WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, a bill introduced by U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to prohibit the collection of political contribution information from bidders for government contracts was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee with bipartisan support. This bill, "Keeping Politics out of Federal Contracting," is co-sponsored by 22 Senators.
More than 150 businesses and groups ranging from the National Federation of Independent Business to the American Bakers Association and local chambers of commerce across the country expressed their support for the measure saying in a letter that Senator Collins' bill "would help ensure that political spending-or the lack thereof-continues to play no role in federal contracting decisions." The bill reaffirms the principle, currently embodied in federal procurement laws, that the Executive Branch has an obligation to procure goods and services based on the best value for the American taxpayer, and not on political considerations. It also reaffirms the principle that the Administration cannot enact through executive fiat legislation that Congress has considered and explicitly rejected."
For the past year, Senator Collins has been working to protect the integrity of the federal contracting process from a White House draft proposal to require federal agencies to collect information about campaign contributions and political expenditures of bidders before awarding any federal contract.
Senator Collins successfully included language in the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that prohibits this proposal from being implemented by the Pentagon. Last year, Congress also included a similar provision in the Fiscal Year 2012 omnibus appropriations bill prohibiting all agencies from requiring that an entity submitting an offer for a federal contract disclose information about political contributions. The President's Fiscal Year 2013 budget is proposing to end the prohibition included in the Fiscal Year 2012 omnibus appropriations bill.
"I cannot imagine what possible good can come from linking political information to a process which must be grounded solidly and unequivocally on providing the very best value to American taxpayers? It is unfathomable why this Administration would consider a move that would, at worst, corrupt the process, and at best, create a perception that political beliefs of private citizens is to be considered in selecting the winners and losers among businesses vying for federal contracts," Senator Collins said.
On April 26, 2011, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell joined Senators Collins and 25 colleagues in sendinga letter to the White House critical of the President's consideration of a policy that would make information about political contributions a part of every federal contract offer. The letter emphasized that taxpayers should receive the best value for federal contracts, and thus government procurements must be conducted in a manner that ensures a fair process, entirely free from politics.
Senators Collins authored a bi-partisan letter to the President on May 12, 2011 which raised concerns about injecting politics into the contracting process. The letter went on to say, "Considering that the acquisition workforce is already straining to adequately manage and oversee federal contracts, the draft Executive Order may create new, unnecessary burdens for these officials."