WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week approved Senator Claire McCaskill’s bipartisan bill to reform government contracting by requiring better oversight of so-called ‘bridge contracts,’ in which a government agency renews an expired contract for a short period of time without having a competitive bid process. While this can be necessary, it sometimes occurs simply because an agency failed to plan for the end of a contract and renews it with the same contractor even if there have been problems. For instance, following the Equifax data breach which left data from nearly 143 million Americans exposed, the IRS extended a contract with Equifax as a result of improper planning.
“It’s absurd that after the Equifax breach, the government renewed its contract with the company because it had no alternatives—and this is a common problem,” McCaskill said. “My bipartisan bill includes commonsense, concrete steps the government can take to improve contracting oversight and better safeguard Missourians’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars.”
McCaskill’s bill, which is supported by Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, includes requirements that will help increase public reporting and minimize agencies’ use of bridge contracts. It also requires the Office of Management and Budget to implement recommendations from a McCaskill-requested Government Accountability Office report that analyzed the government’s reliance on bridge contracts.
A former Missouri State Auditor, McCaskill has led efforts in the Senate to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars. The Senate has unanimously approved two of her bills with Republican Senator Steve Daines of Montana to target wasteful spending at the Department of Homeland Security. The Senate also passed a McCaskill-backed bill making it illegal to spend taxpayer dollars on portraits of government officials. McCaskill has demanded details from the Federal Communications Commission on efforts to follow through on almost $90 million in fines proposed against providers for the Lifeline program. During her first term in the Senate, McCaskill waged a successful six-year effort to crack down on waste, fraud, and abuse in wartime contracting.