chapter  Chapter 9
21 Pages

Ethics and Professionalism in Public Procurement

WithMichael Flynn, Kirk W. Buffington, Richard Pennington

Among the most celebrated and taught principles in public procurement is the duty to act ethically and professionally. The public, government, profession, and suppliers expect it. Some ethical obligations are found in legislation, others in the codes that procurement professionals abide by. Professional behavior is not always defined by strict compliance with ethical standards, however. Professionalism means more.

Lawyers have codified ethical rules, and their observance can occasionally affect procurement operations. Lawyers are obligated to zealously protect and pursue a client’s legitimate interests, within the bounds of the law. But lawyers are cautioned that zealousness does not justify conduct that is unprofessional, discourteous or uncivil toward any person involved in the legal system. Though rare, in the heat of battle, procurement professionals may occasionally see an opportunity to discuss tactics and professionalism with their lawyer. More likely, attorney obligations with respect to confidentiality, conflicts of interest, and their obligation to the courts may occasionally affect the operations in procurement offices.