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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

404.5 – Acquisition/Assistance Awards to Former USGS Employees

DATE: 6/3/08

OPR: APS/Acquisition and Grants

Instructions This chapter is revised to update organizational titles to reflect the current Bureau structure.  (Replaces Division Chief with "Associate Director or Regional Director" and revises Bureau Personnel Officer to read "Bureau Ethics Office" to reflect the transfer of that function from Personnel to the Ethics Office.)

1.  Purpose.   This chapter establishes policies and procedures for the award of an acquisition or assistance action to a former employee of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) or to a business concern substantially owned or controlled by a former employee.  The policy governing awards to former employees is intended to protect the integrity of the acquisition/assistance selection process from the abuses described in SM 404.5.3 below and to assure that statutory post-employment restrictions are observed.  It is also intended to avoid real or apparent conflicts of interest created by awards to a former employee, regardless of length of separation.

See SM 401.6 for policies and procedures for contracting with current employees.

2.  Policy.

A.  Any acquisition or assistance award to a former employee can create the appearance of one or more of the following: that the former employee enjoyed an unfair advantage over potential competitors by virtue of inside knowledge of or contacts within the USGS; that the employee created a business opportunity for him/herself during his/her tenure; that acquisition/assistance instruments are being used to circumvent employment ceilings or to avoid the restrictions on compensation to reemployed annuitants.

B.  Federal assistance awards have a primary purpose of benefitting the recipient, rather than satisfying a USGS requirement.  A grant or cooperative agreement awarded to a former employee can therefore not be justified based on a USGS need.

C.  Services that require specialized internal knowledge of USGS policies and procedures should generally be performed by employees rather than former employees.  Managers should endeavor to distribute workload in such a way as to minimize the need for and to actively seek other alternatives to procurements involving former employees.

D.  For the above reasons, acquisition and assistance actions will not be awarded to former employees except as outlined in SM 404.5.4 below.  Such exceptions should generally be limited to unforeseen needs arising under unique or urgent circumstances (lack of proper planning is not one).

E.  Acquisition awards to former employees, when permitted, are limited to written purchase orders and contracts.  Other procurement methods such as Imprest Fund, use of the government charge card, Blanket Purchase Agreement, third-party drafts, etc., are not authorized.

3. Definitions.

A. Former Employee. Includes USGS employees separated from Federal service through retirement, resignation, expiration of temporary appointment, or other termination process. The term also includes business concerns substantially owned or controlled by one or more former USGS employees.

B. Acquisition. When used in this chapter, includes small purchases and contracts.

C. Assistance Award. A grant or cooperative agreement.

4. Purchase Orders/Contracts to Former Employees.

A. Awards to former employees may not be made unless the requisitioning office’s Associate Director or Regional Director approves the action as the only reasonable alternative means for accomplishing a mission requirement. This authority may be delegated to an official one level below the Associate Director or Regional Director, without further delegation. In support of the determination, the requisitioning office must:

(1) Identify the employee, separation status, and date of separation;

(2) Identify any known previous awards to the former employee;

(3) Certify that the former employee did not participate in the development of the requirement and that no commitment, promise, or other agreement on the matter has been made with the former employee;

(4) Demonstrate that reasonable alternatives, including the use of current employees, have been explored and found impracticable;

(5) Describe additional steps that will be taken to avoid a recurring need for the former employee’s services; and

(6) Demonstrate how the mission of the USGS will be impaired without the use of the former employee. Such determinations will be approved only where the demonstrated need is sufficient to overcome the appearance of favoritism inherent in awards to former employees. The original signed approval will be provided to the servicing acquisition office along with the Form DI-1, Requisition.

B. Acquisitions involving former employees are exempt from the above approval requirement if any of the following applies:

(1) The former employee held only a temporary, student, or other non-career appointment (including "when actually employed" (WAE) employees);

(2) The former employee was a career employee who is not a retired annuitant and who has been separated more than 2 years;

(3) The former employee is a retired annuitant who has been separated more than 2 years and more than 2 years have elapsed since the last award to the former employee was completed;

(4) The requirement is for gage reading or instrument monitoring in a remote location; or

(5) Competing quotes/offers are received from bona fide commercial sources as long as the Contracting Officer determines that the former employee did not have an improper competitive advantage in the selection/award process.

C. Contracting Officers will forward a copy of any purchase order or contract awarded to a former USGS employee that required SM 404.5.4A approval to the Office of Acquisition and Grants.

5. Assistance Awards to Former Employees. Former employees are eligible to apply for awards under USGS assistance programs if: (1) the former employee did not participate in program planning or development of the program announcement; (2) the applicant certifies that no portion of the applicant’s proposal was developed during the employee’s tenure at the USGS or using government-owned resources not publicly accessible by researchers in private or academic sectors; and (3) the former employee’s participation does not violate conflict of interest standards (see SM 404.5.6 below).

6. Review for Conflict of Interest. The requisitioning office will consult the Bureau Ethics Office when a former employee’s involvement in the acquisition or assistance award may result in a conflict of interest or other statutory violation. This consultation is required any time there is a possibility of conflict, whether or not approval under SM 404.5.4 above is required. Normally, the Contracting Officer will make this consultation when the involvement of a former employee is disclosed by a potential contractor during the solicitation process. Notwithstanding this review, the ultimate responsibility for compliance with employee standards of conduct remains with the employee or former employee.


(signed)  Karen D. Baker                                                                   6/3/08
___________________________________________                      _________________
Karen D. Baker                                                                                    Date
Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services

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