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Often referred to as “revolving door” restrictions, the U.S. Government has devised numerous laws, policies and procedures designed to combat unethical or anti-competitive conduct that may stem from a Government employee’s decision to leave federal service. The laws range from ethics restrictions designed to minimize the appearance of impropriety while a federal employee endeavors to leave the Government, to criminal laws, which seek to punish conflicts of interest and improper conduct that may occur after Government service concludes.

In addition to the ethical and criminal considerations that must be taken into account when navigating the Government’s myriad post-Government employment restrictions, in recent years, contractors have faced another growing area of risk: protests. In numerous recent bid protests, protestors have alleged “unfair competitive advantages” stemming from Government contractors’ hiring of former Government employees— these include several high-profile examples in which the protests were sustained.

Given the increasing prominence of these protests, we surveyed GAO and U.S. Court of Federal Claims protest decisions to identify when those fora have found post-employment unfair competitive advantages and when they have not. We summarized our assessment in a convenient chart that practitioners may use in evaluating potential conflicts. By being vigilant about these concerns and addressing them proactively, contractors may reduce their risk of being the subject of a protest.

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