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Posted: February 3rd, 2020

Ethics and Social Responsibility in Procurement

Ethics and Social Responsibility in Procurement
Government employees directly engaged in in the process of procurement and acquisition have a critical role to play in the preservation of the state’s integrity by ensuring they maintain the highest standards of ethics and social responsibility in such transactions. A violation of the rules and regulation can lead to a damage of the Government’s reputation and also to a corrosion of the confidence the public has placed on the government. Such violations and undesirable conduct on the part of the employee can also prompt the Government to take legal, civil and criminal charges on the individuals involved in the violation (Rahim, 2013). The objective of this paper is to illustrate some of the rules and regulations that are intended to control the process of procurement to ensure that ethical and social responsibilities are taken into consideration.
Thesis Statement: Federal Acquisitions Requirements contains rules that govern the manner in which procurement processes are carried out.
The laws and regulations are designed so as to prevent the possibility of the occurrence of a conflict of interest. Consequently, the laws regarding the maintenance of ethical standards strictly forbid workers of the Government from getting involved in conflicts of interest of a financial nature. The employee is to ensure, at all times during their employment with the Government, that procurements are not awarded as a result of influence of any nature except when the firm being awarded has demonstrated capability to meet the terms of the contract.
Additionally, through the implication of the criminal law, an employee of the government is prohibited from getting involved in any matter concerning the Government that will result in a direct conflict of interest between the employee and the government. The prohibition also extends to the financial interest of particular individuals who are related to the employee such as the spouse, an individual below the age of 18 and is therefore considered a child, the organization in which the individual offers services as an employee, and lastly an individual with whom the employee is likely to seek employment in the future (Rahim, 2013).
The employee of the Government is required to maintain high standards of impartiality at all times, even when the said employee does not have financial interests resulting from the outcomes of a procurement activity. Such a circumstance would require the employee to demonstrate their ability to be impartial and objective in their decisions. An example of a circumstance that would generally require the employee to show impartiality is one where the employee is required to assess certain tenders, of which one was submitted by a spouse, a previous employer, individuals known to the employee’s family, or other individuals the employee has known prior to the advertisement of the tender (Dominick & Lunney, 2012).
The employee of the Government must not, regardless of the circumstances, attempt to demand or receive gifts from individuals who have placed bids with the Government. They are further prohibited from accepting gifts from the employees of the contractors or from any persons known to or are in a way related to the contractor. Accepting gifts from any of these people would lead to a grave violation of the laws and regulations intended to govern the process of procurement. The definition of a gift covers a wide range and would include any item that has a monetary value and can, therefore, be converted to cash. Other examples include food, travel, entertainment, deductions, and finances. In spite of the fact that the employee may have a close and working relationship with the employees of the contractor on a frequent basis, the employee should understand that both the organization contractors including their respective workers are treated or regarded as “prohibited sources” if they were to offer the employee any gifts.
Additionally, the employee must turn down gifts offered by organizations or firms or people who are considering engaging in a business relationship with the Government in the future. As a result, for the Government employee to be on the safe side, he or she must not accept anything or demand for a gift of any nature from a contractor who has been awarded a tender, a contractor with prospects of working with the employee’s agency, unless evidently stipulated or allowed by an exclusion contained in the ethics and social responsibility clause or when the employee has the direct instructions from the officials in the ethics department.
The employee is exempted and can accept certain types of gifts from the contractor, however. The employee can accept decent foods and refreshments, for example, coffee and donuts which are not regarded as part of the main meal. On a single occasion, the total value of the gifts should be less than $20 and the cumulative worth of the gifts must not exceed $50 in the whole calendar year. Other examples are gifts given out on the basis of the employee’s relationship with family members or friends, foods and refreshments or other gifts from the spouse’s employer provided they were not facilitated by the employee’s job with the Government. Other gifts that the employee may accept are gifts and price reductions applicable to the general public, all workers of the Government, or to members of the military. Additionally, the employee should take care not to offer the contractors’ gifts that may violate their rules and regulation as this may cause unnecessary embarrassment to the employee’s agency (Sims, 2003).
