In Reply Refer To:
EGS-Mail Stop #439

February 13, 1985


Subject: POLICY – Competition with the Private Sector

Because of our close and productive working relationships with many local and State cooperators, it is only natural that from time to time the Water Resources Division (WRD) offices are requested to do work on behalf of cooperators that may overlap with capabilities in the private sector. Although we want to provide the high-quality services that cooperators request, we must always keep in mind that it is the longstanding policy of the U.S. Geological Survey not to compete with the private sector, to decline work when we know of suitable non-Government assistance, and to avoid even the appearance of competition.

Examples of this policy from the past include:

• WRD Memorandum No. 64.8

“The Director’s office has brought the foregoing information to our attention with the following comments:

“I bring this to your attention so that you can be especially alert to the danger of providing, to agencies of Federal or local government, advice or services which may be considered by consultants as being a threat to their livelihood. ***Our job is not to render advice regarding specific problems or projects, particularly if such service can be provided by individuals or organizations in private practice. *** it is contrary to Survey policy to do work that should and can be provided by consultants.”

• WRD Memorandum No. 71.04

“It is the policy of the Division not to compete with private enterprise. Test drilling by the Division shall be contracted, except ***.”

• WRD Memorandum No. 76.103

“In discussions with “208” planning agencies it should be stressed that *** it is WRD policy not to compete with private consultants.”

• Memo of March 19, 1979, from Chief Hydrologist (acting) to Regional Hydrologists

“As you are aware, it has always been our policy to not compete with the private sector, to decline work when we know of suitable non-Government assistance, and to avoid even the appearance of competition. OMB Circular A-76 expresses the general policy that supplying products and services needed by the Government, except under certain justified circumstances. It is implicit in this statement that Government agencies should not compete with private enterprise ***.”

• WRD Memorandum No. 84.21

“The long-standing and firm Division policy not to compete with private industry precludes consideration of any work devised for or submitted competitively with private industry.”

• WRD Memorandum No. 84.36

“As a further and controlling guideline in providing technical information and technical advice on hydrology, it is WRD policy not to compete with private consultants. This longstanding stipulation was stressed in WRD Memorandum No. 76.103.”

It is of utmost importance that our reports, which are the principal product of our efforts, reflect this policy. Careful attention should be focused at all levels to assure conformance. Extra effort is needed when project areas are small and when results may be closely associated with cooperator management plans. In order to avoid “noncompetition” becoming synonymous with “site specific,” reports dealing with small areas should stress scientific aspects. Scientific emphasis is a principal criterion in any report evaluation, but it will be especially so for small area reports.

I urge you to be ever vigilant in the careful design of projects and reports so that their Federal interest is clearly apparent and appearance of encroachment into the private sector is absent.

Philip Cohen
Chief Hydrologist

Distribution: A, B, S, FO, PO

This memorandum does not supersede any previous WRD memorandum.