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NEWS | Oct. 2, 2013

Is it worth it?

By Master Sgt. Matthew Meier Joint Base Charleston

I received an e-mail the other day showing the Office of Special Investigations' highlights of the most recent contracting-related criminals within the Air Force arrested for bribery. I immediately said to myself ... "Wow, was it worth it?"

The list was rather small ... only four people; however they were all enlisted personnel. One was a staff sergeant who was a contracting officer representative who threw everything away for a mere $8,230 and an empty promise of a job after the military. The other three were master sergeants serving as contracting officers. The master sergeants received a higher payout of $30,000, but in the end they were still caught and lost everything for basically the price of new car.

Now I know you're thinking that this is a contracting issue alone, but that's where you're wrong. Anyone in a position of responsibility and entrusted with taxpayer provided resources is subjected to the same temptations. So if you are in a position where you are dealing high value contracts, expensive equipment or large sums of money, keep these guidelines in mind:

- Avoid accepting any type of gifts. When you do it the first time, a second time is sure to follow, probably bigger than and just as illegal as the first. If you have any questions, always contact your supervisor or your local legal office.
- Only a contracting officer is authorized to obligate the government, so don't make deals or promises you can't keep.
- And finally, remember, on a contract, you are the eyes and ears of the government; if it seems suspicious ... it probably is, so report it.

Remember these key issues when you represent the government or are entrusted with a contract and you won't find yourself on OSI's list ... or any other list for that matter. Just remember, in five years when those master sergeants are getting out jail, that $30,000 car will be paid off.