A scholarly dissertation examines moral misconduct in government contracting.
According to debut author Haynes, in the last decade, the U.S. government’s reliance on outside contractors has appreciably increased, and so have the reported incidents of ethical wrongdoing. The stakes are extremely high: The illicit rewarding of contracts not only squanders hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds, but also compromises national security and diminishes the public’s trust in government. And this problem persists despite a proliferation of agencies like the Office of the Inspector General, designed to inspire accountability, and sets of rules like the Federal Acquisition Regulation, intended to provide clarity about moral expectations. In order to further understand the problem, the author interviewed 21 midlevel government contracting managers, centering the discussions around a guiding question: “What knowledge do government contracting managers need to regulate unethical behaviors of government contracting employees when administering contracts?” Haynes articulates the study’s parameters with painstaking precision and provides an excellent synopsis of its conceptual framework. On the basis of the qualitative analysis, she discovers that managers generally believe there’s a need for continued ethical training, a more transparent organizational philosophy, and considerable significance assigned to the value of trust. She concludes the book with her own set of recommendations: dissemination of rules and quarterly retraining; the publication of statistics regarding the penalties imposed upon those caught breaking the rules; and a clarification of the rules not just for managers, but contractors as well. Haynes’ prescriptions are sensible but unoriginal, though her suggestion that increased bidding competition could produce greater transparency is intriguing. Also, this is a doctoral thesis and reads like one—the prose is unwieldy and mechanically stiff, and the redundancies can be exasperating. The book is brimming with constipated sentences that simply don’t contribute new content: “Interviewing participants to gain an understanding of the requirements that the government contracting managers needed to lessen unethical behaviors by employees was both fascinating and informative.”
A reasonable if anodyne analysis written in clumsy academic jargon.