Permanent post-government employment activities restriction: 18 U.S.C.§207(a)(1) (2006) imposes a permanent prohibition against an individual, who has terminated his or her employment as an officer or employee of the United States, from making any communication intended to influence a United States government employee in connection with a particular matter in which the former officer or employee participated personally and substantially as such officer or employee, and which involved a specific party or specific parties at the time of such participation.
2-year post-government employment activities restriction: 18 U.S.C. §207(a)(2) imposes a 2-year prohibition against a former employee making a communication intended to influence a United States government employee in connection with a particular matter, which the former officer or employee knows or reasonably should know was actually pending under his or her official responsibility as such officer or employee within a period of one year before the termination of his or her employment with the United States.
The Comptroller General, in Matter of: VSE Corporation, B-404833.4 (November 21, 2011), sustained a protest challenging the Army’s termination of VSE’s contract based on a contracting officer’s determination that an appearance of impropriety had been created by the protester’s hiring of a former government employee as a consultant. GAO examined the contracting officer’s findings with regard to the post-employment activities of the individual in question, and found the contracting officer’s findings to be unreasonable. “A finding that an actual or apparent impropriety was created by a firm’s hiring of a former government employee must be based on hard facts, rather than suspicion or innuendo, which demonstrate that the former employee could have conferred an unfair competitive advantage to that firm.”
The GAO decision in VSE Corporation includes a good discussion of the post-government employment activities rules and appearance of impropriety analysis. For more information contact Karen Hindson.