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rdedwards2

Ethics and Possible Conflict of Interest

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Hi folks,

Backstory: We have an employee who has been working on two consecutive task orders for us and we have heard that the government agency wants to issue another follow up task order. The first task order was established in 2010 under an IDIQ contract (the second one as well). The employee agreed to come on board at the rate my supervisor had established when bidding for that work, which was much lower than the rate we would normally bid for the employee. Because of this, we and the employee feels that 2 years later, they are vastly underpaid for their work, and the employee is considering other employment options.

Question: Is it okay to go to the COR, COTR, CO, or someone in the agency and let them know that for this upcoming task order we want to pay this employee $X instead of the $Y he has been earning for the past 2 years before they issue us a statement of work for the follow up task order? The goal is to show them that we need to charge more for his services or he will go elsewhere before the agency sets aside money in its budget for this new task order.

I have a bad feeling about contacting the agency and pointing this out to them, as it could be unethical and/or present a conflict of interest.

Should I call them up and say something to the effect of "Hey govnerment agency, employeeX is vastly underpaid and has discussed leaving unless you can set aside more money for his task order. Oh and by the way, here is a list of our current IDIQ prices, what we charge for services not under the IDIQ, and here is the range of acceptable rates for employeeX"?

Thank you and I look forward to hearing what you all have to say.

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I can't see anything unethical in telling the government that you want to charge more for the next order. I don't know why you would think there might be something unethical in doing so.

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I don't see any ethical issues either.

Whether your company can charge more would be dependent on the terms/labor rates of the IDIQ being leveraged for the task order and whether your firm will be the successful offeror if it is mutliple award/competitive task order.

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What if he uses the individual's salary as a justification; as in "if I cannot pay him "this" much, I will need to move him to another project or lose him". Just curious...

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That would not change my response to the question about ethics. I see that as a practical issue, not an ethical issue.

The contractor is entitled to invest its human capital in projects that will yield the highest return. That is a rational business consideration. The CO must evaluate the contractor's argument in support of a higher rate and negotiate an appropriate resolution or find another contractor.

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True... It's funny that if it was the other way around; the COTR (or gov POC) asking the contractor to raise the employee's salary, (I think I remember an old thread about this one), then there would be an issue.

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The government should seek to have a job done well, not to obtain a certain level of compensation for particular contractor employees. I think it would be okay for the government to encourage a contractor to retain an employee, but I think asking for a raise for a particular employee would be going too far.

The other thread was in Contract Administration and was entitled "Going Over the CO's Head."

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