Longer 'cooling off' time for federal staff

28 March 2007
More legal news

29 March 2007 | Antony Barton

The US government is to impose a two-year "cooling off" period for contracting staff who leave to join companies pursuing government contracts.

The new rules are similar to those introduced by the United Nations. The UN rules state that anybody working in the procurement process must wait one year before working for a company involved with UN procurement.

The new restrictions are set out in the Accountability in Contracting Act, passed in the US House of Representatives this month. The bill, which doubles the period that federal employees have to wait before working as an employee or consultant for firms that bid for government work, is awaiting approval in the senate.

It was introduced by congressman Henry Waxman to increase transparency and accountability and "protect the integrity of the acquisition workforce".

The bill also includes time restrictions on contracts awarded in "emergencies", such as Hurricane Katrina. These contracts are awarded without bids to speed up delivery. The house's Oversight and Government Reform committee, which Waxman chairs, said spending on "no-bid" contracts had doubled under the Bush administration.

The length of emergency contracts can now not exceed 240 days. Agencies awarding them will also have to explain why the contract did not need competition.

The Coalition for Government Procurement, which represents government suppliers, said enforcing existing rules was preferable to creating new ones "that serve only to undermine and confuse market efficiencies".


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