In addition to telecommuting, which appears to be a good thing, the technology revolution has some downsides. For example, the distraction involved with texting while driving. We can now conduct business from almost anywhere, but there are certain times and locations where checking voice mail or email may present a danger to others. Thus, the government regulates certain behavior. According to recent statistics, texting while driving is a major cause of accidents, and has been made illegal in many states, including Washington. Not to be left behind, through the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FARs), the federal government has joined in prohibiting texting and driving on federal projects.[i]
In accordance with FAR Subpart 23.11, federal government contractors must adopt and enforce a policy which bans employees from texting whenever an employee is: (1) driving a vehicle owned by the company; (2) driving a vehicle owned by the government; or (3) driving a privately owned vehicle when performing any work on behalf of the government. This requirement, FAR Subpart 23.11, is incorporated into every government contract through FAR 52.223-18. Specifically, if the value of the subcontract exceeds the “micro-purchase threshold” (presently $3,000), general contractors are required to incorporate (“flow down”) this anti-texting provision to all of their subcontractors.
Further, federal contractors, to meet the requirements of FAR 52.223-18, must “conduct initiatives to educate their employees about the danger of texting while driving; these initiatives should be commensurate of the size of the business.” Large government contractors will be expected to engage in some type of training in addition to having a written policy and employee handout which covers this topic. This anti-texting message can be incorporated into the orientation session for all new employees and updated when conducting periodic ethics training (also required by the government) (see previous Ahlers & Cressman PLLC blog Government Ethics).
[i] Thank you to the “Federal Contracting Blog” (March 25, 2013) for bringing this issue to our attention.