Nonprofit unveils government contract database

Federal contractors and subcontractors may access a new Government Contracts Domain database that has been launched by a nonprofit group to assist them in meeting federal ethics and procurement requirements.

The new database was created by the Phoenix-based Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG), a nonprofit organization devoted to governance, risk management and compliance.

Doing business with the government tends to drive up contractors' costs, according to the organization's recent survey of more than 100 government contractors.

A third of the respondents said doing business with the government adds 10 percent to 25 percent to their costs, and nearly one-sixth of the respondents said it drives up costs by 25 percent to 50 percent.

The OCEG survey also showed that more than 45 percent of the government contractors interviewed ranked financial risks such as fines, penalties and settlements as their greatest concern. Another 25 percent ranked suspension and debarment as the greatest concern. Other concerns included negative public relations, cited by 20 percent, and legal risk, 8 percent. The most problematic areas listed were cost accounting standards; unallowable costs; and systems purchasing, estimating and budgeting.

The new database can assist contractors in setting up ethics programs to comply with the new Federal Acquisition Regulation Part 3.10 that took effect in December 2007, states a news release issued by the group. The database offers guidance on best practices for compliance.

The compliance and ethics organization worked with McKenna Long and Aldridge law firm and Ernst and Young LLP accounting firm to write the guidance, supported by advisers from government contracting firms.

"While the FAR change is based on good intentions, it offers few details about what an effective code of conduct should contain or what are appropriate controls," Ray Pushkar of McKenna Long and Aldridge wrote in the release. "The OCEG guidance offers a road map to establish or improve an ethics program as well as navigate the maze of contracting requirements to stay in compliance."

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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