GSA, Justice Department Join Forces to Educate Businesses on Ethics
By Gail Montenegro
Great Lakes Region
General Services Administration
CLEVELAND, June 9, 2011 – The U.S. General Services Administration is partnering with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cleveland to provide businesses with ethics training to prevent corruption and stop bribes and kickbacks.
GSA recently hosted an integrity symposium for companies doing business with the federal government. The seminar was the most recent in a training series conducted by the Northeast Ohio Business Ethics Coalition, of which GSA is a member.
“Integrity and ethics are the building blocks of good business and sound government,” said Regional Commissioner J. David Hood of GSA's Great Lakes Region Public Buildings Service. “Contractors seeking to do business with the federal government must meet a high threshold, and it is our job at GSA to educate businesses how to meet and exceed those standards. Ethical business practices should be the norm, not the exception.”
In the wake of several high-profile public corruption cases in the Cleveland area, the coalition was created in late 2010 to address and eliminate unethical business practices through enhanced training and education. This latest symposium is part of an ongoing initiative to transform the business community into one that promotes a culture of honesty and ethical business practices.
GSA Great Lakes Regional Administrator Ann Kalayil and U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of the Northern District of Ohio welcomed about 50 participants from the construction and service industries.
In his opening remarks, Dettelbach thanked GSA for prioritizing integrity and for maintaining a zero tolerance for fraud and corruption in our projects. He added that the challenges of public corruption, shakedowns, and pay-to-play tactics are not limited to northeast Ohio.
“Corruption and fraud in the public and private sector occur nationwide, but the misconduct perpetrated by a few should not be tolerated by many,” Dettelbach said.
Symposium topics included business ethics and compliance rules, guidelines on how to build a positive reputation with the federal government, and the penalties that can be incurred when a company commits fraud. Panelists emphasized that the federal government is seeking professional services, honest pricing, and the highest quality standards.
During the panel discussion on the construction industry, Hood said it just makes good sense for businesses to promote a culture of ethics throughout their organization.
“GSA wants the best value – not the lowest cost – and we seek partnerships that enable us to protect the public trust while being good stewards of taxpayer money,” he said.
Kalayil closed the conference by reminding participants that their actions have far-reaching implications.
“Whether or not we realize it, our business practices serve as a moral compass locally and beyond,” she said. “GSA strives to be accountable and transparent in all that we do, and we expect the same of our business partners.”