code of ethics

Consulting Estimator Round Table Code of Ethics
6/15/12
INTRODUCTION:
This Code of Ethics and Business Conduct covers a wide range of business practices
and procedures. It does not cover every issue that may arise, but it sets out basic
principles to guide all members of the Consulting Estimator Round Table (CERT). All of
our members and officers must conduct themselves accordingly and seek to avoid even
the appearance of improper behavior. The code should also be provided to and followed
by the CERT’s agents and representatives. In addition, CERT policies apply to various
CERT operations and you need to know and follow those policies that apply to your
CERT work.
CERT members should uphold and advance the honor and dignity of cost estimating
and the cost management practice and in keeping with the high standards of ethical
conduct shall: (1) be honest and impartial; (2) should serve clients and the public with
dedication; (3) strive to increase the competence and prestige of their practice; and (4)
should apply knowledge and skill to advance human welfare.
This policy is not intended to rewrite laws currently enacted and enforced in any
jurisdiction; if a law conflicts with a policy in this code, you must comply with the law.
Alternatively, if a member firm’s policy conflicts with this code, you must examine why it
is a conflict, and whether to comply with the firm’s code would be a violation of the ethics
intended herein. Members and officers are responsible for understanding the legal and
policy requirements that apply to their firms and the CERT, and for reporting any
suspected violations of law, this code, or CERT policy.
Those who violate the standards in this code will be subject to disciplinary action,
including possible dismissal from the CERT. Furthermore, violations of this code may
also be violations of the law and may result in civil or criminal penalties for an individual,
member firm, and/or the CERT. If you are in a situation which you believe may violate or
lead to a violation of this code, follow the procedures set out in your CERT firm’s code of
ethics.
The basic principles discussed in this code are subject to any CERT policies covering
the same issues.
1. COMPLIANCE WITH LAWS, RULES AND REGULATIONS
Obeying the law, both in letter and in spirit, is the foundation on which the CERT’s
ethical standards are built. All member firms, their employees, and officers must
respect and obey the laws, rules, and regulations of the cities, states, and countries
in which we operate. Although employees of member firms and officers are not
expected to know the details of each of these laws, rules and regulations, it is
important to know enough to determine when to seek advice from supervisors,
managers or other appropriate personnel. It is anticipated that all employees of
member firms will be familiar with the policies of the firm. CERT firms shall not
knowingly or willingly enter into an agreement that violates the laws of the United
States of America, or of the states in which they practice
2. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
A “conflict of interest” exists when a private interest interferes in any way, or even
appears to interfere, with the interests of the organization. A conflict situation can
arise when a private interest takes actions or has interests that may make it difficult
to perform his or her organizational work objectively and effectively. Conflicts of
interest may also arise when an employee or officer (or a member of his or her
family) of a CERT firm or client receives improper personal benefits as a result of his
or her position in the firm or organization. Loans to, or guarantees of obligations to,
employees and officers and their family members by the CERT firm or officers and/or
employees may create conflicts of interest and in certain instances are prohibited by
law.
It should be understood that the private interest may conflict with more than one
organization, and the policies of those individually or combined.
It is a conflict of interest for an employee or officer of a CERT firm to work for a
competitor, customer or supplier. You should avoid any direct or indirect business
connection with our customers, suppliers or competitors; except as required on
behalf of your firm.
Conflicts of interest should be prohibited as a matter of CERT firm policy, except as
approved by the board of directors of the firm. Conflicts of interest may not always
be clear-cut, so if you have a question, you should consult with another CERT firm or
follow the procedures set out in your company code of ethics. Any CERT member or
employee of a CERT member who becomes aware of a conflict or potential conflict
should bring it to the attention of a supervisor, manager, or other appropriate
personnel or consult the procedures provided in the company code of ethics.
