Can a contract support employee, traveling as part of a program office inspection team, ride in a rental car rented by a government employee who is a member of the same inspection team for the program office? What ethics concerns are to be considered (if any)?. What liability concerns (if any) need to be considered?
Consult with legal counsel for an authoritative opinion on this legal matter. However, there does not appear to be any conflict of interest in this case as the contract employee is essentially an official traveler on inspection visit. To protect the government, you can modify the contract to add language that accounts for this arrangement. A sample is provided below:
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There may be situations where contractor employees and government employees travel together in government vehicles, or in vehicles rented by the government under the terms of the U.S. Car Rental Agreement the government has with various rental car companies. In such situations, contractor employees may only be passengers (not drivers) in such vehicles. If a contractor employee is a passenger in a government vehicle or a vehicle rented by the government, it would be on a "no additional cost to the government" basis. If a contractor employee is a passenger in a government vehicle, the contractor shall indemnify and hold the government harmless from all liability resulting from personal Injury or death or damage to property which may occur as a result of such joint travel. When a contractor is a passenger in a vehicle rented by the government, liability would be limited to the terms set out in the U.S. Car Rental Agreement in effect at the time of any incident.