COMMENTARY: Federal employees reminded to maintain professionalism with contractors Published Sept. 5, 2012 By Lt. Gen. Bruce A. Litchfield Air Force Sustainment Center Commander TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- As the new Air Force Sustainment Center commander, I'm challenging our personnel to strive for world-class results. I want to improve our business and give our warfighter the best product with the highest quality, on time and on cost. In this environment of excellence, there is no room for misconduct and I'm reminding all Federal employees to maintain their integrity when conducting business with defense contractors. Recently, there have been several incidents regarding misconduct of government personnel while interacting with current and potential defense contractors. The Air Force is specific when it comes to personal relationships with contractors and vendors supplying parts, services and information. Business relationships are great, but accepting cash or gifts, more than $20 in value, from contractors or potential contractors is not acceptable. Many who work in the AFSC have developed relationships with these contractors through the years and many of those are positive and provide great benefit to our rapport with our industry partners. But, there is also inherent risk to those relationships - it can draw scrutiny and potential conflicts of interest or the perception of a conflict of interest. Inappropriate behavior can lead to administrative, civil and even criminal penalties. Inappropriate behavior, like accepting cash in exchange for promoting the vendor's company in a future contract, is inexcusable. This type of behavior can be illegal and will not be tolerated within AFSC. But, while handing over cash seems like a fairly obvious form of misconduct, other gifts like tickets to a sporting event, weekend getaways or restaurant gift certificates, are also prohibited. In short, federal employees are not allowed to accept gifts from current, former or potential defense contractors. I expect you to conduct yourselves, as you always do, with the highest integrity demanded by the public we serve. Employees should consider their relationships with contractors that might provide an undue advantage when the government awards contracts. The American taxpayer expects the highest standards of conduct from us, and I demand the highest standards. Keep your work centers free from professional misconduct, and striving for world-class business capability.