We hear this every year—“Why do we need to keep taking this Ethics Training? We all know what's right and wrong don't we?” There was a time when I might have expressed the same sentiment. However, after a nearly 25 year military career, I worked as a contract support consultant then came to DAU for about 18 months before finally going into defense industry to prove myself. I worked in three separate companies over eight years at the senior management and executive level before accepting an opportunity to return to DAU in late 2014. I was actually somewhat surprised to see that the vast majority of defense contractors treat ethics compliance very seriously.
In the very few cases where corporate ethics violations did occur, they were dealt with swiftly and severely. However, what surprised me the most were ethics and regulatory violations committed by Government personnel which, in a couple cases, led to contractors committing similar violations in order maintain their “customer relationship”. Here are four examples of what I'm talking about:
I could go on but I think you get the idea. Anyone seeking more examples need only look at the numerous GAO and DoD Inspector General (IG) reports online to see the scope and magnitude of ethics issues. The worst part is that we only see a small fraction of what actually happens. Many cases are handled discreetly by individual disciplinary actions, early retirements or reassignment of personnel. Now, I don't want to give the wrong impression. Overall, I'm quite confident that the overwhelming majority of Government acquisition personnel are true professionals and have never engaged in any unethical behavior. Nevertheless, it only takes a few to cause major problems and tarnish the credibility of the entire workforce. So, given the circumstances, as well as our responsibility to the warfighters and the taxpayers. I think it prudent that we all receive some annual refresher training on ethical behavior just as a reminder of our commitment to our Government and to the welfare of our country.