Thursday, September 13, 2012


This will be short and sweet.  It's time to call a spade a spade.  Some contracting officers are bullies.  The noun bully means "one who habitually is cruel to others who are perceived to be weaker."  The verb bully means "to treat others abusively." Our friend Jaime Gracia has commented on these articles calling for an end to bullying.  We agree.  It's time to stand up to the bullies in federal procurement.

We taxpayers are demanding.  We establish rules and regulations for how we expect our taxes are spent on procurement.  We have even set up special tribunals for contractors to air their grievances.  And we have insisted on professional behavior by those who carry the warrants to commit our tax dollars.  Contracting officers are to act judicially, impartially and fairly.

What we don't understand is that every government contract carries with it a legal obligation for our government, through its contracting officers, to practice good faith and fair dealing.  This legal obligation includes the duty to cooperate with and not interfere in the contractor's performance.  Every contract carries with it the obligation of good faith, fair dealing, cooperation and noninterference.  How many times and in how many ways do we need to say it?  It's high time this legal requirement was accepted by all contracting officers.

We have bullies everywhere, even in, and maybe especially in, government procurement.  Stand up to them.  How?  Remind them of their duties and then go to the tribunals that enforce them.  Maybe the President should use his "bully pulpit" to say something to these bullies for whom he is responsible.  Tell them, Mr. President, their bullying will not be permitted on this public playground.   

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the mention William. Small businesses need to understand that when all else fails, the OSDBU offices are available to hopefully help resolve the conflict, and represent you.

    There is a huge difference between demanding, and crossing the line into bullying. Demanding clients are fine. In fact, it normally comes from highly competent and mission oriented government personnel who expect results, and settle for nothing else. Those are great clients, and normally act professionally and work productively to create positive outcomes.

    The bully Contracting Officer often acts this way out of ignorance, or flat out incompetence, and hides it under the veneer of abuse. It is an abuse of power, and contractors have rights just like any other employee, from an HR perspective.

    This time of year tends to bring these people out, but the hope is the new fiscal year will bring them back into line. Don't be afraid of calling truth to power, but make sure you have ample, documented evidence to make your case to the government representative.

    It is unfortunate these Contracting Officers are out there, but they are not isolated incidents.