10 Social Media Must Haves for Your Company's FAR-Mandated Compliance Program

Author:Ms Michelle Sherman
Profession:Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton

As we discussed here last November, the United States Navy, the other military services, and the Department of Defense, have all recognized that their personnel are using social media and have responded by establishing detailed social media policies. Similarly, there is not a shred of doubt that your company's employees are using social media. And, just like the military services and DoD, if you're a government contractor then you must establish a social medial policy—and it cannot be a "cookie cutter" version of standard corporate social media policies. Among other things, it must address the risk of classified information being leaked, and the ways in which your employees' security clearances can be put in jeopardy if they are not using social media prudently.

Put simply, your social media policy is an extension of the compliance programs mandated by FAR 52.203-13 (Contractor Code of Business Ethics and Conduct). The social media practices discussed below should be incorporated into the ethics training that government contractors are required to give pursuant to FAR 52.203-13. These practices will help bring your company into line with what the government is doing with respect to social media activity by government contractors and their employees. This list is intended to supplement recommendations for corporations engaged in the commercial sector, and is not exhaustive.

Adopt a social media policy that reflects the policies adopted by your primary government customers—Air Force, Navy, Army, Department of Defense—and include their basic list of "Do's" and "Don'ts" in your policy. Don't try to prohibit lawful protected activity such as complaining about work conditions or compensation/benefits, or whistle blowing. Re-emphasize the importance of reporting improper activity through channels, including the company's obligations under FAR 52. 203-13. You cannot prevent employees from discussing protected activity on social media sites, but you can emphasize the importance of reporting inappropriate activity through established internal procedures. Implement an effective employee training program on the use of social media that addresses the relationship between such use and the company's mandatory disclosure obligations under its government contracts. For example, employees need to understand that, while they are free to discuss activities for which the company has a disclosure obligation under FAR 52.203-13 on social media, their...

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