11 signs of a dangerous customer relationship

This reader-supplied checklist might help you decide if you are headed down a wrong path.

Among the comments I've received on the topic of contractor-customer relationship was this list from Michael Lent, publisher of Government Services Insider, a newsletter that covers the government market.

Perhaps it is something worth printing out and tacking to your office wall.

They are good bits of advice and show that there is plenty of gray to go around.

11 signs of a dangerous relationship

1. You’d be embarrassed by a Washington Post article describing, for example, government information disclosed to you by a client, or, the client tolerating and absorbing the costs of any subpar performance.
2. Client would be fearful of the agency inspector general learning what is disclosed to you.
3. Competitors can complain, with available factual evidence that implies or shows you are favored with information, e.g., on a recompete.
4. Anyone would construe that white paper you gave the client as a draft for a contract modification or recompete statement of work.
5. Social relationships appear like personal conflicts of interest, vulnerable to inference, however unfairly, that you benefit from inside government information.
6. Client becomes convinced that you are unique and irreplaceable — and acts that way, e.g., quashing a competitive recompete. (This can happen, of course, but a justifiable incidence is probably rare.)
7. Your total price is just shy of the government cost estimate. (This can happen fairly, of course, but a chain of such events is suspicious.)
8. Client helps repel your competitors, with vigor.
9. You hire an excessive number of client-agency retirees. (Excessive equals whatever number appears suspicious to overseers, client, and your own common sense).
10. Government can see evidence of bad team play within your team, e.g., competition between two managers or company units.
11. You fear defending your firm’s mitigation measures for disclosed organizational conflict of interest — to a congressional committee, Government Accountability Office or an IG — because you sense the measures are not stringent enough.