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Why Integrity Matters

How integrity is like a boat.
Integrity is like a boat.
Photo courtesy of Ed Hawco

Welcome to our new Integrity Matters blog. We want this to be a forum to share best practices and the latest thinking on acquisition and program management. We hope you will join in the conversation.

Look for blog posts from our team of experienced Fellows and company leaders on everything from austerity to oversight to efficiency. From program management under tight budgets to FAR rule changes, to building better business cases for investments, our bloggers will bring decades of experience to the table. We’ll even tell you how acquisition integrity is like a boat. Keep reading to find out.

Principles Matter

When we founded our company we named it Integrity because we wanted to do business in a way that reaches the highest professional and ethical standards. We believe integrity matters and that’s why we made it the name of our new blog. So what does integrity mean in acquisitions and procurement? Well, the Oxford dictionary says there are two ways to define integrity and I feel they both fit in our sector.

Oxford definition: the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; the state of being whole and undivided 

Under the Procurement Integrity Act, we follow important rules around conflict of interest, protection of sensitive information, and fair and equal competition. These rules are the guideposts that ensure that every acquisition is completed to the highest ethical standards, and it is our duty to know and follow them diligently. Recently one of our own here at Integrity demonstrated the highest level of integrity. He spotted some pricing information in an RFP that shouldn’t have been there because it could have provided an advantage. He immediately reported it to the federal agency.

My experience tells me that the men and women working in industry and government want to provide the best possible programs and solutions for taxpayers. Their own personal integrity is rarely the issue, but rather what happens to the integrity of any project or procurement, given current fiscal pressures. When fewer people are trying to do more with less, there could be a temptation to cut corners to get the job done. This is heightened by a federal workforce with fewer years of on-the-ground experience and less training.

What About the Boat?

All this leads to the second Oxford definition of integrity – the state of being whole.  One of our Integrity Fellows, John Coombs, who will be writing regularly for this blog, has a unique way of looking at the issue of integrity. With two decades of federal and defense experience under his belt, John thinks of every procurement as a vessel.  Does it have integrity? Is an acquisition sound in construction? If it is, says John, “It doesn’t leak. It’s faithful to the rules and procedures. Your argument holds water. It’s supportable and can withstand the storms.” I like John’s simple but vivid analogy.

What’s your definition of integrity? What are the “matters” of government acquisition, procurement and program management that you find challenging or rewarding? Your opinion matters. Sign up to receive our blog, please comment, and when you see a good idea, share it with others.