WASHINGTON, D.C. – In light of a new proposed policy by the Obama Administration on contracting practices, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Rob Portman (R-OH) wrote a letter to President Obama raising concerns about whether the new policies will politicize the contracting process and place an undue burden on the already stretched-thin federal acquisition workforce. The senators, who serve as the Chair and Ranking Member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and Chair and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight, questioned the proposed provision that would require applicants to disclose political donations as part of the bid process for federal contracts.
While the senators applaud the administration’s commitment to transparency in the contracting process, they expressed concerns that federal contracting officers could be perceived to be using this information to make decisions based on political affiliation, rather than quality, price, past performance, or other considerations related to the merits of the bid.
“We are concerned that requiring businesses to disclose their political activity when making an offer risks injecting politics into the contracting process,” the senators wrote. “Federal contracting law already precludes the consideration of political activity in evaluating contract offers…The requirement that businesses disclose political expenditures as part of the offer process creates the appearance that this type of information could become a factor in the award of federal contracts.”
The senators also expressed concern that increasing disclosure requirements, especially as it relates to information that legally cannot be used in the decision-making process, will create an unnecessary burden on an already over-worked federal contracting workforce and complicate the Administration’s ongoing efforts to centralize contractor data in one database.
“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,” they wrote.
The full text of the senators’ letter is available here.
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