Another rule governing the process of procurement revolves around the issue of non-public information. A Government employee directly involved in the process of procurement may possess some information related to the procurement and other private information that may have a direct impact on the ultimate winner of the contract or bid. The revelation of such sensitive information to the general public can lead to serious violations of the rules and regulations of procuring as well as ethical regulations. Such violations may result to criminal charges and administrative actions against an individual that may result to the firing of the individual.
The other law relating to the governance of procurement and acquisition forbids the employee from consciously obtaining or revealing bids on a particular contract or information relating to the proposal or information concerning the selection of source prior to the award of the contract. The laws only allow such sensitive information to be disclosed on special occasions.
The employee is mandated to ensure that the exclusive information related to the contract is secure so as to prevent undesirable leakages to the general public.
The exclusive information comprises such non-public particulars as cost, both direct and indirect, related to the contract, information connected with the manufacturing process, and lastly any other information associated with a particular procurement that the biding firm regards as exclusive. The rules also prohibit the employee from revealing any information pertaining to the contract for the purpose of fulfilling personal interests. Non-public information is any information known to the employee as a result of his involvement in the procurement procedure, and that has not been made public knowledge (Sollish & Semanik, 2012).
Another rule and regulation of procurement concerns the limitations on discussing prospects of employment. As long as the employee is still offering his or her services to the Government or an agency, he, or she is prohibited from discussing the prospects of employment with the contractor or the employees of the contractor. There exist restrictions placed on the Government employee regarded the discussion of that nature. An employee is not permitted to get involved in matters concerning the Government that would have a direct implication on the financial interests of the contractor with whom the employee is attempting to secure employment. The ruling is effective whether the employee makes an uninvited reference concerning prospective employment or whether the request comes from the contractor.
The employee of a federal governmentengaged in the process of procurement is also subject to additional conditions when seeking from bidders. The rules are specific to those involved in specific duties such as solicitation, the assessment of bids or picking a source, the evaluation or the awarding of a contract among others (Ferrell, Fraedrich & Ferrell, 2010).There are also restrictions placed on the employee regarding working for the Government after the conclusion of his or her employment with the Government. These restrictions largely depend on the position and the responsibilities in the process of procurement.
Similarly, the employee may face prohibition from accepting financial compensation from a contractor for a period of one year after working as a government procurement officer in a covered role. The one-year ban applies to the employee if he or she made the decision, on behalf of the department, to award a tender whose value exceeded $10 million, approved payments to a contractor valued at over $10 million, and lastly was involved in the process of settling a claim valued at more than $10 million (Rahim, 2013).
The recommended change that should be considered in the best interest of the Government and the industry is that the procurement department should use the performance of contractors in their previous awards before awarding them new tenders. The aim would be to eliminate those who do not perform to the required standards. The industry would also benefit since the elimination would reduce the total of prospective bidders hence increasing the quality of performance.
Most importantly, it would prevent procurement officials from collaborating with contractors to breach the condition for awarding a contract. Another recommendation would be that substantial changes to the scope of the contract should be a threshold to allow for the re-tendering of the contract. When alterations have been made to a contract, even after it has been awarded, the new requirements may fall outside of the capabilities of the awarded company, thereby necessitating the re-tendering.
In conclusion, the Government has a set of rules and regulation found within the Federal Acquisitions Requirements that govern the manner in which procurement processes are carried out. The requirements for the Government employee are specific and limit the chances of conflicts ever occurring between the parties involved. The process of procurement is fairly technical and mandates that the best qualified and morally upright individuals are involved in the process. The rules and regulation, as a result, offers the best practises to be observed to ensure the process is not only transparent but also fosters the public confidence in the Government.

Dominick, C., & Lunney, S. (2012). The procurement game plan. Boca Raton, Fla: J. Ross.
Ferrell, O. C., Fraedrich, J., & Ferrell, L. (2010). Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases : 2009 update. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
Rahim, M. M. (2013). Legal Regulation of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Meta-Regulation Approach of Law for Raising CSR in a Weak Economy. Berlin, Heidelberg: Imprint: Springer.
Sims, R. R. (2003). Ethics and corporate social responsibility: Why giants fall. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Praeger.
Sollish, F., &Semanik, J. (2012). The procurement and supply manager’s desk reference. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

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