U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) today exposed a proposal in the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget that would allow the Administration to proceed with a plan to collect political contribution information from bidders for government contracts.  

For 10 months, 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. 

“The White House, contrary to the intent of Congress, is apparently still trying to advance a policy that would inject politics into the federal contracting process instead of focusing on promoting competition and best value in contracting,” said Senator Collins. 

“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 continued.

On April 26, 2011, Republican Leader Mitch McConnell joined Senators Collins and 25 colleagues in sending a 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.” 

In May 2011, Senators Collins introduced the “Keeping Politics Out of Federal Contracting Act of  2011” which reaffirms the fundamental principle that federal contracts should be awarded free from political considerations and be based on the best value to the taxpayers. 

“It is troubling that the Administration is proposing to eliminate provisions that help protect the integrity of the government contract awards,” said Senator Collins.