3. INSIDER TRADING
All non-public information about the CERT firm and/or client should be considered
confidential information. Employees and officers who have access to confidential
information about the Member Company or client or any other entity are not
permitted to use or share that information for trading purposes, the other entity’s
securities, or for any other purpose except for the conduct of the contracted
business. To use non-public information for personal financial benefit or to “tip”
others who might make an investment decision on the basis of this information is not
only unethical, but also illegal. If you have any questions, please consult the CERT
firm’s Guidelines.
4. CORPORATE OPPORTUNITIES
Employees and officers of CERT firms are prohibited from taking opportunities that
are discovered through the use of corporate property, information or position for
themselves without the consent of the board of directors of their firm. No employee
or officer may use corporate property, information or position for personal gain and
no employee or officer may compete with the company directly or indirectly.
Employees and officers owe a duty to the company to advance the company’s
interests when the opportunity to do so arises.
5. COMPETITION AND FAIR DEALING
CERT firms seek to outperform the competition fairly and honestly. We seek
competitive advantages through superior performance never through unethical or
illegal business practices. Stealing proprietary information, possessing trade secret
information that was obtained without the owner’s consent, or inducing such
disclosures by past or present employees of other companies is prohibited. Each
employee and officer should endeavor to respect the rights of and deal fairly with the
company’s customers, suppliers, competitors and employees. No employee or
officer should take unfair advantage of anyone through manipulation, concealment,
abuse of privileged information, misrepresentation of material facts, or any other
illegal trade practice.
No CERT firm employee or officer is permitted to engage in price fixing, bid rigging,
allocation of markets or customers, or similar illegal activities.
To maintain the company’s valuable reputation, compliance with quality processes
and safety requirements is essential. All inspection and testing documents must be
handled in accordance with all applicable specifications and requirements.
No CERT firm shall use any information obtained from any other firm it partners with
to gain an unfair advantage over that firm; whether it be systems, employees, clients,
or pricing structure, or any other form of knowledge that the CERT firm would not
have found out about without receiving such from the partnering firm.
The purpose of business entertainment and gifts in a commercial setting is to create
goodwill and sound working relationships, not to gain unfair advantage with
customers. No gift or entertainment should ever be offered, given, provided or
accepted by any CERT firm employee or officer, family member of an employee or
officer, or agent unless it: (1) is not a cash gift, (2) is consistent with customary
business practices, (3) is reasonable in value, (4) cannot be construed as a bribe or
payoff and (5) does not violate any laws, regulations or applicable policies of the
other party’s organization.
6. POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS
As the CERT is an association of businesses within a field of endeavor for profit,
each member firm is entitled to make political contributions as are allowed by law
AND do make public declaration thereof. Member firms will not violate or attempt
violation of any campaign contribution laws that govern the campaign, nor will they
attempt to circumvent any laws or regulations by any means.
Individual employees of CERT members are free to make personal political
contributions as they see fit, as long as they do not violate any laws or regulations in
the process.
7. DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT
The diversity of the CERT Membership is a tremendous asset. We are firmly
committed to providing equal opportunity in all aspects of employment and will not
tolerate any member firm participating in illegal discrimination or harassment based
on race, color, religion, sex, national origin or any other protected class.
8. HEALTH AND SAFETY
The companies who are members of the CERT shall strive to provide each employee
and officer with a safe and healthy work environment. Each employee and officer
has the responsibility for maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for all employees
and officers by following environmental, safety, and health rules and practices and by
reporting accidents, injuries and unsafe equipment, practices or conditions. Violence
and threatening behavior are not permitted.
Employees and officers are expected to perform their company related work in a safe
manner, free of the influences of alcohol, illegal drugs or controlled substances. The
use of illegal drugs in the workplace will not be tolerated.
9. ENVIRONMENTAL
The CERT firm shall expect its employees and officers to follow all applicable
environmental laws and regulations as a minimum.
10. RECORD-KEEPING, FINANCIAL CONTROLS AND DISCLOSURES
It is recommended that CERT firms require honest, accurate and timely recording
and reporting of information in order to make responsible business decisions.
