Do you have a clear and up-to-date ethics policy? If you had listened to Ben Tyman’s talk at the ASCC Concrete Executive Leadership Forum last week and do any work involving federal money, you probably would be making sure you do. Tyman, an attorney with Greeberg Traurig who specializes in construction law and compliance with federal regulations, described the various ways a contractor can get into trouble with federal regulations. One focus was the disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) requirement in federal contracts. He cited examples of contractors who had been taken to court by the government for DBE fraud (intentional or not) and how the case was made.

Perhaps the most disconcerting part of his talk concerned the Qui Tam Whistleblower Provisions. The whistleblower can be an employee, a competitor, or a vendor and there are lawyers out there soliciting them to come forward with stories of alleged noncompliance with federal regulations. Although Tyman noted that only about 20% of the whistleblower reports actually are pursued by the feds, for those where a fine is imposed the whistleblower will receive 15% to 30% of the settlement. That’s pretty motivating when fines can be in the millions of dollars.

Ben Tyman will soon be providing an outline in the magazine for what to include in an effective written compliance program. His conclusion is that a contractor can move compliance from being a cost center to a competitive edge, similar to the value of a good safety program. Do you have one in place?