts require contractor companies to provide a trained and ready workforce, and to furnish all property necessary to perform the contract. If the government provides property and resources, contractor employees may only use them to fulfill the requirements of the contract, Wilde said.

    A contractor employee’s time is managed by his or her contractor supervisor, not by government personnel, and any work hours billed the government must be in furtherance of the contract.

    “A government supervisor may not authorize a contractor employee compensatory time, grant early release, or authorize the contractor to leave their assigned workplace to participate in activities unrelated to performance of their contract, such as team-building exercises, ceremonies and office social events,” Wilde said. “Their participation in such events should be approved by their contractor supervisor and, in many cases, should be at no expense to the government. Government officials may not ask contractor employees to volunteer to help set up office events, such as pot lucks and office parties.”

    And, in all business matters, Federal Acquisition Regulations require that contractor employees must always identify themselves as contractors.

    “Contractor personnel are required to identify their contractor status on their signature blocks, and when attending meetings, answering government telephones and working in other situations where their contractor status is not obvious to third parties,” Wilde said. “Documents or reports produced by contractors must be marked or otherwise disclosed as contract products. Contractor employees are often issued distinctive identification badges and email accounts that clearly identify them as contractor personnel. The purpose of these measures is to avoid any confusion about whether they are government officials.”

    Assigning work is often a problem area. A contractor employee may only perform duties that fall within the scope of the contract.

    “Under no circumstances should government supervisors ask for, direct, or allow contractors to perform work that is not within the scope of their contract. Only a contracting officer is authorized to change contract terms and conditions,” Wilde said.

    In addition, there are restrictions on conflicts of interest, gifts and outside employment in relation to contraction employment.

    “Federal employees having contact with contractors in the workplace must adhere to the requirements of the ethics and acquisition rules that govern their relationship,” Wilde said. “Employees should consult with their supervisor or ethics counselor with any questions or concerns in this area.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 08.15.2017
    Date Posted: 08.15.2017 14:43
    Story ID: 244944
    Location: REDSTONE ARSENAL, AL, US 

    Web Views: 130
    Downloads: 1
    Podcast Hits: 0

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