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Are Government Personnel Much Different Than Contractor Personnel?

Don Mansfield

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This morning I read two different threads in the Wifcon forum. In the first thread, the discussion centered on late Government payments. (See “Significant Delays in voucher review/approval”). Some of the participants shared stories of how the Government does not consistently respect contractual payment due dates. Because some contractors are reluctant to enforce their rights under the payment clauses of their contracts, the Government continues to take advantage of them. One poster put it this way:

The way contractors frequently react to being abused by contracting officers is the same way many battered spouses react to the batterer "if I am just nicer to him/her, (s)he will stop beating me." However, it just doesn't work.

I was embarrassed for the Government after reading this thread. Then, I read the following advice (from a different poster) in a thread dealing with how the limitation on subcontracting clause is applied (see "Small bus Set Aside 50%, can pass part of that to another Small?"):

Limitations on Subcontracting is often not enforced.

Some strategies I've seen attempted to escape LD:

*** treating it like a subKt plan target, I've seen missing the "target" rationalized by the SB Prime, and that accepted by the CO - in writing.

*** Prime arguing the nature of the work ("it's not services, it's construction.")

*** arguing that the nature of the work changed, and the Prime no longer had organic capacity.

*** teaming after the fact.

If there are no Liquidated Damages stated in the Prime Kt for missing this, maybe you can skate.

The underlying message: “it’s ok to take advantage of the fact that the government does not enforce this right under the contract.” After reading this, it became clear that Government personnel really aren’t that different than contractor personnel. On both sides, there will be those that respect the rights of the other party under the contract and those whose behavior is guided by what they can get away with. I think we should all strive to be included in the former group. Those in the latter group have little right to cry foul when they find themselves on the opposite sides of a contract.




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