All business expense accounts must be documented and recorded accurately in a
timely manner. If you are not sure whether a certain expense is legitimate, ask your
firm’s controller. Policy guidelines are to be determined by the individual company.
All of the company’s books, records, accounts and financial statements must be
maintained in reasonable detail; must appropriately reflect the company’s
transactions; must be promptly disclosed in accordance with any applicable laws or
regulations; and must conform both to applicable legal requirements and to the
company’s system of internal controls.
Business records and communications often become public and thus should avoid
exaggeration, derogatory remarks, guesswork or inappropriate characterizations of
people and companies that may be misunderstood. This applies equally to e-mail,
internal memos and formal reports. Records should always be retained or destroyed
according to the company’s record retention policies.
11. CONFIDENTIALITY
Employees and officers of CERT firms must maintain the confidentiality of proprietary
information entrusted to them by the company or its customers or suppliers, except
when disclosure is authorized in writing or required by laws or regulations.
Proprietary information includes all non-public information that might be of use to
competitors or harmful to the company or its customers or suppliers if disclosed. It
includes information that suppliers and customers have entrusted. The obligation to
preserve proprietary information continues even after employment ends.
12. PAYMENTS TO GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL
The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) prohibits giving anything of value
(directly or indirectly) to officials of foreign governments or foreign political
candidates in order to obtain or retain business. While the FCPA does, in certain
limited circumstances, allow nominal “facilitating payments” to be made, any such
payment must be discussed with legal representation to determine limits of what can
and can not be given per the act.
In addition, the U.S. government has a number of laws and regulations regarding
business gratuities, which may be accepted by U.S. government personnel. The
promise, offer or delivery to an official or employee of the U.S. government of a gift,
favor or other gratuity in violation of these rules would not only violate Company
policy but will also commit a civil or criminal offense. State and local governments,
as well as foreign governments, often have similar rules.
13. TRADE ISSUES
From time to time, the United States, foreign governments, and the United Nations
have imposed boycotts and trading sanctions against various governments and
regions, which must be obeyed.
14. REPORTING ANY ILLEGAL OR UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR
CERT firms shall establish and foster up an environment where employees are
encouraged to talk to supervisors, managers or other appropriate personnel about
observed behavior that they believe may be illegal or a violation of the company
code of company policy or when in doubt about the best course of action in a
particular situation. It should be the policy of the company not to allow retaliation for
reports made in good faith by employees of misconduct by others. Employees and
officers should be expected to cooperate in internal investigations of misconduct.
15. IMPROPER INFLUENCE ON CONDUCT OF AUDITORS
It should be prohibited to directly or indirectly take any action to coerce, manipulate,
mislead or fraudulently influence the CERT firm’s independent auditors for the
purpose of rendering the financial statements of the company materially misleading.
Prohibited actions should include, but not be limited to, actions taken to coerce,
manipulate, mislead or fraudulently influence an auditor: (1) to issue or reissue a
report on the company’s financial statements that is not warranted in the
circumstances (due to material violations of generally accepted accounting
principles, generally accepted auditing standards, or other professional or regulatory
standards); (2) not to perform an audit, review or other procedures required by
generally accepted auditing standards or other professional standards; (3) not to
withdraw an issued report; or (4) not to communicate matters to the company’s audit
committee.
16. FINANCIAL REPORTING
Depending on status of proprietorship, if it is necessary that the company must file
with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, then those filings must be
accurate and timely. The CERT expects member firms to take this responsibility
very seriously and provide prompt and accurate answers to inquiries related to the
company’s public disclosure requirements
The company’s policy should be to comply with all financial reporting and accounting
regulations applicable to the company. If any employee or officer has concerns or
complaints regarding accounting or auditing matters of the company, then he or she
is encouraged to submit those concerns.
