John Budinski, quality control engineer at Clarke
Engineering, has a problem. Clarke contracted with USAWAY to supply a product subject to
the requirement that all parts are made in the United States. Although the original
design clearly specifies that all parts must satisfy this requirement, one of Clarke's
suppliers failed to note that one of the components has two special bolts that are made
only in another country. There is not time to design a new bolt if the terms of the
contract are to be met. USAWAY is a major customer, and not meeting the deadline can be
expected to have unfortunate consequences for Clarke.
John realizes that the chances of USAWAY discovering the problem on
their own is slim. The bolts in question are not visible on the surface of the product.
Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that those who work on repairs will notice that the
bolts are foreign made. In any case, Clarke is under contract to do the repairs.
Meanwhile, it can work on a bolt design so that it will be ready with USA bolts when, and
if, replacements are needed.
What should John do?
*From NSF Engineering Ethics Case Report.