By Lt. Col. Michael Hulin, 17th Contracting Squadron commander
/ Published August 01, 2008
GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
As an Air Force Contracting Officer, along with my squadron, we are bound by core values which shape and define our culture. They allow us to constantly transform ourselves and the environment in which we work into a professional climate bound by ethics and integrity. It is not an accident that our core values start with "Integrity First," followed by "Service Before Self" and "Excellence in All We Do."
We start with integrity because it is the essential element and the foundation on which other values are built. It is being honest with others as well as with yourself, and doing what is right at all times.
As Air Force members, integrity remains the very bedrock of our military profession -always doing what's right, regardless of the circumstances, even when no one is looking. As contracting officers, the core value of Integrity First becomes even more paramount as we acquire billions of dollars in warfighting capability in support of our warfighters at home and abroad.
In addition to being bound by our core values, we are also obligated by law to ensure that our warfighting capability is acquired in an environment utilizing the highest standards of ethical conduct. The Procurement Integrity Act, the DOD's Joint Ethics regulations, Conflict-of-Interest rules and Anti-Kickback statutes represent just a few of the statutes which govern our conduct as we engage in the business of contracting on behalf of the government.
Because we are operating in an environment where the risk of ethical misconduct canbe costly, I want to take this opportunity to emphasize to you the importance of maintaining an ethical environment while protecting the public trust as you proceed with the Government's business of contracting.
A commitment to ethics in government contracting is imperative. In contracting, the mere appearance of a violation is as troublesome as the commission of a violation within the standards of ethical conduct. In many cases the public and the media do not discriminate between an actual misuse of position and the appearance of misuse of position. Contracting personnel at every level must work to eliminate both the actual and apparent abuse of position in order to remain free and clear of any unwelcome focus on unethical conduct. This means that as valued participants in our acquisition process, you should always;
· Avoid conflicts of interest by maintaining an appropriate relationship with industry
· Avoid relationships that could be or perceived to be exploited for personal gain by either party
· Do not offer or accept gifts or gratuities
· Refuse bribes, kickbacks or unlawful payments
· Do not discuss employment or business opportunities with contractors, and
· Do not disclose source selection-sensitive information
It is crucial that we abide by these rules, even the appearance of violating them could easily tarnish the trust with taxpayers whose money we spend on a daily basis.