Time Constraints Provide An Ethical Dilemma For Contractors


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A discussion on how time constraints can cloud the judgement of even the most reputable people.

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Time Constraints Provide An Ethical Dilemma For Contractors

  1. 1. Time constraints provide an ethical dilemma for contracting agents. We all know the problems associated with time and the contracting process. Time is fluent and constant. Sometimes, however, it seems that time can either stand still or speed up depending on your perception. Your perception is influenced by the daily tasks you are working on. The part of this that adds stress to a contracting agents’ job is when time is fleeting. When you finally think you are caught up with everything you have on your plate, then you realize that you have either run out, or, are about to run out of the time and you need a little more to finish whatever task it is you have to get done. It is the same in all industries whether governmental, private, or, public driven. We all wish that we could have more time to achieve our goals and when time is not available people feel pressured or even panicked to get the job done. This is when we make poor choices that result in what may be considered unethical behavior. Why? Of course we all know that it is due to the pressure put on us by the institution; whether that institution is the agency we work for, our family unit, Contractors or any other group of stakeholders to our contracting endeavors, It is even for the most part the pressure that we put upon ourselves, to do a good job for that employer and for our own personal accomplishments that proves to be the most traumatic emotionally for people and human emotions lend towards clouding good ethical judgment and ultimately lead to poor decision making. In fact the stress we put on ourselves is so much more than the pressures our employers could ever put on us because the individual doesn’t want to let themselves down more than letting down almost anyone else in the world, when in the moment. When given time to think about it you can all find someone that you don’t want to let down , but in the moment you are only thinking about your own situation and what to do to fix the problem. We focus on the deadline to an extent that puts much more stress on us as individuals than we need to endure. A healthy amount of stress is a positive motivator, but too much stress can prove to cloud the judgment of even the best of people. Contracting is the never ending process of forming and solidifying working relationships for the purposes of progressively conducting business in a fair and equitable way while providing for the agreed upon interests of the parties involved. Contracting professionals need time to do their jobs and follow the many processes developed for the sake of nurturing ethical and transparent contracting practices. Contracting properly takes even more time. When time is fleeting and planning doesn’t cover the limits set upon us, this is when good people make poor choices that translate to unethical behavior. Properly put, exercising good ethics is doing what is right. In many cases that may even translate to not doing what is wrong. It is important to strive to make your deadlines in life and business. Personal commitment to getting the job done is an important trait for employers to look for when hiring and retaining employees. But another trait that employers need to balance their views on is an individual’s character. The individual character of a contracting professional must be of the highest unwavering ethical quality.
  2. 2. High-Ranking Government Official Agrees to Conflict of Interest Settlement A high-ranking Government official was charged with violating 18 U.S.C. 208, which governs official acts affecting a personal financial interest. The Federal employee, an Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, was investigated for holding stock in certain petroleum companies while serving as the Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The employee was advised by National Security Council Legal Adviser's Office to divest his shares of his family's petroleum, and other energy-producing stocks to avoid any conflict of interest. During the time the employee was told to divest his stocks, he was involved in his official capacity in matters that may have had a direct and predictable effect on Amoco Corporation, a petroleum company in which he owned stock. The official agreed to pay the Department of the Treasury $23,043, which represented his increase value of the stocks, to settle the matter. Admiral Forced to Retire After Steering Military Contracts to Lover A Navy admiral was formally reprimanded, fined, and forced to retire as a Captain after steering military contracts to a woman with whom he was having an affair. The officer was charged with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice as well as other Federal ethics rules. The Navy admiral improperly directed $150,000 worth of training contracts to the woman and also supplied nonpublic information to her for use in obtaining other Government contracts. Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Agent Violates Conflict of Interest A former FBI agent pleaded guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. 208 which prohibits Federal employees from participating in official acts in which they have a personal financial interest. The FBI agent recommended the use of a pepper spray by the FBI and received $57,500 in payments from the pepper spray producers, Luckey Police Products (LPP), through a company owned by his wife. The former FBI agent researched and tested the use of pepper spray for the FBI which resulted in his initial contact with LPP. At the conclusion of the agent's research, the FBI approved the use of pepper spray for its FBI agents and the products were purchased from LPP. Additionally, as a result of the FBI agent's research, other law enforcement agencies nationwide began to use the pepper spray produced by LPP. The former FBI agency was sentenced to two months imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release. Courtesy of the DoD Ethics Resources Library: http://www.dod.mil/dodgc/defense_ethics/resource_library/ethicsdec.htm
  3. 3. As one can see from just these three cases listed on the DoD Website in the Ethics Resources section, high ranking officials are not immune from scrutiny on ethical behaviors. In fact many law schools are now returning to implement a more formal ethics section to their curriculum due to recent scandals involving the legal profession that for a while they had gotten away from due to the time it was taking to teach ethics. Without a strong ethical and moral compass anyone can succumb to the pitfalls of temptation. Gandhi is revered as one of the most ethical individuals he tells of a story of his youth in his auto biographical work TITLE when he and his brother watched the British eat meat, and understand the Indian people were the underclass at the time in India; they were seen as beneath the British in all ways. Well these two boys, Gandhi and his older brother came to want to have all of the things that the British had and thought that by doing what the British did they would be able to attain all of the pleasures and all of the privileges enjoyed by the British. They started by eating meat something that was against their family and their religious beliefs two very strong institutional models not unlike our legal system. They ate meat, they got sick. They saw the British smoking alcohol and smoking. This to was against their family tradition but they strayed from what they new was the right things to do to get hold of the brass ring that was priviledge. Needless to say they got sick, all around sick. Not a great feeling, but to add insult to the illness they also didn’t receive any of the spoils of being British. Their guilt was so overwhelming to the two boys that they both attempted suicide rather than to face the wrath of their father and the humiliation of their deeds. Suicide, this was the strength that their traditions and their ethics heldon them yet they still veered from their familial path. Why? Temptation is difficult to navigate and anyone could get caught up in the dance develops from unethical behaviors. Autobiography: the story of my experiments with truth by Mohandas Gandhi, Gandhi (Mahatma), Mahadev Haribhai Desai - Philosophy - 1983 In the book “Games Criminals Play,” fishing is discussed at length. This is when a prisoner get a correctional staff member to do something for them. A little something, nothing that would even be seen as against the rules. Then another thing and another and another until they are asked to cross a line of impropriety still small but wrong to do none the less. The staff member does this thing and another and another and the things they are asked to do continue to grow until inevitably the deed becomes improper, against the rules or even worse, illegal. Then the staff member has overstepped and can’t take it back they could loose their job over what they have done and then they are asked to do something worse and the inmate makes the challenge to the staff member they say something like, “If you don’t do what I am telling you to do I will let your bosses know what you have done and you will be fired or even brought up on charges and then you will live with us. Games Criminals Play: How You Can Profit by Knowing Them by Bud Allen and Diana Bosta (Hardcover - Aug 1981)
  4. 4. Courtesy of the DoD Ethics Resources Library: http://www.dod.mil/dodgc/defense_ethics/resource_library/ethicsdec.htm Autobiography: the story of my experiments with truth… by Mohandas Gandhi, Gandhi (Mahatma), Mahadev Haribhai Desai - Philosophy – 1983 Games Criminals Play: How You Can Profit by Knowing Them by Bud Allen and Diana Bosta (Hardcover - Aug 1981)