17. COMPLIANCE PROCEDURES
CERT firm employees and officers must all work to ensure prompt and consistent
action against violations of their code. However, in some situations it is difficult to
know right from wrong. Since no one can anticipate every situation that will arise, it
is important to have a way to approach a new question or problem.
18. COMPETENCY
CERT firms shall to the best of their ability truthfully represent to a prospective client
the qualifications and experience of the firm and it’s capabilities to perform the
services requested. CERT firms shall undertake assignments only when it’s
employees are qualified to do so by education and or experience of the task(s).
CERT firms may accept assignments in other disciplines provided the firm works
under the supervision of a qualified associate, or the qualified associate can attest to
the accuracy of their work in the assignment.
19. EDUCATION AND TRAINING
CERT firms shall continue to expand the professional capabilities of the firm and it’s
employees through continuing education programs to better enable them to serve
clients and the industry. CERT firms shall encourage their employees to obtain
credentials that advance their careers within the industry. Firms shall strive to obtain
accreditations that help ensure that the firm is maintaining its understanding of the
changing needs of it’s clients. CERT firms shall lend personal and financial support
whenever feasible to institutions of education that offer training in the field of
Construction Estimating and other related topics. CERT firms will cooperate in
extending the effectiveness of the industry by interchanging information and
experience with other firms, subject to legal or proprietary restraints.
20. RESPECT AND COURTESY
CERT firms shall conduct themselves in a manner that will promote cooperation
and good relations among the members of our profession, and those directly
related to our profession. CERT firms and their employees will treat all
professional associates with integrity, fairness, tolerance, and respect, regardless
of race, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, gender, or age. Recognize
the ethical standards set forth by other professions, such as architects and
engineers, directly related to our industry and extend to them the common
courtesy that they deserve. Act honorably, both in personal and professional life,
by avoiding situations that may erode public respect.
21. CONFIDENTIALITY
CERT firms shall safeguard and keep in confidence all knowledge of the
business affairs and technical procedures of a client. Privileged information or
facts pertaining to methods or future plans of a client, except as authorized or
required by law, shall not be revealed. Treat in strict confidence all information
concerning a client’s affairs acquired during the fulfillment of an assignment, and
all future assignments related to the project. Serve clients with professional
concern for their best interests, provided this does not endanger personal
integrity or violate the ethics of the organization as discussed here.
22. REVIEW AND VERIFICATION
CERT firms shall utilize the education and experience of it’s employees in the
preparation of each estimate or assignment with full commitment to make each
estimate or assignment as detailed and accurate as possible. To formulate an
accurate estimate, a full review must be made all related documents. Any other
approach could cause errors or omissions that may endanger professional
integrity and reliability. Each estimate should cross checked by means that will
ensure that it technically and mechanically free from mistakes, oversights, or
errors. If possible and feasible, estimates should be checked by other
professionals. If it is not feasible for someone else to cross-check an estimate,
the estimator should cross check their own estimate by utilizing a different
method.
23. BID PROCUREMENT PRACTICES
CERT firms shall not engage in the act of bid shopping or bid peddling, nor shall
a CERT firm advocate or advise a client to expect to award based on bid
shopping or bid peddling. Renegotiation of price based on revised scope,
materials, or schedule are allowed, and in some cases would be the encouraged
practice for meeting the project budget. CERT firms shall not enter into an
agreement that may be considered acts of collusion or conspiracy with the
implied or expressed intent to defraud clients or any other member of the project
team. In addition to being irresponsible to the firm’s reputation, such actions are
often illegal, and carry civil and criminal penalties.
24. International Work
While the CERT is established for firms headquartered inside the United States,
some clients will have work outside the US, and some of those projects will use a
firm of consulting estimators. While this does not mean that all the tenants above
are to be ignored, it is understood that differing customs and methods are
available to all parties, and may conflict with these codes. When such
occurrences happen, the CERT firm should try to remain as true to these codes
as possible, but at the bare minimum to observe and obey all laws at all times.