As a CO, I'm bound by the FAR...when a COR is acting inappropriately, getting involved with contractor HR depts. about pay, benefits, hiring etc....is this an ethics law violation or FAR? I'm trying to find out what the controlling legal authority (to quote Al Gore) is.
A good question, one we occasionally tackle here at AAP.
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First, the COR gets whatever authority they have from YOU! You are delegating some of the authority you have from your warrant to the COR. So by default the COR is bound by the FAR and all of the same ethics rules, regulations, and statutes that you are.
Before answering further; I highly encourage you to bring this situation to your chain of command, your organization/installation’s ethics office (typically part of legal or staff judge advocate), etc. As the contracting officer (KO) your job is to protect the government’s interest, a COR gone “rogue” could prevent any potential actions or remedies the government may have in the future on this contract.
I am going to keep the answer to the questions simple.
FAR 1.602-2(b) requires the contracting officer (KO) to ensure that contractors receive impartial, fair, and equitable treatment. The COR gets their authority from the KO, so if the COR is “interfering” with the contractor, by default the KO is. That situation needs to be rectified.
FAR 3.104 discusses procurement integrity. Releasing source selection sensitive information is a violation of this part of the FAR as well as 41 USC Chapter 21. There may also be violations of 18 USC 1905, just to name a few!!
The conduct and actions you described are prohibited by the JER. See specifically Chapter 5, but chapters 3 and 12 could be applicable depending on additional facts or circumstances not identified. Like the FAR, the JER does a great job of referencing the exact U.S.C or CFR citation; depending on the conduct or activity in question. Here’s a list of the most common ethics and conduct related regulations and statutes:
Executive Order 12674
Department of Defense:
Joint Ethics Regulation (DoD 5500.07-R)
Standards of Conduct (DoDD 5500.07)
5 CFR 2635.101 – Public Service is a Public Trust
5 CFR 2635.204 – It is never inappropriate and frequently prudent for an employee to decline a gift offered by a prohibited source or because of his official position.
18 USC 201 prohibits the bribery of public officials and the acceptance of those bribes
18 USC 203 prohibits a federal employee from seeking or receiving compensation for representational services before the government
18 USC 205 prohibits a federal employee from assisting in the prosecution of claims against the government or acting as an agent before the government
18 USC 211 prohibits the soliciting or receipt of anything of value in consideration for support or the promise of influence in obtaining for any person any appointive office
18 USC 1905 – Trade Secrets Act
Prohibits federal employees from disclosing certain confidential information, including information of a commercially sensitive nature
18 USC 798 prohibits the disclosure of classified information