Monthly Archives: June 2019


The “s” word of government contracting is starting to be spoken more and more on Capitol Hill as Congressional budget and appropriations members look to create a budget deal that would head-off mandatory cuts during the next fiscal year.  If you don’t remember the last sequestration, ask your fellow contractors.  It was not a pleasant experience.  If there is no budget deal that increases spending caps, the sequestration formula would kick in, making across the board, automatic spending cuts by whatever amount appropriations were made above “approved” levels.  If, for example, DOD had appropriations for $750 billion, but budget caps only approved $720 billion in spending, sequestration would take $30 billion in spending out of the picture.  There is currently no threat for cuts for this fiscal year, though agencies have to deal with the usual year-end rush to spend uncommitted dollars.  The real concern would for FY’2020.  Some potential concerns include the fact that most of the major Congressional players that achieved the last budget deal are no longer in Congress and there is a distinct lack of bi-partisanship generally.  In addition, there are new players at the White House who will likely have a lot to say about whether they approve of any deal.  There is plenty of time to achieve a budget cap deal and avoid cuts that could impact everything from military readiness to office supply acquisitions.  Congress is not traditionally known, though, for acting before the clock starts getting closer to zero.  Watch this space.


What does the broken-down Washington, D.C. Metro system have to do with contractor ethics concerns?  Potentially a lot if your employees live close to feds and work in the same area. As Metro implements a program to close stations beyond National Airport, traffic is becoming a nightmare that feds and on-site contractors are already complaining about. The urge to carpool to avoid this mess will be strong.  Plus, most people like helping out colleagues in need.  It’s important to understand, though, that free rides to and from work could unintentionally pose an ethics problem for your company.  Federal ethics laws prohibit covered entities (contractors fall in this class) from providing anything of value to a federal official.  Indeed, both feds and contractors have been dunned over free rides previously.  In one instance, even when a group of people were at the same conference and then flying out of the same airport at the same time, it was deemed improper for a contractor to provide a ride for a federal employee, even though they had space in their car.  It’s definitely worth reminding your staff that favors done or gifts given that are not based solely on someone’s personal relationship can get both you and the federal official in trouble,  That includes car rides to get around Metro’s summertime debacle.  Make sure your people respond accordingly.