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Be Wary, Keep Records When Working with the Government

Lehigh Valley Business - November 30, 2015

Partner Chris Carusone was quoted in the Lehigh Valley Business regarding precautions contractors should take when working with the government. 

By: Brian Pederson

When it comes to dealing with the government and construction contracts, it pays to err on the side of caution.

Which is why experts say businesses should be mindful of the rules and regulations that are established to protect companies from becoming targets of the FBI. Witness what occurred on July 2 when federal agents raided Allentown City Hall to search documents and equipment, in addition to issuing a subpoena listing the names of people and businesses.

Simultaneously, a similar investigation began in Reading City Hall.

Both ongoing investigations are exploring a potential link between political campaign contributions and the awarding of construction contracts. The events shed light on a pressing dilemma for those who deal with publicly bid contracts.

While that example is focused on the public realm of municipal departments and employees, businesses should take note on how they could be affected.

By paying attention to the details and demonstrating integrity and honesty, businesses can successfully navigate the perilous path of completing a successful construction contract with a governmental agency.

“In talking to and negotiating with governments, you’ve gotta be mindful of the myriad of requirements that come from accepting public money,” said Chris Carusone, a partner with Cohen, Seglias, Pallas, Greenhall & Furman, a law firm in Philadelphia. “Any time you contract with the government, you need to take special care.”

Examples of rules to follow can be found in the Contractor Integrity Provisions, a document created by the state Department of General Services, which includes guidelines on establishing and providing a written policy for working with the government.

“I think that certainly, if you’ve generated correspondence, emails, etc., that are pertinent to a specific transaction with the government, it’s pertinent to hold onto those,” Carusone said. “When we talk about best practices for businesses to enter into contracts with governments, it’s prudent to preserve those documents.”

He recommended three years as an appropriate length of time to keep those documents.

In terms of recording phone calls, Carusone advises against it, as it violates the state’s wiretap act, which requires both parties to be aware of having the conversation recorded.

To read the full article, please visit the Lehigh Valley Business website.