A Question of Ethics

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Craig from Better Projects shared something very interesting. This article discusses ethical implications when you bid on a government project that is sensitive to ITAR. Your people may not be US citizens as per the ITAR guidelines. I have limited experience with this issue and would be happy to share it. ITAR does not apply to only DOD agencies. It also applies to all companies and agencies in the United States whose work could pose security risks according the ITAR regulation. Your company would not be eligible to bid for the contract period in the above example, regardless of Johnny’s status. This is a foreign company so anyone not a US Citizen will be unable work on it. Since you are based in Australia or elsewhere, it is likely that the rest of your team is also non-US citizens. Let’s say that you are a US company and the majority of your staff are US-persons. It is fine to work ITAR projects. I am working with another agency (not the DOD), and we have to deal with it as well. Sometimes we don’t agree with policies but if they want us to play their game we must follow their lead. Here are my preferred methods, ranked from best to worst, to answer your specific question.

  • You can find other non-ITAR projects that Sara and Johnny might be interested in, and you can also hire other staff members to assist with the ITAR project.
  • Consider whether Sara and Johnny could be used in a way that ITAR sensitive information can be protected from them. If it is possible and the controls can be demonstrated, the agency’s contracting officers may allow it.
  • If there are no other prospects for contracts and Sara or Johnny do not have work, then declining the contract will only hurt the rest. If this is your only option, you should enter into a contract to get the job done with people who have no ITAR problems. I would keep Johnny, Sara and the company informed and let them know that I will keep them on the payroll and pay for as long as they are needed for internal work. Then I would go out and try to get them another contract. I would tell them right away how important they are to the company, and how much I would love to keep them. If they decide to look for a job, I would offer to make recommendations.
  • This is when your team members are most in need of you. The best ethical approach is to do what’s right within the constraints and circumstances.